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Thursday

Jeff Beck, The Sinatra of Instrumental Guitar?

Chairman of the Board


Hey! Why not? So, what got me thinking about this was news of an upcoming project by Jeff Beck and Rod Stewart-- see post at Nightwatcher's House of Rock.

This sort of story brings up various questions, at least for me, i.e. "Well, isn't Rod long done with Rock, and off to crooner land?" OR "Isn't Jeff always progressing forward, and therefor unlikely to wanna re-visit The Jeff Beck Group of 1967?"  I have other questions too, but they get silly...

Then it occurs to me that this could represent a progression for both artists, and that just maybe Rod Stewart's excursion into the great American Songbook has been preparing him for such a collaboration with perhaps the greatest interpreter of classic melodies for instrumental electric guitar. Much like Frank Sinatra, Jeff Beck has been proving himself in this area from his take on the Beatles' "She's a Woman" on Blow by Blow, up to the more recent "A Day in the Life" and "Somewhere Over the Rainbow". Does this make him a Sinatra of guitar for this age or what?

Also consider that JB is now well into his 60's, at which point Sinatra was no longer breaking new ground himself. Yeah, time keeps on tickin' kidz, now don't it! And what about Clapton... isn't he entitled to the "Chairman of the Board" nod? Well, perhaps in some symbolic context he is, however, Clapton hasn't broken new ground as a soloist since Wheels of Fire; since then maintaining a highly esteemed position as the standard bearer for Electric Blues Rock. Cool with me. Meanwhile Jeff Beck has been putting his signature edge on songs by Stevie Wonder, The Beatles, Charles Mingus, Harold Arlen... you get the idea. Jeff's 2010 release "Emotion and Commotion" has been nominated for 5 Grammys, the awarding of which comes up Feb. 13th. People wondering the ongoing "what if Jimi were still alive" thing, can find some clues in Emotion & Commotion. It's a milestone for electric guitar in an orchestral context your parents & grandparents couldn't have imagined.

In terms of musical interpretations, everybody knows that Jeff Beck does it his way, pretty much making him more C.O.B.-worthy than E.C. as broader melodic expression goes. Remember, Clapton didn't do "Cause We've Ended as Lovers", "Diamond Dust" or "Where Were You".

So what exactly does a Beck-Stewart collaboration hold? We'll just have to wait and see. We had a taste and perhaps a foreshadowing with the 80's "People Get Ready". An entire album should certainly get into some adventures in classic melody, enabling Boomers to finally say, "Hey! What the hell! We have grown up, and it's good!"

Get ready people!


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