THE BETA BAND-THE REGAL YEARS 1997-2004.

THE BETA BAND-THE REGAL YEARS 1997-2004.

Although The Beta Band were only together eight years, their music made a huge impact. Formed in 1996, The Beta Band split-up in 2004. In the intervening eight years, they’d released a trio of E.P.s and albums. The music on these E.P.s and albums influenced a generation of musicians. Inventive, influential and cutting-edge describes The Beta Band’s music. It’s best described as a fusion of influences and genres. The Beta Band fused everything from electronic, experimental, folk, trip hop and rock. This musical melange was known as folktronica, and saw The Beta Band achieve cult status in the UK, Europe and US. 

Soon, commercial success and critical acclaim came The Beta Band’s way. Hailed as one of the best bands of their generation, a great future was forecast for The Beta Band. Sadly, after the release of their third album 2004s Heroes To Zeroes, The Beta Band split-up. It was a case of what might have been.  Listening to the recently released the six disc box set, The Beta Band-The Regal Years 1997-2004, which was recently released by Regal Records, only reinforces that. Who knows what heights The Beta Band might have reached if they’d stayed together? Would they have reached the heights groups like Radiohead, Arcade Fire and Flaming Lips reached? We’ll never know. What I do know, is that The Beta Band have left behind a rich musical legacy, which I’ll tell you about.

It was 1996 in St. Andrews, Scotland when The Beta Band were formed by vocalist and guitarist Steve Mason and Gordon Anderson. Originally, they’d planned to call their nascent band The Pigeons, but decided instead, to call it The Beta Band. Soon, they began working on their debut E.P. Champion Versions. That’s when drummer Robin Jones and John McLean, a DJ, who played keyboards and sampler joined. The other member was bassist Steve Duffield. He only played on their debut E.P. Champion Versions. After that, Steve left the band. So did Gordon Anderson. Replacing them was bassist Richard Greentree. That was still to come. Before that, The Beta Band released their debut E.P. Champion Versions.

DISC ONE-THE THREE E.Ps.

Champion Versions was released in July 1997, and featured a quartet of tracks. Featuring Dry The Rain, I Know, B + A  and Dogs Got A Bone, Champion Versions was released to critical acclaim. Critics hailed the E.P. as groundbreaking and innovative.  It featured a guest appearance from Jonathan Levein. He played trumpet on Dry The Rain, emulating the sound of a whale. This reinforced the fact that The Beta Band weren’t like other bands.

No. They were unique, and also ambitious, bold and brave. Their music was constantly evolving.The Beta Band drew inspiration from a variety of sources. Among them were electronic, experimental, folk, trip hop and rock. This resulted in The Beta Band having their own musical genre, folktronica. It can be heard on their sophomore E.P. The Patty Patty Sound. It was released in March 1998. Lasting forty-minutes and featuring Inner Meet Me, The House Song, The Monolith and She’s The One, it built on Champion Versions. By now, word was spreading about The Beta Band. Not only were they know for releasing cutting-edge music, but were establishing a reputation as one of the best live bands. Building on the momentum of The Patty Patty Sound, The Beta Band released their final E.P. 

Los Amigos Del Beta Bandidos was released in July 1998, just four months after their previous E.P. The Patty Patty Sound. Just like their two previous E.P.s, it was produced by The Beta Band. Featuring four new tracks, Push It Over, It’s Over, Dr. Baker and Needles In My Eyes the music was innovative fusion of influences. It’s no surprise it was released to critical acclaim. Later in 1998, Regal Records decided to release The Beta Band’s first compilation. 

The Three E.P.s compilation was released in September 1998. It reached number thirty-five in the UK and established The Beta Band not just in the UK, but in the US. Since then, Pitchfork magazine hailed The Three E.P.s as one of the best British albums of the nineties. In the UK, Q magazine went further. They included The Three E.P.s in their best hundred albums of all time. The Three E.P.s features on disc one of The Beta Band-The Regal Years 1997-2004. For anyone new to The Beta Band, The Three E.P.s is essential listening. Was that the case for The Beta Band’s debut album?

