Category Archives: Jeff Beck

Emotion & Commotion – JEFF BECK – 2010


I originally expected this album- given its name- to be distinctly divided into an ‘Emotion’ part and a ‘Commotion’ part, much like other part albums like Stadium Arcadium by the Chili Peppers. But as it turns out, the two parts are melded together in alternating turns as mellow songs segue in and out of harder and more rhythmic cuts. So, the very mellow “Corpus Christi” is followed by the pretty-darn-epic “Hammerhead”, both of which consist of Beck‘s signature, liquid and voice-like guitar licks.

Not a very good photoshop job, I'm afraid....

“Hammerhead” also makes the return of the bass player in Jeff Beck‘s sound a welcome thing. It’s heavy and fuzzy all throughout the song. Hello Tal Wilkenfeld! For those of you who don’t know, Wilkenfeld is this prodigal bass player girl from Australia who is only 22 freaking years old. And what a groover! Rock solid grooves, though not complex, really nail the rhythms down. That’s no mean feat when the drummer is Vinnie freakin’ Colaiuta. Also, check out this amazing solo she laid down at the crossroads guitar festival recently. Its unreal how her tiny hands move on the bass. My hands, meanwhile, are as elegant as Biff Tannen crashing into the cow-dung truck in Back to the Future.

Anyway, the tone of this album is markedly different from Jeff because Beck has obviously allowed a lot more leeway to his backing musicians. Check out the stellar bass talent in Pino Palladino and Wilkenfeld alone, and one is aware of the strength of the musicians here. In fact, a whole bunch of songs are done by others like Jason Rebello on keyboards, if we ignore some of the covers.

The tone of this album is markedly different from his previous effort entitled Jeff.

This album also signals a shift from Beck‘s previous electronica fetish into more orchestral and composed sounding pieces. This is particularly apparent on tracks like “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”, “Elegy for Dunkirk” and “Serene”. “Serene” also has a short but beautiful bass solo. Quite lovely

I’ve so far ignored yet another vital ingredient in this album , which I think is unique in Beck’s solo output- vocal contributions. Joss Stone and the amazing Imelda May and someone called Olivia Safe (err) lay down vocals on a few tracks. The standouts among those are surely the May fronted “Lilac Wine” and “I Put a Spell on You”, featuring Stone. The former is an orchestral ‘Emotion’ track whereas the latter is a retro-Amy-Winehouse-meets-Maxwell’s-Silver-Hammer type song. They are both covers.

I’ve been rambling for a while now, so let me get to the point. I frikkin’ love this album. Yes, it lacks insanely strong melodies, but I suppose Beck has deliberately focussed more on orchestral arrangements than on melodies. Even these arrangements can get annoying at times though, sounding too much like what the Lord of the Rings soundtrack would have sounded like had it been done by a guitarist. “Nessun Dorma”, I’m looking at you. It’s not like he can’t come up with catchy shit. Just check out Jeff for some vindication there. But despite my intellectual understanding of what Beck is trying to do, my right brain sometimes still wants a few fundamentally catchy melodies. But then, these shortcomings only marginally pull back the overall quality of such a beautifully executed album. This bloody sounds right.

- El Bajista

More JEFF BECK reviews HERE.

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Jeff – JEFF BECK – 2003


The mad-as-Megan-Fox riff in the beginning starts my love affair with this (rightfully) Grammy winning release by Beck, his only studio album of last decade, to my knowledge. I quite like the mixture of electronica and crazy-ass guitar playing. It’s nothing new in terms of concept, but the execution is another thing already. It surprises me how despite the fact that he has been playing for some 40 years, his playing is still fresher and more original than 99pc of the guitar players around today. I’d put him in the same league of musicians as Tim Bogert and Jon Lord, brilliant and original players who due to some curious twist(s) of fate, haven’t been as influential as they ideally should have been.

I'm in love. Get ready for an avalanche of Jeff Beck reviews!

This album is highly reminiscent (but much better) than John Frusciante‘s A Sphere in the Heart of Silence, which mashes up electronica and guitar. Damn, I’d like to do this someday, as a bass player. Oh, hold on, we already have Squarepusher. The standout feature of this album (besides the guitar playing, of course), is the electronic drums, which are quite fantastic in that they are simple grooves, but have a stomping hard rock quality that works very well indeed.

The mad-as-Megan-Fox riff in the beginning starts my love affair with this album.

I’m at a loss of words when it comes to criticising this album. It’s simply excellent from beginning to end, and I can’t really point out many flaws in this. Maybe some Beck fans from this Beck, Bogert and Appice days will dislike his electronica expedition, but this is the first Jeff Beck record I’m listening to, and I’m quite badly hooked. What guitar playing! His expressiveness is very, very inspiring. He does absolutely mental things with the whammy bar. Hear “Grease Monkey”, or his Indian stylings on “Trouble Man” and “Plan B” and little other bits nearly everywhere else. Simply excellent.

Hang on…..I’ve just realized what I don’t like about this album; it’s the trying-too-hard-to-be-seductive female voice heard frequently (and irritatingly) on “Hot Rod Honey” and “Grease Monkey”. Oh, and “Line Dancing with Monkeys” is….um….bland as curd. And finally (after much thought), I’ve realised that this album is much too long, more like one and a half albums than a single one. But thats all I can say. This sounds very right

-El Bajista

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