401

Jeff Beck: Emotion & Commotion

Doug Collette By

Sign in to view read count
Jeff Beck: Emotion & Commotion Jeff Beck's Emotion & Commotion is designed to nurture the guitarist's growing visibility of the last ten years, and may well serve that purpose, even if it only scratches the surface of his genius.

The presence of orchestration on many of these tracks is admirable for its ambition, but is not a novel concept within Beck's discography. The Beatles' producer George Martin, who worked with this idiosyncratic musician for three albums, forged some judicious arrangements on Blow by Blow (Epic, 1975), but those sparse tracks are a far cry from the grandeur of "Nessun Dorma" here. A gorgeous opening, "Corpus Christi Carol" reminds what a unique approach Beck has to balladry: his playing retains an edge even at its most sonorous. And on "Elegy for Dunkirk," his guitar matches the majesty of Olivia Safe's wordless singing as much as the symphonic sound behind him.

Elsewhere, unfortunately, the Trevor Horn/Steve Lipson production team is utterly insensitive to its subject, thinking only in the most conventional terms. In contrast to its simple concert presentation, the arrangement of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" fails to set the guitarist's playing in the proper relief. Beck's natural predilection for funk gets short shrift here as does his propensity to rock with animalistic abandon. "Hammerhead" finds him shredding at blistering pace, after a decoy of wah-wah effects, but the real disappointment of the production is to minimize the presence of Beck's band, the sole exception an appropriately tranquil "Serene," where precocious bassist Tal Wilkenfeld demonstrates her gently earthy touch.

Because Beck's playing on the four other vocal tracks so transcends the voices in depth of emotion and nuance, their inclusion suggests an act of sly perversity on the artist's part: it's almost as if the ex-Yardbird wanted to remind why, as a general rule, he prefers not to work with singers. Conspicuous by her absence is Imogen Heap who, in recent collaborations with Beck, has proven both a foil and a match for the latter's expressive tone. In contrast, Joss Stone offers a perfectly anonymous rendition of "I Put A Spell on You" and while on "Lilac Wine" Imelda May's singing is haunting, it does not compare with the ghostly air of the guitar. Likewise, Stone's mannered approach will not allow her to compete with the frenzy of "There's No Other Me," where Beck even threatens to collide with himself in his frenetic attack, but in the end, never loses his balance.

In its emphasis on orchestral textures, Emotion and Commotion certainly provides a clear stylistic contrast to the beat-driven studio projects that predate it, You Had It Coming (Epic, 2001) and Jeff (Epic, 2003). And while the album doesn't capture the full range of his extraordinary talents, that only suggests how difficult it is to capture the spontaneous combustion of his remarkable technique and unerring instincts.


Track Listing: Corpus Christi Carol; Hammerhead; Never Alone; Somewhere Over the Rainbow; I Put a Spell on You; Serene; Lilac Wine; Nessun Dorma; There's No Other Me; Elegy for Dunkirk.

Personnel: Jeff Beck: guitar; Pete Murray: keyboards (1, 4, 5, 7, 8, 10), orchestral arrangement (1-8, 10); Alessia Mattalia: drums (2); Tal Wilkenfeld: bass (2, 3, 6, 9); Jason Rebello: keyboards (2, 3, 6, 9), programming (6, 9); Vinnie Coilaiuta: drums (3, 6, 9); Luis Jardim: percussion (3, 6); Steve Lipson: programming (3, 6, 9); Steve Sidwell: conductor (4, 5); Clive Deamer: drums (5); Pino Palladino: bass (5); Joss Stone: vocals (5, 9); Olivia Safe: vocals (6, 10); Imelda May: vocals (7); Earl Harvin: drums (7); Chris Bruce: bass (7).

Title: Emotion & Commotion | Year Released: 2010 | Record Label: Atco


Tags

Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Lantern CD/LP/Track Review Lantern
by John Kelman
Published: June 26, 2017
Read Inspirations (featuring Matthew Halsall) CD/LP/Track Review Inspirations (featuring Matthew Halsall)
by Phil Barnes
Published: June 26, 2017
Read Unification CD/LP/Track Review Unification
by Troy Dostert
Published: June 26, 2017
Read Developing Story CD/LP/Track Review Developing Story
by Edward Blanco
Published: June 26, 2017
Read Crossing CD/LP/Track Review Crossing
by Geno Thackara
Published: June 25, 2017
Read Unit[e] CD/LP/Track Review Unit[e]
by Karl Ackermann
Published: June 25, 2017
Read "Suite Ellington" CD/LP/Track Review Suite Ellington
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: November 28, 2016
Read "Conversations" CD/LP/Track Review Conversations
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: May 15, 2017
Read "Streams" CD/LP/Track Review Streams
by Geno Thackara
Published: September 17, 2016
Read "E.S.T. Symphony" CD/LP/Track Review E.S.T. Symphony
by Ian Patterson
Published: May 26, 2017
Read "AMa AZa LaNdO" CD/LP/Track Review AMa AZa LaNdO
by Geno Thackara
Published: August 23, 2016
Read "Lea Áigi" CD/LP/Track Review Lea Áigi
by Mark Sullivan
Published: December 23, 2016

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.