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JEFF BECK Emotion And Commotion Rhino (2010)

Jeff Beck

Jeff Beck is a guitarist who has always pushed the envelope, and he's loved for that. Perhaps contrasting with his recent gig partner Eric Clapton - whom he replaced in The Yardbirds - he is not content with the status quo and there is always an element of the unpredictable.

Anyone who watched Beck's Ronnie Scott gig in 2008 will appreciate the supreme musicianship, always surrounding himself with the crème de la crème of players to carve out an essentially jazz fusion furrow.

'Emotion and Commotion' harks back to those classic mid-seventies albums produced by George Martin, notably 'Blow By Blow' with the fusion of guitar and orchestra. And Jan Akkerman's 'Aranjuez' (1978) also comes to mind in the juxtaposition of electric guitar and strings.

The standout track 'Hammerhead' is a beautifully paced piece pitching Beck's frenetic guitar figures against a swinging orchestral back-drop. This is really quite brilliant.

Unfortunately, for some, this is the rockiest and most exciting moment, because elsewhere Beck lends his familiar tonal palette to a couple of standards that take him into more mainstream territory. It is debatable whether a version of 'Nessun Dorma' and 'Over the Rainbow' will win over hardcore rock fans but it may ensure Jeff reaches a more conservative audience looking to offload their latest pension payment.

The collaborations with Joss Stone are predictable and 'There's No Other Me' allows her to pull out the stops vocally, Imelda May fronts 'Lilac Wine' and the end piece 'Elegy For Dunkirk' is another gem enhanced by the classical singer Olivia Safe. This is a mournful, elegant piece. If there was a resident guitarist accompanying the sound of whales in the ocean it would be Jeff Beck.

Altogether, not bad, but perhaps not as risky and edgy as it could have been.


Review by David Randall

DVD review


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***** Out of this world | **** Pretty damn fine |
*** OK, approach with caution unless you are a fan |
** Instant bargain bin fodder | * Ugly. Just ugly

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