Song Reader

Song Reader

by Beck


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Some things in life are certain, such as Beck's 2012 collection of sheet music eventually winding its way to record. It did roughly 19 months after its December 2012 publication, appearing in the summer of 2014 as a charity album presented by hipster eyeglass firm Warby Parker for the benefit of Dave Eggers' 826 National educational charity. This record is culled from star-studded live performances supervised by Beck and Randall Poster, who is best known as the music supervisor on Wes Anderson films, so this record hits many of the tasteful signifiers of new millennial hipsterism and, appropriately, it's immaculately curated, capturing a carefully sculpted neo-retro feel where everything new evokes the past. Several of the featured musicians do make it their specialty to construct an invisible bridge to the past, and these are the artists whose interpretations are the most striking on Song Reader: Jack White shambles through the blues on "I'm Down," Jarvis Cocker milks all the drama out of "Eyes That Say 'I Love You'," Jeff Tweedy gets dreamy on "The Wolf Is on the Hill," Jason Isbell tears through "Now That Your Dollar Bills Have Sprouted Wings" like he was playing a roadhouse, Eleanor Friedberger slyly sells the carnivalesque elements of "Old Shanghai," and Norah Jones brings "Just Noise" into her own uptown cabaret wheelhouse. These are all peers of Beck, all alt-rockers raised on pop and punk sharing an affection for both, so they fit neatly where the newer acts -- ranging from relatively unknown Moses Sumney and Gabriel Kahane to new sensations fun. -- are entirely polite, succumbing to the suggestions of Poster and Beck and winding up sounding a bit too precious. The old guard provides a needed tonic to this deference, sounding vulgar and vital as they take Song Reader's inspirations seriously: David Johansen brings "Rough on Rats" to a speakeasy, Sparks' electro arrangement of "Why Did You Make Me Care?" recalls the theatricality of vaudeville, Swamp Dogg appears unaffected by all the shenanigans, Loudon Wainwright III kicks up an old-fashioned singalong with "Do We? We Do," while Marc Ribot strolls through back pages on "The Last Polka," creating perhaps the most authentic moment on this highly stylized endeavor. If the recorded Song Reader is a hodgepodge, perhaps that was inevitable: Beck wrote these songs to capture many different styles and they weren't necessarily meant to be played back to back in front of an audience -- they were meant to be learned at home and brought out into the world. Having the songs preserved on record undercuts that intention slightly but this is still an odd, delightful collection of tunes and it's nice that non-musicians -- and listeners with an aversion to homemade YouTube renditions -- get to hear these now too.

Product Details

Release Date: 07/29/2014
Label: Capitol
UPC: 0602537924813
catalogNumber: 002128002

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Beck   Primary Artist
Loudon Wainwright   Vocals
Roger Eno   Piano,Background Vocals
David Johansen   Vocals
Larry Goldings   Piano
Marc Ribot   Banjo,Guitar
Jack Black   Vocals
Andy Burton   Piano,Accordion,Vocals
Jarvis Cocker   Synthesizer,Guitar,Vocals
David Coulter   Bass,Violin,Background Vocals
Swamp Dogg   Vocals
Steve Elson   Baritone Saxophone
Bob Forrest   Vocals
Eric Gardner   Drums
Stewart Lerman   Guitar
Ron Mael   Keyboards
Russell Mael   Vocals
David Mansfield   Banjo,Bass,Guitar,Mandolin
Sammy Merendino   Drums
Suzzy Roche   Vocals
Jonathan Rosen   Bass,Vocals
Tony Shanahan   Bass,Vocals
Chaim Tannenbaum   Harmonica,Vocals
Jeff Tweedy   Bass,Guitar,Vocals
Doug Wieselman   Clarinet
Andy York   Guitar,Vocals,Lap Steel Guitar
Michael Eisenstein   Electric Guitar
Fats Kaplin   Mandolin
Josh Lattanzi   Bass
Isaiah Owens   Organ,Moog Synthesizer
Ben Blackwell   Drums
Juanes   Bass,Drums,Vocals
Greg Wieczorek   Drums
Norah Jones   Organ,Piano,Vocals
Derry Deborja   Keyboards
Jack White   Acoustic Guitar,Electric Guitar,Vocals
Carl Broemel   Pedal Steel Guitar
Jason Isbell   Guitar,Vocals
Carl Restivo   Electric Guitar
Benji Lysaght   Guitar
Nate Walcott   Piano,Electric Piano
Jason Buckle   Percussion
Eleanor Friedberger   Vocals
Chad Gamble   Drums
Kaveh Rastegar   Upright Bass
Rob Moose   Guitar
Clarice Jensen   Cello
Sadler Vaden   Guitar
Charlene Huang   Violin
C.J. Camerieri   Trumpet
Brooke Waggoner   Piano
Gus Seyffert   Bass
Lillie Mae Rische   Background Vocals
Nadia Sirota   Viola
Cory Younts   Harmonica
Hideaki Aomori   Clarinet
Alexandra Sopp   Flute
Dominic Davis   Bass
Gabriel Kahane   Piano,Vocals
Levon Henry   Bass Clarinet,Soprano Saxophone,Tenor Saxophone
David Gibbs   Acoustic Guitar,Bass,Background Vocals
Amanda Shires   Fiddle,Vocals
April Guthrie   Cello
Jake Blanton   Keyboards
Beck Hansen   Percussion,Keyboards,Vocals
Josh Adams   Drums
Kevin Hastings   Keyboards
Brad Jones   Bass
Jimbo Hart   Bass
Spencer Tweedy   Drums
Jason Abraham Roberts   Guitar
Johnny Dyas   Piano
Noah Hecht   Percussion,Drums
Michael Rosen   Organ,Piano,Mellotron
Malcolm Perkins   Guitar,Vocals

Technical Credits

Joe Henry   Producer
Rick Parker   Engineer
Beck   Producer
Jarvis Cocker   Arranger,Producer
George Drakoulias   Producer
Stewart Lerman   Producer,Engineer
Ron Mael   Arranger,Producer,Orchestration
Russell Mael   Arranger,Producer
Steven McDonald   Vocal Engineer
Randall Poster   Producer
Tom Schick   Engineer
Lawrence Azerrad   Graphic Design
Ryan Freeland   Engineer
Ryan Williams   Engineer
Leanne Shapton   Artwork
Vance Powell   Engineer
Juanes   Programming,Producer
Dave Poler   Engineer
Jack White   Producer
Marcel Dzama   Artwork
John Spiker   Programming,Producer,Engineer
Fonseca   Programming,Producer
Andrew Dost   String Arrangements
Dave Cobb   Producer,Engineer
David Greenbaum   Engineer
Laura Marling   Producer
James Frazee   Engineer
Albert DiFiore   Engineer
Gus Seyffert   Producer,Engineer
Fun.   Producer
Gabriel Kahane   Arranger,Instrumentation
Joshua V. Smith   Engineer
Matt Marinelli   Engineer
Beck Hansen   Composer,Liner Notes
Hugo Nicolson   Engineer
Cole Marsden   Engineer
Josh Cochran   Artwork
Ben Schneider   Engineer
Grief Neill   Engineer
Jessica Hische   Cover Art
Moses Sumney   Producer
Andrew Mazorol   Artwork
Alonzo Felix   Artwork
Takaes   Artwork
Kyle Pellet   Artwork
Kelsey Dake   Artwork
Joshua Willing Halpern   Producer
Jing Wei   Artwork
Ian Huebert   Artwork
David Zwirner   Artwork
Tynan Kerr   Artwork
Tim Lane   Artwork
Sergio Membrillas   Artwork
Scott Teplin   Artwork
Pete Gamlen   Artwork
Loren Purcell   Artwork

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