Music

The Beta Band's 'The Three E.P.'s' Is 20 Years Old on a Perfect Reissue

Disregarding a legacy footnoted by a cameo in a film, the Beta Band's collection of The Three E.P.'s is remastered and reissued in celebration of its 20th anniversary and the band's too short career.

The Three EPs (20th Anniversary Remaster)
The Beta Band

Because Music

21 September 2018

Most often remembered for a famous cameo in the 2000 film High Fidelity, the Beta Band's The Three E.P.'s collected the Scottish band's first three extended play records into one lengthy compilation before John Cusack's character Rob started the album onscreen. It was already a popular set, its release in September 1998 successful and direct: the album plays the three E.P.'s chronologically. So, when "Dry the Rain" from Champion Versions starts in High Fidelity, it was also a teaser for anyone listening and ready to find the album from the recommendation provided by the film.

A newly remastered 20th-anniversary edition of The Three E.P.'s offers a lively chance to revisit the collection, without the film teasing it, and revel in the originality and style the Beta Band offered amidst a crowded British music market in the late 1990s. In this retrospect, The Three E.P.'s gave and continued to give an inviting foray to what else the band would produce, as well as offer intrigue for the Beta Band and a nice glimpse into the alternative trends against rehashed Britpop or copied Radiohead.

The remastered anniversary edition makes no changes to The Three E.P.'s or adds any materials beyond the original track listing, and this approach celebrates the originality of the Beta Band precisely. Following the most well-known and possibly most accessed track that opens the album, "Dry the Rain", the collected EP's Champion Versions, The Patty Patty Sound, and Los Amigos del Beta Bandidos, remain raw and unrepentant. While tracks soar and explore grooves and riffs, there is a very insightful rushed quality still present in the music, as though the band had to get this out or risk breaking some undocumented time limit (or studio demands for their 1999 studio release?). This aspect, upon refocused listen in this 20th anniversary remaster, generates a more timeless quality for The Three E.P.'s and the remaster perfectly captures the unique style of the Beta Band's initial output and potential range without carrying any lingering late 1990s quality.

Each EP on the album illustrated the diverse range of the Beta Band, from the better known first EP of Champion Versions, to the more experimental The Patty Patty Sound, and the quick-paced Los Amigos del Beta Band. The second EP contains lengthy explorations of instrumentation and arrangement. Songs like "The Monolith" and "She's the One" clock in at over 15 minutes and eight minutes respectively and feature dominant and intensifying instrumental sections. But the length never lends to boredom or disinterest, instead offering an exciting and refreshing range unrecognizable in comparison to popular music from the same period in 1997 and 1998.

A track that represents the range in the Beta Band, "Push It Out", also opened one of the three EP's, Los Amigos del Beta Bandidos, but conversely is accessible without similar hooks and riffs from the well known "Dry the Rain". As a result of the track listing on The Three E.P.'s, the song is buried at track eight. "Push It Out" features a prominent repetitive lyrical structure, sweeping guitar work, and a dominant piano interlude midway across the track. As an opener, the excitement may have been hard to compare with "Dry the Rain", but as track eight on The Three E.P.'s, the song illustrates the seamless components of the collected EPs. This description highlights the band's range solely within their songs and in their output, and with the remaster maintaining that quality recognizes the popularity and intrigue the Beta Band enjoyed. This recreated approach additionally makes the remaster unique among remasters; its focus is celebrating the album and passing of time, not in documenting the background or recording that went into the album or the band's career.

The 20th anniversary remaster of The Three E.P.'s serves as an opener to a series of reissues for the Beta Band and was followed closely by the band's true compilation The Best of the Beta Band (2005), and a remastered and expanded edition of their debut The Beta Band (1999). The Three E.P.'s remains the gem for the Beta Band, and the remaster continues the immediacy and excitement. Another twenty years aging will maintain the clarity and originality offered by the Beta Band without recognition of its ties to late 1990s popular music and a demanding and saturated music industry.

9

Music

Books

Film

Recent
Film

The Dance of Male Forms in Denis' 'Beau travail'

Claire Denis' masterwork of cinematic poetry, Beau travail, is a cinematic ballet that tracks through tone and style the sublimation of violent masculine complexes into the silent convulsions of male angst.

Music

The Cradle's 'Laughing in My Sleep' Is an Off-kilter Reflection of Musical Curiosity

The Cradle's Paco Cathcart has curated a thoughtfully multifarious album. Laughing in My Sleep is an impressive collection of 21 tracks, each unapologetic in their rejection of expectations.

