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Friday, 29 May 2020

Greenslade - Pilgrims of Progression

By Mikey G.


It was all Jon Lord's fault.  In 1972 I became obsessed with Deep Purple's 1972 Machine Head, an album which showcased Lord’s superb Hammond organ playing.  From then on I found myself drawn to bands which prominently featured keyboards and in those days that was still fairly cool.  It’s also fair to say some of the best rock keyboard players surfaced around that time.  Rick Wakeman really came to the fore after leaving the Strawbs to join Yes, the Zombies keyboard maestro Rod Argent formed his own eponymous band when the Zombies’ Odessey And Oracle initially failed to sell, while the Nice and ELP, of course, had the inimitable Keith Emerson.  Then there was Tony Banks in Genesis, Vincent Crane in Atomic Rooster, the list goes on and on, and I wanted to hear them all.

With this in mind, imagine my excitement when I discovered a band that featured not one, but two virtuoso keyboard players.  The band was Greenslade, the brainchild of Dave Greenslade, the much-venerated keyboard player with jazz prog pioneers Colosseum.  Greenslade started out backing Chris Farlowe in one of his mid-sixties Thunderbirds line-ups. Both men eventually ended up in Colosseum, together with erstwhile John Mayall's Bluesbreaker drummer Jon Hiseman.
 
*Samurai - Greenwich Gramophone Co. 1971

Although critically acclaimed, Colosseum struggled to garner much in the way of album sales and the band split in 1971 with their last release, Colosseum Live, regarded by many as their best.  Meanwhile Greenslade and Colosseum bass player Tony Reeves decided it might be a good idea to form a band with two keyboard players.


Immediately after Colosseum, Tony Reeves became the A&R director for the independent progressive label Greenwich Gramophone Co. and he invited keyboard player Dave Lawson of Samurai, a commercially struggling act with the label, to join the group.  Lawson had previously been a member of the Alan Bown Set and Web.  To complete the line-up, they recruited drummer Andrew McCulloch, formerly with Manfred Mann and Arthur Brown.  McCulloch had also briefly been a member of King Crimson, having replaced Michael Giles and appearing on just one KC album, the very jazz orientated Lizard in 1970.  He had also been a member of the band Fields, together with Graham Fields, founder of another predominantly keyboard act, Rare Bird.


*Fields - CBS 1971

After positive stirrings in the prog friendly music press of the time, some even declaring them to be a supergroup, Greenslade managed to sign to a major label, Warner Brothers, in 1972.  Their self-titled debut album was recorded at Morgan Studios in London during November and December of 1972 and released in February of the following year.  Beautifully packaged in a lavish Roger Dean-designed gatefold cover and adorned with Dean’s unmistakable typography which would see more exposure later in the year when the Yes masterpiece Close To The Edge appeared.  The four-handed mystical character on the cover was Dave Greenslade’s idea and it amply set the scene for a band with keyboards as the centrepiece.


*Greenslade - Warner Bros.  February 1973

The album itself featured seven tracks, most of which are on the mellow side.  It did, however, establish a sound that gave the band a small prog rock place of its own with strong organ and synth melodies over lavish mellotron.  But what really made this band different was the jazzy/blues feel provided by the rhythm section.  McCulloch’s busy drumming accentuates the band’s sometimes unusual time signatures.  Reeves shows himself to be an exceptional bass player, often playing lead lines where you might expect guitar patterns to appear.  Dave Lawson's vocals are not to everyone's taste and he was, by his own admission, never destined to be the archetypal overbearing prog frontman.  Over 80% of the music is instrumental, so what vocal parts he does provide simply add to the overall feel of the songs, rather than being a major contribution.


Kicking off with fan favourite “Feathered Friends” with its fast-paced opening, sliding effortlessly into what can only be described as a blues motif with some excellent bass work by Reeves adding additional colour.  It’s a fine showpiece for the band's unique configuration.  The ecological message relayed in the song is still relevant today.  “An English Western” is an inspired instrumental, highlighting Dave Greenslade's Hammond organ work.  With Lawson adding lush grand and electric pianos to the piece, there’s a definite blues feel in there as well.  Next up “Drowning Man” goes from a slow, dark beginning through phases of jazz, blues and classic symphonic prog themes.  As the title suggests, “Temple Song” has an oriental feel and could probably be described as a ballad.  Lawson uses a much lighter vocal approach that blends well with the gentle theme of the song and brings side one of the original vinyl release neatly to an end.





The side two opener “Melange” is the highlight of the album for me.  A fast paced instrumental, it has all the trademark themes the band were famous for, plus some brilliant lead bass work from Reeves.  If there’s a song that best represents Greenslade’s sound as a whole, this is it.  Written by Dave Lawson, the quirky “What Are You Doin’ To Me” is short by prog standards and of all the songs on the album it hasn’t dated well.  Sandwiched in between the epic “Melange” and the equally thematic and sophisticated “Sundance” it’s simply overshadowed.  Closing track “Sundance” is classic Greenslade, with multi-layered themes, shifting time patterns and some excellent drumming driving the, dare I say it, heavier funky sections.  The Hammond organ through Leslie cabinets is all over the place and shimmering mellotron symphonics fill the song out in all the right places.  If you were a fan of rock keyboards, it definitely left you wanting more.

*Bedside Manners Are Extra - Warner Bros.  Nov.1973

Fortunately, we didn’t have to wait too long and only seven months later in November, Greenslade delivered another slab of progressive wonderment in the shape of Bedside Manners Are Extra.  Buoyed by positive reviews and solid sales of the first album, the band raced back into the studio.  Spending a couple of weeks creating completely new songs from scratch in a church hall near Dave Greenslade’s home, they were tight and rehearsed before going into the studio and knocked off the album in nine days, recording completely live with hardly any overdubs.  A minor miracle by today's standards.

Once again, the gatefold sleeve was stunningly adorned with Roger Dean’s updated take on the four handed man, who this time picked up a 5th hand for good measure.  The cover is probably better known than the music these days and is often used as a backdrop to prog rock editorial or to promote Dean’s portfolio as a classic of the genre.

The album opens with the “Bedside Manners are Extra” title track, which starts off gently with tongue-in-cheek lyrics, taunting privately educated doctors and their approach to the public at large.  It features some classic mellotron-based build up themes coloured by Fender Rhodes and ARP synth work, before coming to a mellow conclusion.  It is apparent that the music has taken a sophisticated leap from the first album with each member playing to their strengths.  Track two “Pilgrims Progress” is probably Greenslade’s best known track, having appeared on several prog rock compilations over the years.  It features a straightforward rock n’ roll backbeat, together with what has been described as one of the best twin keyboard jam workouts of prog’s golden age.  It’s almost like the guitar one-upmanship you might expect from a southern rock act.  Side one closer “Time To Dream” can best be described as a jaunty shuffle with playful lyrics and a killer synth solo from Lawson.  This track has been described as having the intricacy of Gentle Giant, the unique vocal work of Van der Graaf Generator and a melody worthy of Yes.  High praise indeed.

