The Beta Band family tree

Posted by Alan Kovan on October 26, 2016 (0 Comments)

Having recently returned from the UK with a trip based around two Steve Mason dates, Hebden Bridge Trades Club October 8th and Wakefield Unity Works October 14th, I cant seem to get these shows out of my mind.

Stripped down from a five piece band to a three piece band for this tour the songs played took on a much different feel(or so I am told). I was happy either way since the chance of Steve Mason playing the US are pretty slim. I do hope to eat those words.

I thought this would be as good a time as any to appreciate the Beta Band and their family tree: The Aliens, King Biscuit Time and the Steve Mason solo albums. All worthy of being in any fans collection.

We can start with the Beta Band- The Three EPs with monsters tunes like Dry The Rain, Dogs Got A Bone, Inner Meet Me, Dr Baker to name a few. It is a compilation of the first three eps put out by them. So good in fact is makes an appearance in the film High Fidelity.

Next up the 1999 self titled debut album. The band went on record saying they hated it but I didn't. Even sub par Beta Band(their view not mine) is pretty damn good. It's Not Too Beautiful and Smiling spring to mind.

2001's Hot Shots ll was an improvement over the debut with a more song oriented album. Squares, Human Being and Quiet stand out.

2004 saw Heroes To Zeroes released. Sadly this would be the last Beta Band studio album. Assessment, Simple, and Easy stand out among others. This was a great way to end this part of the Beta Band story if it had to end. Which apparently it did.

If this blog piques your interest this 2005 release The Regal Years 1997-2004 is a must. 6 CDs of studio tracks, live versions, radio sessions, demos and other material.

This is where the fork in the road happens. Well maybe it happened a bit before. 1999 saw the release of King Biscuit Time's (basically just Steve Mason) No Style EP in the US which compiles two UK CD singles. For starters I Walk The Earth is worth owning this for. There is more. I Love You and Time To Get Up also fantastic.

There is also this 2007 release which isn't that easy to find. A little searching would pay off with some amazing tracks: Kwangchow, All Over You and Rising Son. There is even an uber limited version with an instrumental CD included.

Also a 2007 release is this awesome slice of whimsical psychedelia. The Aliens- John McLean, Robin Jones & Gordon Anderson. Setting Sun, I Am The Unknown & She Dont Love Me No More stand out. This is a light hearted fun record from start to finish.

One year later this masterpiece was released. 2008's Luna is fantastic from start to finish. I am not going to pick out any stand out tracks. It is just superb from the first song to the last. Not difficult to find unless you are a vinyl die hard. Then not an easy one. I may be able to help you there.

There was 4 track EP released n 2006 Alienoid Starmonica as well as other singles.

This is where Steve Mason went off on his own in 2010. Under his own name this time. This was the first sign of more amazing music to come. The All Come Down video. More amazing tracks: Boys Outside, a very personal song about depression and Hound On My Heel. There is also a bonus CD with a Dub reworking of this album with Dennis Bovell.

This is a heavy album. Very political. Very angry and cynical. Also right on point. 2013 Monkeys Mind In The Devils Time is another Steve Mason classic. There are elements of psychedelia, hip hop and everything else in this record. Tracks I would point out: A Lot Of Love, Lonely, Oh My Lord, Fight Them Back & Come To Me. Unforgettable listening.

Here we are in 2016. Meet The Humans is a pop record. I read in an interview Steve Mason wanted/needed to lighten things up on this record. This is my #1 record of 2016 by some distance. Several songs stand out on this album. Buy it. Cd, LP, download. You wont regret it.

I am so happy to have seen those two UK shows earlier this month. Steve Mason is quite an entertainer. Witty, funny, self deprecating, and quite a performer. It feels good when you walk out of a gig and just smile. Especially the encores Hardly Go Through and Dry The Rain.

Maybe this little blog will turn someone on to Steve Mason. I hope so. What would really be great is if anyone used this blog as a road map to some of the best music released in the last 18 years.

Others not covered in this blog but related are:
Lone Pigeon, Black Affair, Django Django, Brothers In Sound. Just depends how deep you want to get into this Beta Band family tree.



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