Classic Rock Review

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Jeff Beck You Had It Coming (2001)


Review This album, as said by many other reviewers, is one of Jeff Beck’s best, and is one of guitar’s best as well. You Had It Coming pushes musical boundaries like none before it. People usually turn their heads when I tell them it’s techno oriented, but once I play it for them they run out to buy their own copy.

Anyone who thinks Jeff Beck is boring should listen to the first cut, Earthquake. The dynamics and tension are a nice touch, listen as the middle section is like the eye of the storm, calm, but then Jeff rips it apart with his awesome, awe-inspiring solo. Classic. Roy’s Toy is another highlight piece with a funky groove (think “A Day in the House” from Guitar Shop, only even cooler).

For motorheads such as myself, this song has an extra bonus when we hear the 32 Ford roadster start up at the beginning and is used throughout the rest of the song. Jeff’s solo in this song is also quite inspiring and, simply, awesome. The next cut, Dirty Mind, is the single from the album. Jeff Beck’s wah pedal playing in this song is amoung the best I’ve ever heard. The technically staggering solo in the middle is the best wah wah solo that I’ve heard on an album.

Rollin’ and Tumblin’, the next song, features the soulful Imogene Heap on vocals. This awesome rendition of the song gives the Blues a new name. The solo section between Jeff and Imogene is very fun, awesome, and leaves you wondering how on earth Jeff Beck does it.

The next cut, Nadia, merits more detailed examination and we shall look it over in a little bit. Meanwhile, anyone who thinks they sound tough and menacing on their Strat (or any guitar, for that matter) should give Loose Cannon, the next song, a listen. The menacing riff in the beginning sets the tone for the whole song. The solos are also very mesmerizing, especially at the end where he hits two signature and totally Jeff Beck harmonics.

The sounds he gets out his simple Strat-Marshall setup are amazing. Rosebud is a funky piece with a groove and lick that will leave you humming and dancing afterwards. The next song, Left Hook, is among the best on the CD. Listen to the fade out… I can’t even explain it. You’ll have to listen for yourself, it’s that good. Blackbird/Suspension close this disc, and what an ending. The tone of album turns down a bit and is left with just Jeff, a bird, keyboards, and soft drums. Very emotional, as is all of Jeff’s playing, and very beautiful.

As I promised before we will now look at Nadia, the standout track of You Had It Coming. “Jeff’s signature tone is in full splendour here…” said another reviewer, and it is so true. Nadia will leave you scratching your head and asking yourself why you can’t get that kind of beauty out of your guitar. Not only is Nadia one of the most techincally difficult songs Jeff has ever done, it’s also one of the most beautiful. It’s just Jeff with keyboards and drums.

The up-tempo beat is also note worthy. You have to close your eyes when you listen to it to take it all in. Jeff switches amazingly between bottleneck and fingers, as well as doing whammy bar flutters. The sheer emotion of this track can bring a grown man to tears. Not much more can be said. Buy it and listen for yourself. I agree that Nadia is as good as Where Were You from Guitar Shop, and might even be better.

You Had It Coming is an awesome Jeff Beck album and is one of his best, if not the best, of his entire career.

Review Jeff Beck’s You Had It Coming is a great album. There is plenty of thick guitar tone and emotion to go around, and no one executes this the way Jeff Beck does. Mr. Beck also takes over most of the songwriting here, and it is nothing short of excellent. Overall, Jeff’s musicianship makes up for the whole record.

Once again, Jeff Beck proves he is the master of guitar. “Earthquake” is the perfect opener for an album of this genre, and Jeff’s ferocious guitar work leaves the listener either trying to do it himself or packing the guitar in forever (because no one’s as good as the master!). “Roy’s Toy” is the perfect song for the hot rodder (aka Motorhead) and Jeff’s guitar phrasing and tone do not disappoint. Great beat as well. Next we come to “Dirty Mind,” one of the highlights of the record.

