Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Jeff Beck 5: Beck, Bogert & Appice

Vanilla Fudge never had a reputation for subtlety, but something about their rhythm section appealed to Jeff Beck, so after a few false starts he was able to rope in bassist Tim Bogert and drummer Carmine Appice for his latest Jeff Beck Group. Rechristened Beck, Bogert & Appice, they recorded exactly one studio album together.
Part of the appeal of the Americans was their vocal abilities, similar but mostly anonymous, especially after none of the other vocalists Beck tried worked out. Yet he himself takes the microphone for “Black Cat Moan”, a dirty blues courtesy of producer Don Nix. “Lady” has harmonies (and bubbling bass) reminiscent of classic Cream, with a galloping beat that serves it well, starting and stopping on various dimes. The boys get mushy on “Oh To Love You”, with big harmonies, block piano chords, Mellotron, and even a Coral sitar sound. The song shouldn’t work, but it does. “Superstitious” is indeed the Stevie Wonder song, originally written for Beck, here removed of all its funk to bludgeon that classic riff into the runout groove, complete with a drum roll that slows down to nothing.
The ultra-simple “Sweet Sweet Surrender” starts with acoustic guitar of all things, and we can blame Don Nix for the words on this one. (Pretty sure Gregg Alexander heard it too.) “Why Should I Care” has a terrific riff and double-tracked vocal constructed from prime ear candy that must have sounded great on a car radio. The wah-wah comes out for “Lose Myself With You”, which sounds a lot like the previous song but isn’t as good. (Somewhere Tommy Shaw files this away for “Too Much Time On My Hands”.) “Livin’ Alone” is more boogie from the same general cloth that takes way too long to finish, but fans will recognize the Beck-Ola tone. For a smooth closer, Curtis Mayfield’s “I’m So Proud” (also revived later that year by Todd Rundgren) is given a mostly reverent treatment, except for Beck’s ill-conceived idea to use his airplane-taking-off effect right before the big solo.
Beck, Bogert & Appice is a little dumb but still fun, and as with most of Beck’s projects, the group didn’t last. Those seeking even more of what this power trio had to offer could shell out the bucks for a double live album recorded and released only in—where else?—Japan. It’s worth seeking out if you like the talkbox, drum solos, singers haranguing audiences about their lack of enthusiasm and moral casualness, and for Beck’s brief rendition of the Beverly Hillbillies theme.

Beck, Bogert & Appice Beck, Bogert & Appice (1973)—3

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