Record of the Day: Jeff Beck, "Beck-Ola"

Record of the Day: Jeff Beck, “Beck-Ola”

Jeff Beck
Beck-Ola (Cd EMI 724357875127)

Jeff Beck's guitar has crossed the history of rock with undisputed authority thanks not only to the masterful technique that Beck has demonstrated since the '60s with the Yardbirds but above all for the constant work on the sound; in particular Beck has explored the use of feedback, distortion and volume, creating recordings which, thanks to their aggressive sounds, anticipate the works of groups such as Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple and the entire hard rock scene in general.

After leaving the Yardbirds Beck threw himself headlong into a new project which included the young and then unknown Rod Stewart on vocals, Ron Wood (future Rolling Stones) on bass, Nicky Hopkins (pianist of solo Beatles and Stones) on keyboards and Micky Waller ( coming from John Mayall's group) on drums, immediately hitting the American charts with
the album Truth, a very powerful mixture of rock and blues brought to its limits.

Having embarked on a long American tour during which the drummer changed (the irrepressible Tony Newman arrived in his place), Beck needed to immediately make a new album to keep the press and fans interested in the group; he therefore locked himself in the studio and recorded “Beck-Ola” at full speed in the midst of very strong personal tensions that led the group members to constantly argue and probably also unleashed the frenetic energy present in the album from start to finish.

Two dirty and violent Elvis cover versions (“All Shook Up” and “Jailhouse Rock”) are mixed with original songs with a rough jam session flavour, clearly improvised in the studio without much writing preparation.
The result is an authentic musical dynamo that (with the exception of the restful moment of “Girl from Mill Valley”) offers songs with the force of a sledgehammer: everything is distorted, saturated with ferocious blues, Stewart's voice has to fight to make itself wide through a wall of swollen, excessive sounds, which leave the listener no respite, penetrating forcefully into his brain.

Beck surpasses himself, doesn't miss a beat and unleashes dazzling solos, authentic sound burns that confirm him among the champions of his instrument. This remastered edition of “Beck-Ola” has an even more powerful sound than the original vinyl, it will certainly put the speakers of your hi-fi system (and your ears!) to the test!

Carlo Boccadoro, composer and conductor, was born in Macerata in 1963. He lives and works in Milan. He collaborates with soloists and orchestras in different parts of the world. He is the author of numerous books on musical topics.

This text is taken from “Lunario della musica: A record for every day of the year” published by Einaudi, courtesy of the author and the publisher.