Beck - Odelay - Review
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critics' view

Beck's 1996 follow up to Mellow Gold was the one which saw the genre-hopping maverick ™ finally cementing his reputation with actual sales. The global hit ''Loser'' had almost created a genre in itself. The loping blues slide-driven mixture of white boy rap and West Coast pigeon Spanish seemingly arrived out of nowhere, though at the time, with trip hop blurring black and white boundaries in the UK, it also seemed inevitable. Post modern times demanded post modern music. Enter Beck Hansen.

Born to a family of situationist artists and musicians, the young Hansen had already made minor label forays into left field folk (One Foot In The Grave) and out-there noise but Mellow Gold showed he had considerable writing chops as well. Odelay, originally mooted to be a more downbeat collection of sparse ballads became the pepped up hip hop smorgasbord we all know and love when the Dust Brothers were invited on board to pepper things up.

A savvy use of old samples (everything from Van Morrison to Motown) combined with wicked grooves meant that songs like "New Pollution", "Where It's At" and "Devil's Haircut" effortlessly scaled the charts on both sides of the Atlantic. Suddenly such magpie antics were both hip and commercially sound. But Odelay, with its fantastic cover of a Hungarian Komondor dog, contained far more riches: From the shout-it-out mayhem of "Novocaine" through the exquisite ramshackle misery of "Derelict" to the country twang of "Jack-Ass". Beck was announcing that not only was he here, but he could turn his funky little hand to just about anything. The 21st century Prince had arrived….

Chris Jones
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The BBC's album reviews ended in 2013, although the pages are archived for retrospective reading. external-link.png

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