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Jeff Beck - Wired CD (album) cover

WIRED

Jeff Beck

 

Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.82 | 109 ratings

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Kotro
Prog Reviewer
3 stars .featuring Jeff Beck on guitar

Wired features the reunion of Jeff Beck, Max Middleton, Richard Bailey (on a couple of tracks) and Sir George Martin, as well as the inclusion of drummer Narada Michael Walden, bassist Wilbur Bascomb and keyboardist Jan Hammer. It is another venture into jazz-fusion territory after the artistical, critical and commercial success Blow by Blow, but this time fully head on - no space for bluesy guitar or orchestral arrangements.

This is clear from the start: the highly electric Led Boots opens the album with a mighty charge full of pace and vigour, scorching guitar playing above the fast-paced drumming and clavinette playing. A wild synth is introduced towards the end, but Jan Hammer's sound is really not my cup of tea. Come Dancing is a tad bit slower, but still very funky, with the kind of beat you'd more likely find on an Isaac Hayes album. Jeff's guitar appears quieter at the beginning, but it soon gets its own space after an intro dominated by the horn-emulating synths. Towards the middle we finally get to hear (properly) the great Fender Rhodes sound of Max Middleton - not too bad. Apart from bassist Wilbur Bascomb, the Charles Mingus cover Goodbye Pork Pie Hat features the reunion of the Blow by Blowline-up - no Walden nor Hammer in this track, which is a really great rendition of one of the finest jazz compositions by one of the greatest jazz composers. It is the quieter song of the album, and the band really does it some justice, especially Beck with its beautiful and delicate guitar playing. It is also one of the tightest songs on the album, and the only one that wouldn't sound out of place in Blow by Blow. The same line-up is present on the following track, Head For Backstage Pass - this is introduced by a funky bass solo only slightly accompanied by Bailey's drumming. Soon Jeff and Max get into it, the second adding to the beat, the first showcasing just how fast he can play, and how well he plays fast. It's a shame that the tracks fades away not even three minutes into it. Blue Wind follows, a track featuring only Beck and Hammer. Beck's playing is okay, and he does get some good licks out of it, but the higher pitched synthesizer sounds really get on my nerves. Sophie is a nice enough escape from the previous track, starting off more delicately, resuming a faster-paced jazzy rhythm a bit further ahead. Jeff Beck again display's some great guitar work, but once again Hammer steps in and the song is almost ruined. His keyboard work seems to come from nowhere, no inspiration, no feeling, just electric noise. Play With Me has a great clavinette opening, to which Beck soon adds his chops. The clavinette continues producing the rhythm in the background, but the drumming doesn't seem to respects it and is al over the place, just like Jan Hammer's definitely annoying playing will be further on. Love Is Green ends the album on a quiet note, featuring the unusual use of acoustic guitar by Beck and piano playing by Walden. Pleasent, but hardly an impressive closer.

Wired was actually my first Jeff Beck album, and one I wasn't to impressed with. Like the previous album (sort of), all songs are instrumental. But unlike the previous album, most of the compositions are not good enough to hold one's attention based on the music only. My view is that this might have something to do with the fact that Beck seems more as a session musician in his own album, having penned NONE of the 8 songs present here. Drummer Narada Michael Walden penned four of those and, perhaps not entirely coincidental, they are all pretty unmemorable. Jan Hammer's only credit Blue Wind is on the other side, highly memorable, but for all the wrong reasons. So we have a situation where the stronger material is the one where the presence of previous line ups is better felt - the Max Middleton penned opener and the two tracks featuring the presence of drummer Richard Bailey and the absence of Walden and Hammer. The only way this album deserves to have Jeff Beck's name on the cover in because he is indeed the finest performer on this album and is guitar work the only thing worth listening to (especially on the Mingus cover). A great let-down after such a wonderful album like Blow by Blow. However, I'm sure greater jazz-fusion aficcionados than me will find more strong spots on this album than myself, hence my final classification.

Kotro | 3/5 |

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