If Jeff Beck was lucky enough to be a dog, he’d probably be a whippet: fast, intelligent, dangerous and highly strung. He came to prominence in the mid-Sixties when his guitar slinging capabilities were put to the test as he successfully replaced Eric Clapton in the Yardbirds.
After blowing his mind (and everyone else’s) whilst on tour in America, Mrs. Beck’s bad boy spent the next few years searching for his musical kennel. First of all there was the Blues rock of the Jeff Beck Group, which sensationally contained Rod Stewart, Ronnie Wood, and Nicky Hopkins on keyboards (who incidentally turned down Led Zeppelin to join this outfit). Then there was a second edition of the band, with Cozy Powell, which went nowhere.
Next up was a union with ex-Vanilla Fudge rhythm section member Tim Bogart and Carmine Appice (British dogs & American cats obviously don’t mix!).
Beck then went on to make this all instrumental album, which was an incredible success all over the world. Supported by Max Middleton on keyboards, he also had the fifth Beatle, George Martin, producing the whole thing.
“Blow By Blow” finds young Beck with a bass-drums-keyboards outfit which was augmented by some tastefully unobtrusive string arrangement. But don’t let that fool you, the guitar is right up there and in your face throughout. All his trademark licks, fierce attacks, thick tones, micro-tonal bending, distortion, screaming feedback, vibrato, sustain, sonic hoodoo, and splatter blasting are all still on show.
Within the concept of Martin’s superb production, Beck is still let loose on such crazy workouts as “Air Blower”, “Scatter Brain” and the supersonic “Freeway Jam”, where the sound-effects department is really put to the test.
Beck also proves that he can structure a melody and turn it into something of great beauty. “Cause We’ve Ended As Lovers”, written by Stevie Wonder, is Beck’s gorgeous tribute to his own guitar hero, the sadly departed Roy Buchanan. The final track, “Diamond Dust” is the guitarist at the absolute peak of his powers, clocking in at nearly nine minutes it’s guaranteed to send shivers up and down your spine.
“Blow By Blow” was certainly Jeff Beck’s finest hour, but to get the full blown story you should also buy the 3-CD Beckology, which will take you on a musical journey with Beck from the very beginning with the Tridents in 1963 to his solo album “Guitar Shop” in 1989, an impressive collection indeed.
Mott the Dog album rating: 5 Stars
You Know What I Mean
She’s A Woman
Cause We’ve Ended As Lovers
Jeff Beck – guitar
Max Middleton – keyboards
Phil Chen – bass guitar
Richard Bailey – drums