DISC TWO-THE BETA BAND.

Released in June 1999, The Beta Band is best described as a sonic experiment. Multilayered and full of nuances and subtleties, the music is dense and detailed. The Beta Band is a complex and challenging album. It draws inspiration from a whole host of sources and genres. Essentially, The Beta Band take you on a musical journey, where they tell the story of twentieth century music. 

Starting with blues, bubblegum pop, psychedelia, rap, rock, rockabilly, folk and hip hop can be heard on The Beta Band. Quite simply, it’s a journey full of twists and turns. Never scared to be bold, The Beta Band drew inspiration from a variety of sources. Proof of this is The Beta Band Rap, where bubblegum pop, rap and rockabilly unite. The result is an album where orthodox musical beliefs are challenged. Don’t expect the usual verse, chorus, verse, chorus, bridge. That’s not The Beta Band’s way. Just like the Chairman of The Board, they do it their way, albeit with a little help from Frank Zappa, Sun Ra and Captain Beefheart. On its release in 1999, The Beta Band was a huge success.

Reaching number eighteen in the UK The Beta Band should’ve been overjoyed by the success of their debut album. That wasn’t the case. Far from it. The Beta Band called their album: “the worst made this year.” That’s not the case. You’ll realize that when you listen to disc two of The Beta Band-The Regal Years 1997-2004. It features The Beta Band and two bonus tracks.  

DISC THREE

Just over two years after the release of their eponymous debut album, The Beta Band released their sophomore album Hot Shots II. Released in July 2001, it was The Beta Band’s most successful album. Not only did it reach number thirteen in the UK, but number 200 in the US Billboard 200 Charts. That’s no surprise. Hot Shots II features the band’s finest music.

Very different from The Beta Band, this was a much more mellow, understated album. The songs were thoughtful, minimalist and with a darkness that descends. One thing stayed the same though. The Beta Band were creating groundbreaking music. Sometimes, the music is fragmented, other times ethereal, bold, dramatic, lush, melancholy and grandiose. Trip hop, folk, electronica, jazz, pop, rock and soul melts into one. Just like their debut album, Hot Shots II is multilayered, full of nuances and secrets. It’s also music that’s wistful, thoughtful, timeless and often, beautiful. What’s The Beta Band’s best album, Hot Shots II, features on disc three on The Beta Band-The Regal Years 1997-2004, along with seven bonus tracks.

DISC FOUR-HEROES TO ZEROES.

When work began on Heroes To Zeroes in 2002, little did The Beta Band realise that it would be their final album. Sadly, that proved to be the case. They’d entered the studio with producer Tom Goodrock. Although a number of tracks were recorded, the band weren’t happy with the result. So, Nigel Godrich was brought in to mix the album. Eventually, what became Heroes To Zeroes was completed by early 2004. Then Heroes To Zeroes was released in April 2004, it reached number eighteen in the UK. Featuring twelve tracks, Heroes To Zeroes proved to be The Beta Band’s finale.

The Beta Band weren’t going to fade away. Instead, they announced their breakup on their website in August 2004. Ironically, their final album Heroes To Zeroes, was the first album The Beta Band were pleased with. Veering between tight to gloriously sloppy, the two sides of The Beta Band shawn through. They combined musical influences and genres to create an album that was enchanting, jagged, haunting, psychedelic, tender, thoughtful. laid-back and at moments, surreal. Drawing inspiration from ambient, experimental, lo-fi, pop, psychedelia and rock, The Beta Band’s career finished as it began, innovating and creating music that was ahead of the musical curve. 

Heroes To Zeroes saw The Beta Band end their career as heroes, musical heroes who enjoyed critical acclaim, commercial success and cult status. The album plus four bonus tracks feature on The Beta Band-The Regal Years 1997-2004. That’s not the end of The Beta Band-The Regal Years 1997-2004. Far from it. There’s still two discs to go.

DISC FIVE-BBC LIVE.

