Thursday, November 28, 2019

Damage limitation?

To the list of those musicians who lost material in the devastating 2008 fire at Universal Music Group's Building 6197 we can now add Beck. Speaking to the Sydney Morning Herald, he said that the flames "probably" destroyed a large quantity of unreleased material, depriving us of (among other things) an LP of Hank Williams covers, a 1995 album-length collaboration with Jon Spencer and a pre-Odelay indie-rock record "that sounds like a Pavement, Sebadoh kind of thing".

Aside from the intriguing list of destroyed recordings, what was most striking was that use of the word "probably" - explained by the fact that his management "still won't tell me what was lost". He suggested - perhaps rather charitably - that this might be because "they can't bear to break the news".

Beck has subsequently issued a classic forced-smile gun-to-the-head statement on Instagram: "I wanted to clarify some out-of-context quotes regarding the Universal archives fire. Since the time of that interview we have found out that my losses in the fire were minimal. Another point I want to clarify: I have had a wonderful and very close relationship with my management for 25 years through to working on my current album. x" No elaboration on what survived and what was actually lost - just that the losses were minimal. A claim that is remarkably similar to UMG's own party line...

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