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coverpic flag Scotland - Full Moon 59 - 08/04/01

The Beta Band
Hot Shots II
Regal

The Beta Band must be on top of the world right now. Having overcome the motivational trough of their self-professed 'fucking awful' debut album, they have written new songs to rival any on the legendary Three EPs complilation album. The thrust of their sound may have changed, but this is awesome, life-affirming music. And even trying to release the corking Squares as a single, only to have it trumped by a song with the same sample (by I-Monster), can't dim their new radiance, as evidenced by their thrilling live shows.

More in the (no) style of Mason's solo output as King Biscuit Time, Hot Shots II pares down the psych-folk and abstract collages, bringing the crisp drums and throbbing bass to the fore. Very groovy, very danceable. On the first few listens the songs seem to meld together, each one riding on the back of repetitious, catchy hooks and breaks. Then you realise the tunes swimming around in your head just have to be heard again. And again and again . . .

. . . until you realise that The Beta Band have stumbled upon something rather special: a record that is enjoyable to listen to and really enrichs the soul. Just listen to Mason's vocal harmonies - warmer, more confident, more lovingly delivered. And then there's the loved-up lyrical gist of almost everything here. Whereas songs from the eponymous debut (including the genius The Hard One) had a distinctly mournful edge, most of the songs on Hot Shots II, bar the gorgeous elegaic Gone, are celebratory, funny and downright brilliant. Take the closing Eclipse as a case in point, with its half-spoken musings on questions, answers, books and pizza pie. Or the uplifting chorus of Quiet: "You can go outside where the sun and the people blind you/You can go outside where the love of the people finds you".

In the end, "The people with the answers lied", but The Beta Band are throwing up one hell of a lot of great suggestions.

Copyright © 2001 Tim Clarke e-mail address

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