Tuesday, June 25, 2013

ALBUM REVIEW: Jeff Beck's Guitar Shop: The Best Jeff Beck Album?

Jeff Beck at the Palais, Melbourne, Australia ...
Jeff Beck, 2009 (Wikipedia)
by Elmo J Karjalainen

I was asked which is the best Jeff Beck album by one of my students.

I bang on about his playing on a regular basis and my student wanted a quick way into the world of Mr. Beck.

He (Beck, not my student) is, after all, one of the true greats of the guitar.

So naturally, which his best album is, should be of some interest.

I thought I'd approach the question by comparing "Guitar Shop" to the rest, since it intuitively seems to have it all.

So is "Guitar Shop" the best Jeff Beck album? He's made a few, to say the least, so there is a lot of competition. And the competition is really stiff.

Just think about "Wired", which starts with Narada Michael Walden's absolutely insane drumming on the song Led Boots (one of my all time favourites). The album also includes the classic "Goodbye Pork Pie Hat".

The album also features Jan Hammer, the man who went on to make the theme music for Miami Vice, on all things key. Then there's "Emotion and Commotion", again featuring a beast of a drummer in Vinnie Colaiuta.

Beck's playing on this album is some of his best, with the phrasing on "Nessun Dorma" second to none. Other tunes that became instant classics for yours truly include "Hammerhead" and "Never Alone". It truly is a great album.

Then there are the slightly more experimental albums. These might not be everyone's cup of proverbial tea, but they are good albums, and they include some of Jeff Beck's best moments. Just think of the tune "Nadia" from "You Had It Coming".

These albums, however, are a bit more uneven than the two albums mentioned above. But if I was to look for a favourite, I would have to go with "Guitar Shop".

Again there's a drummer of the highest order in Terry Bozzio. It features Jeff Beck playing at his best. He also has great tone (well, to be fair, he always has great tone), and the album features great songs.

Actually what sets it apart for me from the rest is that there's not a single on that I ever feel like skipping when listening to it. As if that weren't enough, there's also the stunningly beautiful "Where Were You".

It's a Jeff Beck classic, and the prospect of playing it reduces us mere mortal guitar players to tears. The bends, the harmonics, and especially the tremolo work are unparalleled by anyone.

So all in all the best Jeff Beck album is "Guitar Shop", at least for me. It has great tunes, great playing and everything else. It's the highlight of the career of one of the best guitar players ever to have graced this planet. I think I'll give it a listen now.

If you like Jeff Beck, then you might also check out Elmo Karjalainen. He also plays instrumental guitar music, and it is at times quite influenced by Jeff Beck's amazing playing.

Click here to get two of Elmo Karjalainen's songs for free!

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