Jeff Beck/Jeff Beck Group
There are a couple ways to look at the Jeff Beck Group. It served as the launching pad for singer Rod Stewart and future Faces/Rolling Stones guitarist Ron Wood. The Jeff Beck Group also laid the groundwork that made Led Zeppelin, among others, possible.
Beck had replaced Eric Clapton in the Yardbirds. Now Beck had left, leaving Jimmy Page to hold the fort. Beck's first solo efforts were a pair of inconsequential novelty songs. No future there, especially for a guitar legend in the making. So Beck put a group together with Stewart, a then unknown and struggling vocalist. Wood switched (from guitar) to bass. Aynsley Dunbar, ex-John Mayall and future Jefferson Starship drummer, filled out the line-up. The group hit the road as support for Roy Orbison and tanked. They were dropped from the tour and Mickey Waller replaced Dunbar.
This line-up produced one of the '60s major albums. "Truth" had Blues, Rock and one electrifying performance after another. When the Jeff Beck Group made its U.S. debut at NY's Fillmore East, Stewart had such a case of stage fright that he sang the opening number out of sight from behind the speakers. Fortunately, the audience's excited reception drew him out.
The follow-up "Beck-OLA" was not nearly as accomplished. Internal troubles were taking their toll. The group managed some solid Presley covers - "All Shook Up" and "Jailhouse Rock." However the best song was "Spanish Boots."
Following "Beck-OLA," Wood got the boot and Stewart left. The two joined the Faces with Stewart eventually going solo and Wood becoming the Stones second guitarist (along with Keith Richards).
Beck tossed out another Jeff Beck Group album with a new line-up but his interests had turned elsewhere. He had got the notion of working with Vanilla Fudge vets bassist Tim Bogert and drummer Carmine Appice. Talk about a step down. That would be like Lennon/McCartney recording with Blue Cheer. A serious car accident sidelined Beck for several months and postponed the Beck, Bogert, Appice project. Eventually, Beck recovered and the union proved to be as disastrous as everyone feared. Beck on his own produced a couple of excellent albums including the classic "Blow By Blow" and "Wired" before hooking up with composer Jan Hammer for some questionable efforts. On the upside, Beck and Stewart worked together again in the '80s on a cover of Curtis Mayfield's "People Get Ready." Beck even inducted Stewart into the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame. A number of years later, it was the guitarist's turn.
Beck was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in '09 (along with Metallica and Run DMC). Led Zeppelin's Jimmy Page did the honors, recognizing Beck's solo career. This was Beck's second induction. In '92, he was voted into the Hall for his work with the Yardbirds (as was Page). The following year, Beck proved he still had the chops when he won a Grammy for Best Rock Instrumental Performance.
Early '10 was a rare high-profile period for Beck. He appeared on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine with another legend, Eric Clapton, to promote their joint North American tour. At each stop they played individual sets before teaming to close the show.
With the tour completed, Beck released his first solo album in seven years, "Emotion & Commotion." The set included covers of "Over The Rainbow" (from The Wizard Of Oz) and Screamin' Jay Hawkins' "I Put a Spell On You," with vocals by British Soul/R&B stylist Joss Stone.
Beck also performed with a 64-piece orchestra on Puccini's "Nessun Dorma." "It turned out amazingly well, but I didn't want to commit to an entire album of Classical music," said Beck. "What appealed to me instead was the idea of bringing together these seemingly contradictory sounds on different kinds of non-Classical music."
"Emotion & Commotion" made its debut at #11 on the Billboard album chart. Just six years later, Beck presented "Loud Hailer."
Jeff Beck Group Albums:
1971 Rough and Ready
1972 Jeff Beck Group
Beck, Bogert & Appice Album:
1973 Beck, Bogert & Appice
Jeff Beck Solo Albums:
1975 Blow By Blow
1980 There And Back
1989 Jeff Beck's Guitar Shop
1992 Frankie's House
1993 Crazy Legs
1999 Who Else!
2001 You Had It Coming
2010 Emotion & Commotion
2016 Loud Hailer
1974 Live In Japan
1977 Jeff Beck With The Jan Hammer Group Live
2006 Live At BB King Blues Club
2007 Official Bootleg USA '06
2008 Live At Ronnie Scotts
2010 Live And Exclusive from the Grammy Museum
2011 Rock & Roll Party: Honoring Les Paul
"Truth" is the album. There's a Hard Rock remake of the Yardbirds' "Shapes Of Things" to open the album. The Blues romps, "You Shook Me" and "I Ain't Superstitious," are both faithful to the originals and perfectly updated. "Blues Deluxe" features piano great Nicky Hopkins. But the absolute highlights are the guitar wailing instrumental "Beck's Bolero" and "Morning Dew." While more direct in their approach, there's no doubt Led Zeppelin was profoundly influenced by the "Truth" album.
On his own Beck has produced several great guitar instrumental albums including "Rough and Ready" ('71), "Blow By Blow ('75), Wired ('76), "There And Back" ('80), "Jeff Beck's Guitar Shop" ('89), "Beckology" ('91), "Crazy Legs" ('93). Not a bad run. But avoid the Beck, Bogert, Appice fiasco.
Some fans feel Beck reached his personal zenith during the "Blow By Blow" era. For them, "Emotion & Commotion" has the explosive "Hammerhead." Others go back a little further favoring the Jeff Beck Group. They'll appreciate Stone's impassioned vocals a on a faithful rendition of "I Put A Spell On You" and "There's No Other Me." Over a samba rhythm, Beck also rolls out fluid, Santana-like, lines on "Never Alone."
Unfortunately, the remaining tracks are fairly mellow, though often melodic ("Nessun Dorma"). But you'd think after seven years there would be some pent-up energy. Guess not.