(All Album Reviews by daddysangbassdude)
Jeff Beck is a musician who can come into a particular genre, bend it and shape it to his own vision or taste (basically turning that genre on its ear in the process) over a span of maybe three albums, and then moving on to another genre.
It was that way when hard blues rock and heavy metal was starting to come of age with Led Zeppelin and Cream, and Beck responded from 1968-71 with the likes of Truth, Beck-Ola, and Rough and Ready. Then along came fusion groups like Tony Williams Lifetime and Mahavishnu Orchestra, and Beck chimed in with the studio albums Blow By Blow, Wired, and There and Back.
He kind of broke that chain with Flash and Jeff Beck's Guitar Shop, but over the last few years he's gone back to his "theme strings" way of doing things.
His latest CD, simply titled Jeff, is his third stab at electronica. It provides more musical "bang for the buck" time-wise than his prior release, You Had It Coming. It serves quite well in putting Beck's personal stamp on electronica bordering on outright hip-hop. So, now the question is, what will he do next?
Beck's hobby of building hot rods has been a big theme in his last two releases. Check out the machine in the background photography of Jeff, and check out the song titles, such as "Grease Monkey" and "Hot Rod Honeymoon" (featuring an interesting little vocal tribute to the Beach Boys). Beck must have had driving in mind when he did the opening song, "So What," as well, because it's perfect for getting behind the wheel and hitting the road, as is much of this CD.
David Torn, aka splattercell, turns up on "Plan B" to lend co-writing, re-producing, mixing and his own unique "manipulating" and this song in particular has some very brutally good drum licks in it to back up Beck's mastery of guitar string/sound manipulation. Torn contributes the same on what has to be the most colorfully titled song, "Line Dancing With Monkeys."
"Pork-U-Pine" has been the standout track so far to me, destined to be cranked up by the finest (and loudest) of car stereos with its big drum textures and Beck's licks giving meat to Saffron's vocals perfectly proclaiming "If the voice don't say it, the guitar will play it."
There are some down sides to Jeff for me. For example, the vocals on "Seasons" can drive me up the wall, just not my cup o'tea. Even then, when Beck and the London Session Orchestra break into the hip-hop for a softer feel, it can be quite tasteful.
"JB's Blues" is a standout track as well, softer yet no less powerful than any other song here. "Pay Me No Mind" can be downright infectious.
The CD closes with two very mellow but strong tracks, the London Session Orchestra backing Beck on both: the traditional piece "Bulgaria" blending right into longtime Beck-mate Tony Hymas' "Why Lord Oh Why?" with Beck reaching into his seemingly never-ending bag of guitar sounds and pulling out some gems.
This is a very worthy addition to the best of Beck's catalog.