The Beta Band-Hot Shots II.

Label: Because Music.

When The Beta Band was released to widespread critical acclaim in June 1999, everyone at Regal Records celebrated as The Beta Band reached number nineteen in the UK, However, not everyone was happy with the album.

Despite their eponymous debut album giving them a hit in the UK, Steve Mason  of The Beta Band called the album: “fucking awful” and  “it’s definitely the worst record we’ve ever made and it’s probably one of the worst records that’ll come out this year.” Steve Mason then said in an interview with NME that the album had: some terrible songs,” and they weren’t e “fully realised or fully even written. Half-written songs with jams in the middle” The Beta Band seemed determined to sabotage their career at Regal Records.

To make matters worse, The Beta Band seemed in no hurry to record their sophomore album. Steve Mason recorded and released the No Style EP under his King Biscuit Time EP moniker. After this, Steve Mason and the rest of The Beta Band’s thoughts turned to their sophomore album Hot Shots II, which has just been reissued by Because Music.

Eventually, The Beta Band decided it was time to return to the studio, and this time brought onboard British producer Colin Emmanuel, aka C-Swing, who oversaw production of what eventually became Hot Shots II.

During the Hot Shots II sessions, The Beta Band recorded ten new tracks with C-Swing. The tracks were very different to those on The Beta Band. Some of the songs were much quieter and a less is more approach to production was the order of the day. This allowed the songs to breath, with less ‘obstacles’ obscuring the key parts of the songs. Some of the songs were slow and dark and featured descending chords as The Beta Band continued to innovate. To do this, they took their own unique and inimitable approach 

On the album opener Squares, just drumbeats and bass lines accompany Stephen Mason’s chanted vocal. It’s only during a chorus where gorgeous string-drenched trip hop chorus does the song reveal its secrets. Then on Gone, it’s just bass, piano, and backing vocals that play their part in the sound and success of the song. However, on other tracks The Beta Band deploy everything from samples of stunting acoustic guitar melodica and grandiose horns. They’re part of a rich and vibrant musical tapestry. Sometimes, The Beta Band kick loose, and find their inner rocker and become a very different band to that on their eponymous debut album. They’re also a much more focused band and less prone to bouts of eccentricity like The Beta Band Rap. It was as if The Beta Band  had come of age on Hot Shots II.

Critics were won over by Hot Shots II, and hailed  The Beta Band’s sophomore album as one of the albums of 2001. Hot Shots II was hailed as The Beta Band’s finest hour. 

Buoyed by the critical acclaim, Hot Shots II was released in July 2001. Hot Shots II reached number thirteen in the UK and sneaked into the US Billboard 200 at 200. It also reached fourteen in the US Heatseekers chart and eleven in the Independent album charts. The Beta Band looked on the verge of breaking into the lucrative American market. Sadly, they only produced one more album.,

Three years later in 2004, Heroes To Zeros was released to plaudits and praise and reached eighteen in the UK. Heroes To Zeros was The Beta Band’s swan-song and they split-up later in 2004.

Looking back at The Beta Band’s eight year career, their genre-melting sophomore album was the finest of their career. With its fusion of rock, electronica and folk it featured The Beta Band at their innovative best as they combined various musical influences and genres.

The result was Hot Shots II, an album that The Beta Band would never surpass during the remainder of their career. Now, fourteen years have passed since The Beta Band called time on their career, Hot Shots II is regarded as their finest hour.

The Beta Band-Hot Shots II.

1 Comment

  1. Yes! I had the good opportunity to see them on 2 occasions (3if you count opening for Radiohead) and they never failed to impress me. Great band, sad they didn’t last much longer. Had they broken through in the States who knows how far they could have gone.

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