Friday, February 24, 2017

Jeff Beck 3: Rough And Ready

As we’ve pointed out too many times, two years used to be a long time between albums. Jeff Beck was relatively inactive musically between 1969 and 1971, a period in which many of his peers and former bandmates made incredible leaps and bounds, not to mention many albums revered today.
Still of the mind that the only way he could make records was with a singer in his band, he went ahead with an all-new Jeff Beck Group, another five-piece outfit with a more American “boogie” sound. Despite taking songwriting credit for most of the album, the guitar takes a back seat to the rest of the band, particularly singer Bobby Tench, who brings a soulful element to the proceedings. Frankly, his voice is a matter of personal taste.
A track-by-track rundown of Rough And Ready isn’t going to be easy, since the album’s kind of dull. “Got The Feeling” is a predominant gallop with cowbell, not too far removed from Chicago, and not in a good way. Drummer Cozy Powell ably tackles the off-time riff in “Situation”, which is more interesting musically than lyrically. Jeff finds a Leslie speaker and a slide for “Short Business”, which is indeed brief, making way for the instrumental “Max’s Tune”. Originally titled “Raynes Park Blues” and credited to Jeff, the updated title (and songwriter) reflects the work of keyboard player Max Middleton, who’s also pretty tasty throughout the album. Whatever one calls the song, it’s a good exploratory piece—except maybe for the salsa detour near the end—and an early sign of the direction Jeff would eventually take, but not for a while.
The Leslie effect comes back on for “I’ve Been Used”, a decent riff but not much of a song, though there’s some wonderful fuzzy distorted bass from Clive Chaman. “New Ways/Train Train” also crams various riffs into a track with seemingly separate parts, more interesting when it’s just the guitar. Oddly, another long side-ender is worth returning to; “Jody” beings as something of a lament for a lost childhood friend or something, goes into a strange double-time section that would work better as a groove on its own, then finds its way back to the original theme.
Rough And Ready perks up anytime Jeff takes one of his solos, and even the flashy ones fit. Apparently the recording sessions were a tad rushed, and the band sounded better live, which only underscores that this is not the best souvenir.

Jeff Beck Group Rough And Ready (1971)—

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