Beckology

Last night in “Just say no!” we posted a photo of Queen Elizabeth together with guitar heroes Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page and Brian May at a Buckingham Palace reception. I came to praise Jeff Beck, not to bury him, but several readers noted the limitations in my Beckology.
Perhaps the most biting of the messages was Hale Stewart’s. Stewart wrote:

Your music knowledge is trapped in the 1960s. Beck issued “Blow by Blow” in the 1970s. This album is considered one of the most accessible in the jazz/rock genre. He followed up with “Wired”. Although he [Beck?] is not a big fan of “Wired,” many guitarists (myself included) think it is a great album.
He started the 1990s with “Guitar Shop.” This album was hailed as Beck’s return to prominence as a “guitar hero.” Listen to “Where Were You” to get an idea of his new lyricism. His current album “Jeff” is one of the best collaborations between a live musician and a computer generated environment.
I realize you are trying to be cool by mentioning musicians on your site, but so far you have demonstrated an annoyingly antiquated view.

I seriously doubt that my obsolescence annoyed anyone but Stewart, but I am willing to suffer his slings and arrows in order to bring the Jeff Beck story up to date. Seconding Stewart, though in a far more amicable tone, Dan Hagevik wrote:

Big Trunk, Beck is still putting out kick-ass guitar albums and has won some Grammys the last few years for his instrumentals. I worship at the altar of Page but Beck has stayed the most modern out of all 3 of the former Yardbird guitarists.

In my post last night I noted that both Beck and Plant had come out of the Yardbirds to form groups that spotlighted their instrumental virtuosity. Hagevik implicitly corrects an oversight that Jim Heffernan explicitly chides me for:

C’mon guys. All three guitarists were in the Yardbirds at some point.

I guess I can be grateful that Stewart failed to note that oversight. Two readers joined me in the “trapped in the ’60s” spirit and took walks down memory lane. Doug Levene wrote:

You know, you’re hurting my feelings calling Jeff Beck “obscure.” I saw the Jeff Beck Group play at the Boston Tea Party in, I guess, 1968. Rod Stewart was the lead singer. They were amazing. I have all their albums on LPs, but of course, who listens to LPs anymore? I just got “Truth” on CD and, believe it or not, my totally hip 15-year-old daughter ripped the whole thing to her I-Pod, and has started including Beck cuts on the mixes she makes for her friends.
I think it would be more accurate to call Jeff Beck a “guitarist’s guitarist.” There are tones on “Truth” and “Beck-Ola” that guitarists today still can’t reproduce. In the pantheon of guitar gods, there was Hendrix, McLaughlin and Beck. And then everyone else.
Thanks for the post about the Queen and Beck, et al. I forwarded it to my guitar teacher and to my brother. Us geezers got to stay current, you know.

Brian Adams wrote:

The more I look at that photo, the more blown away I am by it. Gosh what a moment in time.
Ever see the 1966 Brit flick “Blow-Up” with David Hemmings? The Yardbirds appear playing themselves, but completely uncredited. They’re playing in a typical London club of the “mod” era. And they were not playing too well! Sloppy.
Beck does some thrashing around and finally smashes his axe into an amp. But just seeing Beck and Page as kids playing live is worth the price of admission. It shows up on TMC once in a while.

Stuart Paul wrote to take issue with my picks for the cream of the Jeff Beck/Rod Stewart collaboration:

I must respectfully disagree. The definitive Beck/Stewart collaboration has to be their soaring gospel classic, “People Get Ready.” It’s Beck and Stewart at their respective best.
” . . . don’t need no ticket, ya just get on board.”

My disapproval of substance abuse provoked Sherard Anderson. Anderson, however, wrote to pick fights on several fronts:

Ignoring the fact that the simplistic [“Just say no”] slogan was so entirely useless and ineffective…You say that the Queen looks to have aged more gracefully than Beck and Clapton.
Well just how lovely for the Queen. I’m willing to bet dollars to doughnuts that Beck and Clapton had more fun along the way.
The prudish turn keeps getting sharper and sharper, doesn’t it?
Any take on Senator Stevens’ attempts to force government censorship onto paid for content on premium cable channels?

Unlike the other Beck fans who wrote, Anderson appears to groove on a familiar antipathy. I’m not sure I follow his train of thought, but I think we all understand what he means and where he’s coming from. Heavy!

Responses

Books to read from Power Line