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Jeff Beck - There & Back CD (album) cover


Jeff Beck

Jazz Rock/Fusion

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erik neuteboom
3 stars When I played my Jeff Beck LP's Wired and There And Back yesterday evening I was a bit disappointed about this album. I hadn't heard it for many years and I still had the idea from the past that the quality was almost similar. The start of There And Back is excellent and very exciting with Star Cycle featuring spectacular sequencing by Jan Hammer, a powerful and propulsive rhythm-section with a catchy beat and distinctive Jeff Beck guitar work with fiery and biting runs. Halfway Jan Hammer delivers flashy synthesizer flights and we can enjoy some great duelling between Beck and Hammer. But then .... Too Much Too Lose with that disco-like pumping beat, horrible! Next the songs You Never Know (funky bass and catchy beat, halfway great interplay and finally heavy guitarplay in a very dynamic atmosphere) and the mellow The Pump (slow rhythm and howling electric guitar runs), another contrast by Jeff Beck, also to be found on the following compositions: dynamic in El Becko (sparkling piano intro, an exciting accellaration and excellent guitar work, from slide to heavy outbursts) and Spae Boogie (great drumming and biting guitar along delicate Fender Rhodes electric piano drops) and mellow in The Golden Road (slow synthesizer solo and fiery elctric guitar solo) and The Final Peace (soaring keyboards and sensitive electric guitar with subtle use of the tremolo-arm). A good album with lots of exciting and dynamic jazzrock but some tracks are not my cup of tea.

Report this review (#118632)
Posted Tuesday, April 17, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars Fusion & Roll! Jeff Beck blazes his way through this jam packed guitar album. Although Beck doesn`t write anything on the album he chose his collaborators wisely and the result is a very bright sounding Jeff Beck despite a 4 year absence from the studio with 8 solid tracks each containing everything from crisp melodic passages to raunchy in your face freakouts.

Re-alligned with old buddy Jan Hammer who is really the mastermind behind this work , There And Back which is definitely the most overlooked Jeff Beck album ironically spawned an FM hit in the form of the groovy El Becko. Moe Foster`s funked up bass keeps everything very rythmical throughout but it`s Simon Phillip`s ( then only 23 years old ), power drumming which really drives the album, particularily his lightning speed bass drum work on Space Boogie which is very reminicient of Billy Cobham`s fancy double bass drum footwork. Tony Hymas completes the guest list on this blowout who is featured on the more subdued pieces such as The Golden Road and Final Peace which contain passion drenched Les Paul wailing and weeping from Beck.

Although a group effort with outstanding musicians this is definitely a " go nuts Jeff " album with Beck shining on every track. A must have for fusion freaks and guitar heads.

Report this review (#121206)
Posted Monday, May 7, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars Some folks would say that Blow By Blow was Jeff's greatest acheivement, or maybe even Wired, but not me.

There And Back is where Beck was fully confident, and masterful, as he headed once again into the jazz-fusion realm. Jan Hammer is back, and these two virtuosos play off each other with dexterity and control. Jan must surely be the most creative forces from fusion's early days. He certainly got around anyway. The Pump is one of those long grinders that just keeps on chuggin' through to its satisfying conclusion.

Star Cycle!

Report this review (#124911)
Posted Wednesday, June 6, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars After recording and extensively touring the excellent "Wired" album Jeff Beck dropped off the face of the earth and more or less sequestered himself on his 70-acre estate outside London to devote his time to restoring his beloved classic cars. In fact, it was four very long years before he would emerge to make another LP but the wait turned out to be worth it. "There and Back" in many ways is even better than "Wired" and the extended vacation he took didn't seem to diminish his abilities in the least. This time around he got Ken Scott to co-produce and enlisted the help of a different crew of talented professionals to support him and provide new jazz rock/fusion material. Jan Hammer still has a substantial role here but he's not the dominant force that he was on previous projects.

"Star Cycle" starts with some swirling, cosmic synthesizers and Hammer, in his percussionist persona, combines real and electronic drums for the rhythm track. (Programmed drums were just starting to fascinate musicians about that time so it's not surprising that they were experimenting with them on this song.) Jeff slays you with a hellacious guitar solo to prove that his self-imposed sabbatical didn't cause him to lose a step. The catchy melody will roll around in your head for a while, too. Both virtuosos go at each other towards the end but I have to say that Jan's lively synthesizer playing, as good as it is, has difficulty keeping up with the blazing Beck here. Next Hammer contributes "Too Much to Lose," featuring another memorable melody line performed by Jeff over Jan's ethereal keyboards and surprisingly authentic bass lines. Simon Phillips supplies an irresistible groove as Beck launches into a slinky guitar ride overhead. It's a very cool tune but at 2:57 it's over before you know it.

