Tag Archives: Beck

The Beta Band – The Three EPs

Definitely coming under the ‘not for everybody’ category, if you don’t hate this you’ll probably think it’s the genius. I’t been labeled trip hop, folktronica and a number of other things, none of which quite prepare you for the journey that is the three EPs. At it’s heart this is a band who play some very enjoyable jams and weave together some honey sounding vocal melodies. When you throw on top all of the fun experimental stuff they put on top, you get the whole picture.

An intriguing mix of sounds that can sound like honeyed folk one moment, then acid and electronic tinged folk, to hip hop and Beatlesque number nine like flights of fancy on tracks like the 15.48 minutes “Monolith.” I think this album just gets better as you listen to it.

They never made it super huge, but they’ve been name checked in movies like Hi Fidelity as the album you put on when you want to sell five copies of an album in a really short time.

Not surprisingly it is made up of the first three EPs to be produced by the anglo scottish Beta Band. The EPs are in order Champion Versions, The Patty Patty Sound, and Los Amigos del Beta Bandidos. You’ll probably have your own favourite one even if you listen to it as one. My favouritee is the Patty Patty sound that goes a little crazy in a good way.


Yes, and they are great. Also quite a few samples thrown in as well.

This is a fun album, lots of folky very rhythmic folky sing along, wight eh trip hop and a bit of weirdness throw in. I find this a really enjoyable piece of music as a whole. Really I’m a big fan. This would be one of my all time favourite albums if I’m being honest.

Good to work to
Well I like slightly weird music so it’s always going to be good for me, but this album is folky and groove based so large parts of it will work for anyone. When it veers off and gets triply it’s not going to appeal to everyone, but those who like it will really like it.

I know not everyone might agree but there is a bit of Beck in the folk hip hop electronic vibe of his earlier work that I’m reminded of. Maybe not the other albums on this site, but something like Beck’s Odelay.

The Artist/s
Hailing from Scotland, forming in 1996 and disbanding in 20014 the Beta Band are…

John Maclean
Richard Greentree
Steve Mason
Robin Jones
Gordon Anderson
Steve Duffield

Other works
This is one of those albums that herald the birth of creative genius where you think they are going to become absolutely massive, but never quite happens. The Beta band released 2 other albums Hot Shots II in 2001, and Heroes to Zeros in 2004.

While they received some critical acclaim, the three Eps is the stand out work in my mind. Steve Mason the Beta Band’s lead singer alson released music as King Biscuit Boy.

Where Can I buy it, and in what formats
The CD and electronic versions of the album have been in constant circulation. If you love vinyl the original three individual Eps have been re-released.

The Verdict
Pass the crazy pills this is a great album where folk and a big dollop of imagination combine

Beck – Morning Phase

Beck – Morning Phase – Best Music to Write to
When work is stressing me out I need music that not only allows me to work, but will also give me an extra push. An album that I can fully immerse myself in, that can change my mental state, is worth an extra thousand words to me. The words come out, and I don’t feel the passage of time. Beck’s voice, harmonies, warm guitar, bass, and acoustic arrangements succeed calming and taking me to that place. This album is a companion piece to Sea Change released in 2002, and written after the breakup of a long term relationship. Some of the same musicians appear in the line up, as although Sea Change wasn’t released until 2014, recording began in 2005.

Although there are a few standout tracks on Morning Phase, it retains an even feeling throughout – like most music I like to work to. There is no doubt Beck is an outstanding performer and musician, but his performance does not dominate my workspace. There is plenty of room  for me to overlay it with whatever I am working on. More importantly, this feeling persists when played at louder volumes.


Yes, but not abrasive lyrics. Beck has a warm, soothing voice that is complemented by smooth arrangements. I find it easy to listen to his voice – another instrument in his mood ensemble. My only concern is that I may be biased as I have listened to a lot of Beck over time.

Beck is a specialist in the mood album and has progressed through an eclectic range of styles. It’s a folk album at heart. Morning Phase is no exception, but this is the kind of Beck album for the writer-of-any-style. While I do not recommend all Beck albums, this one puts me into a relaxed mood – ideal for immersing myself in whatever I’m working on. There is a sad quality to this music which makes me feel sombre but focussed. Likewise, this an ideal album for an intimate dinner or curling up on the couch with a nice glass of wine or three.

Best music to write to
I could write anything while I listen to this. It might be difficult to write a fight or chase scene, but it’s well-suited to writing fiction or non-fiction. I’m finding it hard to describe exactly what writing mood it’s most compatible with but, more than anything, it puts me in a contemplative, internal space that makes it easy to block out the troubles of the world, and to be present in the moment.

I hesitate to compare this to Nick Drake because it has a far more polished, American feel. This is the album of a performer who is confident in his musicality, a performer who has still has the ability to surprise.

The Artist(s)
Beck has been lauded as a musical wunderkind, specialising in genre-hopping sonic collages of beats, soul, country, and everything in between. His earliest hit was his 1994 track, I’m a loser baby so why don’t you kill me. Other performers such as Flaming Lips frontman Wayne Coyne have branded him a d**k – a label Beck has refuted as something of a misunderstanding and that was due to an illness that kept him subdued during their tour. What is certain is that Beck is a virtuoso, but what is not so sure is that someone who can make such fine music is a d**k. His musically eclectic style is no doubt influenced by his visual artist mother, Bibbe Hansen (one of Andy Warhol’s moviestars), and by prolific composer and arranger David Campbell.

Other works
I recommend only Sea Change to write to. Some say it is a superior album but, for me, both Morning Phase and Sea Change fit the ‘best music to write to’ mould.

Where can I buy it, and in what formats?
You can buy Morning Phase pretty much everywhere at the moment. For audiophiles who prefer vinyl, you had better get in quick. Most Beck albums don’t get re-released on vinyl after the initial pressings. I was sadly disappointed when I tried to get the earlier album Sea Change in this format.

The Verdict
For me, a winner. I rarely like lyrics in a writing album, but these ones are soothing rather than demanding.