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The Beta Band

The Beta Band were a British musical group who received much critical acclaim and achieved cult status amongst avidfollowers of the underground and experimental music scene. Their style was described as being "folktronica", a blend of folk,electronic, rock, trip hop, and experimental jamming.

The Beta Band formed in 1996 around St Andrews musicians Steve Mason (vocals, guitar) and Gordon Anderson. The two hadplans to call their group The Pigeons but later changed their minds. As they pulled together songs for their debut EP,Champion Versions, they added Robin Jones (drums) a ...read more

The Beta Band were a British musical group who received much critical acclaim and achieved cult status amongst avidfollowers of the underground and experimental music scene. Their style was described as being "folktronica", a blend of folk,electronic, rock, trip hop, and experimental jamming.

The Beta Band formed in 1996 around St Andrews musicians Steve Mason (vocals, guitar) and Gordon Anderson. The two hadplans to call their group The Pigeons but later changed their minds. As they pulled together songs for their debut EP,Champion Versions, they added Robin Jones (drums) and John Maclean (DJ, sampler, keyboards). Steve Duffield was theoriginal bassist but quit the band soon after recording Champion Versions. Not long after they were signed toRegal/Parlophone, Anderson became ill and decided to quit the band. He would later produce recordings under the name LonePigeon. The remaining members added Englishman Richard Greentree (bass) and solidified their lineup.

Champion Versions was released in July 1997 to critical acclaim not only for the music but also for the record's innovativecut-and-paste sleeve design (the work of John Maclean). Two further EPs followed in 1998: The Patty Patty Sound in Marchand Los Amigos del Beta Bandidos in July. The EPs were all subjects of widespread critical praise, and all three appeared onthe appropriately titled The Three E.P.'s collection in September 1998.

The band soon commenced work on their ambitious first full-length recording, pulling inspiration from sources as diverse asJamaican reggae, Disney's movie The Black Hole and Bonnie Tyler's "Total Eclipse of the Heart." The record, simply titled TheBeta Band, was released on 21 June 1999. The first track, "The Beta Band Rap," managed to tell the band's back story overalternating bubblegum pop, rap and rockabilly backing tracks. Its eclecticism was representative of the rest of the album,which was widely perceived to be more stylistically diverse than the initial EPs. The mixed press turned decidedly negativewhen the band announced their own disdain for the record. They claimed that Regal's unreasonable deadline and tightbudgets kept them from refining their improvisations into coherent songs.

Nonetheless, the album had not generally been as well-received as the preceding EPs, and the band returned to the studiowith something to prove. The result of that session was the double A-side single "To You Alone"/"Sequinsizer", released on 24January 2000. As early as August the previous year, Mason had discussed the possibility of releasing the tracks as a singleand had urged fans to lobby Regal for the release. The single was received favourably and was widely regarded as a return toform for the band. The NME made it their "Single of the Week", and would later select it as one of the 50 greatest singles of2000 in their end-of-year awards. "To You Alone" was also included on the soundtrack of the 2000 remake of the televisionseries Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased), released in March.

Even higher profile soundtrack exposure was to follow, with the band's music featuring prominently in a scene in the film HighFidelity (based on the Nick Hornby novel of the same name), released in late March 2000 in the U.S. and July in the UK. Inthe film, a record store owner played by John Cusack mentions the band by name ("I will now sell five copies of The ThreeE.P.'s by The Beta Band") and plays a minute or so of the song "Dry the Rain." This exposed the band to a wide range of newlisteners, particularly in the U.S., where the band's profile had previously been borderline nonexistent.

A hiatus followed, during which Mason released his second King Biscuit Time EP. The band gradually gravitated back into thestudio, this time recruiting noted UK producer Colin Emmanuel, aka C-Swing, to oversee the process. The album, Hot Shots II,appeared in summer 2001, and was warmly received by critics and fans alike. It sacrificed much of the first album'sexperimentation for more boiled-down pop structure and hooks. The band had originally intended to release "Squares" (b/w"Won") as the leadoff single—a video had been filmed and promo discs issued—but when it transpired that another single("Daydream in Blue" by I Monster) featuring a sample from the same sixties song by Wallace Collection was to be released ataround the same time, the band opted to release "Broke" instead. Two other singles were released from the album: "HumanBeing" in October 2001 and "Squares" in February 2002 (with the I Monster track long out of the charts). The band embarkedon a long tour to support the album, at one point supporting Radiohead. In August 2002, they made #3 on Q magazine's listof "50 Bands to See Before You Die".

The band began demo sessions for their third album in September 2002. They entered the studio with producer Tom Rothrockin 2003 and managed to complete a number of tracks. However, the band were not pleased with the results, and nor wereRegal executives. So it was that the band themselves produced the album. Famed producer Nigel Godrich was called in to mixthe album, which was finally completed in early 2004. Lead single, "Assessment," was released on 12 April 2004, followed bythe album Heroes to Zeros on 26 April. One of the tracks, "Liquid Bird" featured a sample of Siouxsie and the Banshees.[1] Asecond single, "Out-Side", followed in July. To the surprise of most fans, the band announced their breakup on their officialwebsite on 2 August 2004. In November, they performed at the Summer Sundae festival and commenced a farewell tour.Their final show was at Edinburgh's Liquid Rooms venue on 5 December 2004.

On 3 October 2005, the band released a 2-disc DVD set, The Best of The Beta Band - Film, featuring most of the band'svideos and a selection of short films, television footage, documentaries as well as four songs recorded live at the ShepherdsBush Empire on 29 November 2004, one of the band's final performances. Also released on the same day was a 2 CD set, TheBest of The Beta Band - Music, comprising a compilation disc of studio recordings and a disc containing the Shepherds Bushgig.

Since the split, Steve Mason has released music with his solo project King Biscuit Time as well as new projects Black Affairand Good Face and in May 2010 released the first record in his own name entitled Boys Outside. Robin Jones and JohnMaclean have become The Aliens along with former Beta Band member Gordon Anderson (a.k.a. Lone Pigeon) and RichardGreentree is working with his new band The General and Duchess Collins.

(source: wikipedia.org) « hide

Similar Bands: Steve Mason, King Biscuit time, Super Furry Animals, Black Affair, Lone Pigeon

LPs
Heroes to Zeros
2004

3.6
22 Votes
Hot Shots II
2001

3.7
37 Votes
The Beta Band
1999

3.4
10 Votes
EPs
Los Amigos del Beta Bandidos
1998

3.8
2 Votes
The Patty Patty Sound
1998

3.5
2 Votes
Champion Versions
1997

3.7
6 Votes
Compilations
The Regal Years (1997-2004)
10/07/2013

The Best of The Beta Band: Music
2005

The Three EPs
1998

3.9
89 Votes

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