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Song Reader: Beck Plays Album of Sheet Music At London's Barbican

Tags: Beck - Jarvis Cocker - Franz Ferdinand - John Cooper Clarke - The Staves - Beth Orton - Thurston Moore

It is perhaps Beck's strangest album. Song Reader - the record made up entirely of sheet music - was played in full at London's Barbican Theatre on Sunday (July 7, 2013), with a huge cast of musicians including Jarvis Cocker, Franz Ferdinand and Beth Orton. This potentially had disaster written all over it, though reviews suggest the album was perfectly  realised in the historic setting.

Song Reader contains twenty new songs, all publishing on song sheets. The tracks are scored for keys, guitar and voice though Beck's intention was for fans to elaborate and change the songs to their liking. As noted by the Financial Times' Ludovic Hunter-Tilney in his review, songwriter Ed Harcourt was given that job on the piano. He was accompanied by flugelhorns, ukuleles, drums and guitars.  The veteran punk poet John Cooper Clarke read prose between songs while female vocal trio The Staves helped out on vocals.

David Smyth of the Evening Standard suggested the concert will have encouraged fans to have a go themselves, writing, "The songs Beck performed himself sounded the most predictable, with acoustic guitar to the fore, though a jazzy, catchy Do We, We Do would have stood out regardless of the singer. For those buying the book in the lobby, it was a case of do try this at home."

Continue reading: Song Reader: Beck Plays Album of Sheet Music At London's Barbican

Beck Summons An Army To Help Him Turn 'Song Reader' Into Music

Tags: Beck - Franz Ferdinand - Jarvis Cocker - The Mighty Boosh - John Cooper Clarke - Beth Orton - Charlotte Gainsbourg - Guillemots - Noel Fielding - Julian Barratt

Depending on the way you look at it, Beck's decision to release his last album in the form of sheet music was either incredibly innovative or unforgivably pretentious. Released in December 2012, Song Reader comprised of twenty songs in sheet music form as well as over one hundred pages of art. The idea behind the unusual decision was to let the fan become the composer, with many interpretations quickly surfacing online showing the versatility of the pieces.

Beck
Prolific Experimentalist Beck Invited A Host Of Artists To Help Him Perform Song Reader live.

This was all very well if you're a Beck fan with some degree of musical talent but for those hungering for the white rap of Odelay, the pop experimentation of Midnite Vultures or the sweet melancholy of Sea Change were left feeling a little bemused and perhaps even cheated.

Continue reading: Beck Summons An Army To Help Him Turn 'Song Reader' Into Music

Picture - Mick Jones of The Clash... London United Kingdom, Friday 28th June 2013

Mick Jones of The Clash and John Cooper Clarke - Nordoff Robbins O2 Silver Clef Awards - London, United Kingdom - Friday 28th June 2013

Picture - John Cooper Clarke and Mick... London United Kingdom, Friday 28th June 2013

John Cooper Clarke and Mick Jones of The Clash - The 2013 Silver Clef Awards - London, United Kingdom - Friday 28th June 2013

Picture - John Cooper Clarke - Nordoff... London United Kingdom, Friday 28th June 2013

John Cooper Clarke - Nordoff Robbins O2 Silver Clef Awards held at the London Hilton Park Lane - Arrivals - London, United Kingdom - Friday 28th June 2013

Picture - John Cooper Clarke The Chelsea Flower Show, Monday 24th May 2010

John Cooper Clarke Monday 24th May 2010 The Chelsea Flower Show - Press & VIP Day at Royal Hospital Chelsea. The Chelsea Flower Show

John Cooper Clarke:
News Pictures Press Festival

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