Abbey Road has a history. The legendary studio in St John’s Wood off Primrose Hill in London was made famous by Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon. But seriously, the Beatles made it Mecca amongst musicians. If you like harmonies, choruses and timeless melodies, this is your place to try to channel the Northern Songs legacy. The Bees find themselves in that very enviable position. Following 2002’s Mercury Prize-nominated Sunshine Hit Me, the expanded sound of Free the Bees has just been unleashed.
Don’t get me wrong, sounding like the Beatles is a high compliment in my book. The two main Bees, Paul Butler and Aaron Fletcher grew up on the Isle of Wight. They know rock history. They no doubt have a few Apple Record releases and have omosified the Fab Four. The first single, “Wash in the Rain”, has the swagger of classic rock. Electric organs swirling, staccato piano and big choruses. You’ll think of Billy Preston on this one. The other songs span from the ‘60s Hamburg-era sound of “Chicken Payback” to Sgt Pepper’s “The Start” to Yellow Submarine's “No Atmosphere”. It's waltz meets “The Benefit of Mr. Kite” on “Go Karts”. They pay homage, not rip-off. The killer track “One Glass of Water” reminds me of the Lemon Pipers’ classic “Green Tambourine”. Play the two and you will know what I mean. There’s even a free-form jazz odyssey that contemporary Derek Smalls would be proud of called, “The Russian”.
I’d love to see this band live. The Beatles stopped touring after Rubber Soul. These guys are just carrying the torch. Just avoid your “Indian Maharishi” phase and Japanese art students and you’re golden.