Mar 122013

THIS may be the elusive shortest Last Man Standing Ever! Your mission is simple: spot the instruments and performance schtick that are NOT employed in Beck‘s understated performance of David Bowie‘s “Sound + Vision.”


  27 Responses to “Last Man Standing: Instruments and Schtick NOT Employed in Beck’s Performance of “Sound + Vision””

  1. Jew’s harp/jaw harp

  2. No juggling midgets.

  3. meanstom

    No signs of livestock – but that doesn’t mean they weren’t employed!

  4. I could have titled this post “Dazzled and Dismayed.” Does anyone else feel it pushes the line from the exhilarating feeling of Mach schau! to a spirit-numbing sense of aesthetic dominance? Considering this has always been part of my mixed feelings over Bowie, it’s funny that Beck has seemed to amplify that dichotomy in this performance.

  5. It’s cool and very well executed but underneath it all, it’s just a button-pushing parlor trick. Whatever it is that ultimately bugs me about this is the same thing that bugs me about the idea of Polyphonic Spree. I’m not sure I ever heard more than a snippet of their music but it just struck me as a hipster version of Up With People.

    As for Bowie, I think I get what you are saying but for me, his songs, taste, ideas and presentation are so fantastic that they win out over the misguided choices, the iciness and the pretension.

  6. “Sound and Vision” is so great partially due to its brevity, so I found this version particularly aggravating and awful. (And I like Beck!) That said, it could’ve used a section of people making funny, Spike Jones-like hiccup noises, a la “Cocktails for Two.”

  7. Too bad he didn’t just hand out sheet music to the audience members and then leave the stage…

  8. misterioso

    I tend to think of myself as basically liking Beck, sort of, but geez, get on with it, already.

  9. I think it would’ve been interesting if that Scientologist UFO hovering above the stage actually scooped Beck up at the end, promising to whisk him off to another planet to be reincarnated, but then it would really be full of clowns who would jump on him and spank some sense into him.

  10. Bowie’s orginal is so cool:

    A band or somebody called Megapuss covered it on a Bowie tribute album a couple of years ago.

    Has anyone topped Bowie covering one his songs? Iggy Pop’s China Girl on The Idiot came out before Bowie’s version on Let’s Dance, so I don’t think that counts.

  11. machinery

    I never really got the real meaning of Sound and Vision until I re-watched A Hard Days Night awhile back.

    I like Beck, but too much is too much. Fucking ad people.

  12. All the performers were not represented by marionettes.

    As over the top as this is, I bet it sounded pretty cool for those in the room. Vocal choirs and orchestras are usually a lot more powerful in person. In fact, even this recording is more enjoyable if you just listen w/out looking. Still, the big build up is pretty wanky.

  13. No monkeys flew out of his butt.

    One of the conductors has to be a Beck relative, right? He has the exact same bird look to him, just older.

    I found it funny that he has all these scores of musicians, multiple conductors, but to finally get into the song, Beck has to be the guy to give the “… two, three, four.” His sense of timing must be impeccable.

  14. ladymisskirroyale

    Gosh, this makes me miss Liberace.

  15. ladymisskirroyale

    Where is that rotating mirrored grand piano in the center of the stage?

  16. The siren whistle:

    Lest you think this isn’t a “real” instrument, here it is at 1:20 in Bruno Mars big hit Locked Out of Heaven:

    Off topic: I think jeangrey brought it up a while a go but that Bruno Mars track really sounds like a modern poppy version of the Police. I recently heard that big Goyte track and that sound like Sting/Police too. Are there any others? What’s with this trend? Is this just the natural result of the Police being back in the zeitgeist because of their reunion tour?

  17. sammymaudlin

    I step cautiously into a room of whiners.

    I love this presentation. It is so much more than a “cover” or even a “performance”. It is a somewhat unique (given the full online experience at or at least adventurous audio/visual (sound/vision) art piece.

    To critique based purely on the audio or visual is to, I feel, miss the point.

    Kudos to Beck; for choosing this song (as opposed to one of his own), moving into an even more artistic arena (as opposed to releasing “Still A Loser” in an effort to regain market share), incorporating contemporary web technology (as opposed to bragging about using all “tube” amps to record with), likely not (or at least not much) profiting financially from something like this.

    That said schtick lacking includes; no back-to-back guitar jamming ( and, of course, no theremin (me on theremin-

  18. Check again at 2:38. There is a Theremin right before the singing saw.

  19. I laughed at the insane excess of the piece which I’m sure Beck expected and perhaps even encouraged while I also enjoyed it. I don’t think laughing at it, and enjoying it are mutually exclusive. Beck would surely have been disappointed if people didn’t recognize just how bananas the whole thing was.

  20. sammymaudlin


  21. sammymaudlin

    Yes. I think the way-over-the-topness of it is part of the enjoyment. I often wonder with Beck, “Is he putting me on?’. And that I can never be 100% sure yes/no, adds to my enjoyment.

  22. Please enlighten me with why watching HDN made you get the real meaning of S&V? Its been years since I watched that Beatles film. I remember liking the innocence of them then. Or at least what appeared to be innocence.

  23. machinery

    When the Beatles go into the TV station to do their on-air appearance, there are two signs on the studio wall for the recording and broadcasting. One sign says Sound. The other sign says Vision.

    Must be a Brittish TV thing …

  24. cherguevara

    He doesn’t take literally a dump on stage like G.G. Alllin, though he does do so metaphorically with that crappy three minute intro. Maybe he can get a sponsorship from Charmin for his next project.

  25. He really could’ve sewn this thing up with RRobertson playing that giant harpguitar

    A – in college I got into a sort of state once, around Thanksgiving break when I had the place to myself, where I listened to this on repeat from “Low” sixteen hours in a row. Not proud, just saying

    2 – I consider myself a pretty huge Bowie fan, and I like Beck enough that I was kind of excited to hear Beck have a go at this

    Lastly – aaaaaaah fuck it. What sort of disappointment could I muster that would denigrate that?


  26. ladymisskirroyale

    A perfect musical example of Jumping the Shark.

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