As the growing decadence and ultimate deciine of alternative rock is charted over the next few years, it’s possible that Beck’s recent appearance on 120 Minutes, where he was interviewed by guest host Thurston Moore from Sonic Youth, will be remembered as a watershed event. Beck, a 22-year-old from LA, was riding (and still is) the enormous crest of his single “Loser”; he and Moore, the epitome of the full-of-himself underground rocker, spent their time on the air -trading non sequiturs, plainly delighted at their mutual wit. Rock, ‘n’ roll is about a lot of things, but not about overpaid art brats imagining that they’re sticking it to the man by acting out on the channel that created them. “Loser” remains a pretty amazing song: a “Memo from Turner”-style slide-guitar riff over a rigorous drum track, some passable rapping, and one enormous musical hook. But the rest of this alleged wunderkind’s debut album, Mellow Gold, is a lazy and uncreative studio pastiche. Beck plays an out-of-tune guitar, slows down his voice with various studio folderol, rips off about a hundred 60s rock tunes, and generally refuses to produce anything resembling a song. Where genuine studio nuts like the Flaming Lips employ their pastiches in the service of new rock ‘n’ roll ferocity, Beck’s just created a great big aural smirk. On one level you can imagine the smirk’s directed at Geffen, but the record company, however much it’s paying Beck, is making big bucks, too. Guess who that leaves? Word is he’s not playing “Loser” live. Saturday, 8 PM, Schubas, 3159 N. Southport; 525-2508. He’s also doing an in-store performance with That Dog Saturday at 4 PM at Reckless Records, 3157 N. Broadway; 404-5080.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Ross Harris.