Side two kicks off with “Drum Folk”, written by Dave Greenslade and drummer McCulloch. It starts with a keyboard jig before slipping into a drum solo.  I’m not sure if drum solos deserve a place on studio albums.  In my opinion they are something that are probably best left for the live show.  It sounds OK here, but I still struggle not to hit the fast-forward button, even though McCulloch plays pretty impressive intricate drum patterns, rather than the usual blood and thunder style you often get in concert.  “Sun Kissed You're Not” is probably the jazziest track on the album, with some great interplay between Lawson and Greenslade, once again powerfully pushed along by that great rhythm section. 

The final track “Chalk Hill” is an instrumental which blends a number of the band’s typical themes brilliantly, before becoming a full-on boogie with playful keyboard interplay taking us to some classical piano and out into the run-off groove.  A good and, at times, brilliant album that received positives reviews from critics and fans alike.

















Touring as headliners and in support of Rory Gallagher throughout Europe found the band picking up a healthy following, particularly in the prog heartlands of Italy and Germany.  So, when they went back into the studio in early 1974, confidence was high.  So high, in fact that, having felt they’d made their point with the two-keyboard line-up, Clem Clempson, Greenslade’s old guitar buddy from Colosseum, was invited to play on a couple of tracks.  They also moved away from Roger Dean's fantasy world for the sleeve, settling on Dave Lawson’s suggestion to have a black panther in front of what appears to be an elaborately engraved gong.  It must have looked good on the proof artwork but in my opinion it never worked.  It’s a dark, uninspiring cover and in many ways the antithesis of the other artistically stunning album covers the band made for Warners.  They settled on the title “Spyglass Guest” for the album, a phrase picked-up from key track “Joie De Vivre” that by all accounts has no meaning whatsoever.  This record did at least enter the UK charts, not exactly with a bullet, but it hit the #34 spot in late 1974.

*Spyglass Guest - Warner Bros.  Aug. 1974

For the first time the songs were written by individual band members.  Opener “Spirit Of The Dance” is a Dave Greenslade-penned instrumental sounding, dare I say it, almost folky in places.  As the title suggests this has a real spring in its step with many themes that can only be classed as jigs and reels.  It’s also mellotron heaven, if you’re an enthusiast.


“Little Red Fry Up” could be the soundtrack for a cartoon.  Written and sung by Lawson, it's very up tempo and has the first guitar break on any Greenslade album.  Clem Clempson lets fly in the middle eight, wasting no time stamping his hard rock pedigree on the song, with a solo remarkably similar to his work with current employers Humble Pie.  It’s worth noting that later in 1974 Clem applied for the job to replace Ritchie Blackmore in Deep Purple, but was famously overlooked.  The slot was taken instead by American hot-shot guitarist Tommy Bolin.


“Rainbow” and “Siam Seesaw” are both mellow, atmospheric songs.  The first is the closest Greenslade gets to a ballad, the latter instrumental has acoustic guitar from guest Andy Roberts who at the time was plying his trade with UK folk act Plainsong.  His walking acoustic guitar signature acts as a simple backing to some great synth and moog meandering before Clem Clempson gets in on the act with another blistering guitar solo.  From there the band winds back into the acoustic guitar theme, bringing the song to a close.  “Joie De Vivre” is probably the high point of the album, featuring all the classic Greenslade themes plus some violin work from guest Graham Smith, who was playing with UK prog act String Driven Thing at the time.




The interplay between the keyboards and the rhythm section really shine throughout.  “Red Light” is a playful ode to the “oldest trade”.  A Lawson song in every respect, it almost has pop sensibilities.  Written by Dave Greenslade, “Melancholic Race” is an instrumental piece which builds slowly to a wonderful jazz fusion interlude, with every tool in the box hauled out and used to great effect.  The album closes with the only cover song Greenslade ever recorded, “Theme For An Imaginary Western”.  Written by Jack Bruce with his long-time collaborator Pete Brown, this song originally appeared on Jack’s 1969 album Songs For A Tailor.  Producer Felix Pappalardi worked on the Bruce album and he then took “Theme For An Imaginary Western” to his own band Mountain for their 1970 album Climbing!  Mountain also played the song at the 1969 Woodstock Festival.  


Initially Dave Lawson wasn’t keen to cover “Theme For An Imaginary Western” as it was outside his range.  Strangely, as is often the case with these things Lawson, who suffered a collapsed lung during the recording process, sang what has often been cited as his best vocal performance.  It really does stand alone in the band's body of work but, for me, it’s a worthy inclusion on this album.




Bassist Tony Reeves decided to concentrate his efforts on a career in record production and this was to be last album with Greenslade.  In 1975 they brought in session player Martin Briley to handle bass and occasional lead guitar as required.

*Time & Tide - Warner Bros. February 1975

Time And Tide, Greenslade’s fourth and final album for Warner Brothers, has the feel of a band struggling to find direction.  Although both Dave Greenslade and Lawson were writing together, the approach was very different.  With the exception of a couple of songs, the progressive themes and interplay between the band members was phased out to make way for more traditional rock songs.  A move, one suspects, purely down to the commercial pressure of a record label waiting for a payday after three critically acclaimed releases but very little in the way of sales.


The new style was almost glam rock, but very punchy and bursting with originality.  Songs like “Animal Farm”, “Newsworth” and “Flattery Stakes” really kick butt, with fiery keyboard stabs and guitar flourishes all over them.  Dave Lawson puts in a sterling effort both lyrically and vocally, although the latter is a real opinion splitter, as many people never really got on with his high raspy contributions.  But 45 years later I can’t imagine these songs any other way.  


The only song I would class as an out-and-out prog rock track, in the vein of their earlier material, is “The Ass’s Ears”, bursting out from the dark and melancholic “Waltz For A Fallen Idol”.  It’s dramatic and edgy with some absolutely stunning drum fills from McCulloch, a track I’ve never tired of.  I remember seeing them play this song on the 70’s UK teatime music TV show Supersonic as if it were yesterday.  It blew me away.  How they managed to get on this show remains a mystery but clearly it wasn’t a chart driven programme as they occasionally had some very obscure bands in the studio, which was probably the only reason I caught this one.  I seem to remember Dave Lawson wearing a t-shirt with the words “Is This Music Really Shit?” emblazoned on the back.  It wasn’t to me, of course but, alas, not many others agreed, as this album also failed to chart.  