Disc five of The Beta Band-The Regal Years 1997-2004 features fifteen live tracks. These tracks were recorded between 1997 and 2004. This includes tracks recorded for sessions with Radio 1 and Radio 6. There’s even a version of Out-Side recorded at T In The Park. This was a homecoming for The Beta Band, given T In The Park is held in their native Scotland in 2004. That features a very different band from their early days in 1997.

Listening to the fifteen tracks, they chart the development of The Beta Band. You can hear the band evolving and maturing as musicians. Dry The Rain and Monolith feature The Beta Band in 1997. Then at T In The Park in Scotland, The Beta Band are at their best and tightest. Inspired by an audience of their fellow countryman, they pull out the stops on tracks like Inner Meet Me, She’s The One, Dry The Rain and Broke. These tracks are a reminder of just how good a live band The Beta Band were. It’s no exaggeration to say, that they were one of the best and most exciting live bands of their generation.

DISC SIX-DEMOS, LIVE AND SESSIONS.

Demos, Live and Sessions is the title of disc six of The Beta Band-The Regal Years 1997-2004. Featuring sixteen tracks recorded between 1997 and 2004, they chart the development of The Beta Band. The first four tracks, Idea For A House Track, Longer Idea For Above, Bed In The Sunlight and B +A are demos. Listening to this quartet of tracks, it’s obvious that here is a band with not just potential, but who are talented and innovative. It’s no surprise that a year after The Beta Band were formed, they were signed to Regal Records.

Poignantly, nine of the tracks on disc six were recorded in 2004, the year The Beta Band split-up. These tracks feature The Beta Band at the peak of their powers. Among the tracks are Dogs Got A Bone, Out-Side and Simple. They were recorded at the XFM Radio Session. Then closing disc six were six tracks recorded live at Shepherd’s Bush Empire. From Squares, Simple, Easy, Dr. Baker, Quiet and House Song you’re enthralled by The Beta Band. Seamlessly, the fuse musical genres and influences creating their unique brand of folktronica.

For seven years, The Beta Band released a series of groundbreaking recordings. This included three E.P.s and a trio of albums. They all feature on The Beta Band-The Regal Years 1997-2004, a six disc box set. Throughout the six discs, innovative, influential and groundbreaking describes The Beta Band’s music. It’s best described as a fusion of influences and genres. Everything from electronic, experimental, folk, trip hop and rock melts into one. Here’s music that’s totally different from everything else being released. It’s exciting, bold, ambitious and totally unique. That’s why this musical melange was known as folktronica. After all, no existing musical genre could describe The Beta Band’s music? So their music was christened folktronica, a fusion of disparate influences. 

From their debut 1998 E.P. Champion Versions, right through to their third album 2004s Heroes To Zeroes, The Beta Band’s raison d’etre was creating music that was ambitious, bold, challenging, influential and innovative. It was music that was ahead of its time. By the time other bands cottoned on to what The Beta Band were doing, their music was evolving again. Their music was a living, breathing thing. To breath, it had to change direction. Standing still wasn’t an option. No way. If The Beta Band stood still, they’d lose their edge and advantage. That wasn’t going to happen. The Beta Band prided themselves on being innovators. 

Pioneering and revolutionary describes The Beta Band’s music perfectly. They became know for creating cutting-edge, swashbuckling music. That’s why The Beta Band enjoyed commercial success, critical acclaim and cult status. Each E.P. and album was a musical tapestry. Full of nuances and subtleties, The Beta Band created exciting, inventive and genre-melting music. The Beta Band took listeners on a musical journey that challenging and exciting them with music that was way ahead of the competition. Sadly, after the release of their third album 2004s Heroes To Zeroes, The Beta Band split-up. It was a case of what might have been. 

Listening to the recently released the six disc box set, The Beta Band-The Regal Years 1997-2004, which was recently released by Regal Records, is a reminder of one of the best bands of a generation. Who knows what heights The Beta Band might have reached if they’d stayed together. Would they have reached the heights groups like Radiohead, Arcade Fire and Flaming Lips reached? That might have been the case. However, we’ll never know. What we do know, is that The Beta Band’s influence is still being felt nine years after they split-up. Who knows when we’ll see their likes again?

THE BETA BAND-THE REGAL YEARS 1997-2004.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: