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Not Mellow OR Gold

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02.08.2000

Advantages:
Beck is a twisted genius

Disadvantages:
It does start to fry your mind if you listen too closely

Recommendable Yes:

Detailed rating:

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Lyrics

Quality and consistency of tracks

How does it compare to the artist's other releases

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1 Ciao members have rated this review on average: very helpful See ratings
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  1. spoffy
  2. bjlangley

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Beck Hansen may well come to regret the day he wrote the "I'm a loser baby, so why don't you kill me" line. He has the standard card-carrying hippy background: son of a bluegrass player; lived with preacher grandfather in Kansas; hitched around Europe and lived with his sculptor uncle before embarking upon music in New York — all, allegedly, before he was 16.

That bit of history said, what Beck's past doesn't suggest is Mellow Gold. Loser, probably the first Top 20 single to feature the line "Dog food skulls with the beefcake pantyhose", is a fair starting point. Beck samples all possible musical themes — folk, rap, unidentifiable plinky, farty sounds — and coats them with an ear-friendly pop gloss without quite losing the feeling that there's things here which haven't been heard before.

Beck creates characters, always interesting, usually unusual and unsympathetic. The bitter runaway in Soul Suckin' Jerk; the Truck Drivin' Neighbors Downstairs (Yellow Sweat) ("Whiskey-stained buck-tooth, backwoods creep/Grizzly bear motherf****r who never goes to sleep"); and the hideous Nitemare Hippy Girl ("She's cooking salad for breakfast/She's got tofu the size of Texas"), all help knit together Beck's view of the weird world.

Musically, he's incredibly inventive. Pay No Mind (Snoozer) and Blackhole are folky, country-pop, Motherf****r is urban paranoia, while Whiskeyclone, Hotel City 1997 could be Tom Waits. Worst of all, there's neither hide nor hair of his debut single, MTV Makes Me Want To Smoke Crack.

If you want weirdness, you'll find it here aplenty, but it's not particularly mellow, and certainly not gold. I am a big Beck fan, and if it's more of the same you're after, you'll find it here.

Tracklist:

Loser
Pay No Mind (Snoozer)
Fuckin With My Head (Mountain Dew Rock)
Whisk eyclone, Hotel City 1997
Soul Suckin Jerk
Truckdrivin Neighbors Downstairs (Yellow Sweat)
Sweet Sunshine
Beercan
Steal My Body Home
Nitemare Hippy Girl
Mutherf****r
Blackhole


