Some albums are universally loved, others are universally hated…and some fall somewhere in-between, like Beck’s 1999 release “Midnight Vultures.”
After his debut with “Mellow Gold” and it’s hit single ‘Loser,’ Beck really broke through with 1996′s Dust Brother’s produced “Odelay.” With it’s sample heavy production and hip hop beats driving singles like ‘Devils Haircut’ and “Where it’s at’, he was no longer considered a flash in the pan and he began working on his next move.
Needing to fill the gap between albums, Geffen released ‘Mutations’ in 1998 against Beck’s wishes…which led to a lot of lawsuits that no one seems quite sure are even resolved. With its focus more on acoustic folk and blues, the album served as only an appetizer for the much anticipated “Vultures” with the DJ Swamp production.
I remember stopping at Aaron’s Records in Hollywood (R.I.P.) to get my copy the day it dropped and not being disappointed in the slightest.
“Oh, man, he’s done it again!” I yelled in the car to no one in particular.
But then thee reviews started coming in, and it was odd to see one critic hailing it as the album of the year and another referring to it as one of the worst albums ever. What was going on? Were they listening to a different album than I was? I checked the CD to make sure there wasn’t a hidden side.
At it’s core, “Midnight Vultures” is a soul album and many critics felt Beck was over-reaching his influences. Listening to it today though, I like to think he was just so far ahead of the game that some people simply weren’t ready for it. I feel ‘Debra’ is a timeless classic, destined for some future K-Tel vault. Is ‘Hollywood Freaks’ a classic? No. But it’s no less fun to listen too. Other high points are the haunting ‘Beautiful Way’ or the electric ‘Sexxx Laws.’
I keep hoping Beck will team up with DJ Swamp, or even the Dust Brothers and put out another dance floor killer like this album, but it seems his interests lay elsewhere at the moment. In any case, if you like Beck and let this album slip through the cracks because of the bad reviews, now’s your chance to give it a second shot.
Oh…and here’s ‘Debra.’