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A Beck album of Hank Williams covers was destroyed in the 2008 Universal fire

The singer tells NME how the 24-track album, recorded in 2001, became lost forever

Beck has told NME how an entire album of Hank Williams covers he recorded in 2001 was likely destroyed in the 2008 Universal Studios fire.

Back in June, full details of the warehouse fire were revealed, which tore through the building that housed the Universal Music Group’s master recordings.

It was reported that unheard tracks from the likes of NirvanaR.E.MSoundgardenJanet JacksonEminemNine Inch Nails and many more were among 118,230 assets destroyed.

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Speaking to NME, Beck has now revealed the specifics of the music of his that he believes to now be lost forever.

Asked whether he was aware in the immediate aftermath of the fire that he may have lost some master recordings, the singer said: “I wasn’t aware of that. Nobody mentioned it. I negotiated 20 years ago to try and get control of my masters. I wasn’t willing to go to war for it, but it’s something I’ve asked many times. I wish that I had been able to make copies.

Beck's new album 'Hyperspace' is out now.
Beck’s new album ‘Hyperspace’ is out now.

“I know for instance, a record like ‘Sea Change’, there are dozens and dozens of reels of all kinds of songs and ideas that never got finalised or finished that should have seen the light of day sometime, but probably won’t.

Going on to discuss the lost covers album, he said: In 2001, I went into the studio and recorded 24 Hank Williams covers and did a whole double-album of solo covers of Hank Williams gospel, honky-tonk songs.

“It was something I did maybe a year before I did ‘Sea Change’. That’s probably lost. Probably a lot of others. I have tape cassettes of things like that around, but as far as masters they’re probably gone.”

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In this week’s NME Big Read interview, Beck discusses his new album ‘Hyperspace’, an aborted collaboration with Post Malone, and why the ’90s maybe wasn’t such a great time for guitar music after all.

“I kept hearing that rock was over and about to end, so I was bracing for getting my keyboards out. I was making electronic music and I thought ‘now is going to be the time’, and then garage-rock bands like The White Stripes and The Strokes would come along and it became ‘guitars, guitars, guitars’,” he said.

“I’ve never quite gone all-in in one area. I’ve always been in the margin of what’s happening and on my own continuum. I don’t know if you could call it a ‘golden’ time, it was a mellow golden time. It was more like tarnished brass.”

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