The last of Hammer's participation is on his "You Never Know," a not-so-subtle disco dance song. His synthesizer lead is spectacular and Jeff soars at the end but overall the tune is way too busy and starts to get on your nerves long before it's over. I think it was time for Jan to move on and evidently so did Beck because, from here on out, Tony Hymas takes over from Hammer. Up next is the charismatic Hymas/Phillips number "The Pump" that always makes me visualize the shiny new silver Porsche slowly backing out of the garage in the movie "Risky Business" (and, therefore, the sexy Rebecca De Mornay but that's a whole 'nother subject. Yowza!). What a perfect song for the moment. The music is sleek, elegant and yet exudes tremendous kinetic power as Tony layers cavernous, deep keyboard elements to create space for Jeff to stretch out and do what he does better than most. Play guitar.

JB's backing band for the remainder of the album consists of Phillips, Hymas and bassist Mo Foster and they rival any group Beck has ever assembled. The Latin-flavored "El Becko" starts with a fantastic piano flourish from Tony and then they all fall into a hard rocking tempo where Jeff uses the slide to great effect. Hymas' tasteful piano work really adds an energized dimension to the sound and Beck's lead at the end is as fierce as a wild animal in pursuit of its prey. After that firestorm the slower "The Golden Road" is a welcome change of pace. Tony delivers a soulful lead break on the synthesizer before some great dynamics come along in the arrangement to keep things interesting. Jeff's emotional solo is breath-taking.

The turbocharged "Space Boogie" follows and it's a Katy bar the door barnburner as Simon Phillips does his best Billy Cobham imitation and pile drives this song from beginning to end. He's flat-out amazing on this cut. Hymas' piano ride is hot, hot, hot but Beck's guitar is literally smokin' like a chimney. When JB plays with this much passion and enthusiasm no one can touch him. He's in a league of his own. If you ever need a jumpstart to your day this is the tune to cue up. The album comes to a close with the fitting "The Final Peace" which is the most progressive song here. Tony sets a beautiful mood and atmosphere, allowing Jeff to display his amazing technique as he seems to caress the guitar neck, creating heavenly notes and inflections. There are no drums and no discernable melody as such, just a free-form composition rising out of two extraordinary musicians inspired by the power of music.

Sometimes when an artist's fans have to wait several years for new material the result can be disappointing but this is one album that isn't. JB marches to the beat of a different drum, that's for sure, but his prog guitar stylings have never been more striking than they are on this album. If not for the cluttered and overly noisy "You Never Know" this would be a 5-star masterpiece. As it is, it still rates very high on my pleasure scale. 4.4 stars.

Report this review (#126626)
Posted Saturday, June 23, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars The first three tracks are Jan Hammer works: 'Star Cycle' is basic Jan Hammer 80's pop/jazz/funk with some slightly interesting synth gimmicks and licks and Jeff does some nice (but brief) call and response stuff with Jan. It used to be the theme song for Jools Holland's TV show 'The Tube', and it also got used as the theme to a lot of local US sports shows, and for me, that does give this song a slight air of commercial lameness. But still, out of the three Hammer tracks, it's the best one. 'Too Much To Lose' is pretty much musical wallpaper - very unobtrusive, slightly disco at times. Jeff's lines are tasteful, but somewhat unsatisfying. 'You Never Know' is the weakest of the three Hammer compositions, a clumsy attempt at Stevie Wonder funk that unfortunately slips into disco, although there is a recurring bridge that tries to rock it up, but never really lifts off.

Exit Jan Hammer, enter Tony Hymas - and things start sounding a lot better from here on out, first with the side one closer 'The Pump', a very interesting mid-tempo showcase for Beck's bluesy leads while Hymas lays down some beguiling jazz chords behind him. Side two opens with my favorite track - 'El Becko'. Tony Hymas plays a lightning fast piano run that's very flashy and extremely fun to listen to - then comes a peppering of jazzy synth chords and Beck spits out a fiery passage before proceeding onto the bulk of the track which is a really pleasing rock and roll workout - Simon Phillips in particular turns in a fine performance on the drums on this track. It almost comes off, dare I say, like a heavier early-80's Genesis with a dash of Brand X thrown in for good measure.