With another stunning cover by sci-fi and fantasy artist Patrick Woodroffe and a crisp production by Hugh Jackman, aided by studio stalwart Martin Briley, there was potential for a killer album.  Infamously, the album was only around 32 minutes long and some tracks felt a little like filler even at that length.  Closer “Gangsters” is a theme tune from a television crime series, and good as it is, that’s exactly what it sounds like.  Elsewhere, songs like the title track and the other instrumental “Catalan” are OK but not brilliant.  They took the album out on the road, but it never escaped the slow lane in terms of sales.  Sadly, later that year the band went their separate ways.


So, there we are, almost four albums in four years.  Although never regarded as giants in their field, Greenslade should not be overlooked, since they were real contenders in the golden era of prog.  Probably more than anything else, the lack of an enigmatic front man saw the band become more of an acquired taste than having an immediate commercial and broad appeal.  Their sound was unique, and the playing and songcraft nearly always top notch.  In later years, there were the usual solo albums and re-unions but none got close to those original three and a half albums.




In 2018 and 2019 the four Warners albums were lavishly re-packaged and remastered by Cherry Red Records progressive offshoot Esoteric Recordings.  They have all brushed up well, with some live bits and pieces added for good measure. 

Both Greenslade and Lawson went on to work in TV and film.  Lawson is still very active, having scored many big budget movies, which includes the legendary “cantina” section in the original Star Wars movie.  More recently he also worked on the BBC’s Blue Planet documentaries.  

If you want to find a way into the wonderful world of Greenslade, I’d recommend starting with the first album from this series and take it from there.  It’s not Pink Floyd or Genesis or even Yes.  It’s Greenslade.  There’s no one quite like them.  Then or now.



  


Thursday, 14 May 2020

Jeff Beck’s 50 Greatest Tracks – Ranked!

He's one of the most gifted and influential rock guitarists of all time – here's an in-depth look at some of his best work

by Stuart Penney


There are many reasons to cherish Jeff Beck.  If nothing else he will be remembered for maintaining one of rock's most iconic haircuts.  Save for a little judicious colouring in recent years, perhaps, Beck’s barnet has survived virtually unchanged from 1965 to the present day.  No mean feat.  Then there’s the small matter of his guitar playing.  No other British guitar hero: not Clapton or Page, not Green, Taylor, Blackmore or Kossoff, nor any other fretboard giant from the 60s and 70s you care to mention has come close to matching Beck’s extraordinary flair, outrageous virtuosity or, indeed, his unparalleled longevity.  His career has taken many twists and turns and survived more than a few ups and downs (some of the "downs" of his own doing), but virtually alone among his peers he continues to push the envelope and explore the limits of his instrument, seemingly improving with each passing year.
  
In 2020, more than 55 years after he first came to our notice in the Yardbirds, he remains as uncompromising and mercurial as ever, making music that excites and amazes in equal measure.  His jaw-dropping guitar skills have seen off two or three generations of upstart young shredders and, despite a mercifully brief flirtation with pointy heavy metal guitars in the 80s, Beck and his music have never gone out of fashion.  As his old friend Jimmy Page said in 2009 when inducting Jeff into the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame “No one’s ever equalled what he’s done.  He’s shifted the whole sound and face of electric guitar music.”

So, here is what I consider to be the 50 most memorable tracks by the greatest rock guitarist to emerge from the Surrey delta.  It was a tough choice and you’ll probably disagree vehemently, but these are the records I reach for first when I feel the need to hear the music of Jeff Beck.  Which I do very often.  As Stevie Wonder once memorably said, “Do it, Jeff!”



50: You Know You Know (2015)
“Watching them was an education,” Beck told writer Walter Kolosky of seeing the Mahavishnu Orchestra’s classic first line-up.  “It was like having your pants ripped off and politely put back on again” he added, cryptically.  Jeff toured with the second MO line-up in 1975 and he often jammed with guitarist John McLaughlin, so it was no surprise when he began performing a live version of the haunting “You Know You Know” from the 1971 debut Mahavishnu Orchestra album The Inner Mounting Flame.  Find it on Live+.

49: Over The Rainbow (2010)
Some critics saw this as little more than filler when Emotion & Commotion first appeared, but it takes a special kind of dexterity and technical genius to play this classic melody using just whammy bar and harmonics.  This kind of oddball track is Beck’s speciality and he doesn’t disappoint with a note-perfect rendition of the main theme from the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz.  Besides, hearing one of the greatest tunes ever written played on a high volume electric guitar can never be a bad thing.



48: The Stumble (1988)
Freddy King’s influence on the British blues scene is incalculable, with many big name guitarists covering his material, including Eric Clapton, Peter Green, Stan Webb, Dave Edmunds and Mick Taylor.  “The Stumble” first appeared on Freddy’s album Let's Hide Away and Dance Away with Freddy King in 1961 and it was released as a single the following year.  Peter Green covered the instrumental with John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers on the 1967 A Hard Road album and for many years this recording was used as incidental music on BBC radio’s Friday Rock Show with DJ Tommy Vance. 
The Yardbirds played it on a 1965 BBC session, but this was not released officially until the 2000s.
In 1988 Jeff recorded a rollicking version of "The Stumble" with Terry Bozzio and Tony Hymas for the soundtrack of the movie Twins.  Find it on the 1991 Beckology box set. *Freddy King later recorded as Freddie King (see #9).

47: Tallyman (1967)
It may be an alien concept to anyone under 50 today but a “Tallyman” was a door-to-door collector of money for goods bought on hire-purchase or instalment plan.  
Recorded in June 1967 with Aynsley Dunbar on drums, Jeff’s second solo single was another catchy pop song.  It was the work of future 10cc co-founder Graham Gouldman who had already written “Heart Full Of Soul, “Evil Hearted You” and “For Your Love” for the Yardbirds, as well as a string of hits for the Hollies, Herman’s Hermits and others.  
Even though Rod Stewart was hanging around the studio, producer Mickie Most coaxed a reluctant Jeff to take lead vocals.  Despite a great tune and a short but powerful guitar solo, “Tallyman” barely made a dent in the charts, peaking at #30.  Find it as a bonus track on the Truth album.


