The second guy who responded was a few years older than me and was studying for Masters’ degree in digital music technology. He had a degree in physics, but was a music lover through and through. His main instrument was the harmonica, which meant that all of the songs we wrote had to have harmonica solos, and we always ended up doing Bob Dylan covers. He had an immense collection of CDs, and introduced me to a lot of artists I had never heard of, or hadn’t really listened to: Ride, the Boo Radleys, and the Beta Band. I remember one day we were in his room chatting about music, and he had the second Beta Band EP of the Three EPs on vinyl. He played ‘Inner Meet Me’ and I just fell in love with it: it sounded a bit like Beck, but more psychedelic. The next time I went to the HMV in Hanley, I bought my own copy of the Three EPs and played it nonstop for about a fortnight. We never really got anywhere with the band; we did some DJ sets together and wrote some songs, but nothing ever really seemed to click musically.
The first EP, Champion Versions, opens with ‘Dry the Rain’ - arguably of the Beta Band’s finest moments: a transcendent folk song that builds to an uplifting crescendo, with layered vocals, glorious trumpets and an awesome bass-groove. The song is an anthem, and it’s impossible to hear this song and not sing along with the chorus: “If there is something inside that you want to say / say it ,alright, it will be okay / I will be your light / I will be your life” - simply brilliant. ‘Dog’s got a Bone’ is a laidback sleepy song with relaxed guitars and accordion. It doesn’t have the anthemic feel of ‘Dry the Rain’ - it is more inward looking and existential, but very good in very different ways. Opener to the second EP, The Patty Patty Sound, ‘Inner Meet Me’ is probably my favourite track on the collection. It has surreal lyrics that verge on the absurd (“Last night I dreamt somebody fell asleep between my knees / I couldn't help it all my thoughts were rejected by a boy called me”), an otherworldly sound, and the tune is just mind-blowing. ‘She’s the one for me’ treads similar musical ground as ‘Dry the Rain’ but throws in some high-pitched speeded-up vocals in the chorus, just to throw you off your guard. ‘Dr Baker’ from the third EP, Los Amigos del Beta Bandidos, is another highlight, with its walking piano and hypnotic vocals soaked in reverb and given space to breathe. It’s a great piece of music that I would recommend to any music lover.
Again, I am forced to keep another album, and another charity suffers because of my selfishness, but what can you do?