This song is absolute wah bliss, and Jeff’s phrasing is amazing. He packs so much power and feeling within his playing and still manages to be technically amazing as well. “Rollin’ and Tumblin'” is the next track, and is perhaps the biggest surprise of the album. It is the only song on this album that features vocals, and Imogene Heap pulls them off with amazing skill. Her voice complements Jeff’s guitar quite nicely.

Next we come to “Nadia,” the climax of the record. “Nadia,” as said by many others, is the standout and is one Mr. Beck’s best tracks, ever. Everything fits here… his tone, his technique, his emotion, his delivery… this is the perfect guitar performance. It is not only astounding, it is also very beautiful, while not leaving you bored with a great beat backing Jeff up. An amazing song by an amazing guitar player that is worth the price of this album alone.

Truly a 5 star song. After “Nadia” comes “Loose Cannon,” another excellent song. If you think your guitar tone and playing is mean and tough, give a listen to “Loose Cannon.” Jeff tears up the fretboard, while adding emotional quality. The solo in the middle and end of the song leaves one wondering if Mr. Beck is actually a human. “Rosebud” dispells that, proving that he cannot be to pull off such a fine performance. Jeff still has funk in his blood, and “Rosebud” has one of the best melodies and beats on the album, and it is sure to get you dancing, as well as singing along with it afterwards. “Left Hook” is next, and is one of the best songs on the record.

Jeff’s playing on this track is so very excellent, especially toward the fadeout. I’m guilty of turning my stereo up every time to try to get every note that Mr. Beck throws in. The next song, “Blackbird,” features some of Jeff’s most awesome slide playing, ever. Here he jams along with a feathered friend, and neither disappoint the listener. “Suspension” is the closer of the disc, and is second best only to “Nadia.” Jeff’s playing is so emotional and graceful on this track, and the backing instruments really do a nice job of complementing the playing. Astounding.

Overall, this is one of Jeff Beck’s best, as well as one of rock guitar’s best.. ever!

May 27, 2013 Posted by | Jeff Beck You Had It Coming | | Leave a comment

Jeff Beck – You Had It Coming (2001)


Ah, Beck’s back. No, not that one. I’m talking about the Beck of Beck-Ola as opposed to Odelay fame. In the sixties Jeff Beck was one of the holy trinity of guitar maestros who passed through the Yardbirds’ line-up. Eric Clapton and Jimmy Page went on to superstar fame and became big music business names after leaving that group. Beck on the other hand – though recognized for his skill and technique – never really passed beyond being a guitarist’s guitarist. In and out of semi-retirement Beck has now managed to release two solo album since 1999.

So, what does his latest album ‘You Had It Coming’ have to offer those of us who can barely manage a C-chord on a guitar and who thinks ‘guitar music’ must mean Britpop or Grunge? I expected it to be every bit as appealing as the grit-and-grease-laden hands on the CD’s cover. I was wrong.

After decades of playing heavy metal or jazz Fusion guitar, Beck has opted for a touch of techno on this album with mixed results. Opener ‘Earthquake’ rattles the hoardings and breaks the bricks like a stuttering jackhammer. Almost overbearing mechanical repetitions pound out some Nine Inch Nails as a fast guitar frenzy fights back at the limited vocals. The instrumental ‘Roy’s Toy’ starts with a motor revving before turning into the best car chase music this side of a video arcade racing game. Just close your eyes and envision the curves, crashes, gear shifting and grease (ah, yes that cover photo).

The aptly named ‘Dirty Mind’ is music of the noisy bed variety. A humping, bumping rhythm provides the backdrop to a sexual duet of sorts. Beck’s slippery smooth guitar strikes up a seduction suite as the limited female vocal gasps a pumping rhythm of its own in response. Featuring full vocals and lyrics, “Rollin’ and Tumblin” is probably the only proper song on the album. This is pure Southern fried boogie with drum cadences and tasteful guitar teasers balancing out the gutsy female Rhythm and Blues vocals. Only number four on the track list, it is the last one featuring human vocals. It’s already apparent that Beck’s voice is his guitar and vocals are frequently treated as just another instrument.

