Jeff Beck: Who Else!
It had been ten years since a proper Jeff Beck studio release. “Guitar Shop” had been very satisfying, but not exactly a revelation. I imagine Jeff sitting around, and thinking about the stagnation of rock at the turn of the millennium. So, he decides to come out of hibernation and show them how it’s done. And show them he did. Who knew that one of the old masters could bust out with something so fresh, full of life, and damn good.
The opener, “What Mama Said,” lets you know what’s up right from the start. Jeff has integrated electronica without losing any guitar hero credibility. It’s a jam you can’t sit still for, and the Dick Shawn sample from “It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World” is priceless.
“Psycho Sam” doesn’t let you off the hook. It’s another rousing maelstrom of guitar and electronics.
On “Brush With the Blues” he shows that he hasn’t left his blues chops behind. It’s a live track, which is good. The blues always seems to translate better before an audience.
“Blast from the East” has him integrating Middle Eastern sounds. Once again, jamming it in top form.
“Space for the Papa” is a groovy venture into modern space rock. A slower jam, but don’t be surprised if it gets your foot tapping.
“Angel (Footsteps)” softens things up, but still retains a bit of the spacey quality of the previous track. There are also hints of the old jazz-fusion in this one.
“THX 138” is what I would best describe as a bit of a techno-guitar freak out.
“Hip Notica” lives up to its title. A cool slow jam, with a touch of darkness, that keeps you mesmerized all the way.
“Even Odds” is a modernized old time rocker at face value. However, there is much more to it. Dare I say, it even gets quite proggy.
“Declan” is a beautiful Celtic inspired piece (did I hear Prog-Folk?). Listen to his playing on this one, and you will know why he doesn’t need a vocalist.
For the closer, he chose to delve into classical territory. “Another place” sounds almost Steve Hackett inspired, yet it is Jeff all the way.
This is one heck of a comeback for a legendary artist. It rivals some of his previous best work. He also pulled off what is nearly impossible for most of his contemporaries. He sounds completely fresh without losing his signature sound. His connection to prog was previously because of his jazz-fusion, and his influential playing. Now he is delving into RIO/Avant territory. It doesn’t matter any way, because it’s just great music no matter how you choose to define it.
Jeff Beck – guitar
Mark John – acoustic guitar
Jennifer Batten – electric & midi guitars
Bob Loveday – violin
Clive Bell – flute
Jan Hammer – keyboards, drums
Tony Hymas – keyboards
Simon Wallace – synthesizer
Randy Hope-Taylor – bass
Pino Palladino – bass
Manu Katche – drums, percussion
Steve Alexander – drums