Beck – Where It’s At

Technically if I wanted to be true to chronological order I should put this before Odelay (and Loser before Mellow Gold) – but more important to me, Myles, is staying true to what makes more sense. They release the lead single before the album to give radio stations a chance to whet the appetites of hungry music buyers who aren’t stupid enough to buy the single. But now that the album was released thirteen years ago or something, it would seem ridiculous – nay, scandalous – for me to pretend I’m reviewing anything other than the b-sides. So after the album it goes!

So we have us here an exciting seven songs – six of them forms of “Where It’s At”. First we’ve got a much-needed radio edit version of WIA, which always dragged on too much. We already know that’s a good song though! It’s a smart edit and leaves the parts where the nig says “let’s make it out” and the cool drum break, after which Beck says “that was a good drum break” all rhythmic-like and, of course, “what about those who swing both ways – ac/dc?” That’s all that stays in. What goes out is some sounds at the end that aren’t memorable or necessary at all. Then

#2 – the “Make Out City” remix which doesn’t actually do much with the song itself but takes out the main keyboard riff and puts the whole song into somekinda timewarped 1990-Hawaii tourists dance club where the play songs like “Hands Up” and are mocked by the locals with these silly horn solos and kazoo bits that make me never want to hear it again.

#3 – A remix by Mario C. and Mickey P.! Rest assured, the track is in good hands when these two spinsters get their greasy jew hands on it. Instead of the usual keyboard use for being catchy, here they’re used for what most bands use them for – being atmospheric. And it’s much shorter. I first typed “smarter” for some reason, also.

#4 – A remix by “Big Bad” John King. The keyboard thingy is now tinkly and dischordant (though not particular interesting or noticeable) and the bass is now a cool-ish four note riff that drives most of the song. Unfortunately, the song also emphasizes that heavily synthesized voice that says “make out city” during the actual song and makes it say other things. And the drums are changed to a kinda cool but outdated hip-hoppy loop.

#5 – and in you didn’t get enough of that drum loop and sythesized voice from the John King remix – here’s four more minutes of just them! For no good reason! Oh, but they’re “Bonus Beats”. Because otherwise he’s just put the one remix on the second part of the single. Thanks a lot, Beck.

$6 – The UNKLE Remix. It makes it sound like “Where It’s At” in space 2008 or something. Then it’s twelve minutes long for no good reason, unless you count UNKLE wanting to diddle with halfway interesting loops for six minutes a reason. I mean, I like having my EP be half an hour long, makes me feel like I got good value or something like that – but at least do something with it. Something, you know, better? Like, how about more actual B-sides?

@7 – Oh, thanks. It’s called “Clock”, after the thing you’ll be constantly checking while it’s playing. Actually no, it’s a pretty class downtempo city-in-a-zombie-movie-like apocalyptic bopper that would’ve fit in nicely on Odelay if not for the part where it’s much more depressed than anything on there. The main riff is a scratchy keyboard thing that gets really grating, too.

Actually, you know, I take back what I said about “actual B-sides”. I really don’t have anything against the remix as an art form. When they’re done right they can put a really interesting new twist on a comfortable song and make you look at it in a different way. And this single has three very good remixes to go along with two completely useless ones. But too often people just seem to say “I’m making a remix!”, add a generic “dance” or “house” beat, a few blippy keyboard noises, spread out the vocals, and voila – remix and royalty cheques. As long as they’re interesting enough to be worth hearing I’ll like them – even if six in a row on one CD can be a bit much. It’s a low 7 – I like five of the slabs of song on here.

7/10

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