My CD filing system makes it pretty easy to find not just Neil Young, Magnetic Fields and Alasdair Roberts albums, but also anything by a Manchester post-punk/indie band, classic rock, torch songs, or from my very small Britpop collection. It's a bit more tricky with some acts, including The Beta Band. Though in this case my first guess — look near the A.R. Kane CDs — turned out to be spot on.
The arc of The Beta Band follows A.R. Kane's fairly closely: the early EPs feted in the press as the Next Big Thing, a couple of albums bursting with ideas, so bursting that people weren't quite sure where to file them in their collections, and tacitly held that against the band. Then the corresponding loss of confidence in the musical ideas, probably followed by the record company going cold on them and reminding them how much of their advance they still owed. Which led them to call it a day.
At least that's how I've reconstructed it. I wasn't following The Beta Band for much of their career (I only started to catch up towards the end), so maybe I've got the wrong end of the stick.
I bought Hot Shots II early in 2002, and must have liked it, because I went out and bought its predecessor a couple of months later. Listening again, I'm surprised I stopped there. This has got me thinking that I need to check out those Three EPs on Spotify. And while I'm there, I'll be checking out The Aliens' stuff too.
In the years just after 2004, when The Beta Band split, I couldn't quite figure how they could cite lack of commercial success as a reason for splitting, and then re-emerge in a new band (The Aliens) or as a solo artist. Starting back at square one under new names, and thus ditching most of the fanbase, didn't seem like a good way of making more money. But perhaps it was a bad record company deal that was keeping them poor before. And I love this quote from the BBC report: "The Beta Band apple has over-ripened and become riddled with maggots, it must fall from the tree and let its seeds return to ground." Compost again!
Five songs in, The Aliens are sounding pretty good. We saw them at the Green Man Festival in 2006, and perhaps again in 2007, and weren't impressed. Their second album starts well. Just not as well as Hot Shots II.
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