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CD Review: Odelay Deluxe Edition

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Artist: Beck
Album: Odelay Deluxe Edition
Label: UMe
Release Date: January 29th, 2008

I wish I could put a promo track up with this post but UMe won't let me so it's their loss. Just hum "Devil's Haircut" while you read.

It's been a dozen years since Beck Hanson put out his best album, Odelay, and listening to this expanded reissue just confirms that this release was his peak (to date). This is not to say that Beck doesn't come up with a popular track from almost every album released since Odelay but none of the subsequent releases have the energy or innovation of his 1996 effort.

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This 2 disc deluxe edition re-release has the original album on Disc 1 with the addition of "Deadweight", Beck's contribution to the soundtrack of A Life Less Ordinary as well as a couple tracks from the same Odelay sessions both of which are pretty darn good: "Inferno", and "Gold Chains". Disc 2 opens with some 3 truly horrible remixes of "Where It's At" and "Devil's Haircut" by U.N.K.L.E., Aphex Twin, and Mickey P., followed by 13 B-sides released internationally (non-US). The B-sides are unremarkable with the exception of the vocals and guitar-only Skip James blues cover "Devil Got My Woman" (recorded in Sun Studios, the place that put Elvis, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Roy Orbison on the map, before they closed their doors as a recording space) and a hilarious Spanish-language, complete with Mariachi band, version of "Jackass" called "Burro".

Also included are Beck-style stream-of-conscience surreal liner notes courtesy of Sonic Youth's Thurston Moore and a set of interviews from 2006 (the 10-yr anniversary) that writer Dave Eggers did with California high-schoolers in which he asked about their thoughts regarding Odelay. Hilarious exchanges include "Q: Can you believe it's been 10 years since it came out?" "A: No I can't. Or I can. I haven't heard it."

The Odelay Deluxe Edition is for hardcore Beck fans or even just for the folks who lost their first copy of the CD when their ex took off with it when they moved out (always a nice chance to upgrade I've found). People have been talking about boycotting Beck because he's a Scientologist but it makes more sense to me to just boycott bad work by people, whatever their religion is. Odelay doesn't fall into that category however.