Early Beck is WAY better than serious artist Beck, and this album might be the best reason why, by which I mean that everyone I’ve played it for in any capacity has made me turn it off. It’s great! He doesn’t take himself seriously at all, except he very slightly does completely! There’s the gamut of great early Beck specials here – crashy noise rock, white boy delta blues, weird-ass spoken word diary entry-like post-apocalyptic things, faux spirituals, straight-up country, weird-ass distorted country, and all played 90% for jokes! Really, there’s no way to take anything here seriously. Beck makes his vocals unintelligibly distorted, or super low, or starts a love song with “plastic beer, can of spam…,” has songs cut off abruptly or start with five seconds of generic dance music, or goes and rambles about what the fuck I don’t know, or throws in stock audio radio broadcast music from nowhere…..Everything is toyed with! It’s all befuckered and romantic, yes i said yes i will yes! One song even coins the phrase “cold-ass fashion” Beck uses over and over, though I’m not sure why considering it’s one of the worst images here. I far prefer having a lighthearted acoustic guitar / harmonica Dylanesque amusingasser depressingly titled “One Foot in the Grave.” That would make a great name for an album title, by the way.
A few highlights: “Waitin For A Train” is faux spoken word poetry in a purposely “spaced-out” voice, comme ca: “I’m an alien from another sphere. The thing I like about the
earth is the range of colours — fantastic to mundane; brilliant
to dull. As I was penetrating the ozone, I c.. perchanced to
notice the orange peel-like quality of the light playing upon the
s.. the ocean. I gotta go right now; someone is videotaping me
in my spaceship.” Then it’s a faux negro spiritual abruptly jokified.
11.6.45 is one of three childlike diary entry things, and to let you know, here are the lyrics, stolen directly from Songmeanings.net: “It’s, uh, November 6th, 1945, and we…
…went up to, and uh, back to the house and watched MTV…
…and playin’ Pac-Man.
It’s all really gross and all the kids were diseased.
Giant airplanes, uh, crashing underneath…
…electro-magnetic fuse…guys with flamethrowers…melting.
Taco trucks were crashed.
There was sausage meat all over the…
Sasquatch was eating a burrito. ”
“Cut 1/2 Blues” is a straight-forward twanngy blues number….except it’s about getting cut in half and getting the “cut in half blues.” Sample awesome lyric: “The last thing I saw was the big long saw / I got the cut in half blues.” Haha!
Lastly, “Satan Gave Me A Taco” is the longest song on here (at 3:46), and traces, Rube Goldberg-esque, a path from eating a hellish taco to being tried and sentenced to death to joining a rock band and passing out in manure and then a surprise ending!
Then there are two serious indie-country tracks: “Rowboat,” an almost straight-up love/sadness song, and “Modesto,” which appears to be about a road-trip to California and the wacky things that occurred. And the wacky stupid “bonus tracks” is actually a good ten minutes of funny voices and noises. Nothing is safe, viva early Beck! Or maybe I just drink too much.
The best part of all this, of course, is that pre-Loser Beck really WAS depressed and poor, and nobody wanted him to play his music or hire him for gigs and he was living on his friends’ couches, so all of this humour is sort of sad. But good humour is good humour, and good humour with deep sadness behind it is the best humour of all.