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Jeff Beck - Blow By Blow CD (album) cover

BLOW BY BLOW

Jeff Beck

 

Jazz Rock/Fusion

4.06 | 165 ratings

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Negoba
Prog Reviewer
3 stars Essential Guitar Nerd Music

Jeff Beck's Blow by Blow is an album that carries with it a lot mixed feeling for me. For one, it marks a big choice in my life, the one where I chose not to do music for my career. The singer of my band and I were planning to head to California to pursue serious music, and I backed out. He never forgave me for it and as a token of his appreciation took my copy of Blow by Blow with him to LA. He's a successful recording engineer now, I'm a hobbyist. Oh well.

This album is probably Beck's best work, which is a mixed compliment. Freeway Jam and Scatterbrain are among the highlight tracks of his career. There are many lessons to be learned by any guitarist on how to pull emotion out of the instrument (though David Gilmour and Andy Latimer are better in this regard. In fact, I think Latimer is pretty much everything Beck wishes he was but isn't). Beck's chops are strong, though his tone is big and annoyingly fuzzy much of the time. The music is mired in 70's cliché's from soft jazz to typical funk, and the soloing never really brings the music beyond the time period.

Of course 1975 was a time when jazz-rock jamming was probably at its peak, and this is one of the most rocking. It's a little directionless, but it's a fun ride. Drumming during this time period has a unique sound, complex but loose, some of the best of the entire rock era. This style is on full display on this album, courtesy of Richard Bailey. Similarly, Phil Chenn's bass is big toned and funky, Max Middleton's keys dextrous but tasty.

There are great jams here, but just not a lot of sense of tension and release. The main theme of Scatterbrain is absolutely essential listening for any rock guitarist. Historically, this influenced many many guitarists, including many of my heroes when I was learning the instrument. I was supposed to love this, and after dozens of listens, it just never moved me the way contemporary Tommy Bolin did. Blow by Blow is without a doubt part of the canon of a guitar nerd's library. But for me it never gets beyond the love of the instrument to true communication, never out of the head and into the soul. Good but non-essential.

Negoba | 3/5 |

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