'The Golden Road' is very laid back, very 80's lite jazz, which manages to work itself up a little sweat at times but always slides smoothly back to it's Steely Dan-ish main theme. Real nice solo from Beck near the end and excellent work from Hymas throughout. The tempo picks back up one last time for 'Space Boogie' which has some spirited drum work from Phillips (who really saves a couple of sections in this track from becoming boring), but it spends a little too much time bogged down in single-chord jamming, but again it's Tony Hymas who impresses - all of his piano work is delightful throughout the track and he clearly outshines Beck.

The album closes with the touching The Final Peace. This is the track where Beck truly shines - it's also the only track where Beck gets a compositional credit. Basically a duet between Beck's seemingly limitless guitar textures and Hymas's ethereal synthesized tones, it's beautiful but should have been fleshed out lengthwise.

I've always meant to investigate more of what Tony Hymas has done, but just have never gotten around to it because it looked like bad pop music, but every time I listen to this album I'm just blown away by his keyboard skills - and that's saying something on an album where the other keyboard player is Jan Hammer! But, of course, this was Hammer at the point in his career when he had drifted away from virtuosity and moved decidedly toward trying to shift units of merchandise, so it's always easier to steal the spotlight away from a man when he's down (artistically speaking - not sure how much Hammer cared considering Miami Vice was just around the corner - ugh). Overall, 'There And Back' is a completely uneven album, almost literally uneven - side one is practically useless except for the last track (which just isn't brilliant enough to salvage the whole side), side two is solid the whole way through with several moments of brilliance (but is ultimately flawed by missing an opportunity to raise the bar here and there). One thing that can be said is that Jeff Beck is very generous to the other players, and I admire that he lets Hymas steal the show as much as he does - so much so that this really is a keyboard dominated album, and the difference in quality between Jan Hammer's tracks and the ones featuring Tony Hymas is staggering. Hymas simply wipes the floor with Jan.

Report this review (#178155)
Posted Friday, July 25, 2008 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
2 stars A brief dissent

Back in the day, debating the merits of the "big 3" guitarists was always one of the many heavy issues discussed at keggers. The drinkers preferred Clapton for his simple, laid back approach and easy to approach songs. The stoners said Jimmy ruled, because, well, Zepp' And the anal guys who worked in music stores, fancied themselves guitar "teachers," and never had much fun knew that Jeff Beck was God and the other two were hacks. I've never been able to understand the appeal of Jeff Beck as an artist myself despite his technical prowess. As with the other albums I've heard over the years "There and Back" is such a chore for me to get through. I always feel like I'm listening to flash for the sake of it, or some practicing musician showing off rather than producing truly memorable songs that would create a special album. On this album it is pasted over what is for me some pretty dry, mostly boring, period synth-heavy fusion. To look to the positive the last two tracks have some redeeming qualities. "Space Boogie" does shake free of the canned sound and get into a more naturally jammy place. And I can't deny there are some truly gorgeous leads over the melancholy "The Final Peace" that I found pretty touching. Obviously there is much talent on display here and I realize I'll be a lonely voice going thumbs down on this critical darling. I can occasionally be impressed by Beck's technical finesse but I am rarely moved by his music. Beck is a great guitarist, but is he a great artist who makes fantastic albums? I'm not so sure. While most fans won't bail on Beck until "Flash" I did find a few critics willing to. In 1980 David Fricke wrote that the Hammer compositions are " formulaic, terminally predictable exercises in cosmic Mahavishnu-style virtuosity, lazy MOR fodder or neo-Funk-adelic jive. Throughout most of side one, Beck practically has to fight Hammer's solo-mad ego for playing room..the Hymas-Phillips songs are as skeletal as Hammer's are overbearing.. a disappointingly static record from a consummate riffer whose specialty was always leading the pack. These days, Jeff Beck seems content to be a spectator, watching the parade go by." Wilson and Alroy add that Beck sounds "like a dispassionate studio player guesting on his own record." My opinion is that despite some nice moments, this one is for the fans of Jeff Beck and I couldn't recommend it any wider. 5/10

Report this review (#180396)
Posted Wednesday, August 20, 2008 | Review Permalink
Sean Trane
Prog Folk
3 stars 3.5 starsreally!!!

