Beck Gets Funky

Beck - Midnight Vultures
(DGC Records)
4 stars (out of 5 stars)

By Tony Bonyata

He's inbred punk-rock with country, shotgun wedded hardcore hip-hop with folk and swizzled together rootsy Delta blues with electronica as if he was mixing up a 21st century cocktail for Generation X.
On his latest album Midnight Vultures Beck continues to send a jolt of electricity into the world of rock as he sews together the limbs of different musical styles, creating a lovable monster complete with everything but the bolts in the neck. Only this time around he's added funk, soul and '70s German electronica to his kaleidoscopic repertoire to create, once again, a new sound that is uniquely Beck.
"I want to defy the logic of all sex laws," he croons over a Stax-Volt horn section on the skittish R&B infused "Sexx Laws", coming off more like a white-trash Barry White then the L.A. punk / folkie of his past. That's right, Beck has traded in his devil's haircut, hotwax and beercans for tropical oils, satin sheets and other kinky trappings. It shouldn't work but he makes the hot tub boil over on sexy numbers like "Peaches and Cream" and the hot-buttered soul of "Debra", both of which feature him singing in a high, falsetto register somewhere in-between a coy Jagger and an excited Prince.
"I'm mixing business with leather," he cries on "Mixed Bizness" which adds a '70s wah-wah guitar line over the funky soul of Sly Stone, while the laid back "Nicotine and Gravy", with all its knob twiddling, features a hypnotic Middle Eastern sound that could charm a snake out of its basket. Not leaving his penchant for L.A. flavored hip-hop behind, he delivers the sleazy but lovable "Hollywood Freaks". Although he briefly touched on Kraftwerk-inspired electronica on his 1996 hit "Where It's At", it sounds as if he's lifted the entire computer chip directly from Ralf and Florian's moog on "Get Real Paid".
On Midnight Vultures Beck turns out to be a kinky white boy who just wants to funk us up.

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