Music

Tobin Sprout Goes Americana on 'Empty Horses'

During the heyday of Guided By Voices, Tobin Sprout wasn't afraid to be absurd amongst all that fuzz. Sprout's new album, Empty Horses, is not the Tobin Sprout we know.

Film

'All In: The Fight for Democracy' Spotlights America's Current Voting Restrictions as Jim Crow 2.0

Featuring an ebullient and combative Stacey Abrams, All In: The Fight for Democracy shows just how determined anti-democratic forces are to ensure that certain groups don't get access to the voting booth.

Music

'Transgender Street Legend Vol. 2' Finds Left at London "At My Peak and Still Rising"

"[Pandemic lockdown] has been a detriment to many people's mental health," notes Nat Puff (aka Left at London) around her incendiary, politically-charged new album, "but goddamn it if I haven't been making some bops here and there!"

Music

Daniel Romano's 'How Ill Thy World Is Ordered' Is His Ninth LP of 2020 and It's Glorious

No, this is isn't a typo. Daniel Romano's How Ill Thy World Is Ordered is his ninth full-length release of 2020, and it's a genre-busting thrill ride.

Music

The Masonic Travelers Offer Stirring Rendition of "Rock My Soul" (premiere)

The Last Shall Be First: the JCR Records Story, Volume 1 captures the sacred soul of Memphis in the 1970s and features a wide range of largely forgotten artists waiting to be rediscovered. Hear the Masonic Travelers "Rock My Soul".

Music

GLVES Creates Mesmerizing Dark Folktronica on "Heal Me"

Australian First Nations singer-songwriter GLVES creates dense, deep, and darkish electropop that mesmerizes with its blend of electronics and native sounds on "Heal Me".

Music

Otis Junior and Dr. Dundiff Tells Us "When It's Sweet" It's So Sweet

Neo-soul singer Otis Junior teams with fellow Kentuckian Dr. Dundiff and his hip-hop beats for the silky, groovy "When It's Sweet".

Music

Lars and the Magic Mountain's "Invincible" Is a Shoegazey, Dreamy Delight (premiere)

Dutch space pop/psychedelic band Lars and the Magic Mountain share the dreamy and gorgeous "Invincible".

Film

What 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' Gets Right (and Wrong) About America

Telling the tale of the cyclops through the lens of high and low culture, in O'Brother, Where Art Thou? the Coens hammer home a fatalistic criticism about the ways that commerce, violence, and cosmetic Christianity prevail in American society .

Music

Alexander Wren's "The Earth Is Flat" Wryly Looks at Lost Love (premiere + interview)

Singer-songwriter Alexander Wren's "The Earth Is Flat" is a less a flat-earther's anthem and more a wry examination of heartache.

Music

Big Little Lions' "Distant Air" Is a Powerful Folk-Anthem (premiere)

Folk-pop's Big Little Lions create a powerful anthem with "Distant Air", a song full of sophisticated pop hooks, smart dynamics, and killer choruses.

Music

The Flat Five Invite You to "Look at the Birdy" (premiere)

Chicago's the Flat Five deliver an exciting new single that exemplifies what some have called "twisted sunshine vocal pop".

Music

Brian Bromberg Pays Tribute to Hendrix With "Jimi" (premiere + interview)

Bass giant Brian Bromberg revisits his 2012 tribute to Jimi Hendrix 50 years after his passing, and reflects on the impact Hendrix's music has had on generations.

Jedd Beaudoin
Music

Shirley Collins' ​'Heart's Ease'​ Affirms Her Musical Prowess

Shirley Collins' Heart's Ease makes it apparent these songs do not belong to her as they are ownerless. Collins is the conveyor of their power while ensuring the music maintains cultural importance.

Books

Ignorance, Fear, and Democracy in America

Anti-intellectualism in America is, sadly, older than the nation itself. A new collection of Richard Hofstadter's work from Library of America traces the history of ideas and cultural currents in American society and politics.

By the Book

Democratizing Our Data: A Manifesto (excerpt)

Just as big tech leads world in data for profit, the US government can produce data for the public good, sans the bureaucracy. This excerpt of Julia Lane's Democratizing Our Data: A Manifesto will whet your appetite for disruptive change in data management, which is critical for democracy's survival.

Julia Lane

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.