Tuesday, January 31, 2006

The Beta Band

All I am going to write is based solely on what I have from the Heroes To Zeroes album, and I don't know any of their other music (other than the snippet played in the Hi Fidelity movie).

This is a situation I plan to rectify a.s.a.p. Rarely have I felt so compelled to collect a band's opus as I do with this band.

Simply put, The Beta Band, are the greatest neo-sixties-to-seventies acid/psychedelic rock band I have heard.

In fact, they have so deeply imbibed the zeitgeist of that era that they would come across as a highly original and essential band even at the absolute heyday of The Beatles/Pink Floyd/Pretty Things/Beach Boys/Traffic/Family/Soft Machine/Gong psychedelic explosion.

But little touches of everything that has come between also infuse this music, so that it is not merely a throwback. Particularly evident is the music of the greatest neo-psychedelic rock band of the 1970s/80s, Siouxsie & The Banshees. Also evident is the greatest neo-psychedelic pop band of the 1980s, XTC.

If all the record relied upon was the production values of those eras it would not amount to much. But every song here is a melodic and harmonic gem, capable of standing besides the very best of their influences and frequently surpassing them.

Most sadly, The Beta Band are no more. But they demonstrate unequivocally that the experimental rock music of the 1960s/1970s need not remain fossilized, the lode can be mined afresh by every succeeding generation.

In this way, The Beta Band resemble Stereolab, although their sounds and artistic vision are quite different.

No greater counter-argument to the perennial "rock is dead" lament that aging rock fans trot out when confronted with a scene that seems to have left them behind exists than this. For the truth is that no one is left behind unless they choose to be, and every amazing offshoot of rock 'n' roll continues to thrive.

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