Sunday, March 29, 2015

blow by blow

Jeff Beck went solo with the fun filled fusion of this innovative improvisational instrumental inspiration.   After his stint in the Yardbirds, Beck had formed The Jeff Beck Group with Rod Stewart and Ronnie Wood and a series of drummers, recording two albums (Truth in 1968 and Beck-Ola in 1969) before looking to form a new group with the rhythm section of Vanilla Fudge, Tim Bogert and Carmine Appice.  A car accident sidelined that plan for several years, during which time Beck assembled a new Jeff Beck Group with Bobby Tench, Max Middleton, Clive Chaman, and Cozy Powell.  They recorded two albums together (Rough and Ready in 1971 and Jeff Beck Group in 1972) until Beck could reunite with Bogart and Appice (who had formed Cactus in the meantime) to record Beck, Bogert, and Appice in 1973.  It would be the only album they would record together.  

Beck left the trio suddenly and took several months off before starting his next venture with producer George Martin:    “I know that Carmen [Appice] and Tim [Bogert] were frustrated guys, and they wanted me to lead them to new pastures. But we were existing in the wake of bands like Cream and Jimi Hendrix, which made it difficult to find those pastures. We overextended ourselves – we were the answer to the question, ‘What kind of music would these crazed guys make without any chastisement?’...When Led Zeppelin started doing huge concerts, I was just sitting in my garage listening to the radio. I was like, ‘What’s going on? I started this shit and look at me!’ ... I wanted to go directly onto an instrumental guitar album,..I realized another vocal album would be out of the question because there weren’t any vocalists available that I liked...It was nice to work with somebody that knows a Gb from an Am. George [Martin] was a very good, objective person to have around. He put the album into perspective and that’s what I think a producer should do. He controlled it, and any wild ideas that we had, he just pushed them out the window. I wouldn’t say he completely comprehended what I was doing, but then I didn’t either [laughs].  I enjoyed making the Blow By Blow album with George because there was an air of importance about the project. But it wasn’t like, ‘C’mon, you bastard! We’ve been waiting two years for that!’ I think it’s the best guitar playing I’ve done since Truth ... Blow By Blow was a major change in my life, really, but that was an accident. The album was sort of put together naturally."

The sessions for 'Blow by Blow' took place at AIR Studios in London with  engineers Denim Bridges and Steven Saper.    The recordings feature Jeff Beck on electric guitars and bass;   Max Middleton playing keyboards;  Phil Chen on bass;  and Richard Bailey on drums and percussion;    with    Stevie Wonder hitting the clavinet on "Thelonius" ; and   George Martin doing the arrangements on "Scatterbrain" and "Diamond Dust".   

Martin would admit:  "I guess the surprising thing for me was that Jeff sort of put up with everything I had to say; there were no arguments at all. He accepted direction extremely well. The idea of putting strings behind his playing was a fairly radical one [on “Scatterbrain” and “Diamond Dust”] and I thought he’ll probably blow his top when he hears it. But he sort of smiled and said, “Well, if you say so, it should be alright.” And when I finished the stuff, he was knocked out with it; he was really thrilled.  So I was quite chuffed about that...He’s an extraordinary person because he seems to have an awful contempt for his guitars. His greatest hobby in life is cars and in particular sort of hot rod cars and he’s got quite a few of them in his large house down in Kent. And there’s nothing he likes better than to get under the front of his car and change the oil and get himself all greasy.  He loves playing about with mechanics and things. And he tends to look upon his guitars like a lump of old iron. It’s amazing to me how these instruments …  he brings a battered old Fender in and says, 'This bloody thing is no good.' And I say, ‘Well, haven’t you got another one?' And he said, 'No, it’s all I’ve got.' And then he proceeds to pick it up and make the most incredible, beautiful, heavenly sounds imaginable."

 'Blow by Blow' became the first instrumental album to break into the top ten, peaking at number four in the US and going platinum.  

"You Know What I Mean"   / "She's a Woman"  / "Constipated Duck" 

'Blow by Blow' 
full album:

Side one
1. "You Know What I Mean"   Jeff Beck, Max Middleton 4:05
2. "She's a Woman"   John Lennon and Paul McCartney 4:31
3. "Constipated Duck"   Jeff Beck 2:48
4. "Air Blower"   Jeff Beck, Max Middleton, Phil Chen, Richard Bailey 5:10
5. "Scatterbrain"   Jeff Beck, Max Middleton 5:39
Side two
1. "Cause We've Ended as Lovers"   Stevie Wonder 5:42
2. "Thelonius"   Stevie Wonder 3:16
3. "Freeway Jam"   Max Middleton 4:58
4. "Diamond Dust"   Bernie Holland 8:26

live in 1975

00:00 Constipated Duck 4:58
04:58 She's A Woman 5:44
10:42 Freeway Jam 6:17
16:59 Definitely Maybe 7:40
24:39 Superstitious 4:07
28:46 Cause We've Ended As Lovers 8:10
36:56 Air Blower 5:11
42:07 Got The Feeling 4:33
46:40 Diamond Dust 2:53
49:33 Power 5:41 (Guest: John McLaughlin)

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