Jeff Beck – Live and Exclusive from the Grammy Museum (Atco) – CD review –
Then mention of Jeff Beck’s name usually conjures up images of the pioneering pyrotechnics that he forged with the Yardbirds or his own Jeff Beck Group of the late Sixties, or the spacey jazz-fusion of Blow By Blow of the mid Seventies, but the guitarist is capable of so much more. Although, he’s never sold as many records as the man he replaced in the Yardbirds (Eric Clapton), he’s shown over the years that he probably has a wider range of style than Mr. Slowhand.
Live and Exclusive from the Grammy Museum finds Beck accompanied by bass, drums and keyboards in an intimate setting. Half of the album’s eight tracks are from Beck’s latest studio offering, Emotion and Commotion, and many show off the gentle aspect of his playing. Particularly good is the tasteful cover of the Beatles’ “A Day in the Life,” which begins delicately, and transforms into a spacey middle, before ending with a familiar single note. “Over the Rainbow” has been covered literally hundreds of times, yet Beck adds enough finesse and grace to make it his own. He reprises his stunning Les Paul tribute “How High the Moon,” first performed on this year’s Grammy’s, complete with what sounds like the original vocal track from Paul’s former wife, Mary Ford.
Don’t worry, there’s still several songs where the guitarist turns up the heat, as in the wah-wah infused “Hammerhead” or the back-to-basics “Brush With the Blues.” The album closes with the closest Beck ever got to a hit, “People Get Ready,” which he transforms into a Sunday morning church meeting. The set also comes with a bonus DVD of the performance. One highlight is getting to see Rhonda Smith tear is up on the bass. Live and Exclusive From the Grammy Museum is a rare opportunity to hear a legend in a cozy setting. It’s an excellent addition to his catalog. — Tony Peters