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Jeff Beck - Emotion & Commotion CD (album) cover


Jeff Beck

Jazz Rock/Fusion

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3 stars Jeff Beck never does what you would expect, in interviews in 2009 he was suggesting a power trio type album having toured with perhaps his best ever band in Tal Wilkenfeld, Aussie female bass prodigy, Vinnie Coliauta the powerhouse jazz-rock drummer and Brit jazz keyboard ace Jason Rebello.

Instead we get an eclectic quite restrained album with few guitar histrionics. The album is wonderfully played (and produced by Tevor Horn and Steve Lipson).

Track by track:

Corpus Christi Carol: A short rendition owing lot's to the Jeff Buckley version, a perfect example of Beck's ability to make the guitar "sing".

Hammerhead: A wah-wah drenched riff, one of the only tracks where Beck let's rip. Lacks the invention of his 70's tracks, very one dimensional riff although it sounds fab.

Never Alone - Sublime track with inspired playing, for me the best track on the album, gorgeous melody, no one gets close to El Becko on this form.

Somewhere Over The Rainbow: Lovely playing on the old (too familiar?) standard but I'm not a fan of the track, Beck taking a bit of an easy option here.

I Put A Spell On You: Joss Stone sings well, sounds like Beck guesting on someone elses album, great solo, not enough of Beck on the track for me.

Serene: Another original and another highlight of the album. An atmosheric melody, very much a mood piece, again the originals here outshine the covers. JB sounds more inspired and obviously has a greater sense of freedom to play.

Lilac Wine: Imelda May does a good job on this one (obviously Grace by Jeff Buckley is a fave album of Beck's) but can't get near the Buckley original. Again sounds like Beck guesting rather than dominating the proceedings.

Nessun Dorma: Backed by a rather muted orchestra JB plays beautfully but the track is so familiar it begins to sound like muzak, shame.

Report this review (#277381)
Posted Sunday, April 11, 2010 | Review Permalink
3 stars I was so glad to hear that Jeff was putting a studio album out and frankly, couldn't wait to hear it. Well it was just released here in The States on Tuesday and I was there to scap it up.

First off let me say, if you are expecting anything in the form of tear it up shred, you will be dissappointed. This is not along those lines. If you are expecting anything in the vein of what he played on the Live at Ronnie Scotts disc 2 years ago, you may be dissappointed. This is not quite along those lines either.

But, what it is, is a fine collection of some traditional folk, swinging rock and beautiful felt and interpreted music offerring the listener a very enjoyable experience from a virtuoso guitarist.

Approach the music understanding that Jeff is a master of his instrument. Approach the music with the understanding that Jeff can make the guitar sing and croon. Approach the music that Jeff has an acute understanding of pitch bending and vibrato and uses it beautifully to tell a story. Approach the music understanding that Jeff Beck is a virtuoso player in any music and you will experience the man and the musician. You will experience all of his passion, fire and sometimes, nonchalant flippant comments all, in a very unique way.

Emotion & Commotion...I am neither blown away with amazement, nor dissillusioned to contempt. I am merely pleasantly satisfied to hear the man's expression on the guitar to make me think...'Yeah...Jeff Beck!'

Report this review (#278017)
Posted Thursday, April 15, 2010 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Seven years after his last studio release Jeff Beck returned with Emotion and Commotion. He never was too experimental or very unpredictable guitar player, but from the other hands he almost always plays very competent music.

New album is just a mature report from everything he tried during his long musical career. Nothing unusual or too much new, but great collection of blues-rock, pop-jazz, standards and great instrumental rock compositions.

As always, Jeff plays great guitar, usually more electric rock, than electric jazz. Songs are catchy and timeless - nothing is too modern, but nothing sounds too dated as well. Four songs contain three different guest vocalists (including Joss Stone), and album sounds as in old gold times - each song is different, has it's melody and not too complex, but nice musicianship.

Hardly very progressive, this album is really pleasant listening. Its main value is a possibility to listen legendary musician still in great form. No too many much younger guys are able to record such well balanced and non-boring work. Viva Jeff!

Strong 3!

Report this review (#278685)
Posted Tuesday, April 20, 2010 | Review Permalink
Marty McFly
Errors and Omissions Team
3 stars OK, so my big trial. I expected this album for some time and when it was out, I was disappointed when I heard it. Let's revisit it now, some time has passed and we're smarter now.

Unfortunately, this album isn't progressive nor something that I like, so this doesn't make good conditions for generous review.

Of course, I haven't heard all Jeff Beck's stuff, only the oldest albums. If this is something like journey through styles, genres and influences Jeff touched through his career, then of course, I know just part of it.

Atmospheric intro Corpus Christi Carol, then two Beck smashing emotional songs Hammerhead & Never Alone. Somewhere in the Rain reminds again these emotional songs with just strings and soft guitar. You can easily imagine nostalgic dream about era 70 years ago, in 1939. So powerful are his guitar skills.

Jeff Beck reportedly stated something like that he wants the listener to forget that he is playing guitar, that the one who enjoys his music will just feel the music. Not sure if I remember it correctly though, but I like it.

