Heart Full Of Soul 45 by The Yardbirds

October 29, 2012

The Yardbirds had their break through hit during mid-1966 with “For Your Love.” Their happiness was short lived when guitarist Eric Clapton decided their sound had become to popish and left the band.

How do you replace one of the greatest guitarists of all time? The answer is simple; you hire another of the greatest guitarists of all time.

Jeff Beck stepped in as the lead guitarist for “Heart Full Of Soul.” His use of a guitar fuzz box to distort his sound was unique at the time. “Heart Full Of Soul” reached number nine on the BILLBOARD MAGAZINE Pop Singles Chart in the United States and number two in England.

Beck would eventually leave the band as well but things would continue to work out just fine as Jimmy Page was on the horizon.

Over, Under, Sideways, Down 45 by The Yardbirds

August 21, 2011

Whenever someone mentions The Yardbirds, their three guitarists, Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, and Jimmy Page always dominate the conversation. All three were inducted into The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame with the rest of the band during 1992.

“Over, Under, Sideays, Down” was released as a single, June 25, 1966, in The United States. It was a quirky piece of psychedelic rock. Jeff Beck was the lead guitarist.

The flip side was a song titled “Jeff’s Boogie,” which was based on a Chuck Berry riff. It was one of the songs that first established Jeff Beck’s reutation as a guitarist. ROLLING STONE MAGAZINE placed it at number 23 on their list of The Greatest Guitar Songs Of All Time.

Rock ‘n’ Roll Party Honoring Les Paul (DVD) by Jeff Beck

February 25, 2011

Les Paul passed away during 2009 at the ripe old age of 94. He was a recording star and one of the best guitarists in music history. If that weren’t enough, he made his own guitars, making the Les Paul model one of most respected and valued instruments. This pedigree would have been enough for most people, but his recording techniques and innovations may have been his greatest accomplishment.

Jeff Beck is one of music’s greatest living guitarists and has been so for nearly 50 years now. He is a double inductee into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame, and his fusions of rock and jazz have been both creative and innovative.

Jeff Beck decided to throw a party to honor the old master. He invited some friends to join him on stage at one of Les Paul’s favorite haunts, The Iridium Jazz Club in New York City. Sharing the stage with him are the husband and wife team of Imelda May and Darrell Higham. Higham is a rockabilly artist pure and simple and May is basically a blues singer. Stand up bassist deluxe, Al Gare, drummer Stephen Rushton, and keyboardist Jason Rebello complete the basic band. A brass section of Dave Priseman, Leo Green, and Lou Marini are on stage for the second half of the show. Special guests include Trombone Shorty, Gary U.S. Bonds, and Brian Setzer.

Jeff Beck made the wise decision to keep everything under control and to divide the show into segments. What emerged was one of the better concerts and films I have seen and heard during the past few years and an enjoyable way to spend a couple of hours.

The first segment is rockabilly with such tunes as “Baby Let’s Play House,” “Double Talkin’ Baby,” and “Cruisin’” which immediately ramps up the energy. Beck even takes the old warhorse, “Train Kept A Rollin’” for a ride.

The second segment features May as the vocalist as they travel through the Les Paul/Mary Ford songbook. She has the perfect voice to interpret this material. “How High The Moon,” “Sitting On Top Of The World,” “Bye Bye Blues,” “Vaya Con Dios,” and “Mockin’ Bird Hill” are all fitting tributes. May’s vocal control and enunciation on “Tiger Rag” makes it a highlight.

The third section, complete with the brass section, travels in a number of directions. Beck’s guitar work on the classic instrumentals, “Sleepwalk” and “Apache” clearly presents him at his best and most precise. “Walkin’ In The Sand” is Jeff Beck playing the blues and Imelda May singing the blues. “New Orleans” by Gary U.S. Bonds is always welcome.

The concert comes full circle with another Rockabilly section. Brian Setzer with “Twenty Flight Rock” and rousing versions of “Rock Around The Clock” and “Shake, Rattle & Roll” bring the show to a satisfying close.

The concert was filmed well as the emphasis is always on the music. Beck is clearly the star of the show, but he is wise enough to step back when necessary and let others take the lead.

Rock ‘n’ Roll Party Honoring Les Paul is a fitting tribute to Les Paul. Hopefully, somewhere he is smiling and applauding along with the audience.

Article first published as Music DVD Review: Jeff Beck – Rock ‘n’ Roll Party Honoring Les Paul on Blogcritics.

Performing This Week….Live At Ronnie Scott’s (DVD) by Jeff Beck

June 5, 2009

There may be a few people on this earth who can play the guitar as well as Jeff Beck but there are none better. He can make the instrument sing, weep, and soar. Beck allows the guitar to be his voice.

Beck will turn 65 this year. He has had a storied career and next month will be inducted into The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for the second time. The first occurred in 1992 as a member of the legendary Yardbirds, and now he will enter as a solo artist. Rolling Stone Magazine ranked him at number 14 on their list of The Greatest Guitarists Of All Time and in my opinion that was too low.

2007 found him returning to the intimate setting of Ronnie Scott’s for a series performances that would form the basis of this 21 track DVD titled Performing This Week…Live At Ronnie Scott’s. Supporting him are keyboardist Jason Rebello, legendary jazz drummer Vinnie Colaiuta, and the stunning 23 year old Australian bassist Tal Wilkenfeld. Colaiuta is one of the few musicians who talent wise can meet Beck as an equal. His jazz influenced drumming and the ability to follow Beck’s leads are extraordinary. Wilkenfeld, who looks sixteen, is on the fast track to becoming one of music’s great bass players.

“Beck’s Bolero” quickly establishes the fact that he has lost none of his virtuosity. He remains not only a technical master but his passion is transmitted to the audience. “Eternity’s Breath” and “Stratus,” written by John McLaughlin and Billy Cobham respectively, are the kind of jazz/rock fusion songs at which he excels.

There are two stunning performances that should be required watching and listening for anyone who appreciates the guitar as an instrument. His take on the Lennon/McCartney tune, “A Day In The Life,” is mesmerizing as each note is presented with a stunning clarity in this innovative interpretation. Stevie Wonder’s “Cause We’ve Ended As Lovers” features Beck and Wilkenfeld trading solo’s that have the same structure and melody but played on lead guitar and bass.

Eric Clapton appears for two old blues numbers. While he provides the vocals on Muddy Waters “Little Brown Bird” and Willie Dixon’s “You Need Me,” it is the trading of solos and the intertwining of their guitars that is superb. Clapton is often a little too laid back for my taste but here he cuts loose a little.

Performing This Week…Live At Ronnie Scot’s presents Jeff Beck at his best. My only regret is that the Blu-ray edition contains an additional seven song rockabilly set which I will need to track down. Someone once said; “God plays the guitar using Jeff Beck’s hands.” Amen Brother!