Blow By Blow

Blow By Blow

Of the triumvirate of guitar gods to emerge from The Yardbirds’ brief, if monumentally influential original ‘60s incarnation, Jeff Beck was arguably the most gifted. Yet the enduring success of Beck’s pioneering 1975 instrumental fusion album belies its creatively restless ancestry. Having bolted the ‘birds for a pair of Rod Stewart-vocalized heavy electric blues albums that essentially became the template for fellow former-Yardie Jimmy Page’s Led Zeppelin, Jeff then lurched into the r&b/jazz inflected incarnation of the second Jeff Beck Group, reversed course into heaviness again via a misfired collaboration with Vanilla Fudge’s Tim Bogert and Carmine Appice, then rebuffed an offer to join the Rolling Stones before hooking up with ex-Beatles producer George Martin to forge this album. It remains one of his most satisfying and successful. While fusion has long since gotten an oft-deserved bad rep for self-indulgence, the Beck/Martin collaboration here is one of elegant, jazz-suffused subtlety. Whether he’s adding some playful, wah-wah pedaled funk to Lennon-McCartney’s “She’s A Woman,” lighting up “Freeway Jam” with patent fretboard fireworks or wringing every melancholy from Stevie Wonder’s “’Cause We’ve Ended As Lovers,” Beck’s playing is powered by a an emotionally charged lyricism all his own. Ample evidence of why JB fans would rather hear their hero play two notes than any other guitarist play 200. 


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