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(45:09; Atco Records)
It has been quite some years since I last heard a Jeff Beck solo album, which for me was the 1990 Grammy Award winning ‘Jeff Beck’s Guitar Shop’, but anyone who has ever had any interest in electric guitar knows who he is, so when I saw this 2016 album I thought I would give it a try. Whereas he is often more well-known for his instrumental work these days, this finds him back with a band, albeit one which wasn’t really his. Here he is working with singer Rosie Bones and guitarist Carmen Vandenberg, following on from a chance meeting with Vandenberg at a birthday party for Queen drummer Roger Taylor. “She invited me to one of their shows, and I was blown away,” the guitarist recalls. “When we got together in January, I explained the subject matter I had in mind, we sat down by the fire with a crate of Prosecco and got right to it. The songs came together very quickly; five in three days.” Beck produced the album with Filippo Cimatti, who also works with Rosie and Carmen. In addition to the core trio, the album also features drummer Davide Sollazzi and bassist Giovanni Pallotti, who were both recruited by Cimatti. The result is something which is intriguing and interesting, in that Bones has a voice more suited to punk, and her straight ahead strongly London accented vocals are often at odds with the more melodic undertones coming from the guitar. However, Beck is also often quite dissonant in his approach and this feels like a much younger band than one from a guitarist who was 72 at the time of release. The guitar is often quite filthy, dirty, and rambunctious, distorted with the result being something which is relevant and powerful. Generally the vocals do not work for me, as while there are times when they are perfectly in keeping with the music such as on “Scared For The Children”, which is more like a ballad, for the most part they are a distraction from the main job in hand. I am glad I have heard it as Beck is still a powerful guitarist with a lot to offer, but it is no surprise that within a couple of years he was working with new musicians instead of the ones on the album, as it is the songs where he is more to the fore and taking the lead that this really comes alive.
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