Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Beck Shares His Record Club with Fans

Beck Hanson has always been an innovator. The indie musician officially hit the scene in 1993 with his first studio album Golden Feelings. He’s managed to sustain a career over the last 18 years with a loyal following of hipsters. But like everyone else in the record industry, he’s also had to adapt to the changing times.

Like The Flaming Lips, Weezer and a few other tech-friendly artists, Beck has learned to embrace the internet as one of the weapons in his arsenal. On his site beck.com, he does the typical updates on breaking news, music videos and buyable merch for sale. But he also hosts artists’ exhibitions on the Colorspace page and posts interviews that the singer-songwriter has conducted with musicians like Caetano Veloso and actors such as Will Ferrell.

But the real destination at Beck.com is the Record Club. As the site explains the special channel, “is an informal meeting of various musicians to record an album in a day.” Beck worked on the existing tracks with collaborators like his brother-in-law/actor Giovanni Ribisi, Sonic Youth’s Thurston Moore, Jeff Tweedy of Wilco and indie-darling Leslie Feist.

The musicians do not rehearse or arrange the songs in advance and they don’t set out to make flawless recreations or outdo the originals. The site explains, “The songs are rough renditions, often first takes that document what happened over the course of a day as opposed to a polished rendering. There is no intention to ‘add to’ the original work or attempt to recreate the power of the original recording. Only to play music and document what happens.”

True to form, Beck has picked an eclectic mix of albums for the Record Club so far. The short list includes The Velvet Underground & Nico, Songs of Leonard Cohen, Alexander “Skip” Spence’s Oar and the INXS classic Kick. But the most surprising entry on the list has to be Yanni Live at the Acropolis. Will pan flute master Zamfir’s The Lonely Shepherd be next?

Our favorite tracks are the Record Club’s renditions of The Velvet Underground & Nico’s “I’ll Be Your Mirror” and Cohen’s “So Long, Marianne.”

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