Monday, November 23, 2009

The Definitive Beck/ 10 Years of Midnite Vultures

Beck is coming up a lot lately this year and has been getting more buzz then if he had a proper album being released. Between his Record Club series through his new and revamped website to his working with Charlotte Gainsbourg, their has been no creative shortage from one of the best musical minds of our generation. That being said, this post serves a two fold purpose. First to chronicle the 25 Definitive Beck Tracks as well as to say Happy Birthday to Midnite Vultures.

Recently, a few friends of mine gathered around and surprisingly banged out a fantastic 25 Best Beck Songs spanning his entire career. For those who only know Beck's big hits, the man is more prolific than some give him credit. With over 400 different songs, Beck has pounded out some of the most intriguing tracks be his big hits or his rare, B-sides. This list takes into consideration all of Beck's catalog. IT was chosen by four people by casting votes on their 25 favorite Beck tracks. After arbitration, intensive listening and lots of beer and whiskey, this is the list. If you want to set this list up and listen, it flows really well from 25 - 1. Somehow the fates steered us to a Definitive Beck list that works as a listenable mix as well. Enjoy!

{Editor's Note} - The other three goons involved in making this great list were Daniel Somavilla, Ryan P. Carey and Steven Lipenta.

25. Earthquake Weather - Guero - 2005
24. Missing - Guero - 2005
23. Ship in a Bottle - Sea Change Japanese Import - 2002
22. Cold Brains - Mutations - 1998
21. Devil's Haircut - Odelay - 1996
20. Lord Only Knows - Odelay - 1996
19. Feather In Your Cap - Sissyneck Single - 1997
18. Ramshackle - Odelay - 1996
17. Hell Yes - Guero - 2005
16. Tropicalia - Mutations - 1998
15. Sexx Laws - Midnite Vultures - 1999
14. Where It's At - Odelay -1996
13. The New Pollution - Odelay -1996
12. Debra - Midnite Vultures - 1999
11. Novacane - Odealy - 1996
10. Hotwax - Odelay - 1996
9. Soul Suckin' Jerk - Mellow Gold - 1994
8. Nicotine & Gravy - Midnite Vultures - 1999
7. Paper Tiger - Sea Change - 2002
6. Lonesome Tears - Sea Change - 2002
5. Hollywood Freaks - Midnite Vultures - 1999
4. Diamond Bollocks - Mutations (secret track) 1998
3. Loser - Mellow Gold - 1994
2. Nobody's Fault But My Own - Mutations - 1998
1. Chemtrails - Modern Guilt - 2008

It was much a surprise how this played out. Some of it is obvious (7 out of 13 tracks from Odelay, most major radio hits appear) but some things didn't work out as planned. The top 5 alone sits as a testament to the different styles Beck would tackle. "Loser" is where it began, "Hollywood Freaks" is like "Loser" on ecstasy, "Diamond Bollocks" took a trash pilke of song ideas and crammed them into one glorious track, "Nobody's Fault But My Own" is poetry and melancholy and "Chemtrails" sounds like a throwback to 60's psychedelia with a modern twist. It's no surprise that this list careens from dance floor exagerations to relationship lamentations. Only Beck could do an album like Midnite Vultures and follow it up with Sea Change. To those who don't understand the Beck mythos, I suggest you give this 25 song listening experience a whirl.

Now, it seems odd to me that after 10 years, Midnite Vultures has yet to get old or dated. Maybe because the album is an homage to Young Americans era Bowie and 80's Prince or maybe because it's such a frenzy of different sounds, I still see myself coming back to it for many reasons. First and foremost, this album will pump you up. It's party aesthetics and it's overall dedication to groove is incredible. As much as it seems odd, Midnite Vultures may be Beck's biggest departure. You can compare most of his other albums to each other to some extent, but nowhere else in his catalog can you say he has done Midnite Vultures again. Beyond the albums overall vibe, it has turned into a veritable memory explosion. Nostalgia comes oozing forth from each song with sign-a-long memories of drunken parties to still having the urge to play it at midnight during any given late night event. From the opening horn exultation on"Sexx Laws" to the lulling post sex euphoria of "Debra," Midnite Vultures never stops slaying. Even when the lull of "Beautiful Way" comes on, the only downfall to the record, we are spit right back into the maelstrom. If you look at the record as a party concept record, only then can we see "Beautiful Way" as that time when you steal away from the party with a close friend or two and complain about the bad things that are going on over a smoke, but then you crack the door to your bedroom back open and into the "Pressure Zone" ready to burn those last few hours of partying off. Beck was relentlessly fruitful around this time. Just a year after Mutations and with loads of B-Sides attached to the Vultures sessions, it's no surprise it took a few years for Beck to return to the studio in 2002. If there were to be a deluxe edition release of Midnite Vultures, it would be worth picking up for insane B-Sides like "This is My Crew" or "Arabian Nights" to make you wiggle and giggle. Beck is an absurdly brilliant guy and it's no surprise that Midnite Vultures has endured. It's 10 years young.


leo said...

Very nice. It is hard to believe that it was 10 years ago. It was weird timing that it came out shortly before I went to college. I started to like Beck after hearing this album a lot freshman year. Chris Curry made me a mix of Beck that featured this whole album, plus some of Mellow Gold, and some random stuff like Devil's Haircut and MTV Makes Me Wanna Smoke Crack. Hearing all of that and the addicitve-as-hell dance jams on here got me hooked right away. I'll always remember this as my intro to Beck.

Ealer said...

forgot salt in the wound.