BECK – ODELAY
Released June 18, 1996 – 20 years ago
Beck’s sophomore major label release blends found sounds and samples that highlight an ever-changing stylistic shift between blues, soul, folk, country, rock, hip hop, electronic, and noise rock. This patchwork flows smoothly, however its presentation defies convention with the sum of the parts sounding like something completely new. As novel as it is catchy, labeling this album “genius” is no hyperbole
The Classic Pick is a weekly feature at 4 p.m. Monday-Friday on The Home Stretch, sponsored by the Good Oak Bar and curated by Kris Kerry. Each Monday at 4 p.m. Kris stops by KXCI’s studio to give us insight on this classic album at 91.3 FM and KXCI.org.
Beck (aka Beck Hansen) rose to fame in the early 1990s with his lo-fi, sonically experimental style that incorporated various different musical genera, which incorporates folk, funk, soul, hip-hop, rock, and country among others.
Born in Los Angeles, California, in 1970, Beck discovered hip hop and folk music by his early teens and soon performed locally at coffee houses and small clubs. At the age of 19, he moved to New York City and became involved in the anti-folk movement. After a time he moved back to LA, and began recording, recording two small label releases, Golden Feelings (1993) and Stereopathetic Soulmanure (1994), prior to releasing his monster major label debut, Mellow Gold, in March of 1994. Mellow Gold, with its hit “Loser,” became a double platinum release and peaked at #13 on the Billboard 200.
Following Mellow Gold, Beck recorded another independent label release – his third recording in 1994, One Foot in the Grave.
Odelay was the sophomore major label studio release, and fifth overall by Beck. It featured several singles, including “Wehre It’s At,” “Devil’s Haircut,” and “The New Pollution.” It peaked at #16 on the Billboard 200, quickly reaching double platinum status in the US with over 2 million sales. This was Beck’s first UK album hit as well, peaking at #17 on the UK charts.
Odelay was one of small number of albums recorded in G-Son Studios in Atwater Village CA, a suburb of Los Angeles. This studio was founded and built by The Beastie Boys, who recorded Check Your Head (1992), Ill Communication (1994), and Hello Nasty (1998) there.
Production credit on Odelay was predominately shared by Beck himself and the Dust Brothers. The Dust Brothers are the LA-based producers E.Z. Mike (Mike Simpson) and King Gizmo (John King), who became known for their sample-based music in the late 80s and early 90s. Other notable albums the Dust Brothers worked on include The Beastie Boys Paul’s Boutique (1989), Beck’s Guero (2005), as well as work on albums by Tone Lōc, Young MC, Tenacious D, Linkin Park, They Might Be Giants, and the Fight Club Soundtrack.
Already considered a very promising upcoming indie/anti-folk/lo fi artist, with the release of Odelay Beck became a well-established and respected recording artist overnight. The album almost immediately received unanimous critical praise. It was nominated for the Grammy Album of the Year and won the Grammy Award for Best Alternative Album as well as the Grammy for Best Male Rock Vocal Performance for “Where It’s At.” Odelay was also named “Album of the Year” by Rolling Stone, and voted album of the year in The Village Voice and NME’s critic’s poll in 1996.
Over time, Odelay has continued to enjoy critical acclaim. It was voted 51st greatest album of all time in the Q Magazine readers poll, ranked #16 by Spin on their “100 Greatest Albums, 1985-2005,” ranks as #306 on Rolling Stones 500 greatest albums of all time and #9 on its list of the 100 best albums of the 90s, and is #19 on Pitchfork’s list of their Top 100 albums of the 1990s.
There are a number of sampled bands/artists sampled on Odelay, including MC5, Them (Van Morrison’s first project), Edgar Winter, Rare Earth, Leon Haywood, Sly and the Family Stone, Grand Funk Railroad, and even Franz Schubert, among others.
Odelay is supposedly loosely based on the Mexican slang interjection “órale,” which roughly translates to “okay” or “come on.”
The dog on the album’s cover is a Komondor, a rare Hungarian breed of sheep dog.
Beck has released 12 studio albums to date, along with several non-album singles and a book of sheet music. He is not eligible for the Rock and Roll Hall of fame until 2018.