100 Greatest Songs of the 90’s #59 Beck – Devil’s Haircut

Released : 1996

Eventually everything was going to crash together. Whilst DJ Shadow’s Entroducing was the result of epic crate digging sessions in a record store basement, Beck Hansen just had his labyrinthine mind instead; Odelay was released in the same year and even if the processes were radically different, the resulting musical visions were oddly similar.

Ask a hundred questions and you’ll get a similar number of versions of the truth about Odelay, a record which seemed near indigestible on first listen. The smorgasbord of ideas felt like deliberate trickery, but eventually it’s creator skated the rail from Lollapalooza to the global mainstream, completing the job after The Dust Brothers infused some hip-hop sensibility into a stalled process which Stephen Malkmus joked caused the album to be labelled “Oh Delay”.

Devil’s Haircut was it’s opening track, a spine-bending take on the Blues that freaked out over a grinding riff, hammer drop break, mouth organ and space alien whooshes set to lyrics that could’ve been found in a Beat poet’s waste bin – all in the first minute. Not for the first time, it felt comfortable not knowing what was going on, as the fine lines between who plays what sort of music and why blurred into nothingness forever.