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What I’m listening to this week: The Bees (A Band of Bees)

August 12, 2009

Free the Bees – 2004

Of all the albums I’ve reviewed that work to capture a hallowed sound of the past, The Bees‘ (A Band of Bees in the US) album Free the Bees comes the closest to authenticity by a long shot.  There are fingerprints of some of the greatest bands of the 1960s here – The Beatles, The Band, Pink Floyd, The Byrds – and The Bees do genuine justice to that era.  The sounds of early psychedelia, and classic electric rock-and-roll come to life so convincingly that you’ll find yourself wondering “When was this record made again?”…or at the very least, wondering if The Bees busted into some vaults to get The Beatles’ equipment and recording devices (in fact, Free the Bees was recorded in the same studio as the White Album).  Even while hearkening back so much that they could be dismissed as simple revivalists, there is no doubting The Bees’ musical skills, attention to detail, and ear for composition.

The songs on Free the Bees spread across the array of their influences as well.  The opener, “These Are The Ghosts”, along with “Horsemen” and “This Is The Land” have that familiar gauzy early psychedelic rock feel: there’s jangly guitar, kicky and prominent beat drumming, and the vocals are distorted and buried a bit under the music.  Of those, “These Are The Ghosts” is the strictest example of The Bees’ adherence to traditional British rock and it’s also just an excellent atmospheric jam.  “Wash In The Rain” is like a combination of pre-A Hard Day’s Night blues-influenced Beatles and the exuberant rock-folk of The Band, blending together into a rollicking good time.  “No Atmosphere” also recalls The Band’s live performances in the verses, then transitions into psychedelic guitar breakdowns and seems custom-made for soundtracking a muddy festival.

Another key track on Free the Bees is “Chicken Payback”, which, like much 1960s British rock, nicks from the imagination of Chuck Berry.  The Bees create a bona fide throwback here and it’s great.  It’s easy to envision a band playing “Chicken Payback” on an old black-and-white television while teenagers dance in the foreground.  Other tracks worth checking out are the shimmery, slow summer evening love song “I Love You”, and “One Glass of Water”, featuring an infectious blend of electric guitars and raucous vocal harmonies.  The time might not always be right to listen to Free the Bees (you need to be in a specific kind of mood I think), but whether you’re feeling nostalgic or you just want to hear some classic rock and have burned out on your normal rotation, this album is about as close as you can get to the real thing.

One Comment leave one →
  1. carrie permalink
    August 14, 2009 4:06 pm

    thanks for writing this and reminding me to listen to the bees!

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