Next up ‘Nadia’ has drum loops but eases back on the techno. This is exquisitely lovely stuff as the simply stunning guitar work sheds soft, sweet but simpering notes of love, or lust, or just leave it to your imagination. After this highlight Beck slides into a stream of simple soundtrack fodder. Just hit the skip button three times to find a call and response conversation between chirping birds and a winging guitar. “Blackbird’ as it is titled actually functions as a prelude to the album closer called ‘Suspension’. This is chill-out music of the most exquisite kind. A chimey guitar slides over a light background beat supplying the listener with an emotive lullaby of release. All the album’s tension and techno is traded for a drop of otherworldly ecstasy. After all the toughness, techno, and occasional tenderness of this album, Beck saved the best for last. Even if you aren’t a guitar music fan, it’s worth hitting the repeat button. Otherwise just program in the numbers 2, 3, 4, 5, 9, and especially 10.

Barbara Lindberg

May 14, 2010 Posted by | Jeff Beck You Had It Coming | | Leave a comment

Jeff Beck You Had It Coming (2001)


Jeff Beck is, famously, one of the greatest guitarists who has ever lived, whose ability to play convincingly and expertly in almost any musical setting is matched only by the degree to which he has personally broken down doors for those styles’ popularities. An erratic player and a notoriously finnicky band member, he has never held a group together long enough to achieve any real popular success, and yet this same compulsion to avoid what people expect of him, in the constant search for music that doesn’t bore him and send him back under his hotrod coupes (which, it is obvious to anyone, entice him as much or more than any music he’s ever played), has made him one of rock’s supreme innovators.

His list of credentials is frankly impeccable. Beck has almost singlehandedly invented the template for what would become Zeppelin’s variety of very very loud blues rock, and subsequently heavy metal. He made jazz fusion a palatable hitmaker with his Seventies albums “Blow by Blow” and “Wired.” He has played with the biggest names in the business and has influenced untolds more. Beck has always released albums that were current and perceptive, in that they reflected trends but were all released while the trend still had something to say. The moment it didn’t–for Beck at least–he would go off and do something else.

He stuck with electronica. Perhaps, since Beck has always been an underdog, has never worked well with performers, and has required a high degree of virtuosic rhythm to “get him riled up,” so to speak, electronica, with its rather culturally subdued place in popular music, allows him to work out his musical kinks in a mode where he will probably never recieve much attention but which can give him his total musical fulfilment. Beck is a recluse making amazing music by himself, for himself. It may appear selfish to plenty, but the stuff is so engaging for a performer of his age that it almost seems ridiculous to criticize anything. Beck always was destroying conventional notions of what would work and what was marketable, and with his second album in the techno style, he dives deeper into the wealth of possibilities offered him by electronic instruments on 1999’s “Who Else!”

Another thing: Beck typically can scarcely be bothered to make records half the time, and everything involved with conventional rock life, such as touring, has irritated him incessantly. And yet he churned this one out after only TWO years, an unpredented and short wait time for him.

The results are mixed. Beck was always a “raawwwk” type of virtuoso given over to wild whammy bar skronk-fests as much as fluid, soaring melodies and solos, and on this album seems to give us a lot of the former. The tone on “You Had it Coming” is very “indie,” with crackly production, huge, dark, clanking beats (produced by Andy Wright), and a huge amount of loudness. Beck’s more sensitive moments are often the only parts of the album where we can even recognize him: the tones he gets on a number of the songs are full-on wah-drenched tape modulator high-gain fury, a sound approaching dank heavy metal sludge, not at all the typical refinement we’ve come to expect from him.

