18 June 2013

18th June - Beck's Odelay

Artist – Album: Beck – Odelay!
Released: 18th June 1996
Sounds Like: Attention Deficit Disorder

Despite branding himself a loser on the ultimate slacker anthem of the same name back in 1994, Beck has managed to forge a long, triumphant and still relevant (check out his work on the Scott Pilgrim vs. the World soundtrack – it’s ace!) career from his baggy, chequered shirts and Californian drawl. The highwater mark of a career full of peaks, however, remains his 1996 album Odelay.
Pre-Odelay, Beck was seen as something of a one-hit wonder, despite the considerable acclaim for his second album Mellow Gold (but very much in keeping with the cultish efforts Stereopathetic Soulmanure and One Foot in the Grave). He’d indicated on his breakthrough hit that he was working on something more than just plain rock or mere hip hop or simple folk; he’d been putting together some kind of Unified Theory of Music (UTM™), taking his favourite parts from all genres and making them work together. Unfortunately ‘Loser’ was the only one of his early alchemic concoctions to take off, and by 1996 people were beginning to question whether he’d bloody do anything of bloody note again. Beck himself begun to shy away from his magpie music, and the initial recordings for the album were sombre, melancholic affairs in line with his personal headspace following a number of personal tragedies. Somewhere along the way, however, he was shook out of it and convinced to continue with the uptempo style of before. 
The resulting record was the eclectic work of a genius. From the catchy opening riff of ‘Devil’s Haircut’, the album encorporates hip hop beats, funky bass, countrified slide guitar, and a multitude of samples from artists from MC5 to Grand Funk Railroad, from Lee Dorsey to Sly & the Family Stone to Them to Franz Schubert. There’s even snippets of car horns, donkeys eeyore-ing and, in the Futurama cartoon at least, Bender’s washboard solo. Only occasionally does the pace relent, and beautiful acoustic ditties such as ‘Ramshackle’ show how different things could have been had his initial slower sessions seen fruition. Thankfully though, this energetic hotchpotch was instead laid down and a star was (re)born.

Albumaday... rating:  8/10
1.       Devils Haircut – 3:14
2.       Hotwax – 3:49
3.       Lord Only Knows – 4:14
4.       The New Pollution – 3:39
5.       Derelict – 4:12
6.       Novacane – 4:37
7.       Jack-Ass – 4:11
8.       Where It’s At – 5:30
9.       Minus – 2:32
10.   Sissyneck – 3:52
11.   Readymade – 2:37
12.   High 5 (Rock the Catskills) – 4:10
13.   Ramshackle – 7:29

Also released on the 18th June:
2007: Justice - Cross

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