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Beck One Foot In The Grave: Deluxe Edition Review

Album. Released 2009.  

BBC Review

For Beck's most ardent followers to listen to in one go.

Lou Thomas 2009

Originally released in 1994, One Foot in the Grave captured Beck Hansen just before he unveiled slacker anthem Loser.

Since then the Los Angelino has broadly 'done a Prince' and put out a consistently funky genre-mashing body of work with only occasional dips in quality.

Aside from reissuing this album with 13 previously unreleased tracks, it appears the chief reason to flog One Foot… now is to surf the 2009 sub-zeitgeist of stripped-down roots music alongside artists like Seasick Steve and Son of Dave.

Given that this raw, thrifty set has never sounded contemporary, it has aged particularly well.

Beck's wry, lightly surrealistic lyrics on Asshole, ''Your brains went black when she took back her love and put it out into the sun'', give an early indication of his playful, skewed and evocative use of language.

Elsewhere the Delta blues of Fourteen Rivers Fourteen Floods blends acoustic slide guitar with sparse but heavy percussion to such earthy effect it's a struggle to remember the man who wrote the song was a white man in his early twenties.

There's also the great garage turbulence of Burnt Orange Peel and the Von Bondies lounge noir of Outcome to prove the album's not all about Deliverance folk.

Quality control is high on the original release with only Ziplock Bag's almost unlistenable blend of annoying distortion and tenth rate Tom Waits growling really sullying the overall piece.

Of the unreleased tracks and three former Japanese album bonus songs many are of a similarly high standard.

Whiskey Can Can is a charming basic and lightly psychedelic ditty, Mattress has violently urgent acoustic strumming and shuffling percussion, while Teenage Wastebasket is great portion of primitive slacker fun, half Eels, half Velvet Underground. Of the few missteps, only Favorite Nerve seems pointlessly drab.

At 32 songs on one CD, this reissue is too exhaustive for all but Beck's most ardent followers to listen to in one go.

For casual fans, it is worth hearing and does feature some great unknown gems, but is more of a record to dip in and out of for a few songs at a time.

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