Today marks Beck’s 51st birthday. Beck was born Bek David Campbell on July 8, 1970 in Los Angeles. Beck — who also went by Beck Hansen — would go on to become one of the most innovative and eclectic musicians of the past 30 years.
Beck’s chameleonic style stems from growing up in the cultural melting pot of Los Angeles, where he heard early hip hop as well as Latin music. But his first love was with the blues and folk genres, listening to artists like Lead Belly and Mississippi John Hurt. Ironically, a brief stint in New York City where he fell in with anti-folk scene of Manhattan’s Lower East Side in the 1980s also played an integral role in Beck’s musical education. All these disparate influences would lead to Beck’s unique style.
The world’s first taste of that style came when Beck released “Loser” in 1993, which gained traction on L.A. radio stations and led to a bidding war between major labels like Warner Bros., Capitol and Geffen Records. Beck eventually signed with Geffen subsidiary DGC, which afforded him the freedom to work with smaller independent labels as well. “Loser’s” sampled bluesy slide guitar over a hip hop beat is a good example of Beck’s postmodern style but by no means characterized his whole career.
For that, one must look at his larger body of work, which is on full display during his career-spanning set at the 2018 We Love Green Festival. The set features classics like “Loser” and “Where It’s At,” which really showcases Beck’s eclectic style kicking off with a “Strawberry Fields” quote and featuring a medley of songs from Chic (“Good Times”), The Rolling Stones (“Miss You”), Talking Heads (“Once In A Lifetime”) and more as he also introduces his band. Certainly an interesting band intro section.
The set also contains songs from Beck’s current album at the time, 2017’s Colors, with the title track and “Wow,” among others. The singer-songwriter also includes entries from his mid-career albums like Guero’s “Girl” as well as earlier cuts like Midnight Vultures’ (1999) “Sexx Laws” and Odelay’s — Beck’s landmark 1996 album — “Devil’s Haircut” kicks off the set. Beck also takes it way back with “One Foot In The Grave” from his 1994 collection of pre-“Loser” recordings Stereopathetic Soulmanure, which includes a “Where It’s At” reprise to close out his performance.
To celebrate Beck’s birthday, watch his set from the 2018 We Love Green Festival in Paris below via the JamBase Live Video Archive:
Beck at Bois de Vincennes
- Devils Haircut
- Up All Night
- Mixed Bizness
- Sexx Laws
- Where It’s At
- One Foot in the Grave