A Tribute to Jeff Beck

This is a tribute to Jeff Beck

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Jeff Beck: “Where Were You” Play this track

This is an excerpt from a tape I made at Jeff’s house. I spent a day with Jeff at his home in England. We were talking about music for hours. At one point I asked him if the song “Where Were You” had some box or effect on the guitar to make it sound like a voice. He answered by picking up a Strat, plugging it into a small Fender amp and playing for me. This is part of what he played. —John Stix

Jeff Beck: “Plynth (Water Down the Drain)” Play this track

This has always been my go-to Jeff Beck Group song. Riffing and funky with all the parts sounding separate but fully integrated. I once asked Jeff what gets him going musically. The answer was a good drummer. Listen to Mickey Waller play funky, yet tight and loose at the same time. He reminds me of Mitch Mitchell in the Jimi Hendrix Experience or Keith Moon in The Who. The other special sauce in Jeff’s bands have been keyboard players. Nicky Hopkins, Max Middleton, and Jan Hammer all defined different eras of Jeff’s playing. In this track I think Nicky Hopkins’ acoustic piano is the glue that holds it all together. Jeff’s playing is on the crazy side. His guitar lines are his alone. This is not recycled blues. His is a unique voice that sounds familiar. Jimi Hendrix had this quality too. Both Jeff and Jimi spoke a different language, yet we understood them immediately. —JS

Jeff Beck Group: “Shapes of Things” Play this track

The Jeff Beck group live in the U. S. I saw this band at the Schaefer Music Festival at Wollman Skating Rink in Central Park. I found a boot of the exact concert I attended. I recall that the band was introduced by disc jockey Allison Steele and as she left the stage either Rod or Jeff gave a pelvic thrust in her direction. They were raucous, and rough and rockin’, just as they are here.—JS

Jeff Beck: “Beck’s Boogie (Live)” Play this track

This recording is live from the same U. S. tour. You get both Jeff’s enormous love of Les Paul and his own wacky sense of humor. Notice how he plays in the pocket and delivers every note with conviction. He is a master of nuance, dynamics, and silence, yet his playing can be described as giddy. How about you name another solo that quotes the TV. theme from “The Beverly Hillbillies.” —JS

Jeff Beck: “Going Down (Live)” Play this track

This is from a live performance by the second Jeff Beck Group. The studio version on theJeff Beck Group album identified as the Orange album (because of the orange on the cover) has been a jam staple for rock bands for decades. When most bands play it, they lean on the heavy riff and pound it out. This version, my favorite by far, leans on the acoustic piano of Max Middleton for swing and push. Jeff is basically a guest on the track, adding accents and colorful jabs. This is how the song should be played live.—JS

Stevie Wonder & Jeff Beck: “Superstition” Play this track

This is from Stevie Wonder’s performance at the 25th Rock & Roll Hall of Fame concert at MSG. I was there and it was fabulous. As I understand it Jeff was tooling around on the drums and Stevie Wonder took that drum riff and used it to start the song. There are countless versions of this tune and this is among my top three. Jeff is not a jammer, so this situation is perfect for his brand of boxing. He hits you straight in the face and when you’re not looking. Stevie Wonder and his band are not slouches either. —JS

Jeff Beck: “Situation” Play this track

Taken from the Rough and Ready album. This was the second Jeff Beck Group and they nailed it on this, the first of the two LPs they made together. Jeff told me about when he went to Motown in hopes of recording. He thought he would sit in with the musicians and they would jam out what would become tunes. He got a rude awakening when he found out they read charts, played parts, and did their music on union time. “Situation” is from the soul music groove school. Perhaps this is what he wanted to come out with when he visited Motown studios. —JS

Jeff Beck: “You Know What I Mean” Play this track

This is the opening track from Jeff’s instrumental opus Blow by Blow. Another run at funk, rock, and melody. He never got it together with this tune live, so the studio track is the peak recording of this song. The soloing in this one is Steely Dan-like in its compositional phrasing. When I describe Jeff’s playing as throwing all kinds of punches, this is what I’m talking about. It’s a knockout. —JS

Stevie Wonder & Jeff Beck: “Looking for Another Pure Love” Play this track

This is Jeff guesting on Stevie Wonder’s Talking Book album. One of the sweetest melodic solos ever committed to tape. The subtle rhythm guitar parts are done by another monster guitarist, Buzz Feiten. —JS

Jeff Beck: “Brush with the Blues” Play this track

This is a live track found on the Who Else! recording. Here he is a master of using the common vocabulary in startling and new ways. He is Jeff the storyteller and Jeff the vocalist (he is always the vocalist). Using his own unique phrasing, dynamics, tone, breathing, and going from gentle melody to snarling, Jeff is taking the blues around corners we never knew existed. —JS

Jeff Beck & Imelda May: “Remember Walking in the Sand” Play this track

This is Jeff with Imelda May live at the Iridium. Just another look at Beck’s ever expansive wardrobe. His voice fits in everywhere, in this case 60s girl group pop. —JS

Jeff Beck: “I Ain’t Superstitious” Play this track

If there was one wish from Beck fans, it was that he would do more with Rod Stewart and eventually in 2019 they did reunite in Los Angeles. A longer tour never materialized. At least we have this “I Ain’t Superstitious.” —JS

Jeff Beck: “Where Were You (Live)” Play this track

This comes from Jeff Beck Performing This Week … Live at Ronnie Scotts. Here is Jeff’s pure singing voice, expressive, ethereal, and uncopyable. Ronnie Scott’s is hands-down his best live recording. He left us a lot to explore and enjoy. In fact, that’s what he did throughout his entire career. He was an explorer who enjoyed looking beyond what he had just done. Like other truly great artists such as Miles Davis, Pat Metheny, John McLaughlin, and Joni Mitchell, you can like or dislike Jeff Beck’s music based on the era and what he was doing at a particular time. Me, I love all of it. And while I will miss him, he left plenty of trails for me to keep following. —JS

Jeff Beck Feat. Rosie Bones: “The Revolution Will Be Televised” Play this track

Rough ‘n tough Jeff Beck. Betcha didn’t know this one. Hot AF. -Rock Stamberg

Mick Jagger & Jeff Beck: “Foxy Lady (Live)” Play this track

An unlikely live treat from Mick Jagger and Jeff. He’d played all over Jagger’s unremarkable first two solo albums and were going to tour together. This warts ‘n all performance showcases the best of their collaborations I’ve ever heard. Again, when Jeff gets motorizin’ you’d best get outta his way. —RS

Jeff Beck: “Space For The Papa” Play this track

I’ve loved this track since Jeff’s Who Else! Album was first released in 1999. I played it in my car endlessly. On a cassette tape. Yes, cassette. —RS

Jeff Beck & Brian Wilson: “Danny Boy” Play this track

Brian Wilson and Jeff Beck both adore this song to pieces. This is one of the different versions they performed on their joint tour in the fall of 2013. This version endures. —RS