Sunday, 18 January 2015

Art of the Cover - VA "Beck Song Reader" (2014)

A while back, Beck created a project in an almost-forgotten form - the releasing of a beautifully presented collection of twenty songs existing only as individual pieces of sheet music; never before released or recorded.

Complete with full-color, heyday-of-home-play-inspired art for each song and a lavishly produced hardcover carrying case, the hardcover version (click link) of Song Reader was an experiment in what an album can be today .... an alternative that enlists the listener in the tone of every track, and that’s as visually absorbing as a dozen gatefold LPs put together.

The  108 page hardcover was published by McSweeney's.

The wonderfully presented package featured original art from Marcel Dzama (who created the imagery for Beck’s acclaimed Guero), Leanne Shapton, Josh Cochran, Jessica Hische, and many more.

Song Reader includes an introduction by Jody Rosen (Slate, the New York Times) and a preface by Beck.

The great news is that renditions of the songs by (very) select musicians have been recorded on the excellent 20-track collection Beck Song Reader - with Beck and music supervisor Randall Poster producing the album.

Click link on LHS.

Beck said of the project ... 
'Like a kid getting a special package in the mail and opening it up with anticipation, these interpretations of songs from the Song Reader book have surpassed what I could have imagined ...  
It amazes me to hear how these musicians have made the songs their own and in the process revealed that the interpretation is the living breathing soul of the piece. These interpretations have made the book something new - something better.'

The songs here are as unfailingly exciting as you’d expect from their author, but if you want to hear “Do We? We Do,” or “Don’t Act Like Your Heart Isn’t Hard,” bringing them to life depends on you.

As well as a song delivered by Beck himself, Song Reader includes interpretations by an array of notable artists - the likes of Jack White, Jarvis Cocker, Jason Isbell, Laura Marling, Sparks, Loudon Wainwright III, Norah Jones and David Johansen.  There is also a song by Tweedy, the new band formed by Wilco's Jeff Tweedy and his son Spencer.

Fun and Jack Black are also on here!



1. Title Of This Song  - Moses Sumney 4:55
2. Please Leave A Light On When You Go - Fun. 2:42
3. The Wolf Is On The Hill - Tweedy 2:22
4. Just Noise - Norah Jones 2:00
5. Last Night You Were A Dream - Lord Huron 3:23
6. Saint Dude - Bob Forrest 4:06
7. I'm Down - Jack White 3:04
8. Heaven's Ladder - Beck 3:18
9. Don't Act Like Your Heart Isn't Hard - Juanes 3:27
10. Sorry - Laura Marling 2:05
11. Eyes That Say "I Love You" - Jarvis Cocker 3:19
12. Rough On Rats- David Johansen 2:48
13. Now That Your Dollar Bills Have Sprouted Wings - Jason Isbell 5:11
14. The Last Polka - Marc Ribot 4:33
15. Old Shanghai - Eleanor Friedberger 2:55
16. Why Did You Make Me Care? - Sparks 4:40
17. America, Here's My Boy - Swamp Dogg 3:05
18. We All Wear Cloaks - Jack Black 2:30
19. Do We? We Do - Loudon Wainwright III 2:52
20. Mutilation Rag - Gabriel Kahane 2:08

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