I have a somewhat sheepish confession to make. Now bear with me, but the first time I heard The Smiths I was not impressed. The track I’d stumbled across was Some Girls Are Bigger Than Others, a quirky little tune that appeared as simplistically self-explanatory as its title suggested. ‘‘Some girls are bigger than others’’ sings front man Morrissey, ‘‘some girls’ mothers are bigger than other girls’ mothers’’. Scratching my head, I couldn’t decide whether or not the whole thing was a joke, the singer’s deadpan vocals giving nothing away.
‘‘You’re a Neil Young fan?’’ a friend of a friend once asked me. ‘‘Really?”
‘‘LOVE Neil Young’’ I clarified, putting on my best ‘‘don’t **** with me!’’ look.
‘‘You don’t think his voice is annoyingly whiny?’’
‘‘You don’t find a lot of his music to be plodding, uninspiring dad-rock?’’
“Not in any way’’.
‘‘Hmm, ok. Well… Southern Man is a good track I guess’’.
‘‘Southern Man is a GREAT track!’’
If my memory serves me well the conversation petered out seconds later. ‘‘So, how about that weather?’’
I’ve always had a preference for artists that like to keep you guessing. Bands and singers that over the course of their careers have boldly jumped into the unknown time and time again. People who’ve taken their music and audiences to exciting new places.
One such artist is Beck, the incalculable singer-songwriter whose twelve studio albums to date have proved about as diverse as any discography out there. Early on was the lo-fi grunge of Mellow Gold and the sampled hip-hop-meets-rock stylings of Odelay. Later came the genre-mashing Mutations, the funky soul-driven postures of Midnite Vultures and the 1960s pop-infused inclinations of The Information.