Beck Settles Lawsuits Before New Album Release

Legal action clears way for singer/songwriter's sixth studio effort, Midnite Vultures.

With just a month to go before his sixth studio album is due in stores, Beck has settled a pair of lawsuits against his labels that could have jeopardized the recording's release.

"We signed it yesterday, everything was resolved, and all the lawsuits were dismissed," Jill Berliner, Beck's lawyer, said. The 29-year-old Los Angeles singer/songwriter signed a four-album deal with Geffen Records that begins with the release of his funk-influenced album Midnite Vultures (Nov. 16). Berliner declined to comment on the monetary terms of the deal.

In late April, Geffen and Bong Load Records sued Beck for breach of contract — the result, Berliner said at the time, of failed contract renegotiations with Geffen. Those talks have been stalled for a year, partly because of the merger between Geffen's parent company, Universal Music Group, and PolyGram, she added.

Beck countersued both labels May 10, claiming copyright infringement over his 1998 album Mutations. Berliner said at the time that Beck had yet to be paid for that album.

Mutations originally was slated for release on Bong Load, but the album — which featured the single "Tropicalia" (RealAudio excerpt) — eventually was released on Geffen.

Beck previously was signed to indie label Bong Load — the label that released his breakthrough 1994 hit "Loser" (RealAudio excerpt). But under the new agreement he will be signed to Geffen, Berliner said.

Bong Load will continue to release the vinyl versions of Beck's albums, including Midnite Vultures, which features the single "Sexxlaws" (RealAudio excerpt). A spokesperson for Bong Load could not be reached for comment at press time. Geffen Records spokesperson Dennis Dennehy said the company does not comment on contractual matters.

Beck (born Beck Hansen) recorded more than 20 songs for Midnite Vultures, an 11-track album of electro funk, soul and R&B crooning. For the most part, the LP abandons Beck's folkier side and concentrates on songs that recall the music of Prince, such as the falsetto-funk ballad "Debra."