Three CD Reviews – Jeff Beck

Jeff Beck – Rock ‘n’ Roll Party

Eagle Rock Entertainment

Jeff Beck – Guitar,

Imelda May – Vocals

Imelda May Band – Various

Gary US Bonds – Vocals

Brian Setzer – Guitars and Vocals


In June 2010, Jeff Beck, the guitar hero’s guitar hero paid tribute to his own major influence. This continues a busy time for Beck, who last week won a number of grammys for his latest studio album Emotion and Commotion. Here he is joined by the acclaimed Irish singer Imelda May, and her talented rockabilly band, and they play a number of songs which Les Paul made famous, alongside songs and instrumentals of the 50’s and 60’s, so we see Beck paying his own tribute to Hank Marvin, with a version of Apache which manages to be both faithful to the original, as well as being in Beck’s own style, and the same can also be said for the classic ballad ‘Sleepwalk’ which follows it. Noted American Singer Gary ‘US’ Bonds adds his sonic finger-print to ‘New Orleans’ whilst Imelda May and her band do fine recreations of such songs as Cry Me A River and ‘How High the Moon’. The night is finished with a reading of ‘Twenty Flight Rock’ which also features Brian Setzer. Although there are some talented musicians on stage, it never threatens to become a free for all, with each musician having a chance to shine. Les Paul would have approved.

Sounds Like: Fine musicians having a good time

You’ll like this if you like: Jeff Beck, Imelda May, Rockabilly, Les Paul, Jazz, good time rock and roll, 50’s and 60’s music

CD Review – Emotion and Commotion by Jeff Beck

8 out of 10

Jeff Beck is a guitarist that is past state retirement age, and yet he continues to release albums that confound his many fans.

In his time, he has played the type of blues rock that laid the first foundations for heavy metal, was a persuasive jazz rock fusion player, and developed tricks and ideas that are still being used by many of today’s leading players, although he has not had the consistent success (either critically or commercially) that fellow Yardbird Alumni Jimmy Page and Eric Clapton have enjoyed.

‘Emotion and Commotion’ finds him in the company of many of his past colleagues, drummer Vinnie Collutia, bass prodigy Tal Wilkenfeld and keyboard player Jason Rebello appear from his latest live band, whilst Joss Stone, Rockabilly singer Imelda May and the Opera singer Oliva Safe all make telling contributions.

Although there are no full on technique based tracks here, the guitar playing is of a consistently high standard, with Beck’s unique touch adding a lot of light and shade to the playing. It could be said that this is Beck’s crossover to Classic FM or Radio 3 friendly music, with interpretations of Puccini’s ‘Nessun Dorma’ or ‘Over the Rainbow’ showing his full range, and with their orchestral flourishes giving Beck’s musicianship a new frame.

His own music features, with Rebello’s ‘Hammerhead’ being a full on technique fest, whilst other original pieces such as ‘Serene’ or ‘Never Alone’ being tone poems with minimalist guitar playing, highlighting Beck’s way with a melody. The singers are all well used, with Joss Stone appearances on ‘I Put a Spell on You’ and ‘There’s no other me’ showing her full throated singing to its best advantage, whilst Imelda May’s singing on ‘Lilac Wine’ is sensitive to the material, and Beck’s solo is perfectly suited to the song. Oliva Safe’s contributions to both ‘Serene’ and album closer ‘Elegy for Dunkirk’ should win her new fans from outside of the Opera world.

There have been reviews which compare some of this album to the work of the shadows, and although the use of the tremolo arm in both Hank’s and Jeff’s style is a stylistic similarity, that is really the only trait they share in common. This album is invested with Jeff Beck’s sound and fingerprints throughout, and should appeal to both his fans, and fans of general over-all good music.

CD Review – Jeff Beck – Performing this week – Live at Ronnie Scott’s

8 out of 10 – Eagle Records – 5 –034504 139626

Jeff Beck’s latest album, a selection of 16 tracks culled from live performances during a week at Ronnie Scott’s famed Jazz club finds the guitar maestro and his three piece band in peerless form.

They play a wide selection of tracks from across Beck’s entire career, touching on newer material, as well as the jazz fusion music with which he made his reputation in the 1960’s and 70’s.

With support from drummer to the stars Vinnie Colaiuta, keyboard whiz Jason Rebello, and young bass star Tal Wilkenfield they play Beck’s complex music with ease.They play the full range from the all out rock of You Never Know, Led Boots, Scatterbrain, and Big Block, to the touching ballad Cause we’ve ended as Lovers which features a bass solo which shows that Wilkenfield can more than keep up with her fellow bandmates.

An arrangement of the Beatles A Day in the Life allows the full vocal like tone of Beck’s guitar to shine, while Angel (Footsteps) finds Beck accurately playing slide notes above the usual range of the guitar, Nadia shows his command of Eastern musical forms and mastery of microtones, whilst the medley of Goodbye Pork Pie Hat/Brush with the Blues shows that Eric Clapton was not the only first rate electric blues guitarist to feature in the Yardbirds line up.

The singers Joss Stone and Imogen Heap, as well as Clapton appeared with Beck and his band during his run at Ronnie Scott’s, but unfortunately none of their tracks appear on this album. This would have given the album more of an appeal to a wider range of music buyers, but as it stands it is an excellent way of summoning up the live playing of one of the country’s fore-most and most forward looking guitar players.




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