Artists with a bent for melding folk, blues and rock with hip hop and sampling culture were a scarce bunch in the mid-'90s.
Beck Hansen found kindred spirits in The Dust Brothers who’d helmed Paul’s Boutique for the Beastie Boys and brought them on to produce his fifth album Odelay.
The experience they brought to the table helped Beck synthesize his broad music tastes into a cohesive whole. The assortment of found sounds, samples and skilled but playful songwriting proved this LA songwriter was more than just a ‘Loser’ one hit wonder.
Beck plays guitars, harmonicas, drums and a variety of keyboards (including a discarded old Moog synth) on Odelay. He encouraged The Dust Brothers to record him playing, mess around with the sound on their equipment, and create samples with what resulted.
Another part of their highly adventurous approach toward crafting this album is the obscure and delightful songs they sampled.
Here are five songs that have lent this 1996 gem some quirky class:
Them – ‘I Can Only Give You Anything’
While the song isn’t directly sampled in 'Devil’s Haircut', it provides pretty obvious and pretty heavy inspiration.
Joe Thomas – 'Venus'
This little known jazz saxophonist is given some loving limelight in 'The New Pollution'.
Schubert – 'Unfinished Symphony #8 in B Minor'
'High 5 (Rock The Catskills)' is perhaps the most off kilter hip hop jam on the album which drops in amongst a variety of other brash beats and rapping, a snippet of Schubert's 'Unfinished Symphony #8 in B Minor'.
'Where It’s At'
'Where It’s At' samples an obscure sex education album called ‘Sex For Teens’ (Where It’s At). Hip hop crew Mantronix provided inspiration for the line ‘We got two turntables and a microphone’ which is from their mid 80s track ‘Needle To The Groove’
Rasputin’s Stash – ‘Dookey Shoe’
The thick soul groove of 'Hotwax' is mined from ‘70s Chicago ensemble Rasputin’s Stash.
The delicious beat came from influential drummer Bernard ‘Pretty’ Purdie’s ‘Song For Aretha’.
The collage of sounds and samples assembled on this record tells us so much about its creators. The huge success of this album assured that Beck would go on to be regarded as one of the most celebrated musicians of the '90s.
Odelay was a turning point for Beck because it proved that musically, he was capable of almost anything, something he continues to show us with each release to date.
Additional research by Karen Leng