[71] Beck – Mutations

15 Aug

I understand that there is some controversy amongst Beck fans that this is the album chosen by Tom Moon for his list, and that the argument over which recording should replace it is almost as fierce.



I have to admit that I fully missed the Beck train / bandwagon, unengaged with the popular scene as I was in the mid to late 90s.  I couldn’t fail to have heard the ubiquitous hit, “Loser”, and I liked it well enough, but before pressing play on Mutations I am not certain that I could name a second song by Beck . . .

However, as each song here plays out I enjoy the wide range of instrumentation – the horns here, the steel guitar there, the odd embellishments everywhere.

The varied sounds and styles of the tracks are given cohesion of a kind by Beck’s consistently mellow vocals, a necessary anchor amidst the experimentation swirling around the entire album.  Despite the use of sythesizers and many odd, electronic sounds, the whole does not sound dated.  Perhaps this is due to the fact that these 90s (80s?) sounds are not overused, and are nestled between many traditional arrangements – horns and drums on “Tropicalia”, acoustic strummings on “Dead Melodies”.

It really is a fascinating mix of familiar and unexpected.

Maybe it my recent proximity to weeks and weeks of The Beatles, but “Nobody’s Fault But My Own” sounds like it could have been written by George Harrison, and “Lazy Flies” similarly has a Lennon vibe.  Intentional homage, powerful infulence of The Beatles reaching down across the generations, or my tired ear hearing something thats not there?

Maybe Paul and Ringo could do a “plus Beck” show, the way that Brian May and Roger Taylor have done a series of “Queen plus” tours?

I’m really not sure how often I’ll listen to Mutations once this post goes live.  It is interesting and accomplished, but doesn’t fit neatly into my musical narrative.  Like Ryan Adams before, I am not now (and may never have been) the target audience, don’t have the history and memories to view on the movie screen of my inner eye while the music plays.

But unlike with Heartbreaker, it is crystal clear to me why Tom Moon has recommended these varied and cleverly crafted Mutations to me.

Next Week: Ludwig van Beethoven – Archduke Trio and Kreutzer Sonata

Owned before blogging? No. (9 of 71 = 13%)
Heard before blogging? No. (11 of 71 = 15%)
Recommend? Yes. (57 of 71 = 80%)


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