Musical orbits: Beck

Prince was a massive talent, no doubt. That he was producing and selling music somewhere in the range of forty years or so, makes his presence on the scene both formidable and legendary. Just like millions of other fans, I’ll miss his music, but his death has me reflecting on others with similar work ethic and, occasionally, producing songs that somehow channel the spirit of Prince.

Beck is up first. He’s been in the public eye since the release of his first album, Odelay, in 1999. (Appropriate year, no?) Beck is a multi-instrumentalist and musical chameleon with influences all over the map. Despite those beneficial similarities to Prince, and the worthiness of checking out Beck’s oeuvre, I want to focus on the one album of Beck’s that stunned me as a sort of artistic homage to Prince: Midnight Vultures. Beck considers his fourth album to be more R&B than anything else, based on some interviews I’ve read. As far as I’m concerned, it may as well be a Prince album produced by Beck. Track after track match the offbeat R&B that Prince performed so well—even the falsetto vocals. Except it’s all filtered through the Becktionary, a cultural mash-up machine he uses as a brain. Since Beck’s background starts about twenty years removed from Prince and on the west coast, he has incorporated hip-hop and Latin stylings from the region into his repertoire. If you haven’t yet heard the album and you’re a fan of Prince, you won’t be disappointed. Check it out.

Beck,  Midnight Vultures

Beck, Midnight Vultures

Next time, we visit Emerald City. ;-)