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)

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