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What's That Sound? The "drum break" in Beck song 'Where It's At' explained


Beck is an artist who lives and dies through the work of others. Although he’s carved out a unique style all his own, complete with deadpan vocals and nonsensical lyrics, his musical compositions often cite some of music’s most eclectic artists. In one of Beck’s biggest hits, the 1996 effort ‘Where It’s At’, the references to other artists come fast and furious.

First and foremost is Gary Wilson, the experimental ‘70s musician who largely disappeared from the music business in the ‘80s and ‘90s. Another experimental icon that was cited by Beck was Captain Beefheart, whom Beck dresses as during a portion of the ‘Where It’s At’ music video. AC/DC get a cheeky shoutout, but the obscure reference that tops all obscure references has to go to Beck’s incorporation of The Frogs.

The Frogs were an alternative rock band from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, who sounded, acted like, and dressed like no one else. Led by brothers Jimmy and Dennis Flemion, The Frogs pushed the boundaries of good taste for well over three decades, producing material that was laced with dark humour and homoerotic themes. Part The Residents and part The Mountain Goats, The Frogs were lo-fi, folky, funky, and completely underground.

Except that, during the 1990s, a number of notable fans began to push The Frogs into the limelight. Kurt Cobain was a noted fan, as was Pearl Jam frontman Eddie Vedder. Dennis even toured with The Smashing Pumpkins, with the brothers contributing to the songs ‘Medellia of the Gray Skies’, ‘To Sheila’ and ‘Behold! The Night Mare’.

But of all the covers and session work that The Frogs took part in during the ‘90s, their biggest contribution to another artist’s work wasn’t actually a direct collaboration. Instead, Beck and The Dust Brothers decided to sample The Frogs’ song ‘I Don’t Care If U Disrespect Me (Just So You Love Me)’ where one of the brothers exclaims “That was a good drum break!” as the song’s first lyrics.

Beck took the vocal shout and placed it right before the second verse of ‘Where It’s At’, being one of a number of goofy samples and obscure vocal tracks that became highly associated with The Dust Brothers and their style of arrangement. Even though The Frogs never achieved the mainstream success that Beck did, they remain immortalised in one of alternative rock’s most enduring hits.

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