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4.0 out of 5 stars9
4.0 out of 5 stars
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on 7 February 2005
I have no idea why The Beta Band are so ashamed with their eponymous debut. For a band to be given the creative freedom they were given at such an early stage in their career is a definate sign of incredible talent, and giving creative control to these guys was a very good idea. Definately song based, but every song manages to achieve so much by exploring four hundred different ideas at a time. Even the hyper minimalist Simple Boy is greater than the entire back catalogues of some bands. Extremely simple drums and almost gregorian chanting, but the lyrics and overall mood create a work of inspired genius.
The album's strongest point is It's Not Too Beautiful, an ominous broody psychadelic plod through a dark forest that erupts into a breakdown of sampled orchestration and Dark Side of the Moon style sound effects.
Other tracks to note are Smiling, which could be classed as funk were it not for the speeded up vocals, and The Hard One, ten minutes of ticking clocks, ominous bass chords and "borrowed" lyrics.
Weirdly, it is during the more conventional moments when the album falters. The acoustic folk epic of Broken Up A Dingdong would sound fantastic on 3 EPs, but simply sounds out of place on this collection which defies description. The same can be said for the cheeky assertions of Number 15. ("Fifteen reasons not to spend my life with you".) Excellent song, but definately out of place.
The band described this album as an awful collection of "half songs with jams in the middle". I can sort of see where they're coming from, but is that really a bad thing? I have not heard anything like this before, it's a real step forward. The band should count this as their finest moment.
I only wish they'd been allowed to go along with the original plan to include a second disk that featured a single hour long descent into madness. Hopefully this will one day surface in a box set or something, but until then we can only dream.
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on 1 November 1999
After hearing the excellent 3 EPs album, I rushed out to buy this on release. On first listening I was dissapointed, finding I could only listen to 3 tracks. After seeing the band live though the album made a lot more sense, and I could see what the band meant when they told the press it was unfinished. Has Improved with every listen since. A great album but not a great introduction to the beta band. Get the 3 EPs first.
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on 29 September 2006
Another excellent album from the excellent Beta Band, although due to its slighty sprawling nature perhaps not the best album to buy first. The band themselves described this album as the worst record to come out that year and on first listening I could almost agree with them, but given some time the album reveals some of their best work. It lacks the immediate impact of their previous EP's and later albums, but once you get past the slight 'wackiness' and apparent lack of structure there are some beautiful moments and songs, they are just well hidden. Stylistically the album is very eclectic, incorporating elements of dance, hip hop, electronica, reggae and folk, but forget the pointless comparisons to Beck or Pink Floyd because the Beta Band have created their own truly unique and slightly skewed sound. It is also worth tracking down the vinyl for the beautiful gatefold case it comes in.

In summary it is an album that is slighly hard to grasp on the first couple of listens, but by investing a little time it is a very rewarding experience.

RIP The Beta Band
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on 7 February 2001
Having adored "The 3 EPs", I eagerly ripped open the packing as soon as this album arrived, but it left me strangely cold on the first few listens. At that point, the two "daft" tracks near the beginning, Beta Band Rap and Round the Bend, were the most accessible, mainly because of the obvious narrative and energy. However, this grates after a while, so I turned to the latter part of the album. Broken Up A Ding Dong is a classic. You know that scene in High Fidelity (film version) where Rob puts on The 3 EPs to get 5 quick sales? He could do the same with this track. I don't know how I missed it first time, but it's outstanding for its sheer tune and gusto, plus some excellent production. The more downbeat Number 15 then leads into Smiling, building up in layers with a great piano backing. If you find yourself disoriented on first listen, just make sure it doesn't stay on the shelf - the most important thing you can give this album is time.
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on 5 October 1999
Many great bands have started off their careers with a greatopening song, so what does the Beta Band have in-store for us. Well they give us the 'Beta Band Rap' a light stab at hip hop with a what seems to be a in-house joke that rap with a silent 'C'. They play with being off beat and near genius they seem to be the closest you can get to Gomez. Through the album they give a little excellence in each song which makes you realize you have caught onto something good here, a great song on here is 'It's Not Too Beautiful' this has a great intro they have a great outlook on there music which at times seems odd but it catches you off guard and makes you go 'aaaaahhhh!!'
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on 5 March 2016
I would have preferred the original CD, not the 'Collectible' version which has no inlay and a B&W printed CD. It may be collectible to an obsessive, but I was expecting something superior to the original. In fact the original CD and inlay is superior.

However it is a great album and gets four stars for that!
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on 11 December 1999
After hearing 'The 3 EP's' I was really looking forward to this album. Unfortunately, only 1 of the opening 7 tracks (the epic 'It's not too beautiful') is worth the CD space. The other 6 veer from weak ('Simple boy') to irritating (the awful 'Beta Band Rap'). However, the last 3 tracks are well up to their previous high standards. So if you liked '3 EP's' and don't mind shelling out album price for another ep's worth of decent tracks....
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on 28 May 2000
This bizarrely experimental album is one which gets better and better each time you hear it. The first, not entirely serious, track, is a lot of fun and is followed by a fantastic triumvirate of tracks: It's not too beautiful defies it's name by being a song of real beauty, and simple boy and round the bend continue in the same vein. This is the high point of the album but the rest gets close to this level. If it has a flaw it's that some of the more offbeat stuff meanders a little and there are a couple of dud tracks- notably 5 and 9. All in all, though, a great album.
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on 15 May 2016
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