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4.4 out of 5 stars
Free The Bees
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on 3 October 2004
The Isle of Wight probably isn't the first place you'd think of if you were asked to name a hotbed of musical invention. But if there are many more bands like The Bees knocking around there, it might soon be.
I've heard of a few artists being cited as likely influences on this album, from The Monkees (fair enough) to Ocean Colour Scene (never in a million years) to Sonny and Cher (erm....). But whatever The Bees have been listening to (and I'd guess it's Rubber Soul, Pet Sounds and Ogden's Nut Gone Flake as well as all kinds of other classic '60s pop and psychedelia), they must have pretty good taste.
This is a fine record, veering from the sublime poppiness of 'These Are The Ghosts' or the harder edge of 'Horsemen', to the totally barmy 'Chicken Payback' and the organ driven, pseudo-reggae grooves of 'The Russian'. And that's just the first half of the album.
Free The Bees is one of those albums that sounds like lots of things you've heard before, but simultaneously not quite like anything else. There are lush, harmony drenched tunes like 'This Is The Land' where there is an unexpected discordant guitar and piano thrown in. Then there's the clipped, strutting pop of 'Hourglass', with its lazy, laid-back guitar solo and woodwind accompaniment, followed by the fairground psychedelia of 'Go Karts'. Every song seems to have some new delight waiting for you.
This is an album made in the finest traditions of British Pop and Rock dating back to the whimsy of Syd Barrett and The Kinks and through to more recent acts like The Bluetones and The Beta Band. A riot.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Uh-oh, a follow-up to a much-loved Britpop album. That can only spell "high expectations." And that's the major problem with "Free the Bees," an otherwise lovely sophomore album by the British pop band. They shift their sound a bit, but retain the lush 60s influences and bright melodies.
Their first album was pieced together in much rougher circumstances -- in fact, it was stuck together in a garden shed. So the Bees get to make their sound a bit more polished this time around. It's perhaps not coincidental that they recorded "Free the Bees" at Abbey Road, since they seem to have soaked in the summery psychedelic vibe of the sixties.
That's most evident in songs like "Wash In The Rain," a summery pop tune that is washed in Hammond organ, or "One Glass of Water," a charmingly retro sound that is completely catchy and sweet. And they stray a bit from the sound with "Horseman," which is more influenced by harder rock from a decade later on. And "Chicken Payback" is nothing but hilarious.
The Bees (formerly "Band of Bees") are not known for their originality. They're known for making good pop music. Their music absolutely reeks of the summer of love, and they obviously are influenced by plenty of older bands, wandering happily from sixties psychedelica to seventies rock. But with that in mind, their music is warm and refreshing.
The best word to describe the music is bouncy -- the Bees call on snappy drums and cheery basslines and guitar riffs for their sound, as well as some deeply moving Hammond organ. To finish off the sound, they inject some harmonies that would make the Zombies wipe away a tear of pride.
Those looking for a bit of sun in the middle of winter might need this. The Bees sound very retro in their second album, but seem to be having plenty of fun as they travel back in time.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Uh-oh, a follow-up to a much-loved Britpop album. That can only spell "high expectations." And that's the major problem with "Free the Bees," an otherwise lovely sophomore album by the British pop band. They shift their sound a bit, but retain the lush 60s influences and bright melodies.

Their first album was pieced together in much rougher circumstances -- in fact, it was stuck together in a garden shed. So the Bees get to make their sound a bit more polished this time around. It's perhaps not coincidental that they recorded "Free the Bees" at Abbey Road, since they seem to have soaked in the summery psychedelic vibe of the sixties.

That's most evident in songs like "Wash In The Rain," a summery pop tune that is washed in Hammond organ, or "One Glass of Water," a charmingly retro sound that is completely catchy and sweet. And they stray a bit from the sound with "Horseman," which is more influenced by harder rock from a decade later on. And "Chicken Payback" is nothing but hilarious.

The Bees (formerly "Band of Bees") are not known for their originality or wild experimentation. They're known for making good pop music, and they don't disappoint here. Their music absolutely reeks of the summer of love, and they obviously are influenced by plenty of older bands, wandering happily from sixties psychedelica to seventies rock. But with that in mind, their music is warm and refreshing.

The best word to describe the music is bouncy -- the Bees call on snappy drums and cheery basslines and guitar riffs for their energetic sound, as well as some deeply moving Hammond organ. To finish off the sound, they inject some exquisite little harmonies that would make the Zombies wipe away a tear of pride.

