Beck – Midnight Vultures (1999)

When one normally thinks of Beck the song “Loser” comes to mind instantly, however, there are so many more of his songs that are equally or more impressive.  I had not really taken the time to explore much of Beck past his first release Mellow Gold (1994) until  friend offered me to burn several other albums, one of them being Midnight Vultures (1999).

Midnight Vultures is a brilliant album and although the  listener will identify the characteristic Beck sounds, rhythm’s and tempo’s throughout this album, there is a bit of a disco flair and something else that I cannot identify that makes this album a true gem.  Midnight Vultures is complex, entertaining, and smartly written and produced album that should not be overlooked.

After listening to this particular album I began to see how influenced Beck must have been by the genius of Frank Zappa .  This can be seen not only the titles of his songs like Nicotine & Gravy, Mixed Bizness, & Sexx Laws; but also the random assortment of instruments and arrangements.

A good example can be seen in the songs Hollywood Freaks and  Milk & Honey; both songs are brilliantly written and much like Zappa the lyrics are as random as are the time changes.  Beck’s songs have no message, theme, or logic with the use of lyrics; clearly Beck is more interested in pushing the limits of rhythm, the use of random instruments (complimentary or not) and the incorporation of  various music genres at the same time that constantly overlap each other to create Beck’s signature sound.  This album in many ways seems to take the direction that Paul’s Boutique did for The Beastie Boys; straying away from a normalcy identified with an artist and establishing a true milestone album that often is overlooked and resurfaces later as a classic album.

Midnight Vultures sharply contrasts with Beck’s prior release Mutations (1998), thus showcasing Beck’s inate ability and gift to embrace different types of music for each of his albums. Mutations is a mellow folksy album that is equally smart and well produced, Beck really shifts gears with Midnight Vultures and takes the listener on completely different direction, thus offering a fresh sound for the Beck fan. 

I would highly suggest that you pick up a used copy at your local record exchange or find it available on the web.  Sexx Laws was the single most identified with Midnight Vultures, but it does not define the remainder of the album and one should give this album the benefit of several listens.

Beck’s Midnight Vultures gets 4.5 out of 5 stars.


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