Jeff Beck has a new CD out – his first for six years – and it is appropriately titled Loud Hailer. The title sends something of a message of intent, and the album does not disappoint.
Jeff Back says he wanted to make a statement about some of the nasty things he observed in the world and loved the idea of being at a rally, using a loud hailer to shout his viewpoint. Beck wrote the tracks with the aid of singer Rosie Bones and guitar player Carmen Vandenberg. They met via Queen’s drummer John Taylor, and worked together so well that the pieces came together pretty swiftly. The input of Rosie Bones’ and Vandenberg’s feisty, strong styles come through in spades here.
Producer Filippo Cimatti recruited drummer Davide Sollazzi and bass player Giovanni Pallotti and a mercuric mix ensued. This is confident, virtuoso music production from a veteran performer who loses not a jot of cutting edge, provocative style as time passes.
Loud Hailer begins with “The Revolution Will Be Televised,” a sumptuous opener with wild guitars throwing shapes, forms and sounds around an echoed vocalization. Jeff Beck’s guitar solo, as expected, is virtuoso and perfectly appropriate for the piece. “Live in the Dark” is a prog-rocky piece with clear, well-worked vocals over impressive fretwork and powerful lyrics. It, incidentally, is going to be released as a single. “Pull It” is a gorgeous instrumental interlude, heavy on the rock, easy on the ear – a superlative experience for the senses with guitar work that weaves, snakes and entwines the senses.
Just over two minutes passes in a flash before the next track “Thugs Club,” which opens with sonorous guitar into which the vocals insert a story about the various doings of various poor n’ere-do wells in the twilight life surrounding the making of riches for other men. There is a thunking guitar and drums intersection and a huge energy backing the drive right through this number, driven in no small measure by the power of the vocals.
“Scared for the Children” is a beautiful ballad, creating a place of calm and reflection among the power and force of the album. It tells a story of Billy, a child whose life takes shape surrounded by people and things which take his innocence away. The piece works its way up to a precocious guitar solo interlude where Jeff Beck shows his experience and understanding of melodic innovation to the full.
“Right Now” is a rock song, pure and simple. Guitars announce the theme, the propulsive vocals tell the tale of greed and the structure is rounded, explosive and angry. “Shame” opens like a country and western number, is sung like a blues and played like a rock song. Twangy, swingy guitar create the textures over which the vocals weave in and out with the story. “Edna” is one of the two signature instrumentals from Beck (the other being “Pull It”) and is short (quite), sweet (very) and good (extremely). “The Ballad of the Jersey Wives” has something to say and Jeff Beck may as well have his loud hailer to his lips – but he gives it this time to the vocals, who acquit the story of truth seeking in a powerful, gutsy delivery.
“O.I.L.” is funky and rolls back the veils to reveal pure, open rhythms and an essence of the beat delivered not only by the drums but by the finger-flicking fret working of Beck on his guitar and the entire structure of the piece. A great number and, again, supported by intense, powerful vocals. Sitting still listening to this is not an option. “Shrine,” a classy ballad, closes out Loud Hailer in style.
Here is an album which is enjoyable, fun and also delivering a personal statement of observations about the time we are living in. Jeff Beck innovates and continues to add different essences to guitar playing. He once said his aim was to make people forget he was a guitar player and, while you may understand what he means, there is little chance of that. But he is a guitar player who keeps delivering, bringing new sounds to the instrument, finding new doors to break through and never for an instant hitting inertia. The choice of compadres on Loud Hailer is sublime, with the vocals delivering more than a passing compliment to the music: At times, they make it what it is and the character behind them is engaging and very charismatic. Good music, excellent production and a combination of top-tier musicians combine to make this a quality, listenable and worthy album.
Beck is touring the U.S this summer with blues legend Buddy Guy. And in August the Hollywood Bowl will be the setting for a celebration of 50 years of music making with special guests and, of course, Jeff Beck at the helm. As he has twice been inaugurated into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, first with the Yardbirds and the second as a solo artist, won a total of eight Grammy Awards, has been included in Rolling Stone’s 100 greatest guitarists of all time and been a guest performer with Stevie Wonder, Buddy Guy, Tina Turner, Mick Jagger and countless others, it should be a night to remember.
Source: Something Else Reviews.