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Jeff Beck - Emotion & Commotion CD (album) cover

EMOTION & COMMOTION

Jeff Beck

 

Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.12 | 79 ratings

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jammun
Prog Reviewer
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 albums...to 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.

jammun | 3/5 |

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