46: Sleep Walk (1985) 
One of the most famous guitar instrumentals of all time, “Sleep Walk” was written and recorded by brothers Santo and Johnny Farina in 1959.  It reached #1 in the US and #22 in Britain.  Jeff’s poignant version, played with a slide, first appeared on the soundtrack of the movie Porky’s Revenge, but he has often performed it live (notably on the Rock 'n' Roll Party (Honouring Les Paul) tribute CD/DVD in 2010) without the slide, using his incredible whammy bar technique to emulate a steel guitar.  
*Guitar geek note: the original Santo & Johnny recording was made using a triple-neck Fender Stringmaster steel guitar.

45: Barabajagal (1969)
It was all Mickie Most’s idea.  As producer of both Donovan and Jeff Beck, Most came up with the unlikely notion of putting them together to see what would happen.  As it turned out, not too much of value came from the sessions other than this solitary track (and the single B-side “Trudi”), but what a triumph it was.  Recorded in May 1969 at Olympic Studios in Barnes, South West London with the entire Beck-Ola band comprising Ron Wood, Nicky Hopkins and Tony Newman (Rod may even have contributed backing vocals), “Barabajagal” is a three-minute slab of funk rock genius.  A UK #12 hit in June 1969, find it on the Donovan album Barabajagal.


44: You Shook Me (1968)
"Last note of song is my guitar being sick - well so would you if I smashed your guts for 2:28".  So read the hubristic sleeve notes on the Truth album.  Jeff’s heavy rock treatment of the Muddy Waters blues classic was way ahead of its time, featuring plenty of fuzz box and wah-wah effects, so he was understandably miffed when, seven months later, Jimmy Page pulled the rug out from under him and released an equally proto metal version of "You Shook Me" on the debut Led Zeppelin album.  Page’s protestations of innocence/ignorance didn’t hold up when it was pointed out that the LZ bassist John Paul Jones had played organ on the Truth recording. 
Jeff probably first heard the song on a 1963 UK EP by Muddy Waters on Pye International, the label which handled Chess recordings in Britain during the 60s.  The same four track EP also contained “You Need Love” which Jimmy Page turned into “Whole Lotta Love”.  Both songs were written by the great Willie Dixon.


43: Behind The Veil (1989)
From Jeff Beck’s Guitar Shop, a mostly instrumental album recorded with keyboardist Tony Hymas and ex-Frank Zappa drummer Terry Bozzio.  Hymas wrote most of the tunes and, with no bass guitarist on the album, handled the bottom end on keyboards.  Set to a reggae beat, “Behind The Veil” briefly settles into a funky blues groove before jumping a couple of octaves and veering off with the melodic hook line.  This is another tune which developed and changed significantly over the years, with many great live versions available.  But I’m sticking with the Guitar Shop original.

42: Blue Wind (1977)
This Jan Hammer tune started life on the Wired album in 1976, but I’m going for the 1977 version from Live with the Jan Hammer Group.  It’s a blistering performance with Beck and Hammer both at the top of their game.  It even includes a cheeky snatch of the Yardbirds favourite “Train Kept A-Rolling” at 2:40 (see #41).

  
41: Train Kept A-Rollin (1988)
First recorded in 1951 by Tiny Bradshaw, this song was popularised by the Johnny Burnette Rock & Roll Trio in 1956 and it was this version which Jeff introduced to the Yardbirds. It was recorded by Sam Phillips at his studio in Memphis and appeared on the 1965 US album Having a Rave Up with The Yardbirds, becoming a major part of their live show.  When Jimmy Page joined the band the song was revamped as “Stroll On” and a performance featuring both guitarists can be seen in the 1966 Michelangelo Antonioni film Blowup.  Page took “Train Kept A-Rollin” with him to Led Zeppelin where it became their set opener in the early days. 
The Yardbirds' recording would be the obvious choice here, but I’m going for a 1988 version with Andrew Roachford on vocals and actor Peter Richardson (of Comic Strip fame) on percussion, simply because it has so much swagger.  Originally from the soundtrack of the movie Twins, find it on the 1991 Beckology box set.

40: The Pump (1980)
According to co-writer Simon Phillips “The Pump” was inspired by the Beatles’ “I Am The Walrus”.  Other than the tempo I’m not sure I can hear much similarity between the two, but this atmospheric There & Back track rumbles along nicely with an extended guitar solo.  In 1983 it was used during the Porsche car chase scene in the Tom Cruise film Risky Business.


39: How High The Moon (2011)
There’s so much going on here, it’s hard to take it all in.  In an action-packed two minutes we hear a phenomenal multi-tracked vocal performance, plus a guitar accompaniment so mischievous and audacious it’s guaranteed to put a smile on your face.
Originally written for the 1940 Broadway revue Two for the Show, “How High The Moon” became a jazz standard with literally hundreds of recordings to date.  In 1951 Les Paul and Mary Ford made what is probably the definitive version.  Featuring 12 guitar parts and 12 vocal overdubs (incredible for the time) their single spent 25 weeks in the US pop charts, including nine weeks at #1.  It even topped the US R&B charts, a rare thing for a white act.
Fast forward 59 years to February 2010 and Jeff and Imelda May performed “How High The Moon” at the 52nd Grammy Awards.  A few months later this was developed into a full-blown Les Paul tribute show held at the Iridium Jazz Club in New York City on what would have been Les’s 95th birthday. 
In order to reproduce Mary Ford’s lush multitracked vocal harmonies Imelda sang along to pre-recorded tapes of herself, with remarkable results.  To complete the effect Jeff played a Gibson Les Paul guitar onstage for the first time in years which he used to duplicate Les’s fretboard trickery note-for-note.  David Bowie, Kirk Hammett, Meat Loaf and Gov’t Mule’s Warren Haynes were among the celebs in the Iridium audience. 
The heart-warming results can be heard and/or seen on the 2011 DVD and CD Rock 'n' Roll Party (Honouring Les Paul).


38: JB’s Blues (2003)
Jeff was the final instalment in Beck's trilogy of electronica influenced albums (the others being Who Else! and You Had It Coming).  “JB’s Blues” is more of an atmospheric, loose jam than a tightly arranged piece, but it’s no worse for that with some fearsome guitar in places. 
This dreamy instrumental is co-credited to Beck and producer Dean Garcia.  Best known as a member of the alternative rock duo Curve, Garcia has collaborated with many different artists and released his own solo recordings.

37: Big Block (1989)
Jeff Beck’s Guitar Shop was a long way from the jazz fusion Beck had been exploring on previous albums, adopting a more straightforward rock approach.  Even so, “Big Block” takes some strange and interesting twists, with Tony Hymas providing keyboard stabs and synth bass, while Jeff’s multilayered guitar parts sound almost orchestral in places.

