30 April 2009

Rock epic of the month: "Dry The Rain" (The Beta Band) 1997

Rock epics of the month is a series of posts where I'll look back on classic examples of what I think is the greatest excess of rock and roll - the rock epic.

I wasn't about to let another month go by without doing one of these, but I thought I'd open with some correspondence that I got from a regular reader a little while back. In it, he complained that that I've never made it clear what a 'rock epic' is.

Actually, I did, way back in the first one in this series, however I will re-state it:

There are no hard and fast rules for what a rock epic actually is, but the general agreement is that it needs to go for more than 6 minutes and has long bits where there are no vocals.

Another complaint is that when I lead into the song itself, I seem to end abruptly. I can only attribute this to the fact that I normally try to embed a YouTube video of the tune in question at the end of each post.

Naturally, the YouTube vid doesn't make it into the RSS feed or my emails, if you get my posts in your inbox. So you'll have to click on the post heading if you want to hear the tune.

With that out of the way, please allow me to roll on to this month's rock epic, which is "Dry The Rain" by The Beta Band. A Scottish band from St Andrews who formed in 1996, they were the pioneers and to my knowledge the sole proponents of a genre known as "folk-hop". Obviously, that's a blend of folk and hip-hop.

I never understood the Beta Band until after they had broken up, but this tune, man it pushes all the right buttons. Six minutes and five seconds of blissful mellowness.

This was on their Champion Versions EP, which was the first recording that they released. Later on, it would be bundled in with the The Patty Patty Sound and Los Amigos del Beta Bandidos EPs to form their The Three EPs compilation in 1998.

The thing that made this song is that scene from High Fidelity. Barry, played by Jack Black has been having a great time blasting "Walking on Sunshine" by Katrina and the Waves in a record store owned by Rob Gordon. Gordon (John Cusack) goes mental and takes it off. Not long after this, he says to Dick (Todd Louiso), "I will now sell 5 copies of The Three EPs by The Beta Band,"and rips into this tune at about the 3:40 mark.

But this ignores the build up. The intro and verses of this tune are reasonably mellow and jangly. After the second chorus the thing just builds and builds and builds until the certifiable money shot of the tune at 4:06 or thereabouts. The vocals come back in for the outro ("If there's something inside that you wanna say...") while a trumpet and a flugel horn wail away over the top.

Man I love that bit.

Anyway, here it is from YouTube. Enjoy the bejesus out of it folks, because it is quite frankly immensely powerful for what essentially a jangly little tune.

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