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Jeff Beck – Performing This Week…Live At Ronnie Scott’s

November 27, 2015

This album was first released in late 2008 and I had a download version. It was an extremely well recorded live set that was basically a greatest hits album.  It was also a DVD, but I have never watched that. This past summer a deluxe edition was released with a second disk and Record Store Day – Black Friday released that deluxe edition on vinyl.

To me, Jeff Beck is the most talented of the 60s guitar gods. Well at least he is the most diverse in his styles: blues, heavy rock, funk and jazz rock fusion (sometimes in the same song).  He has gorgeous tone and is a great interpreter of songs. He can showoff with the best of the guitar heroes, but his gift is his lyrical playing – his guitar sings.

This album is a great introduction to Jeff Beck’s work. The original album (disk 1 and 2 of this vinyl version) do not have single clunker. For a live album, it has studio quality sonics. The LP version of the album is lush (of course I am comparing to an MP3).

A great sequence that defines Jeff Beck is LP 2 Side 1 (AKA Side C). It opens with “Angel (Footsteps),” which is Beck at his most lyrical – he sounds more like a horn player than guitar player.  Think late 50s Miles Davis. He juxtapositions that with “Scatterrbrain” which is pure guitar god pyrotechnics (this version was features on the hardest set list of Guitar Hero 5). He closes out with the pure jazz of Mingus’ “Goodbye Pork Pie Hat” which segues into “Brush With The Blues” which is down and dirty (yet pretty damn fancy) blues . I won’t bore you with a track by track account of the whole album. This sequence pretty much defines the album: brilliance, genius and most of all joy. And by the way his band is perfect.

The bonus disk side 1 (side E) is filled with guest vocalists: Joss Stone for one song, Imogine Heap for two songs and Eric Clapton for a couple (and of course he adds a little fret work with his appearance). The vocalist distract you from Beck’s guitar, but if you give it a careful listen you realize what a sensitive accompanist Beck is. For me Imogine Heap and Beck work the best because she matches closest to his lyrical ballad style (although “Rollin’ And Tumblin'” is pretty damn bluesy).  Clapton is a gentleman and does not try to get into a guitar cutting session with Beck, opting for a friendly conversation and deferring to Beck for the big statements.

The final slide is with The Big Town Playboys who accompanied Beck on his 1993 Gene Vincent tribute Crazy Legs.  Clearly Jeff Beck enjoys playing vintage rock and roll. This genre may seem corny, but this is no different from Wynton Marsalis playing Dixieland jazz  – this is foundation stuff. You need to acknowledge the base. For me it is Chuck Berry, but Vincent must have been Beck’s drug of choice.

Overall this album is a great overview of Jeff Beck’s career in one sitting. An extraordinary document of the guitar genius and guitar diversity that is Jeff Beck.


From → Music Reviews

  1. Last one for today. Great piece on some very good music. I like ‘Rollin’ and Tumblin” so much it will be a CB’s take. Good work on all the reviews.

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