36: Freeway Jam (1974)
Max Middleton was Beck’s go-to keyboard player for several years in the early 70s, appearing on four albums (two either side of the Beck, Bogert & Appice interlude) and writing some strong material.  Middleton’s “Freeway Jam” may be just that - a jam - but the guitar solo is legendary, and George Martin’s production brings out the best in all concerned.  Find it on Blow By Blow.

35: Guitar Shop (1989)
Drummer Terry Bozzio learned his trade in Frank Zappa’s band, appearing on 26 (count ‘em!) FZ albums recorded in the 70s and 80s.  Small wonder that, along with his incomparable drumming skills, Terry brought a touch of Zappa-style humour to the table for Jeff Beck’s Guitar Shop.  As Jeff pulls a range of unearthly machine-like sounds from his guitar on the title track, Bozzio recites some bombastic guitar jargon, of the kind you might find in an 80s music magazine, using a classic American TV announcer’s voice: “Deep cutaways, no pick guard and a couple of humbuckers.  Full shred!  Balls deluxe!” and so on.  It all worked perfectly and after a fallow period, Beck was back with his best album in more than a decade.



34: What Mama Said (1999)
Synth guitarist Jennifer Batten does much of the heavy lifting on the Who Else! album.  That’s her providing the powerful rhythm parts and incredible tapped lead lines throughout “What Mama Said”, while Jeff adds slide and some frenetic soloing to this powerhouse track.  The spoken word sample features actor Dick Shawn (in character as “Sylvester Marcus”), from the 1963 film It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World.

33: Jeff’s Boogie (1966)
“We’re gonna bring out Jeff’s Magic Bag for ya” says Tim Bogert, as he introduces “Jeff’s Boogie” on the 1973 Beck, Bogert & Appice Live In Japan album.  Beck then proceeds to rip through his frenetic party piece, throwing in snatches of “Over Under Sideways Down”, “Steppin’ Out” (the Clapton/Mayall version) and even the Beverly Hillbillies theme tune(!)
Based on Chuck Berry’s “Guitar Boogie” from his 1958 second album One Dozen Berrys,  “Jeff’s Boogie” was an incredibly confident statement of intent for the 22 year-old Beck when it first appeared on the 1966 second Yardbirds’ album, aka “Roger The Engineer”.  The BBA live version is jaw-droppingly good, but it’s a little too fast and loses momentum in places, so I’m sticking with the Yardbirds studio original, if only because there was virtually nothing else like it in rock at the time.


32: Heart Full Of Soul (1965)
“Heart Full Of Soul” was the first Yardbirds single recorded after Beck joined the group in March 1965.  A real Indian sitar player was hired to play the distinctive instrumental hook line but the poor man couldn’t get to grips with the song’s 4/4 rock beat.  So, Jeff stepped up with his trusty Fender Esquire and fuzzbox and nailed the sitar-like riff in one take.  Job done.  Had the Indian instrument actually been used on the Yardbirds’ song, it would have beaten, by several months, the Beatles’ “Norwegian Wood” which is thought to be the first pop song to feature a sitar.  One of three Graham Gouldman songs recorded by the Yardbirds (plus a fourth released as a solo Beck single), “Heart Full Of Soul” reached #2 UK and #9 US.  Find it on Having A Rave Up With The Yardbirds or virtually any Yardbirds hits compilation.

31: Star Cycle (1980)
Casual listeners will know “Star Cycle” as the theme to UK TV music programme The Tube which ran on Channel 4 from 1982 to 1987.  To Beck fans, however, it will always be the powerful opening track to There & Back.  Written by Jan Hammer, this spirited guitar and synth face-off represents 80s jazz fusion at its most commercial.

  
30: Plynth (Water Down The Drain) (1969)
“Today, with all the hard competition in the music business, it’s almost impossible to come up with anything totally original.  So we haven’t – However, at the time this album was made, the accent was on heavy music.  So sit back and listen and try and decide if you can find a small place in your heads for it” – Beck-Ola sleeve notes.
Always the master of self-deprecation, Jeff never missed an opportunity to underplay his achievements.  On the other hand, he may still have been smarting from having his thunder stolen by Led Zeppelin. 
The main problem with the second Jeff Beck Group album was a lack of strong original material (and a muddy production on the original vinyl pressings).  Remove the pair of shambolic Elvis covers and a Nicky Hopkins piano solo from the equation and there wasn’t too much left to write home about on Beck-Ola.  But “Plynth” was a rare exception.  With a killer riff and a great vocal from Rod, it virtually stole the show. 
An acoustic slide version titled “Around The Plynth” showed up a year later on the 1970 debut Faces album First Step.  Composer credits on First Step were listed as Rod Stewart and Ron Wood, while on the Beck-Ola version Nicky Hopkins also received a writing credit.

29: Nessun Dorma (2010)
It’s the one operatic tune even people who know nothing (and care even less) about opera will instantly recognise.  Following Pavarotti’s memorable performance of “Nessun Dorma” at the 1990 FIFA World Cup this aria from the final act of the Puccini opera Turandot lodged itself in the public consciousness like no other classical music piece of recent times, appearing in films, sport and, inevitably, pop/rock music.  Despite raising a few eyebrows at the time Jeff’s wonderfully bombastic version on Emotion & Commotion was exactly the kind of thing we have come to expect from him.  Speaking of which, check out the live footage from the 2010 Crossroads Festival where Jeff falls to his knees, James Brown style, at the dramatic climax of “Nessun Dorma”.


28: New Ways/Train Train (1971)
The Mk II Jeff Beck Group brought in Cozy Powell (drums), Bob Tench (vocals) Max Middleton (keyboards) and Clive Chaman (bass) to record Rough & Ready.  Jeff wrote/co-wrote six of the seven tracks, a higher percentage than any of his records before or since.  On an album where the performances were probably stronger than the material, the funky “New Ways/Train Train” was a stand-out track.

27: Lookin’ For Another Pure Love (1972)
Jeff has made many memorable guest appearances, but few were as significant as his work with Stevie Wonder.  We know the story about “Superstition” (see #4) but Beck was also involved with another Talking Book track.  “Lookin’ For Another Pure Love” finds our man at his most restrained.  His delicate and melodic low volume solo, without a hint of distortion, prompted Stevie to exclaim “Do it, Jeff!” midway through.  Tim Bogert later spoofed this moment on the BBA Live In Japan album (see #19).

26: Manic Depression (1993)
With Seal on vocals, Jeff delivered an incandescent version of the Hendrix classic for the 1993 compilation Stone Free: A Tribute to Jimi Hendrix.  The pair were reunited in 2012 to record an equally strong version of “Like A Rolling Stone” for the 4CD collection Chimes of Freedom: The Songs of Bob Dylan Honouring 50 Years of Amnesty International.


