An overview of a musical career of distinction, after-the-jump ….
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Excluding Jimi Hendrix (who died when I was only age fourteen), my favorite guitarist from rock (who also had a healthy dose of blues and jazz) has long been Jeff Beck, for whom the music world has paused to pay tribute to after his death. Yesterday there were diaries from front-pager Walter Eienkel, as well as NotSoNew, who posted many of the social media tributes.
For those who are unfamiliar with parts of his career: here are parts of a career retrospective that I compiled eight years ago this month (at the beginning of 2015) that you can read in full at this link.
Although they never played together as a trio: the first of Jeff’s two inductions into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame was as a member of The Yardbirds — replacing the departing Eric Clapton on the advice of studio guitarist Jimmy Page .... who proved a worthy replacement. Page later did join the Yardbirds (first as bassist, then as guitarist), and when the band split in 1968, it could lay claim to having three guitar heroes pass through its ranks (though not at once). In 2003, after original members Chris Dreja and Jim McCarty had re-formed the band and released the first Yardbirds album in thirty-five years … Jeff appeared as a guest guitarist on the new song My Blind Life (written by Chris Dreja).
Here is a (lip-synched) rendition of the original band’s Over, Under, Sideways, Down — credited to all members — with a typically lousy video of the era … yet with a short representative solo by Jeff Beck.
He formed the first iteration of the Jeff Beck Group in early 1967, with his first pairing with Rod Stewart and future Small Faces/Rolling Stones guitarist Ron Wood (although he played bass in this band). With a revolving door of rhythm section members, they recorded two notable albums: Truth (which reached the US album charts with versions of Greensleeves, Ol' Man River and Beck's Bolero - a harbinger of his future instrumental guitar songs - and also Beck-Ola - with versions of All Shook Up and Jailhouse Rock that Elvis Presley had made famous.
After missing a year due to a 1969 car accident: the second iteration of the Jeff Beck Group featured vocalist Bob Tench, drummer Cozy Powell and pianist Max Middleton. They released two albums: Rough and Ready as well as The Jeff Beck Group - known as the "orange" album for the appearance of one on the cover - which has a sterling rendition of the Don Nix song Going Down.
Here is a cover of Stevie Wonder's I Gotta Have a Song - whose work Jeff Beck would sample more as time went on.
He then formed a 1973 band with the Vanilla Fudge rhythm section (Tim Bogert on bass, Carmine Appice on drums) whose one album included a version of Stevie Wonder's Superstition and this tune by singer-songwriter Ray Kennedy (who co-wrote "Sail On, Sailor", a mid-career hit for The Beach Boys) who died in Feb, 2014.
It was at this time that he made a conscious decision to move away from vocal-based music towards instrumental rock. It was probably not a coincidence that this was the time of the burgeoning jazz-rock scene (and Jeff Beck joined it from the rock music side). He enlisted the help of former Beatles producer Sir George Martin, and the result was his 1975 album Blow by Blow - for many fans, his best work. It features an arrangement of Lennon and McCartney's She's a Woman and two songs by Stevie Wonder, including Cause We've Ended as Lovers - which when performed as instrumental takes on a whole new meaning.
This was followed-up in 1976 with his album Wired - a more jazz-rock oriented album, with a low-volume rendition of the Charles Mingus elegy Goodbye Pork Pie Hat. Joining Jeff on this album is the former Mahavishnu Orchestra keyboard player Jan Hammer - and the two worked together numerous times over the intervening years. When I had a chance to interview Jan in 2011 for a DK diary (at this link) he confirmed that it is a good feeling to know that Jeff often played a version of Jan's song Blue Wind in his concerts. In fact, the two performed it (forty years after the original recording) at the Hollywood Bowl in 2016.
To illustrate the sort of career path he could have chosen (with a strong vocalist, and more commercial success). In 1985, he teamed up with old bandmate Rod Stewart to sing the old Curtis Mayfield tune People Get Ready - the only Jeff Beck single ever to reach the US charts (at #48).
In more recent years, he has recorded a number of albums in all different styles. Along with Mick Jagger, he was the other Brit who performed at the Obama White House in 2012 (on the tribute to the blues concert) and he has recorded with female singers such as Joss Stone, Beth Hart … and the Irish singer Imelda May, who at a 2010 tribute concert was the Mary Ford to Jeff Beck's idol Les Paul — who had died the year before — at the Iridium nightclub Les performed at late in life.
Jeff Beck has a notable boxed set from 1991, won eight Grammy Awards and has been inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame twice - once with the Yardbirds, and once as a solo artist. He was ranked as #5 in Rolling Stone's 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time list and just this past year had performed with Johnny Depp.
For all of the fame he could have pursued with a very commercialized band, lead singers and pop song arrangements … the tributes that came in yesterday showed that he had left his mark in many ways.
As I concluded my prior essay: among the musicians he performed with included Mick Jagger, Tina Turner, Morrissey, Bon Jovi, Kate Bush, Roger Waters, Donovan, Stevie Wonder, Les Paul, Nicolette Larson, Cyndi Lauper, Brian May, Stanley Clarke, Kelly Clarkson, Brian Wilson, Herbie Hancock and ZZ Top … for starters.
Now, on to Top Comments:
Highlighted by buffan:
In today’s Abbreviated Pundit diary … this comment made by rugbymom … times 1,000.
And from Ed Tracey, your faithful correspondent this evening ........
In the diary by geekydee about the GOP legislative proposal for a female legislator dress code — A Citizen posits a certain mindset in the GOP base.
Next - enjoy jotter's wonderful (and now eternal) *PictureQuilt™* below. Just click on the picture and it will magically take you to the comment featuring that photo.
January 11th, 2023
(NOTE: Any missing images in the Quilt were removed because (a) they were from an unapproved source that somehow snuck through in the comments, or (b) it was an image from the DailyKos Image Library without permissions set to allow others to use it.)
And lastly: yesterday's Top Mojo - mega-mojo to the intrepid mik ...... who rescued this feature from oblivion: