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Jeff Beck - Loud Hailer CD (album) cover


Jeff Beck

Jazz Rock/Fusion

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4 stars The fury and grace of the restless underGod!

Jeff Beck is back and as always his experimental, don´t give a damn!, daring spirit is attached. Good news for those who enjoyed my favorite "You Had It Coming", 2001, and the inexplicably undervalued "Emotion & Commotion", 2010 his previous studio release. Bad news for those who are still expecting Jeff Beck to fit his Rock/Jazz/Fusion PA´s address, again.

So, as I was mentioning, his "electronic" electric guitar songwriting+performace taints most of the atmosphere of "Loud Hailer", 2016.

"The Revolution Will Be Televised", track one. A heavy bassed and femenine electronic guitar blues counterpointed by intelligent and a black to the bone female distorted voice and lyrics. 4.5 stars

"Live in the Dark". Track 2, a Jeff Beck's contemporary Heavy Rock song, amazing in virtuosity, but kept straight in line, even to simplicity, if you wish. (Of course Jeff Beck's simplicity is not simple, but that only matters to actual guitar players.) 4 stars.

"Pull It", gets even heavier. No vocals, the kind of "say yes to excess", that always works wonders for such an adventurous fellow. Short and efficient. 4 stars.

"Thugs Club" track 4, gets down and dirty with Jeff Beck's famous heavy bassed/drummed boogie like, street wise stomps and his unique unpsychedelic-into space incursions. An intelligent and political focused lyric becomes the best excuse for Jeff to make his personal "bare to the bone", explosive guitar statements of the topic in hand. 4.5 stars.

Track 5 dims the lights down to a slow paced/romantic Roger Waters' like composition, "Scared for the Children". In fact the kind that happened when he played alongside the Pink's main man, nice, not unique, but nicely achieved. 3.5 stars.

"Right Now". A well written set of "protest-song" like lyrics triggers the nastiness back. Unapolagetic and daring, again, his "electronic" electric guitar, high rising Rock, deep bottom Blues shines on. 4 stars.

For those acquainted with Jeff Beck's track structuring, there are always his formidable, dream like instrumental pieces, "Shame" (4 stars) is a kind of short composition in that vein, but actually it serves as the opener for "Edna", track 8.

"Edna", is the kind of track which covers the more than well established protocols of Heavy Prog/Rock, Jeff Beck's way of course, with an epic riff which reminds me of the also extraordinary and underrated and long gone Gary Moore. 4.5 stars.

"The Ballad of the Jersey Wives", track 9. Even I, an avid follower of Beck and Hendrix, could never bare Funk in any of its forms but some Bryan Ferry's or David Bowie's or Talking Heads' or even Fripp´s kind of ones and some not all. Besides those exceptions, Funk and I do not match. 3 stars (because of the show stopper solo in the past middle of the song, not because I am trying to be impartial).

"O.I.L." is a lyric/melody wise like blend which sounds like a cross between Knopfler/Dylan/Waters + Beck, in an uplifting hymn like Rock prayer. Beautiful, not exactly unique, but performance will make up for your time. 3.9 stars.

"Shrine" closes this release while bringing back some years in time. What to say, Prog was not even born yet and less as we now know it now. Phil Spector made big fame and money reuniting exquisite black female voices in the then named girl groups. To cut it short if you ever heard and listened to "The Ronettes" and felt caught by their unorthodox harmonics, as I did, you are in for a memorable, true to the bone and heartfelt contemporary rendition of those girl-groups years. If not, a good chance to check out Phil Spector's super famous "wall of sound". 4 stars.

Summing it up by numbers >

****4, (almost everything but Jazz/Fusion), PA stars.

Report this review (#1588987)
Posted Tuesday, July 19, 2016 | Review Permalink
4 stars Jeff Beck is back, and boy is he pissed...

After the mushy orchestral sentiment of "Emotion & Commotion" (2010), the ace guitarist honed his axe and hired new talent to record an old-fashioned protest album, channeling the spirit of the '60s but charged with state-of-the-art indignation.

The new album couldn't have come at a better time. In the wake of troubling current events, including (on this side of the pond) an election cycle where the erstwhile conservative half of the ruling class nominated an idiot to preside over the asylum, there's plenty to gripe about. Public apathy ("The Revolution Will Be Televised"); corporate greed ("Thugs Club"); petroleum dependence ("O.I.L. Can't Get Enough of that Sticky"); and Gen-X tunnel vision ("Right Now") are only the visible tips of a very large, very sharp iceberg.

It might have sounded awkward hearing a well-heeled septuagenarian complain about social injustice, so Beck adopted a Chicks Up Front policy for this session: Revolution jargon for putting a fresher, more attractive face on the barricades. Responsibility for most of the songwriting (besides two very brief instrumentals) and all the album artwork was ceded to the Bones duo: singer Rosie Bones and rhythm guitarist Carmen Vandenberg, two streetwise London ragamuffins with attitude to spare.

Younger (female) blood has always exerted a galvanizing effect on the senior guitar statesman. Think of his sponsorship of bass player Tai Wilkenfeld, or the emotive vocalists on his recent albums: Imogen Heap, Imelda May, Joss Stone et al. Surprisingly, Beck is almost a guest player in his own quartet here, but don't worry: it's still his name on the front cover, and his lead guitar remains the dominant instrument, incendiary and soulful as always.

The album's name is certainly appropriate. But the loudness isn't only in the music or the message: the studio production itself, like anchorman Howard Beale, is "mad as hell and not going to take this anymore!" Blinding trebles, distorted percussion, a compressed low end...all the usual sins of modern recording are accounted for, with every knob on the mixing desk cranked to eleven.

Maybe the aesthetic was a crutch for an aging Rock 'n' Roll hero, rebelling against his advancing years more than the status quo. You can hide a lot of wrinkles with a little cosmetic noise, and the loudness identified in the title was slathered like lipstick over music already streaked with war paint.

Whether it represents a late-life crisis or genuine political disenchantment is a moot point. Given such a deliberate career pace ("Loud Hailer" is only his second studio album in thirteen years), it's entirely possible this may be some of the last original music we'll have the privilege of hearing from Jeff Beck. In which case I'd rather see him make his exit with an angry bang, instead of a geriatric whimper.

Report this review (#1595429)
Posted Saturday, August 6, 2016 | Review Permalink
siLLy puPPy
PSIKE, JRF/Canterbury, P Metal, Eclectic
3 stars After releasing the electronica-based blues albums i affectionately refer to as the "Techno Blue Trilogy," JEFF BECK seemed to have lost interest in releasing albums and engaged in all sorts of other activities whether touring or collaborating with others, BECK was clearly not too interested in cranking out the next studio album. It was six years between 2003's "Jeff" and 2010's "Emotion & Commotion" and likewise it would be another six years before LOUD HAILER would see the light of day. BECK wasn't just sitting on a beach somewhere getting a tan of course. During the six years he worked with Herbie Hancock, Seal, India.Aire, Konono No. 1, Oumou Sangare and set out on a world tour. He also received two honorary degrees from British universities and then worked with Brian Wilson of Beach Boys fame. And then again there was more touring!

As expected LOUD HAILER took BECK into yet more new territories as his incessant sense of exploration never ceased despite reaching the ripe old age of 72 at the time of release. After several releases with a whole army of contributors, LOUD HAILER was a more stripped down affair that featured the sleek lineup of BECK along with Davide Sollazzi on drums and Giovanni Pollotti on bass. What really makes this album distinct is the inclusion of BONES UK electropop guitarist Carmen Vandenberg on board along with the riot grrrl vocal charm of Rosie Bones. Riot grrrl is an underground feminist punk rock movement that emerged in the 1990s often performed by all-female groups. While "Emotion & Commotion" was a dreamy flight into an orchestrated ambience, LOUD HAILER is a more direct in your face experience with biting political lyricism and a punkish directness absent from BECK's vocal oriented albums.

In many ways LOUD HAILER is the logical conclusion of the electronica meets the blues style. Although the big beats and techno wizardry are absent (for the most part), BECK's hard rockin' bluesy guitar playing is perfectly accented on this one by just enough electronic backdrops to make it the perfect chimeric conclusion although the primary emphasis sits squarely on BECK's classic blues rock sound. Sounding something like Alanis Morissette meets The Jeff Beck Group, LOUD HAILER is a unique tour de force that tapped into some of the 21st century's musical developments while keeping the business as usual aspect to BECK's playing firmly in the game. The dynamics of this one are interesting as the album features the equal creative input of BECK, Vandenberg and Bones. It's not surprising therefore that this album has a feminine charm absent from BECK's other albums despite his inclusion of women in his previous lineups.

Like many of BECK's later albums, LOUD HAILER is a mixed bag. Some tracks like the feisty opening "The Revolution Will Be Televised" and "Live In The Dark" perfectly embody this unlikely collaboration of female electro-punkers with BECK's traditional blues guitar roots. And then there are clunky duds like the funk-glazed "O.I.L. (Can't Get Enough of That Sticky)" which sounds like a joke in the context of the album. Also the closing "Shrine" drifts off into some sort of country rock. Like many such collaborations that BECK has initiated, the album doesn't gel together as a cohesive unit with various tracks just seeming out of place even if they aren't inherently horrible in their own right. "Pull It" is the perfect example as it harkens back to the techno blues days and would sound more at home on "Who Else!" although offering a stellar blues rock performance.

While BECK's explorations are commendable as are his generosity in exposing the world to newer young talent, i can't say that the execution of some of the later albums was pulled off as well as could be hoped for. In summary LOUD HAILER is a noble effort filled with some fascinating feisty bluesy rockers but the consistency of the album throughout is lacking. Not a bad album by any means but seems to have found the quality control record execs asleep at the wheel. Worth the time for the excellent tracks on board but inconsistent. Sadly this would be the last album released as an exclusive JEFF BECK album before his passing in January 2023.

Report this review (#2877164)
Posted Saturday, January 21, 2023 | Review Permalink

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