25: Angel (Footsteps) (2008)
This delicate Tony Hymas-penned instrumental started life on the Who Else! album but grew in stature when played in concert.  I’m picking the 2008 version from Live At Ronnie Scott’s.  Listen out for Jeff playing some astonishingly precise slide guitar notes way, way beyond the end of the fretboard.  Imagine if a Stratocaster had 50 frets (instead of just 21), that’s where he ends up at the close of this track.


24: People Get Ready (1985)
1985’s Flash album received mixed reviews, but this version of Curtis Mayfield’s oft-covered 1965 inspirational ballad was an undeniable highlight.  The song re-united Jeff and Rod Stewart for the first time since 1969 with spectacular results.  Beck delivers some wonderfully melodic guitar lines and Rod sings the hell out of the classic tune.  Released at the dawn of the MTV era, the song even had its own big budget video showing Jeff and Rod riding a freight train across America.


23: I’d Rather Go Blind (2017)
If there could be a simple four-word definition of “torch song” then surely it would read “I’d Rather Go Blind”.  First released in 1967 by Etta James, this is arguably one of the most emotive blues ballads ever recorded.  Most people in Britain probably heard the song for the first time in 1969 when Chicken Shack, then fronted by Christine McVie, took it to #14 in the UK charts.  Since then it has been covered by numerous artists ranging from B.B. King to Paul Weller and Rod Stewart.  In her 1995 biography Rage To Survive, Etta is said to have expressed a liking for Rod’s Never A Dull Moment version.  
With Jeff’s old sparring partner Jan Hammer on keyboards and the amazing Beth Hart belting out the vocals, this powerful live version is something to behold.  You don’t need me to tell you it also features a heart-stopping guitar solo.  Find it on Live At The Hollywood Bowl CD/DVD.




22: Rollin’ & Tumblin’ (2001)
The first known recording of “Rollin’ & Tumblin’” appeared in 1929 by Hambone Willie Newbern.  Since then there have been countless versions including the classic 1950 recording by Muddy Waters who is often credited as the composer.  Cream gave us one of the best “modern” adaptations on their 1966 Fresh Cream debut album but even Eric, Jack and Ginger may have found Jeff’s recording a little avant-garde for their taste.  
With Imogen Heap providing compressed, heavily treated vocals, this is electronic blues for the 21st century.  Somehow this track manages to sound simultaneously futuristic and as old as the blues itself.  Find it on You Had It Coming.


21: I Put A Spell On You (2010)
Written and recorded in 1956 by Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, “I Put A Spell On You” is one of the most covered R&B songs of all time with versions by Creedence Clearwater Revival, the Crazy World of Arthur Brown, Nina Simone and countless others.  The 12/8 time signature and pumping minor key tempo provides the perfect launch pad for some extreme whammy bar work and, with Joss Stone on vocals, Beck delivers a performance to match them all, except perhaps the 1956 original.  Find it on Emotion & Commotion.

20: Over Under Sideways Down (1966)
The 7th Yardbirds single performed well in the charts, reaching #10 UK and #13 US in May 1966.  A group composition, Jeff played guitar and bass, with regular bassist Paul Samwell-Smith (who would leave the band a month later, to be replaced by Jimmy Page) acting as co-producer and backing vocalist.  Ranked #23 in Rolling Stone's list of the 100 Greatest Guitar Songs of All Time, “Over Under Sideways Down" gave its name to the Yardbirds’ third US album.

19: Sweet Sweet Surrender (1973)
“Sweet Sweet Surrender” was the third Don Nix song Jeff recorded in the space of two years.  It first appeared on the BBA studio album, but I’ve gone for the concert version from Beck, Bogert & Appice Live In Japan simply because the guitar solo is so much better.  As Beck hits his stride Tim Bogert wisecracks “Ah, do it, Jeff!” mimicking Stevie Wonder’s famous exhortation during the solo from “Looking For Another Pure Love” (see #27).

18: The Nazz Are Blue (1966)
The song itself is nothing special and Jeff’s vocals are perfunctory, but the ferocious guitar solo was quite astonishing for the time, easily matching much of Clapton’s work on the Bluesbreakers’ “Beano Album” which, coincidentally, was recorded the same month (April 1966). 
The term "The Nazz" was coined by Lord Buckley, an American comedian of the 40s and 50s whose monologues were couched in hip, black, jive-talk.  In Buckley's routines Jesus was known as "The Nazz", a corruption of The Nazarene.  Mods in Britain later used the expression to mean “The Ultimate”, hence its use in the title of the Yardbirds song.  Ever the anglophile, Todd Rundgren then took the name for his band Nazz who recorded three albums between 1968-71.  Todd later confessed he’d never heard of Lord Buckley but loved the Yardbirds’ track. 
Find “The Nazz Are Blue” on the UK album Yardbirds (aka “Roger The Engineer”).


17: Black Cat Moan (1973)
After the second Jeff Beck Group folded in July 1972, Jeff teamed up with bassist Tim Bogert and drummer Carmine Appice, both previously in Vanilla Fudge and Cactus, to form Beck, Bogert & Appice.  He had originally attempted to form the power trio three years earlier (the news was even announced in the music press) but the project was put on hold following Beck’s serious car accident in November 1969.  
BBA issued just one self-titled studio album, plus a live double set initially released only in Japan, before imploding in 1974.
Written by Don Nix, the man who gave us “Going Down”, this riff-heavy grunge precursor features a rare lead vocal from Jeff.  “Black Cat Moan” was released as a UK single in February 1973 but failed to chart.  Find it on Beck, Bogert & Appice.

16: Isolation (2020)
To use modern parlance, in April 2020 a new Jeff Beck single unexpectedly “dropped”, together with a stylish lyric video clip.  It was a quite splendid cover of “Isolation” (from the 1970 album John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band) with Johnny Depp on vocals and long-time Beck collaborators Vinnie Colaiuta on drums and Rhonda Smith on bass.  The band first performed the track live at Eric Clapton’s Crossroads Guitar Festival in Texas in September 2019.
On his official website Jeff explains:
“Johnny and I have been working on music together for a while now and we recorded this track during our time in the studio last year.  We weren’t expecting to release it so soon but given all the hard days and true ‘isolation’ that people are going through in these challenging times, we decided now might be the right time to let you all hear it.  “You’ll be hearing more from Johnny and me in a little while but until then we hope you find some comfort and solidarity in our take on this Lennon classic.



