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Beta Male Fairytales was the debut release from the annoyingly named Ben's Brother. I was completely unaware of this band until my brother called me a couple of years ago to say that he had tickets for us all to go and see the band the following week. Being unaware of them, I was told that the singer sounded like Rod Stewart on occasion and that I would like them, despite this! So a quick drive down to Tesco to buy the CD, which turned out to be one of the finest CDs I own.
It's hard to sum Ben's Brother up. I think they are most like 'The Killers' (although sound nothing like them) in that they get a catchy line for a chorus and continually repeat it, that's probably the most common theme throughout this album. The type of music they record is the kind that on hearing once you can have a fair bash at singing along with the second time.
Ben's Brother are a five piece band from London, although, as usual the singer, Jamie Hartman tends to be the focal point (his brother is called Ben). The band had an excellent website when they were with EMI records, but they have since been dropped by EMI. This was quite a surprise to me when this album reached number 14 in the music charts. In addition 'Let Me Out' was nominated for an Ivor Novello best song award.
I guess if you had to categorise the music you would probably go for easy listening. It's the perfect album to play in the background if you have friends round. But that's not to say that it isn't the kind of album you can play loud in the car too. It is a great sing along album, and quite a feelgood one as well.
The story goes that Hartman was a street busker who wrote his own songs. When he discovered one of the tracks (I can't remember which one) on another artist's recording he started to believe that he maybe had what it takes to record his own material. Beta Male Fairytales was the outcome of this belief.
There is perhaps an element of a few of the tracks sounding similar but I put this down to Hartman's distinctive voice, rather than a lack of variety on the album.
This is an album of consistent quality but there are a number of absolute gems on it. Rise, Let Me Out, Carry On, Find Me An Angel, I Am Who I Am, Home, Live and God By Another Name have all been my favourites track at various times and moods, that's seven of the twelve tracks. The other tracks are slightly weaker in my opinion, although Bad Dream is excellent live and when Hartman explained that he wrote it when at his mother's bedside the song took on a new meaning and I found I have listened to it more.
Harmonica in F is an instrumental track which reminds me a little of Mike Oldfield's In Dulce Jubilo. Being a former busker I guess a song heavily featuring a harmonica was a guarantee.
1. Rise (4:05)
2. Beauty Queen (3:31)
3. Let Me Out (4:00)
4. Carry On (4:03)
5. Find Me An Angel (4:25)
6. I Am Who I Am (4:00)
7. Home (3:01)
8. Bad Dream (4:02)
9. Live (3:06)
10. God By Another Name (3:44)
11. Harmonica In F (1:36)
12. Time (4:21)
This is the release I have, however, there is a later version which includes 'Kiss Me Again (Stuttering') (3:23) which is easily the worst song I have heard from Ben's Brother so if you can't get the version including this track I wouldn't worry about it too much.
I remarked, when seeing the band for the first time, in King Tut's Wah Wah Hut in Glasgow that we would never see this band in such a small venue again. It was to my disappointment (but perversely great pleasure at seeing them so close) that I was standing in more or less the same spot a year later. Hopefully it won't be the case this year.
As a final comment I have spoken to a couple of people who have met the band and they have said that you couldn't meant more decent, genuine people so that's all the more reason I hope they succeed. Please check them out and if you like what you hear see them live where they are even better than on the CD.
Disc #1 Tracklisting
2 Beauty Queen
3 Let Me Out
4 Carry On
5 Find Me An Angel
6 I Am Who I Am
8 Bad Dream
10 God By Another Name
11 Harmonica In F