NORTH ADAMS -- Beck is back and that's a good thing.
Beck Hansen will appear at Mass MoCA on Tuesday to promote his latest album, the widely acclaimed "Morning Phase." It is a show many believe is the biggest concert in the Berkshires this year.
"Morning Phase" is Beck's first studio release since 2008's "Modern Guilt." This interval was due to a host of factors. In 2009, he suffered a major spinal injury that made it difficult to even hold a guitar. Beck has told interviewers that he's recovered from the accident.
But during that period, the diminutive pop giant still managed to launch several online projects, including an art gallery, mixtapes of his favorite songs, and "Record Club," a series of cover albums.
Still, it is clear that getting up on stage remained something Beck craved.
"I like going out and playing shows," he said in an interview in Clash magazine. "Those years I had without performing, those were really difficult years. I wasn't even thinking about music. I was in so much pain, it was enough to just get through the day. My physical issues were very limiting, but the last two years, it's gotten better."
The 12-track "Morning Phase," Beck said, has a distinct affinity to an earlier disc, "Sea Change," released in 2002. Beck pointed out that the final incarnation of "Morning Phase" was recording with musicians he used in "Sea Change."
"I tried to make this album a couple of times," he told National Public Radio.
What: Beck; opening - The GOASTT
Where: Mass MoCA, Hunter Center, 87 Marshall St., North Adams
When: 8:30 p.m., Tuesday
Admission: $50 (advance); $54 (day of)
Info: (413) 662-2111; online; in person at box office massmoca.org
"There was something about bringing it back to [Los Angeles]," he said. "I got the band that I did most of ‘Sea Change' with. I got them all together and it just felt right. The songs started to work. It started to feel like a record."
The album reunites some heavy hitters in music circles: ex-Jellyfish members Jason Falkner and Roger Joseph Manning, Jr., as well as Smoky Hormel and Joey Waronker. In addition, Beck's father, David Joseph Campbell, also appears, providing a series of striking string arrangements.
Beck describes the album as coming out of a "California tradition: I'm hearing the Byrds, Crosby, Stills and Nash, Gram Parsons, Neil Young -- the bigger idea of what that sound is to me."
It is the consensus that this disc represents the strongest material Beck has put out in a decade. Well, it is the consensus of people not named Beck.
"I wish I had more confidence," he admitted. "I think that's my Achilles' heel.
"My instinct has definitely gone awry," he said in an AP interview. "I could give you many examples."
Including he recalled, an offer to write the theme song for the television hit, "Mad Men."
" ‘It's about ad executives in the 60s?' " he recalled saying to a television head.
" ‘They're going to make a show about that? Really? Um, I don't think so.' Yeah, okay, just, like, the best show ever made!"
Still, radio.com announced a few months ago that "Morning Phase" "is already among the best albums of the year."
So at least somebody likes it.
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