The Beta Band - The Regal Years (1997-2004)

Magical stuff from one of the UK's best bands...
The Beta Band - The Regal Years (1997-2004)

The Beta Band’s extraordinary run of EPs and albums established them as one of the most inventive bands of the late-‘90s. Alas, they were also plagued with money worries and a quite remarkable run of bad luck until their dissolution in 2004.

This exhaustive set collects everything the band released, as well as tacking on two discs of harder-to-find tracks. The Betas were a formidable live band, and the radio session tracks here are as good as, and sometimes better than, their studio counterparts.

There’s little in the way of actual rarities, though. The semi-mythical unreleased second disc from their self-titled debut is still absent, and the only ‘new’ track is the bland ‘Shepherd’s Dub’.

Still, those albums, eh? ‘Hot Shots II’ and ‘Heroes To Zeroes’ are both fantastic. And the compilation affair ‘The Three EPs’, taken as an album, remains one of the most casually ambitious and impressive records of the 1990s. (The sublime ‘Dr Baker’, below, is taken from ‘The Three EPs’.)

So their self-titled set is a bitty, unfinished mess, but it’s also weirdly compelling and contains some of the band’s best songs in ‘The Hard One’ and ‘Round The Bend’.

It’d be nice to think that the title here, ‘The Regal Years’, is an indication that the band may consider reforming, rather than just an indication of their record label for these songs. But if not, they’ve left a fine legacy.

9/10

Words: Will Salmon

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Read two special Beta Band features on Clash: the liner notes to this very collectionand a best-of top 10 put together by a Super Furry Animal

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Stream tracks by The Beta Band via Deezer, below…

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