Last worthy Beck album before the atrocious 80's and the really ugly Flash, TAB is still much in the line of the previous JR/F albums of his preceding albums. Among the musicians here, we find one of the last noticeable appearances of Ainsley Dunbar, after his quitting the Journey upon musical difference, but also cultural ones (being the only UK member and his antics not pleasing Steve "Arse" Perry)

Star Cycle is a typical start to a late 70's Beck album with the usual Jan Hammer-type of keyboard intervention and somehow, you can almost hear the Miami Vice theme that Hammer will make a fortune on much later in the decade. While Too Much To Lose would be more at ease on the BBB album, the following You Never Know has a Stevie Wonder-funk-type of rhythm and some rather limit-pleasant soloing. The following (and closing side A) The Pump is a very pedestrian affair (beat-wise anyway) where Jeff soars easily to the skies, brushing up the clouds.

El Becko is probably the album's best known track, not only because of its superb, but because it was the one with the hardest riff around, adding a bit of beef to an album needing it. Indeed with the following Golden Road, there is a total lack of energy and is way too lame to belong here: it's probably a remnant of the BBB era that Sir George Martin forgot to put on his atrocious arrangements on, but GR ends better than it started. Finishing the album with a Space Boogie, that was obviously meant as a wink to his Freeway Jam, the album ends on the slow spacey Final Peace, where Jeff pretty well improvises over quiet keyboards space layers.

Well TAB is the lest of Beck's classic album, the last also to feature the usual JR/F he had gotten us used to, but the succession of tracks proposed here sounds a little too repetitive

Report this review (#183379)
Posted Wednesday, September 24, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars I owned a cassette copy of this album and I literally played it so much that I wore the tape out. I was starting to get into instrumental music at the time and this record filled the bill. At the time, this music sounded pretty spacy in some places and it was definitely original. Also, Mr. Beck was playing some cool guitar. I like the way he and Jan Hammer responded to each other.

I think my favorite on "There and Back" is "The Final Peace." It is very moody and mysterious. It is such an unusual tune that is extremely different than the rest of the recording. It sounds so beautiful!

Another favorite is "Too Much To Lose." Jeff does some nice easy to follow guitar parts. It is very good.

"The Pump is a kicker to be sure. It was a cool way to end side one.

I can't find any bad tunes that I didn't enjoy on this. Other than "The Golden Road" being a little long, I really enjoyed the whole project to no end. There isn't much as far as any prog going on here, but this is definitely good listening. I give it 4 stars.

Report this review (#278726)
Posted Tuesday, April 20, 2010 | Review Permalink
Magnum Vaeltaja
Eclectic Prog Team
3 stars The third and final of Jeff Beck's solo fusion albums, "There And Back" is probably the bronze winner of the three. After "Wired", the material on this album seems a little formulaic. It opens with "Star Cycle", a funky, Jan Hammer- led fusion song (think "Led Boots") which is not bad in itself - it's quite good, actually - it's just not new enough to be stellar. The next two songs follow in the same footsteps, mellower fusion tracks with simple melodies that are good vehicles for jamming. Good, and especially the guitars - Beck is in fine form through the whole album - but not masterpieces. Side one ends with one of my favourites from the album, "The Pump". A slower, more ballad-like song that focuses more on the guitar is an excellent platform for Beck to deliver an emotional fastball; his playing is very atmospheric and quite beautiful. Definitely a top-notch accessible fusion number.

As with "Wired", side two opens with an uptempo rock-oriented track. "El Becko" is more cut-and-dry rock and roll than "Blue Wind" was on the last album but it's still a strong track with plenty of interplay between guitar and piano. "The Golden Road" drags along at a near-comatose pace before the next spectacular track picks up the pace again. "Space Boogie" is a marvelous virtuoso performance especially in the rhythm section. Written in 7/8 at breakneck speeds, it's mildly reminiscent of "Scatterbrain" from "Blow By Blow" but it's still fresh and original and makes for one great song before the album draws to a close in "Wired" fashion with the sparse, spacey "The Final Peace".

A three star rating is fair for this album; Jeff Beck fans will likely gain a lot more from it but that should be expected. For anyone who isn't a devout follower they'll hear some pleasant jazz fusion and a couple of high quality but not necessarily memorable moments.

Report this review (#1456589)
Posted Wednesday, August 26, 2015 | Review Permalink

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