I openly offer that, just as there will never be another Jimi, so too, there will just never be another Jeff; not in this lifetime ....not on this planet. Having emerged in the 1960's playing blues dubbed "British," his style, although having taken a few diversions from his uniquely paved musical freeway, has been an ever-evolving articulation and imaginative coaxing of the possible voicings a guitar can put forth. I suggest that such a powerful innovator's creations may just prove senseless to analyze; almost sacrilegious to criticize. He has accomplished near complete control of the electric guitar, sometimes portraying monstrous mischief, sometimes heavenly liquid.
"You Had It Coming," produced by Andy Wright, is the latest work by Jeff Beck. Ten cuts run 35:55. Progressive Rock would be my best label for it, as it has an identifiable techno flavor, but rocks HARD, without trace of homogenization. It spans a global content flavor, joining LA, on the slick cut 2, "Roy's Toy," to the Middle East, with beautiful "Nadia," cut 5, written by Nitin Sawhney - reportedly much respected by Beck. Although the disc rips off the top with a number written by the impressively capable Jennifer Batten, ( whose vital guitar presence on stage at the Tower Theatre near Philly, PA on 3/17/01 I enjoyed, and whose company and conversation, along with Jeff's, I was briefly graced with) seven are written by Jeff Beck, with help that usually includes Andy Wright. They do a version of M. Morganfield's "Rollin' and Tumblin'," which surely hammers my nail. The song includes the sexy voice of Imogen Heap, who also adds the right spice to "Dirty Mind," track 3, my funky, funky favorite. The job on the disc "You Had It Coming" was a good one, and on stage, Jennifer Batten was a strong, complimentary axe-mate for Jeff, and more than an adequate sub for Imogen on both songs. She quite knocked me out with her vocal in the classic Morganfield tune.
On the CD, which visually follows the suit of Beck's last work, "Who Else!," largely in spade black, drum sampling and looping are employed to achieve an effect that was not always attainable with the live band. (which was the two "J's" on guitars and a fine drummer and bassist) In fact, I'd claim that ultra-low frequencies which may have been employed (live) to "fatten things up" may have turned a culprit. Snare did not crack through bass drum and much articulation on the part of the bassist was lost in a thick, chest-wrenching tar pit of lows. All in all, though, it was a good, fun show. The last time I was a fortunate guest was in ' 95 on the Beck/ Santana tour. By contrast, the differences in approach by the respective "players de Beck" were great; much less flash this time around. Jeff's guitar sounded better than ever, however, and my soul melted while my heart smiled at Mr. Beck's encore rendition of The Beatles' "A Day in the Life." Always a unique experience, Jeff Beck, his CD "You Had It Coming," and more info is available at www.jeffbeckmusic.com
This review is copyright © 2001 by Bobby Manriquez, and Blues On Stage, all rights reserved. Copy, duplication or download prohibited without written permission. For permission to use this review please send an E-mail to Ray Stiles.