Here’s a clip of Anglo-Scots lo-fi heroes the Beta Band with their mighty track “Dry The Rain”, initially released on an EP, later to be compiled on The Three E.P.’s . This compilation, and this song too, eventually made their reputation as a band to watch in the late 90s. And quoting the Beta Band as an influence in order to ride their coolness coattails was a popular move around this time for flagging rock stars being interviewed by the rock press.
To be brutally honest, when I first heard the Beta Band in 1999, they drove me up the wall. I could tell there was massive talent there. They had a handle on getting into a groove, and with a proficiency for throwing together genres into a homemade stew, not unlike what Beck was doing on his Odelay album. But, I found them to be unfocused, that there was a great single in there somewhere, if they would only slow down with the sonic experimentation and deliver it already.
Then, I heard ‘Dry the Rain’.
There is of course that now famous scene in High Fidelity, where record shop owner whispers to a friend: “Watch me sell five copies of the Three E.P’s by the Beta Band.”. He puts on the record just as the band go into the extended groove part of the song (“There’s something inside that you wanna say…”), and the heads of all in the shop begin to bob.
That’s exactly what happened to me when my friends played the song for me. And it remains to be one of my top 100 juke box favourites, and certainly one of the best things about music in the 90s overall.
The Beta Band never hooked into the mainstream, possibly because they had such high expectations. They proclaimed their official self-titled first album to be ‘shit’. The second album, the excellent Hot Shots II focused on their talents for texture , atmosphere, and groove. But, they still couldn’t find worldwide commercial traction.
By the tellingly titled Heroes to Zeros, the band had run its course, at least according to the band members themselves, some of whom went on to form the Aliens, who are currently impressing British audiences as one of the best live bands active today.
For more information, check out the Beta Band on MySpace.
And for touring information and release dates, investigate the official Aliens website too.