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Jeff Beck

Jazz Rock/Fusion

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Jeff Beck Jeff Beck With The Jan Hammer Group: Live album cover
3.42 | 65 ratings | 7 reviews | 20% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

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Live, released in 1977

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Freeway Jam
2. Earth (Still Our Only Home)
3. She's A Woman
4. Full Moon Boogie
5. Darkness /Earth In Search Of A Sun
6. Scatterbrain
7. Blue Wind

Total time 44:30

Line-up / Musicians

- Jeff Beck / guitars
- Jan Hammer / synths, keyboards
- Steve Kindler / violin
- Tony Smith / drums, vocals
- Fernando Saunders / bass

Releases information

LP Epic Records EK 34433 (1977, US)

CD Epic Records CD34433 (199?)

Thanks to Garion81 for the addition
and to NotAProghead for the last updates
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JEFF BECK Jeff Beck With The Jan Hammer Group: Live ratings distribution

(65 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(20%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(46%)
Good, but non-essential (28%)
Collectors/fans only (5%)
Poor. Only for completionists (2%)

JEFF BECK Jeff Beck With The Jan Hammer Group: Live reviews

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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Atavachron
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars When you wanted to hear a one-of-a-kind player at his peak with the best of his fusion ensembles doing the cream of his mid-70s output, this LP was great to have on hand. Jeff Beck never disappoints in concert, he was made to perform and to pull magic from his trusty weapon of choice, and this lively set shows that off. It's a shame more performance material was not produced by Mr. Beck and that such an inspired craftsman would have so little live documentation.

This features material from his classic "fusion" period in equal portions from the records Blow By Blow and Wired, with 'Scatterbrain', 'Blue Wind', and jazz-fusion favorite 'Freeway Jam' (wherein Beck and Hammer mimic and exchange the sounds of cars in traffic), as well as classics like 'She's a Woman'. All in all a very nice little taste of this heavy bluesman who played with jazzrock more than he actually played it, getting some of the best studio men behind him and knocking out the pyrotechnic candy over clever jazz-like stylings. Though not a classic, worth looking into if his studio records leave you drowsy. Both albums mentioned above as well as There and Back from 1980 are more progressive, but Jeff Beck plays the blues, man, and don't forget it.

Review by Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Another gem of the 70s which also colored my teenage years! By the time I was not aware of what so called as fusion music and this album taught me that. I still remember vividly how I adore "Freeway Jam" and "Full Moon Boogie". Taste-wise, I was more liking the BBA Live in Japan album than this one. But, the inclusion of Jan Hammer into Jeff Beck's musical spectrum broadened my horizon on how appreciating the merge of classic rock with jazz music into fusion jazz rock kind of music. Talking about the quality or musicianship of the virtuoso, I would say that Jeff Beck and Jan Hammer fit well into music as showcased by this album. Oh yes, this is live music but it's very clear how the two gentlemen meld together in quite excellent chemistry, musically. In a way, the style of guitar playing by Beck and the style of keyboard playing by Hammer permeate well into the stream of music produced. Say, take an example of "Freeway Jam", one might observe the textures of guitar work by Beck were augmented nicely by pulsating keyboard work by Jan Hammer.

The value of having this CD is not merely the quality of music it produces, but It's also on the historical value (especially if you were there during the glory days of rock music). I just got this CD less than a year ago for the sake of completing the collection of vintage rock, the music that truly colored my childhood and teenage years. But if you are new to classic rock, I'm sure you still can enjoy this album as well. Keep on rockin' ..!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

Review by Sean Trane
4 stars Third chapter in Beck's adventure in Jazz-rock land, this live album is probably his best (at least IMHO) and certainly an improvement of the preceding ultra-technical Wired and the too fusion-esque Blow By Blow. Indeed, this third try is probably the best suited to those searching for a conventional (but not boring) jazz-rock between Mahavishnu Orchestra and Weather Report, while remaining accessible and out of the clichés.

With the opening Freeway Jam, with its car honking intro, is a complete stunner and much better than the BBB version (IMHO). The following Earth (Still Our Only Home) is a very funky jazz track sung (Eeehmmm!!) by Jan Hammer, but Beck's guitar shines brighter than a thousand suns. She's A Woman is turned to a semi-reggae, semi-funk thing with some guitar vo-coders ala Peter Frampton. Full Moon Boogie again dips into the guitar vo-coder and dipping into early 70's funk,

The definitely more even and consistent flipside includes the spacey doubleshot Darkness/Earth (In Search Of A Sun), which has a very different feel with Hammer's spacey synth dominating most of the track: we are hovering between Nektar/Eloy, Tangerine Dream and Dixie Dregs territory at times. A real pleasure of a mixture and a mixture of real pleasures. The great Mahavishnu- inspired Scatterbrain (also from BBB), where Steve Kindler's violin and Beck's guitar are indeed reminiscent of Goodman and McLaughlin and is easily the album's highlight, along with Freeway Jam. Closing the album is the excellent Blue Wind (from Wired), here played with a full line-up and includes a jam of the Yardbirds' Train Kept A Rollin.

With the flipside nearing perfection, one can only regret that the opening side gets lost in a few funky directions (wtf about the reggae stuff), and had the choice of tracks been better advised, this album could've been a real class act

Review by Kotro
3 stars You can see they're having fun. But are we?

Shortly after the release of Wired, Jeff took one of his guests in that album, Jan Hammer, as well as his band, and went on to jam the UK away. Jeff Beck with the Jan Hammer Group Live is the result of that series of concerts, and it features staples from Beck's previous two albums (with an odd emphasis on Blow by Blow rather than Wired - 3 songs to 1), as well as a more or less inspired selection of three Jan Hammer tracks.

The concert opener is Beck's (or should I say Middleton's?) Freeway Jam, which begins with a very well executed guitar and keyboard emulation of traffic sounds. The actual song is then delivered quite competently, not deviating too much from the original in the beginning, but turning into a slightly heavier jam and with the occasional Hammer touch that was absent from the original. In my view, an improvement. Earth (Still Our Only Home) is one of the Hammer tracks, and quite frankly not a very good one - a funky piece with some incredibly ghastly vocals, sounding like the Bee Gees with a bad cold. Hammer displays some of his most annoying synth solos that I disliked so much on Wired, while Beck jams away trying to make the most of it. She's A Woman follows, the reggae cover of the Beatles' song taken from Blow by Blow. While the playing does not add or subtract anything from the original, there is a tiny bit of improvisation, but the naturally slow reggae beat makes quite dull. Where the track loses a bit compared with the original is again in the annoying vocals (I'm not the kind to discard talk boxes, but they should be used sparingly). Full Moon Boogie is an improvement in this department, with drummer Tony Smith providing the better vocals in the entire album. It is another Hammer cut, but much better than the first one - also funky, but faster paced, with an excellent violin work by Steve Kindler which gives it a warm jazzy feel, reminding me a bit of Jean-Luc Ponty at times. Jan Hammer and Jeff Beck also add to the party with a good interplay of their respective instruments. A great way to end Side One.

Side Two opens with the ghostly space-rock Hammer track Darkness/Earth In Search Of A Sun, a great piece of electronic prog suggesting influences from Tangerine Dream and Klaus Schulze, although a bit more melodic. Most of it is only synths, but after three minutes we get the drums to back it up, and nearly at five, Jeff gets into it with some guitar licks interplayed with some fine Hammer solos. If anything, it sounds a bit out of place with the rest of the material played, but not unwelcome at all - it might actually be the best track on this live album (it is, at least, the most progressive). Scatterbrain, which immediately follows, could have topped it, but this version is simply not as good as the original - it develops a bit too slowly in the beginning, only to have too fast drumming further on. Plus, the violin and synths are definitely not a good replacement for the original Sir George Martin orchestral arrangements, even though Kindler does try hard. Beck's playing is still inspired, though. Blue Wind is the final track on this live album, the only track from Wired and the one I disliked the most on that album. Yet this version is an excellent take on the song - Jeff plays it heavier and with more feel and Hammer's synth sound is not as high pitched and annoying. The drumming is MUCH better, and really adds some edge to the track. Midway through the track we are graced with some hard rock improvisation, featuring cuts from The Yardbirds. Excellent guitar soloing from Beck towards the end.

The big problem of live albums is that you never know if you're getting material pleasantly upgraded or very poorly executed compared to the studio recordings - and you get both here. I'm not familiar with the original Hammer songs, but regarding Beck's I have to say it's 50/50, with She's A Woman and especially Scatterbrain disappointing when compared to the studio recordings, but with Freeway Jam and Blue Wind being slightly improved. Two of the Hammer songs are quite interesting, especially the last one. Overall, a very good live rock album, but not one that should appeal equally to all progheads.

Review by Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
3 stars I loved this album when it was first released. It was a great example of instrumental rock fusion. Now, more than thirty years later, I still like it, but it sounds a bit dated, mostly, thanks to Peter Frampton over- using the device, because of the heavy use of the mouth tube.

The album starts out strong, with Freeway Jam. It's immediately apparent that Beck's guitar and Hammer's keyboards blend peffectly. On Earth (Still Our Only Home), Hammer's vocals sound so much like Fee Waybill, you might think it was a Tubes song. Then follows a nice reggae rendition of She's A Woman, followed by Full Moon Boogie, both featuring the above mentioned mouth tube.

The abum begins to get proggy with Darkness/Earth In Search Of A Sun, featuring Hammer's synth prowess, and turns it up a notch with the fiery Scatterbrain. The album closes with a great performance of Blue Wind, which includes the Yardbirds' classic, Train Kept A Rollin'.

Despite a rough sounding recording, still a nice album to own.

Review by Chicapah
3 stars The 40+ year distinguished career of Jeff Beck has gone through more hills and valleys than the stock market and to be a loyal fan requires, at times, tolerance and a willingness to look the other way. The same guy who fashioned one of the most overlooked albums in the annals of early hard & heavy rock, "Beck-Ola," and one of the most pristine showcases of guitar virtuosity ever, "Blow by Blow," also put out a few puzzling head-scratchers like the sluggish and somewhat degenerate "Flash." Having said that, one description that has never been applied to Jeff is that of him being timid. He is, in every sense of the word, a courageous explorer. He's never been scared to go against the trendy grain and "Thou shalt not play it safe" is the eleventh commandment God engraved on his personal stone tablets. The fact that he is one of the most influential lead guitarists in history is without dispute and he's one of the rarest of axe men in that his style and approach to the instrument is so unique that no one can copy him. He is truly one of a kind in a world of imitators and his legacy is still inviolate today (as he recently demonstrated on the exquisite "Live at Ronnie Scott's"). He's a fearless, six-string monster. I wish I had but a molecule of his talent coursing through my varicose veins.

But the subject at hand is "Jeff Beck with the Jan Hammer Group - Live" from the Spring of '77 and I'll try to curb my enthusiasm and guitar-god mancrush admiration long enough to be objective. After JB's underwhelming power trio collaboration with Vanilla Fudge alumni Bogert and Appice in '73 fell apart Beck went solo and so impressed the snooty jazz rock/fusion congregation with his work that he toured as co-headliner with the inimitable Mahavishnu Orchestra for a season and more than held his own. It was at that point in his musical evolution that he discovered a kindred unconventional spirit in MO's keyboardist Jan Hammer and they became thick as thieves. Jan's contribution to Jeff's envelope- pushing "Wired" LP in no small part helped to make that disc the bold eye-opener that it is and JB's decision to go ramblin' down the road with Hammer's crackerjack band was a no- brainer. While there's no questioning their individual abilities or the giddy enthusiasm they exude in this concert recording the truth of the matter is that it simply has not aged well and that, unfortunately, is something they had no control over. Therefore it is what it is, a clear but crinkled snapshot in time.

Thankfully they didn't take themselves too seriously. An indication of the levity of the occasion comes at the very start where Jeff & Jan trade silly horn honks as drummer Tony Smith and bassist Fernando Saunders set up the rumbling undercurrent for Max Middleton's catchy, playful "Freeway Jam." It's a fine way to begin a show. It also reveals that Beck was well into his experimentation-with-nifty-gizmos period that I find a bit distracting yet he manages to light the stage on fire with his hot licks despite them. Unlike many of the synthesizer pioneers of that era, Hammer avoids making his machine sound like an expensive kazoo and he delivers a highly entertaining ride. I recall reading a quote around that time that said Jan's aim was to make his synth sound like an electric guitar and that Jeff was just as intent on accomplishing the opposite so that accounts for some of the strange noises they conjured in their quest. It's worth noting they were having a ball in the process.

In the mid 70s disco was conquering the Peruvian marching powder snorting general populace with its mindless pulse and the only alternative many jazz rock/fusion and traditional R&B acts had in order to keep their recording contracts valid was to funk it up. Certainly no respectable artist in the fusion arena would be caught dead dabbling in disco so bringing a funky mentality into their product was the lesser transgression. In some cases the result was interesting, but not often. Czechoslovakian homeboy Hammer's "Earth (Still Our Only Home)" is evidence in the prosecution's favor. The song's strong initial riff is engaging but the faux Ohio Players/Commodores verse and falsetto chorus encapsulates the embarrassing, hopelessly dated flaws to be found in spots on this album. If not for Beck's intense solo the tune would have to shoot itself for not having a reason to exist. Jeff's coy take on Lennon/McCartney's "She's a Woman" with its lead- footed reggae beat was a mild but pleasant surprise on "Blow by Blow" and they perform a decent rendition of it here but Beck's infatuation with the talk box is a momentum-killing digression. I realize that Peter Frampton's cute but squirrelly "do you feel like I do?" catch phrase was all the rage and Jeff just couldn't resist the temptation of patronizing the audience with it but all it does for me is bring back nightmare-inducing memories of seeing the vapid "Frampton Comes Alive" double LP fly off the shelves like free hotcakes while I was temporarily sustaining myself (barely) as a record store grunt/flunky in '76. I shudder at the thought.

Jan's "Full Moon Boogie" suffers much of the same passé fate as the earlier European saltine-funk offering but Steve Kindler's violin adds a welcome tension to the presentation and Smith's exuberant vocal is more digestible than Hammer's so this cut's not nearly as stale and offensive. The best part of the song occurs when Jeff, Jan and Steve duke it out toe-to-toe, exchanging jabs and punches like boxers with nothing left to lose. My favorite Hammer composition is next, the brilliant "Darkness/Earth in Search of a Sun" and it's the apex of the album. I love the opening synthesizer extravaganza and the tune's smooth, walking groove that mesmerizes. Jan smartly veers away from it enough to keep it from becoming monotonous and when Beck jumps in on top with gusto he adds a dimension that was missing in the studio original. Their back-and-forth salvos at the end are thrilling and fun to hear.

Jeff's "Scatterbrain" is one of his classic fusion numbers and the band does this challenging piece full justice. The first movement in 9/8 is extremely tight and though the furious second section with its tricky riff takes off at supersonic speed these pros don't fudge a single note. Beck's lead is fantastic, Kindler (sandwiched between the two giants) reveals his limitations and Hammer's feisty ride turns into an energetic, gnarly percussive race with Tony that'll make your head spin. They close with Jan's memorable "Blue Wind" and he and Jeff take the opportunity to play a "see if you can top THIS!" contest with a predictable outcome. I especially appreciate the brief but nostalgic homage they pay to The Yardbirds' "Train Kept a Rollin'" tossed in for grins but overall nothing spectacular happens.

If anything this album is delightfully unpretentious in that the personnel involved weren't interested in accomplishing anything other than giving the crowd their money's worth and enjoying each other's company on stage while doing so. No props, no light show, no pyrotechnics, no gimmicks, just progressive music played with passion, honesty and top- notch professionalism. Is it often as faded and out of style as stovepipe trousers with two- inch cuffs and Cuban-heeled platform shoes? Without a doubt. However, for the avid follower of either artist, this is a genial excursion into their mutual past that is anything but depressing or boring. 2.9 stars.

Latest members reviews

4 stars I am not sure who is in better form here - Jeff Beck or Jan Hammer. Certainly, they both complemented each other well in these late 1970s (and one 1980) collaborations. I am still amazed how Hammer can get his synth to sound like a second stratocaster, in which it often sounds like they are ... (read more)

Report this review (#126644) | Posted by prog4evr | Sunday, June 24, 2007 | Review Permanlink

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