Midnite Vultures is the seventh (and fourth major-label) studio album by American alternative rock artist Beck, released in November 1999 by Geffen Records. Though similar to most of Beck's previous albums in its exploration of widely varying musical styles, Midnite Vultures didn't achieve the same blockbuster success as his breakthrough, Odelay, though it was still critically and commercially well received.
Midnite Vultures reached #34 in the US, where it went gold, and also hit #19 in the UK. As of July 2008, Midnite Vultures has sold 743,000 copies in the United States.
The album was praised by most critics; Rolling Stone, NME and Pitchfork Media gave it four-star reviews (8.5/10 on Pitchfork). It was awarded the status of 'Universal Acclaim' by MetaCritic with a score of 83/100, but in 2006 was named the 50th 'Worst Album Ever' by Q Magazine, despite the fact that they gave the album four stars.
Midnite Vultures was nominated in 2001 for Album of the Year at the 43rd Grammy Awards.
Several songs were directly inspired by other songs: "Get Real Paid" features a spiraling sequencer motif reminiscent of Kraftwerk's "It's More Fun to Compute"; a synth breakdown in "Milk & Honey" echoes a similar riff in Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five's "The Message"; "Beautiful Way" came about after listening to The Velvet Underground's "Countess from Hong Kong"; and "Debra" was inspired by both Prince's hit "Raspberry Beret" and the David Bowie song "Win."
Working titles for the album included Zatyricon (the name of a song released in 2000 as a B-side on the "Nicotine & Gravy" single and later included on the Beck EP) and I Can Smell the V.D. in the Club Tonight (a line from "Milk & Honey").
The first 500,000 copies came in a digipak.
User Album Review
By 1999 Beck Hansen had established himself as the king of cut 'n' paste hip-pop. His eclectic sampleology, mixed with a canny ear for a folk lope had made both Mellow Gold and Odelay into massive testaments to slacker culture and were the apotheosis of post-modernism in popular music. With a mild diversion into tropicalia and blues with Mutations he'd briefly wrong-footed his fans and proven that he was an extremely versatile little Scientologist. But with Midnite Vultures he was to turn into ...well, Prince.
All those years spent in the lo-fi bedroom were now discarded as Beck went out on the town and celebrated sexuality, albeit in his own collage-based way. Yes, Midnite Vultures is Beck's sex album. The lyrics remain as delightfully obtuse (has anyone ever worn a ''hepatitus contact lense''?), yet it also proved that the mutant funk evident on the best cuts of Odelay were no accident. Numbers like Nicotine And Gravy or Sexx Laws showed the boy to be as danceable as hell. While the final cut: the marathon lovefest, Debra showed him taking a stab at Al Green or James Brown territory.
It's a feisty and fun jaunt through the imagination of an imp just as perverse as the Purple One.
External Album Reviews