Classic Rock Review

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Jeff Beck: Live, Remastered And Expanded

From Allaboutjazz

Jeff Beck is the most explosive guitarist of his generation. Since he first stepped into the spotlight as a replacement for Eric Clapton in the Yardbirds, he has played with an impulsive, unorthodox logic all his own. It’s an approach he has continued to hone through pioneering forays in the realm of jazz-rock fusion, as presented by Blow By Blow, Wired and later collaborations with Jan Hammer and Beatles’ producer George Martin.

Today, at the age of 62, Beck continues to be a source of inspiration for air guitarists far and wide. His two stints on the road in 2006 suggested he may very well be the ultimate embodiment of electric guitar pyrotechnics. An artist who usually tours only sporadically, an east coast tour of America in autumn came close on the heels of a similar west coast swing in the spring, and the gigs produced Official Bootleg USA ’06 (available at shows and on-line). It finds the elements of Beck’s music more tightly fused than ever.

Here Beck’s band is closely in formation with him as they play, but there’s not a lot of collective improvisation going on. Drummer Vinnie Colaiuta, bassist Pino Palladino and keyboardist Jason Rebello play along with their leader, as Beck himself continues to unfurl his seemingly endless imagination to find—or more accurately, impart —subtlety to familiar songs like “Blue Wind. The disc sacrifices the vocals of Beth Hart as offered on stage, but this only reaffirms how the live sets progressed almost non-stop from beginning to end. It’s as if a Beck show these days is as one long improvisation.

Make no mistake, though, the concert presentation is well paced, as it no doubt should be, given the fact set lists remained fairly constant through both tours. Yet with Beck parlaying his own inimitable brand of unpredictability from moment to moment, there’s no sense of ennui. The flourishes of Colaiuta act as necessary touchpoints after such stratospheric journeys as the one Beck conducts on “Brush With The Blues: here his deconstructionist jazz sensibility is never more evident.

The guitarist’s fondness for melody broadens the dynamic range of the fifteen tracks. “Cause We’ve Ended As Lovers features Beck using a feather-like touch he utilizes again, to an even greater extent, in the second encore, “Somewhere Over The Rainbow. “Two Rivers” finds him displaying a restraint at the other end of the spectrum from the frenzied abandon he exhibits on “Scatterbrain.” But it’s “Nadia,” from the recent album You Had It Coming, and “Angel, off Who Else?, where Beck finds the finest nuance to etch the pretty motifs in the tunes.

Re-forging elements of his past would appear to be the impetus behind Beck’s current public appearances, though that’s not obvious on this generic looking, no-frills package. Nevertheless, the techno leanings of his last studio album, Jeff, are virtually nowhere to be found, replaced instead with bonecrushing hard rock riffing reminiscent of early albums with the Jeff Beck Group; Beck’s “Bolero sounded of a piece with the sleek sturm und drang of “Led Boots.

Not coincidentally, Truth and Beck-Ola were reissued in October 2006 with bonus tracks aplenty on Legacy Recordings, so it made perfect sense for Beck to hearken back to that phase of his career. Yet even in 1968, Jeff Beck eschewed the cock rock caricaturing of Jimmy Page who formed Led Zeppelin from the remains of The Yardbirds after Beck’s departure. The recent remastered and expanded editions of the Jeff Beck Group’s two albums give further credence to Beck’s visionary status, arguably superior to Zeppelin in both concept and execution.

May 15, 2010 Posted by | Jeff Beck Live Remastered & Expanded | | Leave a comment