Imagine an artist that makes every album so drastically different, you can put every album release into an entirely different musical category. Today’s featured artist has a very assorted catalog, and the album I’ll highlight fits perfectly in the sea of diversity.
Bek Campbell was born in Los Angeles in 1970. His father was a musician and his mother was an artist—one who was a featured personality by Andy Warhol. Neither parent made a particularly good living, so they were forced to live in very poverty-stricken areas of California. Bek’s grandfather was a minister and often spent time with Bek to ensure he was receiving the word through church music and hymns. His parents split when he was ten years old, and they ended up moving to an area very heavily influenced by Latin and hip-hop culture. All of these influences would lead to Beck’s eclectic music style.
Most people think of Beck as a musician, and think that mid-90s alt rock style. After all, who can forget, “I’m a loser baby, so why don’t you kill me?” It was practically the anthem for grunge rock teenage angst. Today however, I’m focusing on the Guero album, which came out in March of 2005. It debuted at #2 on the charts, and is Beck’s highest charting album to date. It’s also his second best-selling album in the US, at over 2 million copies. The album title is Spanish slang for a pale-skinned, or light haired person. Beck discusses being referred to by that name often as a teen—understanding it was not necessarily a derogatory term, as many folks believe.
This is another one of those records that is virtually unclassifiable. While they’ll slap an ‘alt rock’ tag on it and call it a day, it’s so much more than that. You go from upbeat pop in “E-Pro” down to a track in “Farewell Ride” that could headline an old Clint Eastwood western from the 60s. There may be a couple guitar anthems mixed in too—but it’s very little alt rock and in my opinion, much more folk rock with an alternative rock/country rock feel. Oddly enough, this album changes so much track over track, yet it flows very well. You can put it on and listen to a myriad of compositions, but it feels like you still listened to one straight album, and a good one at that.
The most popular tracks on this album are probably my least favorite. This is truly a deep cut type record. While this didn’t see a ton of radio play, the couple songs that did are the pop tracks you’d hear on the top 100. Those are filler for me. This is all about a blend of industrial, almost mechanical rock at times but making it come through my headphones in a manner that’s captivating. And making weird music listenable is kind of what Beck does. He’s the best.
If you’ve never been introduced to a Beck record, I tell everyone, Guero is the one to start with. And now that you can get it for the price of your morning Starbucks coffee, no better time than the present. Enjoy!
Top 3 Tracks: