Customer Reviews: Beck Song Reader
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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars20
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on October 10, 2014
I was disappointed when this was released solely as sheet music,
I am glad it has come out recorded, albeit by "various artists".
There seems to be almost two albums worth of music here with
two distinct themes--relationship songs and more irreverent takes
on social issues. The relationship songs seem to be the weakest
and a few of those performances are cloying--the cuts by Moses
Sumney, Fun, Sparks and Juanes are all unlistenable to my tastes.
The better relationship songs are performed by Jarvis Cocker, Norah
Jones and Laura Marling. The non-relationship songs seem to have
more of the bite expected when listening to Beck--Jason Isbell's take
on "Now That Your Dollar Bills..." is one of the highlights of the album
with it's blistering guitars and in your face lyrics. America, Here's My Boy
and Do We? We Do-- are both folk protest songs that are brilliant and
brilliantly interpreted. There are also what seem to be some Bertold
Brecht and Kurt Weill style tunes here, We All Wear Cloaks sung
by Jack Black (I can't stand him as an actor but have to admit to liking
his performance here) and Old Shanghai sung by Eleanor Friedberger.
Also a couple of instrumentals that show Becks knowledge of old-timey
Beck has been known to scrap whole albums and most of his recent albums
seem to be groups of songs that all are in the same mode, here he shows
his range from almost Waitsian wordplay in songs like Rough On Rats to
folk anthems to Klezmer, why does he not mix it up more on his albums
like he used to--or on this one? It would be interesting to hear him perform
these songs, I am still waiting for the Rock & Roll album he said he was
working on before the dismal Modern Guilt album was released.
4 1/2 stars for this mixed bag.
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on November 6, 2014
I wasn't quite sure what to expect with this album. I have always been a fan of Beck, but he only sings on one track on the album. He did, however, write the lyrics and sheet music which where released earlier in hardcover book form for people to perform on their own. Some of the artists I am fans of such as Jack Black and Jack White. Other artists I was aware of in name only like Norah Jones, Fun., and Tweedy. Many others I had never heard of. Wow, I'm impressed with not only the range in sound, but also the consistent quality of the tracks. The songs sung by the artists I had never heard of have quickly become some of my favorites. Songs such as Sorry sung by Laura Marling, Why Did You Make Me Care? sung by Scott Sparks, and Last Night You Were A Dream sung by Lord Huron. My favorite song hands down is Old Shanghai sung by Eleanor Friedberger. There really isn't a bad track on here. I would have to say that the instrumental track The Last Polka is the weakest link. All the songs have an essence of Beck while still letting the artist performing also influence them. The combination works better then anyone, except maybe Beck, could have expected. I would definitely recommend you take a chance with this album. You won't be disappointed.
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on August 6, 2014
The album puts me in mind of a mix tape compiled by someone who knows what I would like to hear & also what I should hear.
The songs hang together well for a cohesive listening experience.
One of the better albums I have listened to in a long time.
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on November 24, 2014
A cynical person would say this is an overproduced collection of mediocre songs by a mix of familiar and unfamiliar artists. I appreciate the mix of influences and styles, and I didn't hate any of the songs, but I feel like I need to do more research to really "get it."
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on August 1, 2014
What a pleasant surprise... though I shouldn't be. It's a "Beck album" in sound and flavor (which should be expected since he's listed as a producer), despite the fact it's other artists performing the songs. The best analogy would be those "tribute" album where other artists contribute cover versions of a given artists' catalog... except here the songs haven't been recorded/released by the original artist. It's a great listen, and I enjoyed it very much!
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on May 11, 2015
As is the norm with compilations like this, it is a hit or miss affair but it is one that mostly hits. Fans of Beck will enjoy this because even though it is Beck's songs being sung by someone else, you can clearly hear Beck's vision behind every song. You can imagine what it would sound like if Beck himself performed the song (and hopefully, someday, we will get to hear that). Even when the artist still puts their stamp on it, these are clearly Beck compositions. Beck says that he released these songs in sheet music form hoping the songs would find musicians who would do them more justice than he could. For the most part, this experiment is a success in that way because many of the artists sonically take the songs to places we haven't seen Beck venture, and yet, they seem to perfectly capture the vision of the song. Some play it close to the what a Beck song would sound like, but that is OK. There are some great highlights on this album that make it a worthwhile purchase.
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on February 1, 2015
Beck is one of my favorite musicians because he really gets it. He understands the song and its purpose and he also understands the human condition in a literary sense. I've been a fan since Odelay (before that I was an anti-fan, intentionally avoiding the hype surrounding Mellow Gold, without actually having listened to it -- my mistake). So, with that disclaimer out of the way, I should convey some useful information about Song Reader. I am fascinated by the creative process, and Song Reader is like watching genius in real time. Seeing how so many talented musicians interpret these songs is a genuine experience. One of the songs is sung in Spanish and it sounds perfect. Even though I've been reading through the sheet music for over a year now, and now listening to wonderful productions of the songs on CD, I feel that I've only begun to scratch the surface. I highly recommend this, but I am also very biased in favor of Beck as an artist.
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on October 21, 2014
I think I'd "love" this if Beck recorded all the songs himself. But that wasn't the point of this record, which is for other artists to interpret and present Beck's songs from the sheet music release of the same name. I like the album. I typically love Beck albums.
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on September 13, 2014
Not bad not great. Wish he'd come out with something a little more up beat.
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on November 30, 2014
Bought it because I'm a Sparks fan/collector; but enjoyed the whole thing. (Sparks does one of the covers on here).
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