The Beta Band's Steve Mason: 50 Songs I Love

From AC/DC to Burning Spear, the Beta Band founder talks us through the songs that got him where he is today.
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From AC/DC to Burning Spear, the Beta Band founder talks us through the songs that got him where he is today.

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1- Love is a serious business by Alfie Davison. More Modern than i usually like my Soul music but this is an amazing song, vocal and a dancefloor destroyer. Have owned on 7" since i was 16 years old.

2- Cranked Up Really High by Slaughter and the Dogs. Horrible Punk music from Manchester's bogey eating finest. Blistering. As heard in many teenage discos in my youth.

3- Just The Girl by The Way Out. No one will have heard of this. Bit of a guilty pleasure. They were a blip on the 2nd Mode revival radar. Released 2 singles and disappeared. Means a lot to me this track and the b-side.

4- Riff Raff by AC/DC. There is so much talk about the greatest 'rock n roll' band of all time. But if you watch footage of these guys doing this track in Glasgow in about 1979 you know who the greatest are. Love this band.

5- Some Velvet Morning by Nancy Sinatra and Lee Hazelwood. Exudes innocence and darkness in equal measure. Reminds me of working in the Vintage Magazine shop in Camden.

6- Bonnie and Clyde by Serge Gainsbourg and Bridgette Bardot. I just love the chords, instrumentation and vocals. Strange pop music is the best pop music.

7- Landslide by Tony Clarke. So many memories of riding hundreds of miles on a Lambretta to a scruffy seaside resort and dancing to this in some huge room with hundreds of other scooterists.Amazing feeling.

8- Hobo Blues by John Lee Hooker. Probably my favourite Blues singer. Bought this when i was way to young
to understand real pain.

9- Solid As A Rock by Sizzla. Modern Reggae really got good again around the time of Buju Banton, but this is just a masterpiece of classic sounding modern Reggae. Hell of a tune.

10- Way Out by The La's. Could really have chosen any track from their 1 album. Thank God Go-Disc's ignored Mavers and released this otherwise we would never have heard them!

11- Blade Runner Main Title by Vangelis. Soundtracks are a big part of my record collection. Blade Runner is an incredible soundtrack. So much space and understated melody.

12- Problems by Horace Andy. From a compilation called Santic and Friends which i urge you to get. Great song that has been part of my life for many years.

13- Childhood Days by Mikey Dread. Huge slice of Reggae with a very powerful vocal from Mikey.

14- Crawling Up A Hill by John Mayall and Bluesbreakers. This got played a lot in the Mod clubs i went to when i first moved to London. Became a classic for me. Many memories.

15- Victory by Caveman. This was played a lot in Scotland around 1990 in the clubs. A British Hip Hop classic. Massive tune.

16- Jah No Dead by Burning Spear. I struggled to pick 1 Winston Rodney track as i love everything he has ever written and sung. Sadness in his voice is incredible.

17- Oasis by Happy Mondays. From their 1st and best LP. Way ahead of its time and Shaun is firing straight and true.

18- Shakin Up Orange Street by Prince Buster. Again could have picked any one of many but this is a Ska classic. Big track from a Ska legend.

19- Young Man Blues by The Who. The Live at Leeds version is the one to get. The 2nd Who album i ever bought and this is a band at their live peak. Moons drumming is Biblical!

20- Parchman Farm by Mose Allison. Another Mod classic. A classic Blues song, but i really like Mose quite Jazzy interpretation of it.

21- Hush Honey by Johnny Burnette Trio. Sort of a punk Elvis. Real thrashy tough Rockabilly. Reminds me of friends and a band i was in.

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22- Conditional Discharge by John Cooper-Clarke. The moment when he and Martin Hannett became 1. An amazing and perfect record.

23- N41 by Son Of Bezerk. A little known Hip Hop group who made some amazing records with the Bomb Squad. Again, reminds me of the early 90's.

24- Lay This Burden Down by Mary Love. From the first Kent Northern Soul compilation i ever bought. A massive dancefloor stomper. Started me on a long journey this track.

25- I See Stars by Roboterwerke. Not well known at all but an amazing Electro track with a great vocal. reminds me of dark and beautiful days and nights.

26- Black Coffee by All Saints. I'm as surprised as you are to see this in here, but well, here we are!

27- Warrior Charge by Aswad. From the Babylon film soundtrack. Massive British Reggae tune. I was privileged enough to play percussion on this live with Dennis Bovell and Brinsley Forde at a recent screening of Babylon in London. Put a smile on my face!

28- Turn Away Again by The Chords. More Mod business. Not very cool but i love it.

29- Stop and Get a Hold of Myself by Gladys Knight & The Pips.Love the vocal bridge in this. Very strange! Was played a lot in Scottish Mod clubs for a while. Great track.

30- Floatation ( Subsonic Grid Mix ) by The Grid. Much post club business was conducted with this as the sound track!

31- Definition of Love ( Magical Mix ) by K.OS. This was the soundtrack to my serious clubbing years. I will always, always love this track.

32- Aint That Peculiar by Marvin Gaye. Perfect record and perfect vocal.

33- Halftime by Nas. Illmatic, from which this is taken is probably the best rap record ever made. Think about that for a minute, then get yourself a copy.

34- Inside Out by Odyssey. I love the sadness and emotion in the vocal. Dancing and crying!

35- Swan Lake by P.i.L.  Just a beautiful racket. From the incredible album that is Metal Box. A record i always wish i had made. Frightening and beautiful in equal measure.

36- Passin' Me By by The Pharcyde. Me and John Maclean rinsed this daily in between working on Champion Versions. Great memories.

37- Play That Beat Mr DJ by MC Globe & Whiz Kid. Pure Hip Hop! This was THE jam in my B-Boy youth.

38- Looking for the Perfect Beat by Afrika Bambaataa. From the same period. You need to hear this in a club to really hear it. ENORMOUS! Changed my life.

39- Breakers Revenge by Arthur Baker. Again from the early 80's. This meant so much to me as a kid. Arthur Baker was on fire during this period, producing so much ground breaking music. Watch the scene in Beat Street at the Roxy for the full effect. I played at The Roxy some years ago and had a little spin for old times sake! I just HAD to.

40- Call On You by Burning Spear. Possible the most beautiful record i own.

41- I'm On Fire by Bruce Springsteen. This is certainly a song i wish i had written.

42- Save It For Later by The Beat. I am not sure what i love about this, maybe the chords. But it a fantastic pop song.

43- I'm The Face by The High Numbers. The Who before they were The Who. Pure Mod.

44- The Real Me by The Who. The opening scene of Quadrophenia! So Iconic. Brings a tear to my eye.

45- Travelling at the Speed of Thought by Ultamagnetic M.C.'s. Kool Keith talking about his time in Bellevue mental hospital. Incredible track from an amazing group.

46- Camino Del Sol by Antena. I love this group and this track has a great vocal and much strangeness.

47- Beat Bop by Rammellzee and K Rob. Produced by Jean-Michel Basquiat this is pure art and pure
Hip Hop. A FANTASTIC piece of music. Means a lot to me this track.

48- Get A Little by Patrick Cowley. Plunges you straight into the NYC disco scene. Beast of a track.

49- Nobody Home by Pink Floyd. One of my favourite albums of all time, The Wall. Hard to pick 1 track from it but at a push it is this.

50- The Sound by Reese and Santoni. A classic record from an amazing time i was lucky to be part of.