Jeff Beck: Emotion & Commotion

RIYL: The Jeff Beck Group, Robert Fripp, Joe Satriani

Emotion & Commotion is a misleading title. One would assume with “Commotion” in the title, Beck would be ripping and shredding away throughout this 10-track recording. Instead, the enigmatic and talented Beck puts together a record of beauty and subtlety. He is reserved, melodic and letting the subtleties and nuances of his playing center the record. There is beauty throughout, like “Corpus Cristi Carol,” a Middle English Hymn which was re-interpreted by Jeff Buckley in 1994. Beck, inspired by Buckley, starts the record with his guitar accompanied quietly by an orchestra. The piece is two minutes and 40 seconds of peace and sadness. Irish Singer Imelda May is featured on another song Buckley recorded, “Lilac Wine,” and like “Carol” this song features a beautifully understated orchestra in the background and Beck’s emotive and deliberate playing.

Joss Stone contributes her ridiculously talented vocals to two tracks including a riveting reading of the classic, “I Put a Spell on You.” I am convinced she could sing the menu from a Chinese restaurant and make it intense and enjoyable. While Stone vamps it up, Beck and the rest of the folks play it straight to deliver a terrific new interpretation of a classic. The record never really comes close to chaos. It features clean production – every note, every instrument has its own space to breathe. The liner notes are good, with Beck sharing his motivations for picking the tracks. It has a very relaxing and laid back tone consistently demonstrating that less is more. Again, Beck puts something out that you might not have expected. Clapton is the popular guitarist, consistently producing music that sells by melding his influences into the pop structure. Beck never quite had a consistent vision or production schedule. Beck is a brilliant guitarist who, when he does work, usually makes something you wouldn’t expect. Emotion & Commotion might be mislabeled, but it is an excellent addition to the Beck catalog. (Atco 2010)

Jeff Beck on MySpace


Jeff Beck: Performing This Week…Live at Ronnie Scott’s

Though almost universally acknowledged as one of the best guitarists on the planet, Jeff Beck has never been able to translate his brushes with superstardom into the sort of name value enjoyed by his fellow ex-Yardbirds, Eric Clapton and Jimmy Page – due at least in part to his seemingly utter disregard for the importance of maintaining any kind of consistent industry presence and predilection for interminable waits between new studio albums. For a brief while, it seemed as though Beck might be changing his ways – between 1999 and 2003, he released three albums of new material – but since 2003’s Jeff, he’s re-entered the wilderness, popping out only for the odd “American Idol” cameo or live collection. Performing This Week…Live at Ronnie Scott’s is his third live release of the new millennium, which would seem annoyingly excessive if it weren’t for two things: One, a 64-year-old Jeff Beck still plays smoke rings around nine out of 10 of his fellow guitarists; and two, he plays here with an ace band that includes drummer Vinnie Colaiuta and an incredibly talented bass player named Tal Wilkenfeld. Ronnie Scott’s, which is also being released on DVD, plays solidly to Beck’s strengths – 16 tracks, culled from across his career, none lasting longer than a hair over six minutes – but since he’s always been more about discipline than noodle-fingered wankery, the set’s staidness makes perfect sense. If it ultimately doesn’t add much of anything to Beck’s legacy, well, there wasn’t much to add anyway, was there? (Eagle 2008)

Jeff Beck MySpace page