week, I looked at a photo of myself taken in 1991 – and trite as it sounds –
marveled that I was ever really that young. I shudder to even consider what
thoughts would be provoked if I took a gander at my professional writing from
that year. So it’s with much admiration that I listen to what’s billed as the
“deluxe rerelease” of Beck’s One Foot in
the Grave, which had originally been released in 1994. How brave of the man
who has become a musical midis to take us on an auditory journey through his
reviewing this work, other writers will ruminate about the 1990s wasteland of
music that Beck saved us from. He was our musical hope, soon became our savior,
and is now our God. Call me a rube, but I don’t think the music of that era was
as horrible as everyone remembers. And forgive me, everyone, but I don’t think
this reissue – which includes 13 previously unreleased tracks from the original
sessions and three more from an out-of-print 7-inch release – shows that Beck
was a shoe-in for musical royalty.
before angry crowds holding burning stakes appear outside the building, please
allow me to explain. When you listen to this CD, you hear very raw, very folksy
music. If that music played on the radio at your parents’ house and you didn’t
know the artist, I submit you’d be sneaking around to turn the channel as
quickly as possible.
believe me? Consider what Beck’s publicists say about the reissue: “the
minimalist mutant folk collection One
Foot in the Grave was a curveball that temporarily threw casual ‘Loser’
fans off Beck’s scent while presaging myriad musical adventures to come in the
form of 1996’s multi-platinum breakthrough Odelay.”
that, my dear friends, is what’s brilliant about One Foot in the Grave. Really, there’s no need to make apologies or
justify that this is the second coming of The
White Album. This album shows that Beck could have taken one road and become
a musical “also ran” that produced a few hits and then faded away. But instead
he studied the masters and applied the lessons to hone his own skills.
to anyone from the Neville Brothers to Steve Winwood and they’ll tell you that
mastering musical skills isn’t enough. Only those who absorb the nuances of
past masters in various genres until their lessons practically bubble from the
skin will break out of the musical pack.
to the young, high-voiced Beck singing such folksy tunes as “Sleeping Bag,”
presents you with a portrait – almost a paint by numbers guide, if you will –
of Beck studying the art of music, tweaking bits to suit his musical
personality, and coming upon the formula to create his own alt-rock
masterpieces. Just ask Tom Petty, who obviously heard the raw brilliance of
Beck’s song “Asshole” which he covered on his “She’s the One” album. Even a
fledgling Beck was more talented than most of his contemporaries.
no shame in being young and learning your craft. We’ve all done that. The pity
is that so few of us will ever did it with as much flair – and with such
amazing results – as Beck.
Standout Tracks: “He’s a Mighty Good
Leader;” “Asshole” NANCY