Sunday, February 04, 2007

Put It In Your Pocket For A Rainy Day

The Beta Band - Dry The Rain

I used to drive my two best mates from the shabby suburban town we went to school in, over to the slightly bigger shabby suburban town almost every week. On a Monday, we would regularly cut our important A-level classes either to play on Rave Racer in the arcades, or to buy records. Often, when we could afford it, we would do both. These were great days, and were probably more important in terms of making me who I am today than actually going to those English Literature classes did. One week however, I didn't go, and to my horror they both came back to school the next day with copies of The Beta Band's debut EP ‘Champion Versions’. My heart sank to such a level that just recalling this feeling is making me sad right now. To hell with A-levels, mock exams, football practice, trying to impress that girl in the year above, all of it meant nothing to me because I didn’t own that record. The excuse they offered, "They only had two" meant nothing to me either. How could they do this to me? I was without what I knew would be the best record I would now never own.

To his great credit, one of those friends actually just gave me the record a few years later. I am still chuffed at that act of selflessness, and that piece of vinyl is one of the most cherished in my small but perfectly formed collection. I still absolutely love listening to The Beta Band, and those first ‘Three Eps’ in particular, are as good as anything that gets an over-hyped release these days.

The Aliens - The Happy Song

Since the Beta's split, we have had Steve Mason's solo outing as King Biscuit Time, and it’s not that I dislike it, I know Joe loves it, but for me it just doesn't click in the same way that The Beta Band did. However, made up of former Beta Band members Gordon Anderson (aka Lone Pigeon), Robin Jones and John Maclean, The Aliens seem to pick up the vibe from those early Beta Band EPs. Last year's debut ‘Alienoid Starmonica EP’ saw a sense of experimentation and fun in abundance. ‘Only Waiting’ and ‘Robot Man’ were exceptional, and the follow-up single, ‘The Happy Song’ is an unashamedly perky feel-good pop jaunt that bounds along like a children's nursery rhyme mating with an over zealous musical cheetah. It does make me happy when I hear it and it makes me smile, something I seem to recall doing a lot more of back in the days when I used to cut school to go and buy Beta Band records.

The Aliens' new single ‘Setting Sun’ is released on 5th March, followed by the album ‘Astronomy For Dogs’ on 19th March. The Aliens play Hertford Marquee on Weds 7th Feb and the London Scala on Thurs Feb 8th.

The Aliens on My Space
The Aliens website
Buy The Aliens from Norman Records
Buy The Beta Band from Norman Records
The Beta Band website
The Beta Band at My Space