Those looking for a bit of sun in the middle of winter might need this. The Bees sound very retro in their second album, but seem to be having plenty of fun as they travel back in time.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
If chiming scuzzed up guitars, huge reticulating slabs of Hammond organ and a sixties vibe so vivid that it would give Oliver Stone palpitations are you're thing then you are going to adore this album. Listening to Free the Bees the reference points come hurling at you. The Beatles obviously, but you should catch heady whiffs of The Small Faces, The Who, The Moody Blues, The Spencer Davis Group and well I think the point has been made by now. The Bees wear their retrograde vision proudly on their tie dyed sleeves but unlike moribund revisionists such as Ocean Colour Scene they actually have some decent songs to hang their influences on.
Occasionally they get a bit carried away. "Chicken Payback" has lyrics that would shame a nursery rhyme allied to a tired two note riff. Hammond heavy instrumental "The Russian" is spoilt by a roughed up reggae beat and unappealing bursts of brass noise. "Hourglass" takes three minutes to warm up but is pleasant enough when it does. These rare aberrations aside this is terrific stuff.
"These are the Ghosts" is a brilliant opening track with effulgent guitars, and a vocal melody of rare poise and power. Usually describing a song as jaunty is slightly insulting but no other word will do for "Wash in the Rain" revelling as it does in ebullient piano and monstrous keyboards. They even make the vaudeville sounding "No Atmosphere" engaging helped by the guitar heavy breaks. "Horsemen" sounds like a bog standard bluesy rocker until the chorus when the vocals are phased out and the sound is drenched in reverb. The gentler "I Love You" is a lovely acute ballad with a superb Paul Butler vocal performance. The echoey barbs of backing brass are a great touch as well. "Start" bumbles along on a rolling piano motif and more brass while "Go Karts" is unremarkable till the Hammond notes start swirling around in a riot of vertiginous noise. "One Glass of Water" is a messy fusion of aforementioned scuzzy guitars and organ but the melody is irresistible while closing song "This is the Land" is just a joyous vehement spangly guitar monster of a pop song.
I'm not usually a big fan of bands that revive tired old genres or look to the past for inspiration but in the case of this album I'll put my (Petty?) prejudices aside. After all what I listen to music for is to hear great songs and there are more than enough on Free the Bees to keep anyone with that particular interest happy.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
The first I knew of these guys was when I saw them on tv at Glastonbury a few days ago. I was awestruck at their performance. Needless to say, I logged on and ordered their albums from amazon.co.uk.
They arrived today.
I can safely say I haven't ever heard anything as astounding, original and retro as 'Free The Bees'. The swirling Hammond and alternating coarse and soft vocals on 'Horsemen' is as enchanting now as the Charlatans were back in 1990. An absolute essential for any real music lover!
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on 13 September 2007
This is by far the dtrongest Bees album. Octopus is good but it veers worryingly away from the melodies and breadth of sound of this album. It starts with real kick and west coast craft - the Byrds/Beach Boys are both in there but with a modern twist. Vocals and harmonies work well alongside a clearly talented set of tight musicians. I have heard that live they are something else although the lead chap is just too good.....and distracts the audience with his sheer range of musical ability. Catch this band now....wit this album and remember their name.....If they never "make it" they will be quoted and referred to for years to come....
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on 25 April 2011
This is the 2nd album from Isle of Wight based band The Bees and its an absolute corker from start to finish. The first few tracks are straight up rock and roll, with the brilliantly original Chicken Payback in the middle. Things do slow down a bit towards the end, but thats not a bad thing. Really easy to listen to, really catchy and very very enjoyable indeed. An excellent album from one of the UK's most highly under rated bands. Brilliant.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 17 March 2006
The Bees second album is chock full of melody. Some other reviewers preferred the first album, which was a completely different sounding record, and therefore doesn't bear comparison to their second. True, Free The Bees does wear it's late 60s influences quite openly, but when it sounds this good who could care? Marvo from beginning to end.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 16 July 2004
The Bees look like a badly dressed bunch of Badly Drawn Boy imititators, their music is all sixties bluster and seventies cod-funk cheese but amazingly they have created one of the best albums of 2004.
There is a refreshing feel to the english accents and bouncy optimism of most of the tracks here, a welcome relief perhaps from the sleazy overkill of US rock supergroups and dull plodders like Coldplay and Starsailor.
Normally I would give this retro-fest a wide birth but the quality shines through and thank god for the english accent in rock!
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7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
The Bees' astonishing debut 'Sunshine Hit Me' has firmly established itself as one of my all time favourite records, and The Bees have lived up to expectations on this, the'difficult' second album. The first thing you notice is that this sounds almost unrecognisable from the Isle Of Man boys' debut. That is not a bad thing, as simply replicating the laid back eclecticism of 'Sunshine' was not going to attract any new listeners. Instead, the boys have expanded their line up and taken a rockier dimension, but still wearing the 60s influences on their sleeves with pride. 'Wash In The Rain' recalls The Small Faces at their rootsiest, 'Chicken Payback' is a funky call and response number that will get even the most dancefloor-shy folk off their feet. The beautiful Beach boys-esque 'I Love You' shows off a more reflective aspect to proceedings. High point for me is the jazz-tinged hammond work out, 'The Russian'.
So, along with peers The Coral, Nic Armstrong, The Bees are proving that 60s influenced sounds are nothing to be ashamed of. Buy and enjoy. You wont be disappointed.
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