However with I Put a Spell On You is something terrible. Maybe nice song for some, but I hate this kind of vocals, I can't barely stand it and I wasn't expecting it here. But who knows, maybe some people will like it.

3(+), this track isn't bad. Normally I would like it a lot and give higher rating, but some tracks simply brings it down for me. Other are quite enjoyable, but not much more.

Report this review (#281099)
Posted Sunday, May 9, 2010 | Review Permalink
RIO/Avant/Zeuhl,Neo & Post/Math Teams
2 stars Sorry to say, but I didn't like it at the first try. The start is not too bad: mellow guitar, soft melodies, not properly progressive but bluesy enough to be enjoyable. The arrangement of Somewhere Over the Rainbow doesn't add anything to the original. I think nobody was hoping to hear another version. This album becomes terrible when Joss Stone sings. I liked her pop- blues debut, but she doesn't seem to be the best choice for this kind of music. This album touches itl lowest level with "Nessun dorma". The famous Puccini's piece has to be sung by a tenor, not by a guitar. This arrangement can't satisfy neither a prog, neither a Puccini fan. More or less the same success that Waters achieved with Ca Ira. The last 4 tracks contain some good guitar moments, but you can find the same kind of passages on millions of other discs, including new age ones.

It's my personal opinion only, but I think this is just for hard Beck's fans.

Report this review (#281917)
Posted Friday, May 14, 2010 | Review Permalink
3 stars A new album from Jeff Beck is always welcome...but I always am a bit wary. A guitarist of supreme skills, he seemingly always comes up just a bit short of a classic. So how's the new album?

Nothing's changed. When it's good, it's very very good. When it's not, it's mediocre.

We can conveniently sort the album into three categories: the all-out guitar-fests, the ambient soundscapes, and the rest, which are basically the vocal tracks.

The album begins with a soundscape, Corpus Christi Carol. The guitar playing is of course impeccable, but could be so much more. The other 'scapes, and I count Somewhere Over the Rainbow amongst them, also suffer from a sort of laziness on the part of Jeff. Nessun Dorma is perhaps the best of these, almost anthemic in its beauty, with Jeff bending/extending notes beyond what is normally allowed.

First guitar-fest is Hammerhead, which hearkens back to the Blow By Blow days. Starting with an old- school wha-wha lesson, the song evolves into a rock/fusion slugfest. We get piledriving bass and drums, over which Jeff just wails. Right here, this is the reason I buy Jeff's hear one of the great guitarists of my time just cut loose and make his unique noise. The growls, the effortless blues licks, the guitar tricks that sound like they don't even belong in a song...they're all here. Never Alone, though at a slower pace, reeks of the same sort of skill. Same with Serene, which from an ambient beginning morphs into a nice little shuffle infused with the usual guitar magic.

So much for the good. The vocal tracks suffer from overwrought singing. I don't think I've ever heard a worse version of I Put A Spell On You. It's redeemed somewhat by Jeff's blues licks, but Joss Stone needs a chill pill. Imelda May, on Lilac Wine, fares a bit better. So...these don't do much for me. They are pleasant enough, I suppose even good if one considers the competition, but wasn't it Jeff that recorded a version of Love is Blue? Same stuff, different decade.

Rod Stewart has been releasing the Great American Songbook now for a few years. Wouldn't it be nice if Jeff joined him, and they just kicked ass, like back in the Truth days? Maybe record a definitive version of All of Me? In the meantime, Emotion & Commotions is all we've got.

Report this review (#283892)
Posted Friday, May 28, 2010 | Review Permalink
2 stars It probably isn't entirely true that all aging rock 'n' rollers sooner or later feel the need to bolster their credentials by recording alongside a symphony orchestra. Maybe Jeff Beck genuinely believed it might be a worthwhile experiment, and a welcome change of musical pace after three albums of galvanized high-tech electronica.

But this is one guitarist already able to outperform a full orchestra using only his unaccompanied fretboard. Adding classical strings and woodwinds into the mix only undermines the emotive power of his own instrument.

Consider his choice of material for this long-awaited album, seven years in the making since his previous studio effort. Beck (co-) authored only two of the numbers here; another pair belong to Jason Rebello, his keyboard player / programmer (with emphasis on the latter), and the rest is an eclectic grab bag of ill-matched covers and standards, from Giacomo Puccini to Screamin' Jay Hawkins.

The first few tracks show lots of promise, beginning with a subtle, sensitive "Corpus Christi Carol" (by Benjamin Britton). The lyrical minimalism of Beck's guitar and the spare orchestration work fine as an album opener, especially when leading into the more aggressive "Hammerhead": pure electric Beck, and easily the strongest piece of music here. A relaxing interlude is provided by the easygoing "Never Alone" (a Rebello original), but the pacing of the album is then killed by the real oddball of the bunch: a more or less faithful adaptation of "Over the Rainbow" (yes, from "The Wizard of Oz").