It is on these loud, racaous moments where the beats are loudest and Beck is pushed to strive for his best. There’s something really vital about Beck, who often subdues himself so much and is his own most anal-retentive judge, letting it loose the way he does on a full half of the short ten-song, thirty-nine minute album. Opener “Earthquake” features a very heavy riff blasting into all sorts of low registers, changing time signatures with each bar, confusing the beat and making way for harmonized whammy bar whistles and machinery-like warbles and clicks over the frantic drums. The straight interlude features a wonderful low register groove that gets the head banging, which breaks down and builds up again for a truly sleazy solo from Beck. To be pounded over the head in such a way by the approaching-sixty guitarist, it’s almost totally shocking.

The following numbers don’t really let up much on that front, and manage to sneak a lot of interesting invention in as well. “Roy’s Toy” makes a rhythm out of the sound of one of Beck’s hot-rods starting up in his garage, and the groove that’s established moves with a sleazy, menacing bounce that you could easily a bump-n’-grind dance moving to. Beck’s layered wah riffs, and his almost completely out-of-control simulation of the car startup in the form of a tape modulator tapping solo, is totally infectious.

The next two numbers actually make use of a vocalist–the highly talented Imogen Heap of Frou Frou. “Dirty Mind” features little more than orgasmic moans and heavy breathing from Heap, in addition to a hilarious “My God” when Beck first embarks on his sleazy riffmaking and another awesome solo (which fit the title perfectly in tone). The following arrangement of the old blues number “Rollin’ and Tumblin'” features velvety vocals from Heap and great riffing from Beck.

This kind of stuff serves Beck best on this album without question: album highlight “Loose Cannon,” the sixth track (also the longest of the album), is a six-minute orgy of heavy metal fury that barely lets up for anything. A low register bass groove opens the way for dissonant, low-register clanks and whacks from Beck that sound totally devilish and foreboding, proving the point Beck made long ago about his ability to pull off heavy metal (“I sometimes play it when I practice, just to remind myself that I can, and that I can do it much more EVIL than the other guys that are doing it”). The slow burn of Beck’s soloing is the highlight of this instrumental track, which builds up with sparse phrasing and eventually dive-bombs out in a spray of noise.

The other stuff are examples of Beck’s experimentation with his new medium and his tenderness, which also come off pretty well but are much less invigorating than his other songs. “Rosebud” and “Left Hook” are pretty paltry numbers with a few good riffs here and there, but on the whole the focus of their hooks are not very vital-sounding.

His tender side is explored in full here, though, and here Beck shines again. Fifth track “Nadia” is a “Where Were You-like” example of Beck’s incredible mastery of the whammy bar to manipulate one note into a spiraling, incredibly complex series of melodies moving in and out with a sitar-like focus on the semitones in between the conventional notes. The beat behind it is a little unpleasant, though, which is a shame, because the guitar playing on this track is breathtaking in the level of control Beck demonstrates. Closing tracks “Blackbird” and “Suspension” are much more introspective: the former track features Beck using the curved side of a dinner fork to get ultra-high notes to simulate the ambient chirping of birds sampled for the track. “Suspension,” on the other hand, is a plaintive, slow, and depressing minor-key piece with beautiful chord work and a very long ambient delay.

The general feel of the album once it’s through is that Beck pretty much was cleansing the system. While many individual moments of the songs make me shake my head in admiration, the short length and overall grungey tone of the album gives an overall sense of it that is more along the lines of a hacked-out piece of work. Hence, due to the idiosyncratic (but in my opinion very cool) territory Beck forays into here, this album gets a 3.5: it’s too short and frankly not developed enough to really transcend the awesome guitar pyrotechnics into any larger compositional significance. But for people who like this sort of thing and would love to hear a master of the guitar get out some rare aggression, pick this up. It’s good stuff.

May 14, 2010 Posted by | Jeff Beck You Had It Coming | | Leave a comment

Jeff Beck: You Had It Coming (2001)


by James Mann

Some people play a guitar. Jeff Beck attacks one. At his best the sounds he coerces from his white Strat are criminally inventive, rude — or in his words — “slippery”. Pair this with the production and performance of Andy Wright, who has twiddled the knobs for everyone from Massive Attack to Simply Red, and you have what amounts to Jeff Beck doing the nasty at a rave.

