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Jeff Beck: Jeff Beck: Live +

Doug Collette By

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Jeff Beck Live+ is a collection of fourteen tracks recorded in concert during August of 2014 with a pair of new originals from recent studio sessions. It effectively whets the appetite for the new studio record reportedly in the works for some months now even as it stands as a fitting companion piece to the DVD Live in Tokyo (Eagle Vision, 2014).

Beck's is a perfectly pragmatic approach to to reinvent the panoply of styles he's traversed since the late Sixties by utilizing this current lineup of musicians, all with distinct instrumental personalities of their own. All these live recordings derive from appearances in the United States within three weeks and thus have a certain immediacy and continuity even as "Beck's Bolero," from Truth (Epic, 1968) gives way to "Superstition" from Beck Bogert & Appice (Epic, 1973) , while "Big Block" comes from Guitar Shop (Epic, 1989). And the grand cover of the Beatles' "A Day in the Life" is a modern day interpretation from the George Martin produced homage In My Life (MCA, 1998).

The sumptuous recorded sound captures the thunderous funk drummer Jonathan Joseph and bassist Rhonda Smith generate, reminding Jeff Beck is the sole purveyor of jazz-rock fusion with a truly earthy aspect of his playing. This current alignment not only reflects that aspect of their leader's persona, but also the often dizzying unpredictability with which he plays: they can keep up with Beck as surely on the hellbent "Goin' Down" as on "Danny Boy" where the iconic guitarist applies a delicate touch by lingering on notes and letting silence surround them. The logic with which Jeff Beck plays is all his own, his idiosyncratic technical skill certainly not the same formal approach guitarist Nicholas Meier commands, so the two guitarists creates a vivid relief within the peer tributes, to John McLaughlin for "You Know You Know" and Jimi Hendrix on "Little Wing." (And the acoustic textures Meier provides reaffirm the wisdom of his place in the band).

Jeff Beck hasn't worked with many vocalists since he began recording under his own name upon leaving the Yardbirds and none so often as Jimmy Hall. The once and future founding member, frontman and lead vocalist of Dixie rockers Wet Willie first collaborated with the iconoclastic Brit on Flash (Epic, 1985) and has, not surprisingly, toured with him at various intervals since: Hall has a gutsy vocal approach bereft of affect and so full of feeling, the intense impact of his phrasing compares favorably with Beck's own on "Morning Dew" as well as "Rollin' and Tumblin.'" And Hall's confident showmanship adds immeasurably to this rendition of "A Change Is Gonna Come."

There's no detail apart from musician and composer credits to the two new tracks here which is perhaps as it should be, as they seem like nothing so much as an afterthought particularly after hearing all the concert tracks in sequence. The feverish "Tribal" hearkens directly to Jeff (Epic, 2003) while the cryptically-title "My White tiled Floor" is more atmosphere than fire. Appearing as the live sequence gathers steam, "Why Give It Away" is also introduced as a 'new one,' incorporating some traces of hip-hop and blues courtesy Hall's harp playing.

With hints continuing about a full-kength album of new material yet to be released, Jeff Beck+ has something of a holding pattern about it, but 2015 is nevertheless shaping up to be quite a year for Jeff Beck. This title precedes a "Special Edition" of full-audio from Live at Ronnie Scott's (Eagle, 2008), so the man's aficionados and the novice alike have wider opportunity than ever to bear witness to his unorthodox genius.

Track Listing: Loaded; Morning Dew; You Know You Know; Why Give It Away; A Change Is Gonna Come; A Day In The Life; Superstition; Hammerhead; Little Wing; Big Block; Where Were You; Danny Boy; Rollin’ And Tumblin’; Going Down; Tribal; My Tiled White Floor.

Personnel: Jeff Beck: guitar; Rhonda Smith: bass; Jonathan Joseph: drums; Nicolas Meier: guitar; Jimmy Hall: vocals. Veronica Bellino: drums, percussion; Ruth Lorenzo: vocals (on "Tribal"); Veronica Bellino: drums, percussion, keyboards, vocals (on "My White Tiled Fllor").

Title: Jeff Beck: Live + | Year Released: 2015 | Record Label: Atco


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