15: She's A Woman (1975)
The Beatles catalogue is sacred ground and anyone bold enough to attempt a cover version (and an instrumental one, at that) had better be sure of what they’re doing.  With George Martin producing, that was never in doubt and Jeff (literally) breathed new life into this Lennon/McCartney tune via his Kustom Bag talk box effect.  The purely analogue device, enabling a guitarist to speak/sing through his guitar pickups via a length of plastic tubing, is laughably outdated now but it must have seemed like the future in the mid-70s.  Even so, Jeff’s phrasing is quite exquisite throughout this Blow By Blow track and he would develop the “guitar as human voice” idea further in later years.

14: Blues Deluxe (1968)
Jeff ‘s tongue-in-cheek liner notes on the Truth album said this about ”Blues Deluxe”: “Thanks to Bert and Stan, we were able to give you a perfect example of “live” blues music that we sometimes give forth, and please let’s own up about the piano solo”.
Beck never takes things too seriously and “Blues Deluxe” is overdubbed with unashamedly fake audience noise.  Not only that, much of the seven minute-plus track is taken up by a quite bizarre Nicky Hopkins piano solo, mostly played way up on the ridiculously high keys.  When the short guitar interlude finally arrives at around the five minute mark Jeff pulls out all the stops, making most other blues boom guitarists of the time sound like amateurs.  An alternate version with more guitar and less piano, but minus the overdubbed applause, was added to the Truth CD in 2005 as a bonus track.  
Although cheekily credited simply to “Rod”, “Blues Deluxe” appears to be based on B.B.King’s “Gambler’s Blues” from his 1967 album Blues Is King.  
Joe Bonamassa is a huge Jeff Beck fan and in 2003 recorded a commendable version of “Blues Deluxe” on his album of the same name.

13: Nadia (2001)
This beautifully melodic piece was written by guitarist/producer Nitin Sawhney and first appeared on his 1999 album Beyond Skin, where it was sung by Swati Natekar in the Brij dialect of Hindi.  Jeff covered it instrumentally for You Had It Coming, magically recreating the ethereal sound of the original vocal on slide guitar.
  
12: I Ain’t Superstitious (1968)
“This number is more or less an excuse for being flash on guitar” says Jeff with typical understatement in the liner notes for Truth.  Like so many blues classics of the 50s and 60s "I Ain't Superstitious" was written by the great Willie Dixon.  It was first recorded by Howlin' Wolf on a 1961 Chess single and while it didn’t stick to the standard 12-bar blues format, everyone from the Grateful Dead to Megadeth has tackled the song over the years.  By the time Beck had finished with it, the song had mutated into a high volume wah-wah extravaganza far removed from anything Willie or the Wolf could have envisioned.  No one else on earth, other than perhaps Hendrix, was playing electric blues with such confidence or swagger in 1968.


11: Shapes of Things (1968)
The opening track on Truth was a bold reworking of the 1966 Yardbirds hit single.  Slowed down and given a heavy rock treatment (Jeff used a Fender Sho-Bud steel guitar alongside his trusty Les Paul) it was radically different in almost every respect.
The song is credited only to Paul Samwell-Smith on the original Truth LP sleeve, while the 2005 CD correctly names fellow Yardbirds Keith Relf, Jim McCarty and Samwell-Smith as co-writers.  Meanwhile, the 1991 Beckology box set also adds Chris Dreja to the list of composers.  Take your pick.

10: Hi Ho Silver Lining (1967)
Jeff has often attempted to disown his first solo single, famously describing it as “like having a pink toilet seat hanging around my neck for the rest of my fucking life”.  But the guitarist doth protest too much, methinks.  Let there be no doubt, “Hi Ho Silver Lining” is a great pop record with a short but almost perfect (and eminently hummable) fuzz guitar solo.  As I believe the young people say, what’s not to like? 
Recorded in February 1967 with John Paul Jones on bass, the ubiquitous session drummer Clem Cattini and, at the insistence of producer Mickie Most, Jeff himself on vocals.  The song was the work of two American career songwriters Scott English and Larry Weiss.  Between them the pair wrote several huge hits, including “Bend Me, Shape Me” (American Breed and Amen Corner), “Brandy”/”Mandy” (Barry Manilow) and “Rhinestone Cowboy” (Glen Campbell).  
A slightly earlier (by just a few weeks) version of the song was released by The Attack, a little-known band featuring future Nice guitarist David O’List, but their record disappeared without trace as Beck’s single began to take off.  
“Hi Ho Silver Lining” reached #14 in the UK charts and quickly became a wedding disco favourite.  With amended lyrics it was also adopted as the unofficial anthem of several UK football clubs (including my own team Sheffield Wednesday) and that’s surely the highest accolade any pop record could ever hope to achieve.
Jeff has seemingly warmed to the song in recent years and now sometimes plays it in concert.  
A stereo mix was added to the 2005 CD of Truth as a bonus track.


9: Going Down (1972)
There’s a well-worn adage in rock circles which goes: “Whenever two or more guitarists are gathered together, they will eventually end up jamming on “Going Down”.  
Beck’s 4th solo LP, officially titled Jeff Beck Group (but commonly known as “The Orange Album” because of the fruit pictured on the cover) was not well received on release.  But one track stood head and shoulders above the rest.  
“Going Down” was written by Don Nix, an important, if shadowy, figure in Southern rock and was first recorded by the obscure Memphis band Moloch on their 1969 self-titled album.  Freddie King covered it in 1971 on Getting Ready and a year later Nix released his own version.  But it was Jeff who turned “Going Down” into a gilt-edged rock standard, leading to dozens more cover versions.  
Don Nix wrote “Black Cat Moan” and “Sweet Sweet Surrender” on the 1973 Beck, Bogert & Appice album and he also penned “Same Old Blues” as recorded by Eric Clapton and many others.


8: A Day In The Life (2008)
This track first appeared on the 1998 compilation In My Life, a collection of Beatles songs re-imagined by an unlikely assortment of artists, ranging from Goldie Hawn to Billy Connolly, via Jim Carrey and Sean Connery.  The connection was Sir George Martin, who produced both the originals and the covers.  Jeff’s instrumental take on “A Day In The Life” was the highlight of the album by some margin.  Picking up where “She’s A Woman” left off in 1975, Beck once again demonstrated his uncanny ability to reproduce every nuance of the human voice with his guitar (except there was no talk box involved this time).This song has since become a fixture of his live set with several concert recordings available, each one as good as the last.  It’s a tough call, but I’m going with the 2008 version from the album Live At Ronnie Scott’s, with Tal Wilkenfeld (bass), Vinnie Colaiuta (drums) and Jason Rebello (keyboards).
7: Happenings Ten Years Time Ago (1966)
It sold poorly on release (reaching only #30 US/#43 UK) but the Yardbirds’ 8th UK single is now considered one of the greatest psychedelic records of the 60s.  If that wasn’t enough recommendation, “Happenings…” was also the first release to feature the twin lead guitar attack of Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page.  The pair had recorded “Beck’s Bolero” together a few months earlier, but that was not released until early 1967. 
Often overlooked behind the stuttering riff, eastern rhythms and otherworldly layered guitar solos was a spoken word section placed low in the mix.  This was Jeff’s typically British joke.  He had recently visited a, ahem, sexual health clinic and was amused by something that was said to him there:
“Pop group, are ya? Bet you're making the money 
Why you all got to wear long hair?
Bet you're pulling the crumpet, aren’t ya?”


