Beck’s ‘Odelay’ Turns 20: A Track-by-Track Breakdown (Video)
Producer John King says some of the sounds on Beck’s breakthrough album were “just plain wrong”
Tim Kenneally | June 17, 2016 @ 3:08 PM
Last Updated: June 18, 2016 @ 9:36 AM
"'Devils Haircut,' like many others on the album, is full of sounds and moments that are ironically understated and slightly under-performing or just plain wrong. To us, it was all funny, especially when combined with the huge beat."
"'Hotwax' marries slide-guitar twang with hip-hop and found-sound production style. I've never heard anything as silly and lovely yet sincere. Beck super-glues our zany ideas with skilled and focused delivery of vocals and guitars performed without winking at the inherent irony."
"'Lord Only Knows' is beautiful and simple.It has two things I love and often harken to: Big whole-note fuzz guitar and dreamy, 'Oooh' vocals."
"'The New Pollution' has the killer beat which I've heard in many songs since. Focused with great vocals. It's cool to think of the three of us, alone, in our house in Silverlake creating this multi-layered, multi-cultural music that sounds like so many are involved."
"'Derelict' has our production style but without the standard hip-hop beat and amateurly using Indian instruments. The main beat is a rare live recorded beat for this album where I looped a two-bar phrase played by Joey Waronker in our living room as his drum kit fell apart."
"'Novacane' has an explosive feeling and drive that we were enjoying on some of the albums we would pull out to listen to and laugh about. Beck had an amazing way of enjoying ideas we would present for laughs and wanting to actually sample them or get inspired to make songs in a similar vein."
"'Jack-Ass' has the most beautiful sample of the album with equally beautiful vocals from Beck."
"'Where It's At' has crowd vocals and clapping that is all layered Beck performances, like most of 'Odelay's' live tracks. I remember suggesting vocal styles for the crowd 'Where It's At' vocals like, 'Do an old man voice' to make it seem like a real big crowd. Organic, fluid, collaborative fun."
"On 'Sissyneck,' we actually brought in a session pedal steel player who blew it away for us. As I'm revisiting this album, I realize that in addition to Beck being a common thread between songs, they also all contain a signature irony, with found sound, multi-culturalism, and momentous sonic juxtaposition."
"'Readymade': Chill mode."
"I thought 'High 5 (Rock the Catskills)' was the single, if there even was one, because it was the most hip-hop, which was more our thing than 'alternative.' Turns out 'Where It's At' was a good single, but the whole album didn't fit what was on radio or MTV at the time. I liked getting to include the orchestral bit because I played it in high school orchestra, and it always felt beautiful and with strong emotion."
"We were just doing what came naturally on 'Odelay,' similar to what we did on 'Paul's Boutique,' with the good fortune to collaborate with powerful and gifted artists who brought it and at the same time kept the labels away from the process."