The song can almost be shrugged it off as a throwaway novelty, designed to highlight the melodic appeal of Beck's guitar as it apes the cadence of Judy Garland's voice. But we already knew how well Jeff Beck can make his guitar sing (and scream, and sob, and so forth and so on). The syrupy string arrangement (here, and elsewhere) doesn't exactly bring the song to life, and the balance of the album never really recovers from the sudden letdown.

The pleasant but negligible "Serene" (along with "Hammerhead", the only track co-written by Beck) is an indifferent instrumental with a dance beat tame enough for Bryan Ferry. The easy-listening Vegas lounge act vibe of "Lilac Wine" (sung by Imelda May) goes in one ear and promptly out the other, with only a token contribution from Beck himself. And the maudlin orchestrations reach a sentimental nadir in the Puccini aria "Nessun Dorma", from the opera "Turandot" (in case you were wondering) and, as another reviewer noted, conspicuously missing a genuine tenor.

Elsewhere Joss Stone's otherwise soulful vocals are allowed to dip into overwrought posturing, in "I Put a Spell On You" and throughout the awkwardly titled Rebello tune "There's No Other Me". Both songs feature some tasty Beck riffing, and the latter track actually manages to generate a little heat before shamefully fading out, in mid-stride, right at the start of a ferocious and long-overdue guitar solo(!)

This all may sound like unfairly harsh criticism, and pointless for an album already numbered among the guitarist's most commercially successful. But maybe that same success was bought at the cost of the his typically razor-sharp, cutting-edge craftsmanship. Sanding down the more irregular corners of Beck's music no doubt helped make it appealing to a wider spectrum of listeners, but it also robbed the album of any sense of the commotion promised in its title. And I'm sure I'm not the first fan to arrive at that unhappy conclusion, even after trying for several months and over repeated plays to find a reason to recommend it.

Report this review (#290357)
Posted Wednesday, July 14, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars 4 stars for prog, 5 stars in general music....

After reading some relatively negative reviews by my fellow proggers regarding Mr Jeff Beck's (award winning) latest CD, I feel obligated to chime in and add my humble opinion into the mix. In the final analysis, I really think that it comes down to personal taste...what one person thinks is good music is completely different from what another might great revelation, I know. But musical beauty is in the ear of the beholder, so to speak. To talk about his CD in terms of a guitar shredder is missing the point. That is not who Jeff Beck was or is. Emotion and Commotion is a marvelous example of what good music should contain. Great songwriting, wonderful arrangements with orchestration, and the never boring and totally original guitar playing you would expect from such an eclectic master. Being a long time fan of his (can you tell?!), there's nothing he's done that I don't like. But I would gladly welcome another album in the same vein. It's also nice to see that a musician of his caliber is getting the recognition he deserves...his star seems to be rising in the general public's collective eye...more and more folks are being introduced to his music, and I say it's about time!!

I'm not going to waste your time doing a track by track synopsis...what's the point? All I can say is there isn't a weak link on the album, and if you love great music in any genre, do yourself a favor and buy it. ...'nuff said.

Report this review (#407148)
Posted Thursday, February 24, 2011 | Review Permalink
Conor Fynes
4 stars 'Emotion & Commotion' - Jeff Beck (7/10)

Seven years after his last album 'Jeff', legendary guitarist Jeff Beck decides to make an album covering well-known songs. While the lack of original material may be of some disappointment to anyone that was waiting for Beck to release something new and fresh, there's no mistake that with 'Emotion & Commotion', this is a collection of tracks the man really makes his own, through clever arrangement and soulful guitar playing. As a relative newcomer to the music of this man, it seems odd that my first earnest introduction to the music of this legend would be through him playing the compositions of others, but everything aside, the album makes for a very pleasant listen, even if it may have been nice to hear some new penned material from him.

With a 64 piece orchestra at his disposal and a host of guest musicians, it is clear that this isn't simply a way to churn out some basic covers and appease his starved fanbase, but rather a work of its own merit. The choice of songs Jeff Beck has chosen to play here are incredibly diverse in nature, ranging from the romantic classical staple 'Nessun Dorma' to the soulful number 'I Put A Spell On You'. All of these tracks are bound by Beck's distinctive style of playing, which is easily the best thing about the album. Even playing someone else's music, Beck puts his own spin on it, and he is one of the few guitarists I've ever heard that puts feeling and intention into each note he plays. Nothing here showcases his technical ability, but rather his ability to shape each slower note into beautifully meticulous sounds.

On top of Jeff Beck's perfect guitar work here, there are great arrangements for each song. Of special note is the symphonic element here; which never feels really fulfilled, but adds a nice dimension to the music. The vocal work here on a few songs is decent enough, but Joss Stone and Imelda May's contributions only really feel like those of generic female jazz vocalists. Of the tracks here, the most beautiful here is 'Nessun Dorma', which takes the orchestra to its peak on the album, and features Jeff Beck at his peak of emotional delivery.

There is some really beautiful stuff here, and although its still only a covers album, it's one of the best I've ever heard.

Report this review (#423655)
Posted Sunday, March 27, 2011 | Review Permalink

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