Written By Braddon S. Williams
Jeff Beck: Who Else!
In 1999, Jeff Beck entered the electronica age, releasing his first new original music in a decade, the outstanding Who Else!
I have stated on many occasions that Jeff is my favorite living guitarist, but I was still blown away at his seamless transition into a more techno styled music.
The electronic beats and ambient sounds were a perfect marriage for Beck’s endless melodic imagination and the otherworldly sounds he conjures from his guitars.
Some of my favorites from this album included Brush With The Blues, Angel (Footsteps), Psycho Sam, Space For The Papa, What Mama Said, Hip-Notica, and Another Place.
The overall production and level of musicians playing with the master all contributed to an incredible mashup of modern electonica and old school guitar heroics.
On this date in history, 8/10/2018, I caught a magical evening of music at Deer Creek in Noblesville, IN. The show featured Paul Rodgers, Jeff Beck, Ann Wilson, and Deborah Bonham. Bonham started the evening’s festivities with a brief set of songs featuring her bluesy voice accompanied by a single acoustic guitar. She is the sister of the late John Bonham (Led Zeppelin’s immortal drummer) and proved conclusively that her brother wasn’t the only one with talent in her immediate family. I really enjoyed her style, and she was great with the crowd, even mentioning that she heard the venue used to be known as Deer Creek (gaining a big cheer from the crowd and making her our friend from that moment on). Up next was Ann Wilson, touring in support of an album that hasn’t been released yet (a tribute to legends who have recently passed away). Hearing Heart’s singer covering The Who, Amy Winehouse, Chris Cornell, Glen Frey, and Dusty Springfield was amazing. Wilson poured her soul and considerably powerful voice into songs that she personally picked for her record. I haven’t listened to a lot of Amy Winehouse’s stuff, but Ann crushed it on the song that she sang from the tragically short-lived British soul singer. My favorite living guitarist was next, and Jeff Beck did that thing that he does so well, conjuring miracles of sound from his Stratocaster. It had been 23 years since I had seen him last, and this time he had a singer with him for about half of his set. Jimmy Hall, from the band Wet Willie, did an amazing job on each of the songs he sang, particularly Superstitious by Stevie Wonder. Beck also had a female cellist and featured a couple of staggeringly beautiful instrumental pieces with her, playing cat and mouse with his guitar and her cello weaving a tapestry of magic tones. Both times I have seen Beck, his drummer has been an alumnus of Frank Zappa’s (Terry Bozzio in 1995, Vinnie Colaiuta this time). The female bass player was fierce, too. This would be my first time seeing Paul Rodgers live, and he was extraordinary. I am utterly in awe of the voice this man still has in his ’70’s…he literally sounds exactly like he does on all the old Free and Bad Company records from decades ago. His band was top shelf, too. Drums, bass, keyboards, and one guitar player (who had to follow Jeff Beck, not an easy task for anyone…but he was great) doing what all classic English rock bands do, which is play in the pocket, rock solid music to support one of the greatest voices in the history of voices. It was kind of mind-boggling to me that only about 5000 people were in attendance, but we sure did get a memorable night of music from some of the giants who still roam the musical earth.
Written By “The Concert Critic” AKA Braddon S. Williams
In my personal Mt. Rushmore of guitarists, Jeff Beck would be one of the faces, without a doubt. His 1975 instrumental album, Blow By Blow, is simply godly. Jeff’s tone, phrasing, note choices, fearlessness, and creativity are matchless. Enlisting Sir George Martin to produce was a brilliant move, also. It didn’t hurt that Stevie Wonder contributed a pair of songs for the project, either! This was Beck’s first album to feature his long running fascination with jazz-rock fusion, and the style suited the man perfectly, allowing rampant exploration and interplay with the other musicians. Side 2 of the vinyl album were sequenced so that each song faded out and into the next song, beginning with the absolutely sublime Cause We’ve Ended As Lovers, by Wonder, one of the most expressive and soulful guitar features of all time. The hard rocking Freeway Jam was another highlight, as was the cinematic closer, Diamond Dust. This record was a product of the ’70’s, but remains timeless as a testimony to how many amazing sounds can be coaxed lovingly from an electric guitar by a true visionary.
Written By Braddon S. Williams