6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 2 October 2005
The criminally ignored and underrated Beta Band have released a greatest hits compilation. As a "best of", it's quite definitive. The most accessible tracks from their unrivalled seem to have been selected, yet even these are about as far away from the "mainstream" as is possible without sounding like "metal machine music". From the achingly beautiful to the miraculously uplifting, from the lo-fi electro to the soaring stadium anthems, it's hard to find a better selection of songs. "It's Not Too Beautiful" would have to be my pick of the bunch. It's an absolutely insane mix of sampled orchestration, unsettling sound effects and ominous guitar riffs and looped vocals that tend to take the listener's breath away. Then there's the catchy uplifting hip hop of "Smiling", a song that one can chill out to AND dance to simultaneously (if need be).
But it's the quieter moments that have the deepest impacts. "Dry The Rain" might well be known as the song that's namechecked by John Cusack in "High Fidelity", but it's so much more than that. It's a timeless classic of a song, leaves you feeling very warm inside.
The same can be said of "Broke". It uses extremely sparse and minimalistic instrumentation, yet somehow manages to fill the room with a radiant warmth. This seems to be a trick that only the best of bands can accomplish. Dense, lush soundscapes are brilliant, but one has to admire those who can achieve so much with so little. The White Stripes do it, Sigur Ros do it, and so too do The Beta Band.
The people that need to buy this album are the curious many who know very little of this wonderful band. Those that claim to be fans of "alternative" music. Only then can their legacy grow, and God willing, one day they'll reform, Pixies style, and finally be recognised as some of the greatest innovators in musical history.
However, the second disc should ensure that the existing fans have reason to shell out. The Beta Band always sounded better onstage than on CD, and to my knowledge this is the first "official" live recording available. As such, it's a real treat for the fans. "Dr. Baker" sounds especially superior live, with the speeded up tempo and added guitar parts, it was always a crowd pleaser. However, the quadruple drum solo that brings "The House Song" to a close is truly unforgettable.
This could well be the greatest release of 2005.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 20 April 2008
Now this has to be bargain of the century, a double cd packed with great songs from a band that is sadly no longer with us.
I have all the Beta Band albums but bought this cheap and left it on the shelf for ages, then I finally realised that there was a live concert performance on the 2nd cd and this alone makes this cd set worth the price.
If you have never heard the Beta Band this is a great starting point with 16 of the singles in chronological order. If you have most of the music already and like the band it is worth buying for the live cd, it is from one of their last concerts (Sheperds Bush Empire) and is well worth listening to, many of the songs are superior to the studio versions. It is a fantastic performance and lasts the full cd (78 mins).
This band is hard to categorise musically but they produced some of the catchiest and most interesting tunes you'll ever hear, well worth risking a fiver.
7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on 18 January 2006
An obvious 'best of' from the four albums the Beta Band released (including The 3 EP's). The Songs from the 3 EP's are still the best but later offerings 'Broke' and 'Simple' are excellent pieces of music. 'Dry The Rain' remains a timeless classic and just as John Cusack is willing to bet in the film 'High Fidelity' it would sell a lot of records if record shops played it more often. Notable by its absence is 'Won', the B-Side to 'Broke', a hip hop track with a guest vocalist. It's not the Beta Band's usual sound but with the trademark shuffling drums, clever sampling and unique percussion it is still one of the best tracks The Beta Band ever made. Perhaps it will feature on 'The Very Best of the Beta Band', the album released to celebrate the Beta Band's return following a record shop based revival?
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 21 June 2006
I love the Beta Band, this is a fair representation of their work. Agree with the other reviewer's comments about Won, when I saw them live it was one of their stand-out tracks and I spent half a day trecking round town trying to find it! Still, some good stuff on here, the Beta Band Rocked!