Reissues are usually an interesting affair, often leading one to wonder if it is something worth investing in and if it is indeed cynical to think of it purely as lining the company pocket. ‘One Foot in the Grave’ perhaps is a prime example of why this need not be the case with reissues and serves as a reminder or starting point of for those that missed Beck the first time round, of his distinct quirky style and characteristics. This is no meagre effort, despite its low budget and lo-fi sound. With a mammoth 16 bonus tracks (13 of which previously unreleased), quantity and quality both seem to shine. With the average song clocking in and around at 2 minutes, the words short and sweet come to mind.
There is no doubt that ‘One Foot in the Grave’ takes a diversion from the folk-hop energy as seen on ‘Mellow Gold’. This sees Beck take an increasingly rustic approach with simple acoustics and percussion, putting emphasis on his worldly yet occasionally inane lyrics and vocals which seem to have felt and experienced it all.
‘Sleeping Bag’, with its lazy guitar and strumming, has Beck observing the outside world which hints at his brilliance in making this apply on a personal level. The self is explored on ‘I Get Lonesome’ with plenty of tales of self depravity delivered which is delivered with a consistent hypnotic drone. Fuzzier tracks such as ‘Burnt Orange Peel’, with its wooing, yelping and the unpolished sound adds a greater depth, the slap dash approach that is characteristic of Beck’s ability to mesh different sounds naturally.
‘Cyanide Breath Mint’ puts observational skills to the test yet again with an air of cynicism, spouting mock advice. Asshole chugs along nicely, veering into relationship territory, adding to the many themes already covered by Beck. Songs such as ‘I’ve Seen the Land Beyond’ continue the folk theme with its stripped sensibilities. The bonus tracks are also a treat and do not disappoint.
There is always a greater sense of innocence and a raw energy when it comes to the earlier offerings of any artist and band. It is no wonder, therefore, that ‘One Foot in the Grave’ is a cult favourite, sitting nicely between Beck’s debut and ‘Odelay’ and this is certainly a deserving reissue. All there is left to do now is put on this record, sit out on the porch and down some whisky as the sun sets.
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