A belated merry Christmas to everyone out there! It’s Boxing Day here in Canada, a day where a great many people venture out into mall madness to take advantage of the ‘sales’. If you are one these (or if you aren’t), I share the following for your consideration:
Rob Gordon: I will now sell five copies of “The Three EPs” by The Beta Band.
Dick: Go for it.
[Rob plays the record]
Customer: Who is this?
Rob Gordon: The Beta Band.
Customer: It’s good.
Rob Gordon: I know.
The above exchange constitutes the breakdown of what is one of my favourite scenes in film history. And I’m reasonably sure that I’m not the only music geek that went out immediately after seeing “High fidelity” in the cinemas to also get a copy of The Beta Band’s “The three EPs”. (I’m talking about those of us that didn’t already have it in our collections, of course.) Yet try as I might, I was never, outside of a few tunes, ever able to get into the group. Unbelievably, I had better luck with The Aliens, the band made up of former Beta Band members, Gordon Anderson, John Maclean, and Robin Jones, and then, when former frontman Steve Mason released “Boys outside”, his first solo work put out under his real name, I was completely enamoured.
Just one of those things, I guess.
Some music writers have said that the album, “Boys outside”, sounds like The Beta Band replayed through a magical, adult alternative filter and I suppose that makes sense. It and its title track, which I love to pieces, feels infinitely more mature. It bears the weight of Mason’s financial and general life struggles, as well as his battles with depression. The bleak black austerity of the cover is certainly a reflection of all this, as is the often claustrophobic production.
“Boys outside“ is lilting guitars and breathtaking washes. It is Mason singing his pain, despair, and hope in a voice that was often overlooked in discussions about his old band’s worth. It is heartrending at its quiet moments and glorious at its apexes. It’s one of those songs I slip on when I want to be reminded of beauty in world.
And perhaps this post won’t sell five copies of Steve Mason’s “Boys outside” but maybe one or two. And I’d be happy with that.
For the rest of the Best tunes of 2010 list, click here.