6: Goodbye Pork Pie Hat (1976)
This Charles Mingus jazz standard dates from 1959 when it first appeared on Mingus Ah Um, his debut album for Columbia records.  It was written as an elegy for saxophonist Lester Young who died shortly before it was recorded.
There have been more than 150 cover versions of “Goodbye Pork Pie Hat” but it’s thought the first was by Bert Jansch and John Renbourn on their 1966 Bert & John album (released in the US as Stepping Stones).  Another track from Mingus Ah Um “Better Git It In Your Soul” was recorded by acoustic guitar legend Davy Graham on his 1965 Decca album Folk Blues and Beyond (to be strictly accurate, Graham’s recording was actually based on the 1963 Mingus remake titled “Better Get Hit in Yo' Soul”).
“Goodbye Pork Pie Hat” has long been a Jeff Beck stage favourite and appears on a few of his live albums, but I’m going for the studio recording from Wired, produced by George Martin.  Sublime and subtle throughout, Beck’s version switches from clean guitar tones to blasphemous distortion in the blink of an eye.

  
5: Brush With The Blues (1999)
It’s blues Jim, but not as we know it.  Who Else! was Beck’s first album of original material in a decade and saw him working with Guitar Shop keyboardist Tony Hymas again and, fresh from Michael Jackson’s touring band, guitarist Jennifer Batten.  This slow, sultry instrumental was recorded live in Germany and demonstrates Jeff’s absolute mastery of his instrument with whammy bar wizardry, squealing harmonics and a jaw-dropping solo.  “Brush With The Blues” became a concert favourite and was even performed at the White House for President Obama in 2012. But the 1999 Who Else! version contains all the guitar pyrotechnics most people will ever need.


4: Superstition (1973) 
We all know the famous story of how Stevie Wonder came up with the riff of the century (as Beck later described it) during a jam session.  Stevie initially gifted it to Jeff, then realised “Superstition” was too good to give away and so ended up recording it himself on the Talking Book album.  As a consolation prize Jeff was able to release his own version a year later on the Beck, Bogert & Appice album.  Beck may have been beaten to the punch, but the BBA version remains a heavy rock/funk masterclass.

3: Beck’s Bolero (1967)
Predating virtually all mid-60s heavy rock and psychedelic recordings of significance (including Cream, Hendrix and the Beatles’ Revolver album), “Beck’s Bolero’ is one of rock’s genuinely great instrumentals.  Recorded in May 1966, when he was still with the Yardbirds, Jeff’s first solo outing remained unreleased for almost a year, before turning up in March 1967 as the B-side of “Hi Ho Silver Lining”.  In what was retrospectively seen as a dummy run for Led Zeppelin, Jimmy Page, Keith Moon, John Paul Jones, and Nicky Hopkins played on the recording.  Beck insists that he co-wrote the instrumental, despite it being credited solely to Jimmy Page.  Likewise, Page and Simon Napier-Bell each claim to have produced the record, while Mickie Most received the credit.
Jeff still regularly plays “Beck’s Bolero” onstage, often opening his concerts with it.  Several great live recordings exist, but the original 1967 single B-side is the one to go for.  Find it on the Truth album.


2: Let Me Love You (1968)
The very first time I heard the opening to “Let Me Love You” it was game over.  In mid-1968 no rock music on earth sounded as angry or as uplifting as that muscular seven note guitar introduction.  Since then it’s been my go-to Jeff Beck track, not only on Truth, but of almost his entire catalogue and fully deserves the runner-up spot here.  
Arriving a full eight months before the first Led Zeppelin album, Truth not only threw down the gauntlet for all heavy rock to follow, but it also introduced Rod Stewart and Ron Wood to the world.  Not a bad start.  
The concept of “call and response” in music was nothing new.  It had been around in jazz for a long time, but Jeff and Rod put a new twist on it whereby the guitarist mimicked the vocal line with uncanny accuracy.  No one was more qualified to do this than Beck, of course, and the idea was quickly seized on by other bands of the era, notably Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page and Robert Plant.  
Loosely based on Buddy Guy’s 1961 Chess single “Let Me Love You Baby” (a Willie Dixon song) “Let Me Love You” was credited simply to “Rod” in the Truth sleeve notes.


1: Cause We've Ended As Lovers (1975)
And the winner is… “Cause We’ve Ended As Lovers”.  This song was largely overlooked when it first appeared as a vocal performance on the 1974 album Stevie Wonder Presents: Syreeta, before Jeff turned it into one of the most sublime guitar instrumentals of all time.  Starting quietly, the track builds slowly with a clean guitar tone over electric piano.  Then, at 2:40, Jeff stomps on the distortion pedal and the momentum builds with fierce pinch harmonics, feedback and outrageous string bends. 
It became a concert favourite and there are many great live versions available, but the original Blow By Blow recording produced by George Martin remains the purest and, in my view, ultimate version.  
“Cause We’ve Ended As Lovers” carries the sleeve note addendum “(Dedicated to Roy Buchanan and thanks to Stevie – JB)”.  Guitar hotshot Roy Buchanan was flavour of the month in the mid-70s, recording several critically acclaimed albums with his vintage 1953 Telecaster and lauded by guitarists around the world, Beck among them.  It’s even rumoured Roy was on the shortlist to replace Brian Jones in the Rolling Stones in 1969.  Sadly, Buchanan’s career stalled in the 80s and he met an untimely end, taking his own life in 1988.  As for Stevie, he donated two songs for the album, supposedly by way of compensation for not giving Jeff first crack at “Superstition”.  Along with “Cause We’ve Ended As Lovers” the other was “Thelonius” on which he plays clavinet, uncredited.

Blow by Blow is Jeff’s highest-charting album in the US, reaching #4 and going on to sell a million copies (although it inexplicably failed to chart in Britain). 





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