The opening cut “Earthquake” starts off with a grinding Nine Inch Nails keyboard figure and adds on some distorted vocals. Then Mr. Beck enters, effortlessly tossing little riffs atop the stew, but he’s only warming up. About two minutes into the song when he cuts loose with a solo — a solo that hits you like a mule kick between the eyes — you remember why A: of all the sixties guitar gods, only Beck can still look at himself in the mirror and B: why most electronica sucks. By the time you get to the two cuts featuring British vocalist Imogen Heap, the wickedly greasy “Dirty Mind” and a Prodigy on speed version of Muddy Waters’ “Rollin’ and Tumblin”, Jeff has already secured his reputation for another decade, should he decide to vanish as he did for most of the ’90s.

When Jimmy Page, Eric Clapton and Jeff Beck were the guiding lights of rock guitar in the sixties and seventies, all were at the top of whatever game they decided to follow. Page had Zeppelin, Clapton everything from Cream to Derek and the Dominos. Then one by one, perhaps as age crept up, Page stopped playing, and well, Clapton should have. From “White Room” to “Wonderful Tonight” is a long and ugly road. Only Beck, by pushing himself in new directions, namely jazz/rock fusion, kept himself vital.

By surrounding himself with musicians such as Jan Hammer, with who he created the incredible Wired album, Jeff Beck refused to rest on his laurels, endlessly reform past groups (hello, Mr. Page?) or make watered down pop pabulum. Granted, he hasn’t been as visible as the others (this is only his second release in a decade), but what he’s put out has never taken the safe route. By immersing himself in the rigid confines of electronic music (as he did on his last release, 1999’s Who Else!), Beck’s frenetic guitar with it’s groove-heavy pacing and vitality is allowed to both complement and dominate the songs.

His method of playing guitar lines in a uniquely non-linear fashion — he goes from A to B, but stops off at Q on the way — is exactly what this sort of lockstep music requires if it’s to have any humanity at all. Even when he slows the pace down, such as on the (almost) soothing “Blackbird/Suspension”, with its Windam Hill bird chirps and New Age keyboard washes, his tone, a dirty, piercing sound still rings true.

From the Yard (birds) to House, Jeff Beck has few equals when it gets right down to it. Hopefully this elusive yet influential mainstay of modern guitar won’t hide out as he has been prone to in the past, and continue to challenge both himself, and his listeners, by simply playing Jeff Beck guitar. And when he does, I’ll sell my copies of the last 20 years of Page and Clapton releases to hear it.

May 14, 2010 Posted by | Jeff Beck You Had It Coming | | Leave a comment

Jeff Beck: You Had It Coming (2001)


What a strange cultural event. Well, I mean, we knew we had it coming, but we never knew it would come out so quick. Who Else! was Beck’s last proper studio album in as much as ten years (the ridiculous stunt of Crazy Legs certainly doesn’t count), and now Jeff goes ahead and releases his next offering with less than a two-year interval. The last time he had such a small interval, of course, was with the sequence of Blow By Blow and Wired, and it’s no surprise: just like those two albums were basically a continuation of each other, expanding on the same vibe of jazz-fusion, Beck’s two latest albums also expand on the same topic – Jeff’s obsession with Nineties’ technologies, trip-hop and techno rhythms, which he uses as the basis for some pretty innovative guitarwork.

You can’t help feeling that You Had It Coming is still a rushed album, though. For one thing, it is almost astoundingly short – ten numbers that end in thirty-six minutes, something more suitable for an EP format today. Moreover, in comparison with the last album, this one is blatantly underarranged. Basically, the only thing that is audible here is Jeff’s guitar (sometimes with overdubs, more often not) and the loud crashing drum machines (the beat is always processed – there’s not even a single drummer in the credits). There are a few synths scattered around, but not on a single track do they appear to be prominent; the only prominent synths are those through which Beck plugs in his devilish instrument. No vocals, as usual, save for a weird cover of ‘Rollin’ And Tumblin’ and a few moans and groans on other tracks, provided by a certain Imogen Heap.

