Beck – One Foot in the Grave – Deluxe Edition Beck – One Foot in the Grave – Deluxe Edition

Beck – One Foot in the Grave (Deluxe Edition)

Beck – One Foot in the Grave (Deluxe Edition)

I never understood how some songwriters were capable of writing 30+ songs to choose from for any given album. Like, that’s a lot. And luckily, if you happen to be Beck, all of them are seriously awesome. So now his somewhat lost K Records album One Foot in the Grave gets reissued, and it comes with a whole ‘nother album’s worth of songs that are just as good as the first sixteen. Take note, budding weirdo slack-folksters: if you want the 15-year-anniversary reissue of your out-of-print K Records debut to be more awesome than its original, here’s your new standard.

Like all pre-Guero Beck albums, One Foot in the Grave is completely on its own, its aesthetics and approach never to be attempted again. The whole thing feels like a night spent in a creaky backyard shed, hanging out with your friends (who happen to be Beck and Calvin Johnson) as they nonchalantly play through every song they know (and some they don’t quite know). It’s unbelievably raw, and I’ll be damned if second takes were even considered. And this thing is an acher, with pop moments few and far between. Oh, and no one on this album can sing at all. Beck constantly struggles to get his voice to cooperate over the mangled, jangly blues-folk, and Calvin Johnson is, well, Calvin Johnson. Did I also mention that it’s fucking gorgeous and perfect? Because it is.

Thanks to this super-expanded reissue, it’s revealed that the overwhelming down-and-outedness (what?) of the actual album was pared down that way purposely. The bonus tracks are so happy! There’s the Beatle-y “Mattress”, the jaunty and rambling “Woe On Me”, the Velvet Underground near-plagiarism of “Teenage Wastebasket,” and the crew seems to be having more fun in general with these tunes. The songs are deceptively non-traditional, and it takes about two listens to realize that the blues and folk canon has been hijacked by a post-modern absurdist. “I live in fear/ I have no beer/ I sleep in jails/ Everything fails,” goes the boxcar-runaway-ballad pastiche (it’s cool, I’m a music critic, I’m allowed to make up genres) of “Your Love is Weird.” “Don’t put no coupons on my grave,” he instructs in between harmonica wails on “One Foot in the Grave.”

Jeez, I’m almost tempted to say I like this Bizarro-One Foot in the Grave more than the real one. But alas, the original’s got “Hollow Log,” the most beautiful/sad song Beck’s ever written, so it wins automatically, and yes I am considering Sea Change in that statement. Anyhoozits, if you’re interested in getting to know the Beck that loves Leadbelly and 90’s American trash culture in equal measures, you’ll find him here.

“He’s a Mighty Good Leader” (Skip James) – 2:41
“Sleeping Bag” – 2:15
“I Get Lonesome” – 2:50
“Burnt Orange Peel” – 1:39
“Cyanide Breath Mint” – 1:37
“See Water” – 2:22
“Ziplock Bag” – 1:44
“Hollow Log” – 1:53
“Forcefield” – 3:31
“Fourteen Rivers Fourteen Floods” – 2:54
“Asshole” – 2:32
“I’ve Seen the Land Beyond” – 1:40
“Outcome” – 2:10
“Girl Dreams” – 2:02
“Painted Eyelids” – 3:06
“Atmospheric Conditions” – 2:09

Deluxe Tracklist:
“It’s All In Your Mind”* – 2:54
“Whiskey Can Can”* – 2:12
“Mattress” – 2:31
“Woe On Me” – 3:10
“Teenage Wastebasket” (electric & band) – 2:28
“Your Love Is Weird” – 2:27
“Favorite Nerve” – 2:05
“Piss On The Door” – 2:05
“Close To God”† – 2:28
“Sweet Satan” – 1:45
“Burning Boyfriend” – 1:12
“Black Lake Morning” – 2:25
“Feather In Your Cap”* – 1:13
“One Foot In the Grave” – 3:18
“Teenage Wastebasket” (acoustic) – 1:27
“I Get Lonesome” (Alternate Version) – 1:56

Beck - One Foot in the Grave - Deluxe Edition, reviewed by Squeri on 2009-08-03T09:34:22-07:00 rating 4.3 out of 5

One Response about “Beck – One Foot in the Grave – Deluxe Edition”

  • Charles says:

    Jesus, I bought this record 15 years ago? That’s a hell of a long time to have “He’s a Mighty Good Leader” drifting in and out of your head.