Jeff Beck: Performing This Week ... Live at Ronnie Scott's
There are an additional five tracks that don't appear on the CD and, in some respects, rightfully so. Featuring guest appearances by singers Josh Stone and Imogene Heap, as well as another guitar icon, Eric Clapton, excluding them from the CD (admittedly, for time's sake as well), makes that release a purer Beck experience, and certainly one the live album fans have been waiting to hear for decades. At the same time, the bonus performances add to the excitement of the show, especially Stone's take on Curtis Mayfield's "People Get Ready," originally sung by Rod Stewart in a reunion of sorts on Beck's Flash (Epic, 1985). Stone's unassuming honesty and strong interpretive skills surpass Flash's studio take, and the song provides a brief respite before the juggernaut of "Scatterbrain." Heap plays it straight on the balladic "Blanket" but lets loose a bit on a grungy take of Muddy Waters' classic "Rollin' and Tumblin,'" with Beck's distorted wah wah almost as gut-wrenching as the near-vomitous "You Shook Me," from Beck's 1968 debut as a leader, Truth (Epic).
Clapton's two guest tracks are more blues-centric, with "Little Brown Bird" giving Beck one of a number of opportunities to demonstrate his equally vocal-like ability with a slide. "You Need Love" is a vamp-based jam that features Beck beautifully synched with Clapton's vocals, and a chance for the two to take solos that demonstrate why they emerged as two parts of a remarkable trifecta (Led Zeppelin's Jimmy Page being the third) that changed the course of rock music in the late '60s.
The unexpected success of Performing This Week ... Live at Ronnie Scott's has helped revive a career that's not exactly needed it, because Beck has always seemed to return to active playing and touring on his own schedule. Still, this is undeniably the best touring group he's ever had, surpassing even his early group with Rod Stewart. The music may be fantastic of itself, but being able to watch Beck in action for nearly two hours is an opportunity not to be missednot just for fans, but for those who may wonder why Beck's reputation is what it is. Performing This Week ... Live at Ronnie Scott's may well be the most exciting and revelational DVD release of 2009.
Tracks and Personnel
Personnel: Jeff Beck: guitar; Jason Rebello: keyboards; Tal Wilkenfeld: bass guitar; Vinnie Colaiuta: drums; Josh Stone: vocals (11); Imogen Heap: vocals (15, 20); Eric Clapton: guitar, vocals (18, 19).
Tracks: Beck's Bolero; Eternity's Breath; Stratus; Cause We've Ended as Lovers; Behind the Veil; You Never Know; Nadia; Blast from the East; Led Boots; Angel (Footsteps); People Get Ready; Scatterbrain; Goodbye Pork Pie Hat/Brush With the Blues; Space Boogie; Blanket; Big Block; A Day in the Life; Little Brown Bird; You Need Love; Rollin' and Tumblin'; Where Were You.
DVD Feature: Running Time: 155 Minutes. Bonus Features: Interviews with Jeff Beck and the band members. Liner Notes by Jon Newey.
Stills taken Jeff Beck, Performing This Week ... Live at Ronnie Scott's, courtesy of Eagle Vision.