In around 1994 Beck appeared on Top of the Pops miming to “Loser” surrounded by old blokes playing an assortment of sitars. It was weird. A little too weird for me as I remember. Scratching my head, I retreated swiftly to Counting Crows and Neil Young’s back catalogue. In 1996 Beck released ‘Odelay’. Ignoring the wave of critical acclaim and accolades, dismissing the album whilst scoffing quietly at the sitar-wielding weirdo I’d seen on TV… “Intriguing, but not for me” I thought. In 1998 I happened to get dragged along (somewhat unwillingly) to V Festival. Beck was there for a headline set. As he stood, with a look of reasonable bewilderment, bemoaning being pelted with bottles of what appeared to be urine, I stood in a field converted. The guy (although covered in wee) was a genius. His music, an astounding-but-seamless amalgam of everything under the sun, was deftly performed, brilliantly conceived, peculiar to the max and honest to the core. “This…”, I thought, “This is a guy that knows his mind, even if no other person on the planet can begin to imagine what’s coming next”.
Here we are, 20 years down the line from the release of ‘Odelay’ and it still stands up. Innovative, wayward, catchy, heartfelt… there simply aren’t as many adjectives as there are ideas spewing forth from it’s creator’s brain. It’s honestly exhausting. Selling more than two million copies in the U.S., the double-platinum-certified Odelay featured a raft of classics including “Where It’s At,” “Devils Haircut” and “The New Pollution.” ‘Odelay’ won two GRAMMY® Awards in 1997, Best Alternative Music Album and Best Male Rock Vocal Performance for “Where It’s At,” and was Beck’s first album to be nominated for Album of the Year. Suffice to say, it’s a decent record.
So, with the welcome resurgence of the beautiful black stuff (I’m referring to vinyl by the way…), UMe will begin to reissue Beck’s entire envelope-pushing DGC/Geffen/Interscope catalog on vinyl, beginning with the trifecta of ‘Odelay’, 2002’s beautiful, brokenhearted, ‘Sea Change’, and 2005’s ‘Guero’. If you haven’t explored the world of Beck, this is probably the best place to start your adventure (assuming you can put up with a country singer that raps, a hip hop artist that plays the guitar and a punk that wears a Nudie Suit). Enjoy.