Amazingly, it all works, and it works far, far better than on the preceding album. The main thing is: Jeff isn’t overshadowed by any friggin’ keyboard players. No Jan Hammer, no Tony Hymas, nobody. Just Jeff and his guitar. And he does deliver the goods – for the most part, he eschews the usual finger-flashing soloing (which still steps through in a couple of places, though) in favour of blazing, screeching, rip-roaring, metallic riffage and occasional “jazz-hop” flourishes… er, I don’t even have the proper word to describe what the heck the man is doing here. The result is – a set of energetic, furious instrumental tracks that are mostly memorable and certainly prompt you to action, plus a wild, unparalleled sound that few people have dared to explore. That dreary picture on the cover, with scorched hands and all, is very appropriate – the sound is so dry and scorching it makes me wanna haul out that bottle of Coke from the fridge.

No wonder the lead-in track is called ‘Earthquake’. The riff that introduces the number really threatens to bury you in almost a Tony Iommi-esque way, only it is even more punchy and aggressive than your average Tony Iommi riff. I do sometimes get offended at the generic drum beats, but it’s perfectly easy to just abstract oneself from the genericity and concentrate on Beck’s playing. The wah-wah stylizations on ‘Roy’s Toy’ will blow you away; but perhaps the creepiest of all are the broken dirty chords that announce ‘Dirty Mind’. Simply put, Jeff has never played like that before… both the introductory dirty chords and the main wah-wah riff of the track are so black, paranoid, soul-tearing that you can’t but admire them. Too bad they have to be accompanied by unimaginative trip-hop beats. Hey, is it possible to acquire a copy of You Had It Coming without the drumbeats? The worst fear of my life now is that one day I’ll find that ‘Dirty Mind’ is blasting from a speaker in a supermarket or used in a Jaguar commercial. Whoever pays attention to the amazing guitarwork? All they need is a good trip-hop drive.

Which is why ‘Rollin’ And Tumblin’ will hardly be featured in a Jaguar commercial. The only vocal spot on the album (and that chick does a pretty good work on it, too), it’s mind-blowing. It’s not even techno or anything – the drumming is more in a ‘martial’ style than anything, and Beck’s electronic interpretation of the classic riff of Muddy Waters is unimitable. That dry, uncompromised guitar tone, combined with elements of blues, hair metal, grunge, whatever… it’s wonderful.

Describing most of the other tracks would be useless: most of the album is pretty monotonous in style, the difference is just in the particular riff (although it should be mentioned that ‘Left Hook’ has a few ear-shattering solos as well). True to his style, Beck also inserts a few ‘lighter’ numbers, like the pretty balladesque ‘Nadia’, the short atmospheric drumless interlude ‘Blackbird’ (which has nothing to do with the Beatles song), and ends the record with the minimalistic, thought-provoking ‘Suspension’ which is a good tune to relax to after the thunderstorm.

All in all, this isn’t a great album, because, face it, it could have been better. A little longer; a little more diverse; and the drumwork could have been tons more satisfying if Jeff’d bother hiring a real drummer. Yeah, I understand that’s the whole point: to prove that today’s mainstream music can be transformed into high quality art with a bit of experimentation and a bit of real talent. Alas, this is unprovable – eggs are eggs, and techno drumbeat is techno drumbeat. Techno drumbeat is by now so tightly associated with teen-pop and mindless hip-hop that I see no use in this move.

On the other hand, the guitarwork is breathtaking – and it amply demonstrates that more than thirty-five years into his career, Mr Beck still got it and isn’t going to give it up. Not just the flame, but also the will to experiment. All praise the Master, and I still hope that this album isn’t the last we’re gonna hear of him. Good as it is, it’s still essentially just a throwaway. Now where’s that real Jeff Beck masterpiece we’re waiting for?

May 13, 2010 Posted by | Jeff Beck You Had It Coming | | Leave a comment