Selections from

Indie List Digest!
August 22, 1994
Volume 3 Number 48

Reprinted without permission from
and edited by me.

 ** Beck "One Foot in the Grave" LP (K records) *

Can we talk about Beck? I mean, really: Can we talk about Beck, just 
for a coupla minutes?

The reason for my caution here is that I seem to remember there being 
quite a bit of anti-Beck diatribes a short while ago in the I-L, in 
particular one guy practically daring the pro-Beckers to dial him up 
at his cyber-home if they questioned the veracity of his "Beck as 
Corporate Invention" argument...  All of which made some of us -- 
okay, maybe only me -- chuckle a bit at how people can get themselves 
worked into quite a tizzy if they really set their minds to it.

I remember seeing Beck a long time ago opening for Lois at L.A.'s 
Jabberjaw, a hayseed with an attitude that no one knew, a guy who 
seemed to just appear on stage cuz no one had bothered to stop him.  
My first impression was that here was one of those wacky folkies 
whohad listened to a bit too much Dr.  Demento in his youth..  he did 
not impress.  I didn't think about him much until the local punk-radio 
station and the local NPR-outlet BOTH started playing one of his 
songs...  and from there, a crazy kind of buzz was -- depending on 
your ideological perspective -- eitherdeveloped "organically" or was 
more than helped along by the efforts of certain DGC corporate 
marketing scientists.

Lost amidst all the inevitable "voice of the Slacker generation" media 
hoopla, top-10 Billboard charting, and indie-backlash was the fact 
that well, Beck's "Loser" is a pretty great song, IF -- and tht's a 
big "if" -- taken in small doses.  The DGC album "Mellow Gold" was 
itself a pleasant surprise, full of invention and risk-taking, and 
provided some sort of evidence that while Beck might need a good 
editor now and then("like a giant dildo crushing ths sun"??? -- come 
on--), he had more in common with "corporate" rockers Capt.  Beefheart 
or Tom Waits than he had in common with fellow Geffen corporate 
rockers Nelson.

Now we have a new Beck lp straight outta Calvin K-records -- entitled 
"One Foot in the Grave" -- and once again, it's time to step back and 
evaluate what this guy is up to.

(First off -- I don't know what or where these songs came from, when 
they were recorded, etc.  One rumor is that Beck recorded 100 -plus 
songs for the DGC lp and these are the rejected cuts...  and 
apparently there's still another lp coming from Flipside.  I have no 
idea if this is true..or if these songs were recorded before he signed 
to DGC or what...  In the end, I don't think it really matters.)

What we do get is a lot of good stuff.  16 songs...  mostly folksy and 
countryish and hip-hop beats...  some noise-squawk 
freakouts...  generally minimal instrumentation.  Many tunes are 
quiet, meditative, campfire downers/comforters ("See Water", "Hollow 
Log").  There's a coupla duets with producer Mr.  Johnson ("I get 
Lonesome" and the lp-closing, very Beat Happening "Atmospheric 
Conditions").  There's some songs that seem like they might be trad 
folk tunes ("He's a Mighty Good Leader", "Fourteen Rivers Fourteen 
Floods"), some really catchy gems ("Cyanide Breath Mint", "Painted 
Eyelids", and especially "Asshole"), and a coupla VU-type double 
haunting vocal numbers ("Forcefield" and "Outcome").

Yes, many of the lyrics are as full of the sometimes annoying 
non-sequitors on the this lp as on the big-league recording.  But 
don't let that bring you down, man...  the real story here is the 
startling emotional range of these songs, and the way that Beck's 
voice throughtout is almost disturbingly world-weary, a voice well 
beyond his years but not beyond his artistic grasp.  It's an approach 
that offers a refreshing respite from the seemingly regulation-issue, 
non-singing tunelessness-as-authentic-emoting that we seem to be 
hearing so much of these days in the indie-world.

- Jay Babcock

The Indie-List Digest is published a few times each week (usually 
Tuesdays and Fridays) by the Indie-List Infotainment Junta, Unltd.

What       Who              Where

Editors    Eric Sinclair
           Anne Zender
Mailings   Sean Murphy
Archives   Chris Karlof  

Consultants: Mark Cornick, Joshua Houk, Sean Murphy, Liz Clayton and 
K. Lena Bennett.

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