Beck's first official record can be seen as the proto-Odelay, in some ways, pouring over the very same recipe of countrified folkie songwriting, indie rawk bite and hip-hop influence -- what 'Mellow Gold' did was produce one big-time single, "Loser", alongside tracks that seemed to be rearranging the state of radio. It's more concise than the two records that secretly came before it, but no less sardonic.
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- Mellow Gold by Beck
7/10 Stephen 4th August 2016
If it wasn’t for “Loser” “Mellow Gold” would never have been a success and would probably sit more comfortably next to the more obscure Butter 08 project which featured Jon Spencer Blues Explosion drummer Russell Simins and Cibo Matto. Instead we find it mentioned in the same sentence as “August & Everything After” by Counting Crows as being huge selling debut albums on the Geffen label.
It is a mixed bag in terms of quality and styles. It’s mostly good though and well worth owning. With hindsight, Beck is really practicing here for what is probably his best album, “Odelay” which followed. I remember hating “Loser” when it came out and not really paying much attention but seeing him live at Lollapalooza in ’95 won me over. The real stars of this album for me are the lazy country drawl of “Pay No Mind” and the groove of “Beercan”.
“Steal My Body Home” is a completely stoned drawl but somehow enjoyable. “Nitemare Hippy Girl” has a good chorus but just doesn’t quite seem complete. After those two laid back songs “Mutherfucker” wakes you up a bit with its wall of lo-fi distortion. The meditative “Blackhole” ends the album. All in all it’s brilliant in places, not so in others.
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