spin doc­tor

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Music Reviews - Iain Shed­den spin­doc@ theaus­tralian.com.au

FANS of Amer­i­can muso Beck will know that he rarely goes about his ca­reer in an or­tho­dox fash­ion. Last year we saw him re­lease his new al­bum, Beck Hansen’s Song Reader, purely as a book con­tain­ing sheet mu­sic and ac­com­pa­ny­ing art­work for each of the 20 songs. Be­fore that he is­sued a se­ries of videos cov­er­ing al­bums by INXS and Leonard Co­hen, among oth­ers. Last month, out of the blue, came a new song from him, an elec­tro bal­lad called De­friended, re­leased in a va­ri­ety of limited edi­tion for­mats in­clud­ing 12-inch vinyl. Now comes an­other one-off in­tro­duced in an un­usual man­ner. At a Beck per­for­mance in Paris last Tues­day stick­ers were handed out to the au­di­ence that fea­tured art­work by Swedish artist Mamma An­der­s­son. With the art­work was a com­puter code that, when ac­ti­vated, led to an­other new Beck of­fer­ing on YouTube, this one a sprightly slice of pop called I Won’t Be

Long. It too comes in a num­ber of for­mats but will be avail­able dig­i­tally from Mon­day. Nei­ther of th­ese new songs is ex­pected to ap­pear on a tra­di­tional al­bum at any point. Per­haps we will see a whole string of stand-alone songs emerge in the com­ing months. WHILE we’re on the topic of Beck Hansen’s

Song Reader, many artists seized on Beck’s sheet mu­sic to per­form their own ver­sions of the songs on­line and in pub­lic per­for­mance. One such show took place at the Stan­dard in Syd­ney at the end of last year and fea­tured lo­cal artists in­clud­ing Josh Pyke, Jonathan Boulet and Richard in Your Mind giv­ing their in­ter­pre­ta­tions of Beck’s work. Now comes a set of stu­dio record­ings, con­ducted dur­ing re­hearsals for the show, fea­tur­ing those same artists and oth­ers. The al­bum, Song Reader —

Syd­ney Ses­sions, is re­leased this week­end by The Brag, Syd­ney ra­dio sta­tion FBI and Kobalt Label Ser­vices and, as with the con­cert, will raise funds for the Syd­ney Story Fac­tory, a not- for-profit writ­ing fa­cil­ity in the city’s Red­fern that con­ducts one-on-one tu­tor­ing with marginalised young peo­ple. The pro­ject is based on a sim­i­lar prin­ci­ple in­tro­duced in the US by Dave Eg­gers, the writer who founded the pub­lish­ing house McSweeney’s that pub­lished Beck’s ‘‘al­bum’’. OTHER than be­ing spot­ted at the oc­ca­sional mu­sic in­dus­try func­tion, Aus­tralian pop guru Go­tye has been main­tain­ing a low pro­file since the fuss died down on his Grammy-win­ning global dom­i­na­tion with Mak­ing Mir­rors and the sin­gle from it, Some­body That I Used to Know (fea­tur­ing Kim­bra). The multi-task­ing Wally de Backer is about to re­launch his other mu­si­cal out­let, Melbourne band the Basics. The three­piece is made up of de Backer on drums, bassist Kris Schroeder and gui­tarist Tim Heath. The band has re­leased four al­bums and a col­lec­tion of rar­i­ties in 10 years and will re­con­nect with Aus­tralian au­di­ences af­ter a three-year hiatus with a tour that be­gins at the Bris­bane Fes­ti­val in Septem­ber. Schroeder is a vol­un­teer for the Red Cross and has spent much of the past year in Kenya. He’s in a hos­pi­tal there re­cov­er­ing from malaria but is con­fi­dent of be­ing fully fit for the Basics’ re­turn to the stage. AUS­TRALIA lost a folk mu­sic in­no­va­tor this week in Gary Shearston, who re­leased suc­cess­ful al­bums in the 1960s and scored a Top 10 hit in Bri­tain in 1972 with a ver­sion of Cole Porter’s I Get a Kick Out of You. Shearston, from Ten­ter­field, NSW, suf­fered a stroke. He was 74.

The deeply un­ortho­dox Beck

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