- Personnel: Beck (vocals, guitar); Petra Haden (violin); Mike Boito (organ); Rob Zabrecky (bass); David Harte (drums).
- Producers: Tom Rothrock, Rob Schnapf, Karl Stephenson, Beck.
- "Loser" was nominated for a 1995 Grammy Award for Best Male Rock Vocal Performance.
- Personnel: Petra Haden (violin); Mike Boito (organ); David Harte (drums).
- Audio Mixers: Tom Rothrock; Rob Schnapf.
- Recording information: Beck's Four Track; Karl's House; Rob's House.
- Photographer: Ross Harris.
- The definitive outsider, Beck is a lonely voice raging against the stifling winds of conformity and complacency in both our mainstream culture and in our stock-model counter-culture (check out one of his first indie releases, "MTV Makes Me Want To Smoke Crack"). Growing up in heartland America, Beck dropped out of high school and cultivated his muse on a combination of traditional folk music and Delta blues, not unlike another legendary outsider from the heartland--Bob Dylan.
- Already well-known in the New York and Los Angeles folk scenes, Beck's stature as an independent artist was cemented by college radio programmers. While terms like "alternative" came to mean next to nothing, Beck's 12" version of "Loser," released on the Bongload label, became an underground hit. The music he makes on MELLOW GOLD is an unruly synthesis of Americana, completely devoid of cliches as Beck stumbles on one fresh idea after another with a rare sense of discovery. At any given moment you might hear an Indian raga ("Steal My Body Home"), chicken-fried hip-hop ("Loser" and "Soul Suckin Jerk"), a John Lee Hooker/Rolling Stones shuffle ("Fuckin' With My Head"), post-modernist noise ("Mutherfuker") or echoes of down-home blues ("Blackhole").
- Beck makes his diverse range of sources on MELLOW GOLD work. Each song sounds lived-in and alive, all run hurdy-gurdy through the meat-grinder of an original sensibility, fashioned with grow-your-own power and spirit on a humble 8-track recorder in his producer's living room. "Soul Suckin Jerk" is a freedom cry for every small town kid working away dutifully in some dead-end job just trying to imagine a better tomorrow. "Pay No Mind (Snoozer)" employs a series of sleazy images ("Give the finger to the rock and roll singer as he's dancing upon your paycheck/The sales climb higher through the garbage-pail sky like a giant dildo crushing the sun...the drugs won't kill your day job") to impale corporate rock upon its own pretensions and decry the malling of America. "Beercan" brings inner-city rap face-to-face with the traditional talking blues of Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger, animated by a remarkable series of samples over a percolating dance beat. MELLOW GOLD is a shot across the bow of business-as-usual rock.
Rolling Stone (4/7/94, p.72) - 3 1/2 Stars - Good Plus - "...Beck makes ultrasurreal hip-hop-folk that harkens back to "Subterranean Homesick Blues"....catatonic cool....Beck's verbal collages get close to the truth of his milieu and our times. Think of it as generational code or stream of unconsciousness. But it's really called poetry...."
Spin (12/94, p.76) - Ranked #2 in Spin's list of the `20 Best Albums Of '94' - "...Beck's stylistic experiments and lyrical indulgences are often intoxicating, sometimes infuriating, but...always giving the finger to the rock'n'roll singer..."
Spin (4/94, p.94) - "...an accomplished raconteur of subterranean homesickness....America's youth never had a a more absurd--or honest--anthem...."
Entertainment Weekly (Spring 2000, p.166) - Ranked #8 in EW's "Top 10 albums of the '90s"
Entertainment Weekly (3/25/94, p.54) - "...Both dopey and insinuating, Beck's full-length debut is total novelty pop, a cheeky mix of Ray Stevens, Falco and the Beastie Boys..." - Rating: B
Musician (4/94, p.85) - "...however offhandedly delivered, [MELLOW GOLD is] genuine artistic expression, of which one suspects there'll be more to come. And if this is Beck, I can't wait to get to Clapton and Hendrix..."
Village Voice (2/28/95) - Ranked #10 in the Village Voice's Pazz & Jop Critics Poll.
New York Times (Publisher) (3/27/94, p.37) - "...where 60's rockers set out to be beacons for a generation, Beck aspires only to be a symptom of his....reflects the twentysomething trademark, a mixture of self-mockery and sardonic defiance....While Beck's rap roots are in Dylan's `Subterranean Homesick Blues,' his splintered recordings make him a child of hip-hop..."
NME (Magazine) (12/24/94, p.23) - Ranked #31 in NME's list of the `Top 50 Albums Of 1994.'