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Product details

Title Mellow Gold (Parental Advisory) [PA]
Performer Beck
Genre Rock & Pop

Additional notes

Album Notes Personnel: Beck (vocals, guitar); Petra Haden (violin); Mike Boito (organ); Rob Zabrecky (bass); David Harte (drums).
Producers: Tom Rothrock, Rob Schnapf, Karl Stephenson, Beck.
Recorded at Karl's House and Rob's House and Beck's four track.
"Loser" was nominated for a 1995 Grammy Award for Best Male Rock Vocal Performance.
The definitive outsider, Beck is a lonely voice raging against the stifling winds of conformity and complacency in both our mainstream culture and in our stock-model counter-culture (check out one of his first indie releases, "MTV Makes Me Want To Smoke Crack"). Growing up in heartland America, Beck dropped out of high school and cultivated his muse on a combination of traditional folk music and Delta blues, not unlike another legendary outsider from the heartland--Bob Dylan.
Already well-known in the New York and Los Angeles folk scenes, Beck's stature as an independent artist was cemented by college radio programmers. While terms like "alternative" came to mean next to nothing, Beck's 12" version of "Loser," released on the Bongload label, became an underground hit. The music he makes on MELLOW GOLD is an unruly synthesis of Americana, completely devoid of cliches as Beck stumbles on one fresh idea after another with a rare sense of discovery. At any given moment you might hear an Indian raga ("Steal My Body Home"), chicken-fried hip-hop ("Loser" and "Soul Suckin Jerk"), a John Lee Hooker/Rolling Stones shuffle ("Fuckin' With My Head"), post-modernist noise ("Mutherfuker") or echoes of down-home blues ("Blackhole").
Beck makes his diverse range of sources on MELLOW GOLD work. Each song sounds lived-in and alive, all run hurdy-gurdy through the meat-grinder of an original sensibility, fashioned with grow-your-own power and spirit on a humble 8-track recorder in his producer's living room. "Soul Suckin Jerk" is a freedom cry for every small town kid working away dutifully in some dead-end job just trying to imagine a better tomorrow. "Pay No Mind (Snoozer)" employs a series of sleazy images ("Give the finger to the rock and roll singer as he's dancing upon your paycheck/The sales climb higher through the garbage-pail sky like a giant dildo crushing the sun...the drugs won't kill your day job") to impale corporate rock upon its own pretensions and decry the malling of America. "Beercan" brings inner-city rap face-to-face with the traditional talking blues of Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger, animated by a remarkable series of samples over a percolating dance beat. MELLOW GOLD is a shot across the bow of business-as-usual rock.
Album Reviews Rolling Stone - 3 1/2 Stars - Good Plus - "...Beck makes ultrasurreal hip-hop-folk that harkens back to "Subterranean Homesick Blues"....catatonic cool....Beck's verbal collages get close to the truth of his milieu and our times. Think of it as generational code or stream of unconsciousness. But it's really called poetry...."
Entertainment Weekly - Ranked #8 in EW's "Top 10 albums of the '90s"
Spin - "...an accomplished raconteur of subterranean homesickness....America's youth never had a a more absurd--or honest--anthem...."
NME - Ranked #31 in NME's list of the `Top 50 Albums Of 1994.'
Musician - "...however offhandedly delivered, [MELLOW GOLD is] genuine artistic expression, of which one suspects there'll be more to come. And if this is Beck, I can't wait to get to Clapton and Hendrix..."
Village Voice - Ranked #10 in the Village Voice's Pazz & Jop Critics Poll.
New York Times - "...where 60's rockers set out to be beacons for a generation, Beck aspires only to be a symptom of his....reflects the twentysomething trademark, a mixture of self-mockery and sardonic defiance....While Beck's rap roots are in Dylan's `Subterranean Homesick Blues,' his splintered recordings make him a child of hip-hop..."
Spin - Ranked #2 in Spin's list of the `20 Best Albums Of '94' - "...Beck's stylistic experiments and lyrical indulgences are often intoxicating, sometimes infuriating, but...always giving the finger to the rock'n'roll singer..."
Entertainment Weekly - "...Both dopey and insinuating, Beck's full-length debut is total novelty pop, a cheeky mix of Ray Stevens, Falco and the Beastie Boys..." - Rating: B
Entertainment Weekly (Spring 2000, p.166) - Ranked #8 in EW's "Top 10 albums of the '90s"
Spin (12/94, p.76) - Ranked #2 in Spin's list of the `20 Best Albums Of '94' - "...Beck's stylistic experiments and lyrical indulgences are often intoxicating, sometimes infuriating, but...always giving the finger to the rock'n'roll singer..."
Village Voice (2/28/95) - Ranked #10 in the Village Voice's Pazz & Jop Critics Poll.
NME (12/24/94, p.23) - Ranked #31 in NME's list of the `Top 50 Albums Of 1994.'
Rolling Stone (4/7/94, p.72) - 3 1/2 Stars - Good Plus - "...Beck makes ultrasurreal hip-hop-folk that harkens back to "Subterranean Homesick Blues"....catatonic cool....Beck's verbal collages get close to the truth of his milieu and our times. Think of it as generational code or stream of unconsciousness. But it's really called poetry...."
New York Times (3/27/94, p.37) - "...where 60's rockers set out to be beacons for a generation, Beck aspires only to be a symptom of his....reflects the twentysomething trademark, a mixture of self-mockery and sardonic defiance....While Beck's rap roots are in Dylan's `Subterranean Homesick Blues,' his splintered recordings make him a child of hip-hop..."
Musician (4/94, p.85) - "...however offhandedly delivered, [MELLOW GOLD is] genuine artistic expression, of which one suspects there'll be more to come. And if this is Beck, I can't wait to get to Clapton and Hendrix..."
Spin (4/94, p.94) - "...an accomplished raconteur of subterranean homesickness....America's youth never had a a more absurd--or honest--anthem...."
Entertainment Weekly (3/25/94, p.54) - "...Both dopey and insinuating, Beck's full-length debut is total novelty pop, a cheeky mix of Ray Stevens, Falco and the Beastie Boys..." - Rating: B

Titles on disc 1

1. Loser
2. Pay No Mind (Snoozer)
3. Fuckin' With My Head (Mountain Dew Rock)

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More reviews »

Mellow Gold (Parental Advisory) [PA] - Beck - review by bjlangley

Quote-start Mellow? Quote-start

helpful

Mellow Gold (Parental Advisory) [PA] - Beck - review by MonkeyboyUK

Quote-start Pure gold. Quote-start

helpful

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This review of Mellow Gold (Parental Advisory) [PA] - Beck has been rated:

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  2. bjlangley

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