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Jeff Beck - Live + CD (album) cover


Jeff Beck


Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.21 | 5 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
3 stars Guitar god Jeff Beck recorded this muscular live set near the end of a six-year hiatus between studio albums, and in the process rediscovered all the high-decibel swagger missing from his overly-polite 2010 effort "Motion & Commotion", with its schmaltzy orchestral padding.

The change of attitude, from complacent to confrontational, was emphatic in the pile-driver rhythms powering the concert opener, "Loaded", and continued more or less unabated straight through the encore: a likewise balls-to-the-walls cover of the old Don Nix rock 'n' roll standard "Going Down". In between are a dozen examples of Beck's ageless guitar machismo, with quite a few cover songs in the set-list showing the range of his musical interest and influences: Hendrix, of course ("Little Wing"); Lennon and McCartney ("A Day in the Life", revealing a more tactful side of Beck's six-string fluency); Stevie Wonder ("Superstition"), and so on.

His graceful tribute to fellow guitar legend John McLaughlin ("You Know You Know", off the debut Mahavishnu Orchestra album) is a concert highlight, shining a spotlight on the wrist-snapping gymnastics of bass player Rhonda Smith, in a solo turn slick enough to prompt a Pavlovian drool response from Les Claypool. And the extraordinary melodicism of Beck's technique illuminates his brief, unaccompanied reading of the traditional "Danny Boy", just before the full band kicks into a propulsive rendition of the old blues chestnut "Rollin' and Tumblin' ".

The testosterone-driven posturing of lead singer Jimmy Hall will likely divide listeners, but he's only getting into the spirit of the event: it's a very loud album, in both performance and production. As he grows older Jeff Beck apparently needs to crank up the volume (hey, it happens to the best of us), which in a large arena at least makes sense: how else is he going to make himself heard in the cheap seats a quarter-mile away?

And Jeff Beck is one guitarist who can make a sledgehammer sound sexy, as heard yet again in the aggressive studio bonus tracks here: the "plus" in the "Live +" of the album's title. Neither one is indispensable, but in retrospect each was an obvious warm-up for his upcoming "Loud Hailer" album, anticipating another session surrounded by young chicks with killer talent.

The live album might have been just an expedient stop-gap between widely spaced studio releases. But it gave reassuring proof that Beck, at age 70, wasn't about to stop making noise.

Neu!mann | 3/5 |


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