Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Jeff Beck 7: Wired

Not that he ever repeated himself, but Jeff Beck was smart enough to stick with a decent formula once he found one that worked. Wired builds on the foundation set by Blow By Blow, retaining producer George Martin and Max Middleton on keyboards. A couple of new names—for the time—debut here: Jan Hammer (fresh from the Mahavishnu Orchestra and ECM work, and years away from Miami Vice) on synthesizer and Narada Michael Walden (also recently with Mahavishnu as well as Weather Report, and just as far away from “Freeway Of Love”) on drums and credited for writing four of the songs. Clearly, jazz fusion was the thing, and vocals were out.
“Led Boots” is supposed to be a nod to a certain band named after a zeppelin, but it’s way to busy to have any connection past the title. “Come Dancing” is more of a challenge than an invitation, given the confrontational groove, for most of it, but listeners can marvel at the way the guitar melds with the synth. It’s all pretty funky so far, so it’s wise that he makes his own stamp “Goodbye Pork Pie Hat” by Charles Mingus, in an incredibly reverent yet virtuosic take. If that’s too slow, try to keep up with “Head For Backstage Pass”, wherein he seems to be dueling with himself.
Hammer contributes “Blue Wind”, playing synth as well as drums in a leg-breaking meter, with nice call-and-response between the keys and the stringed instruments. “Sophie” is a tricky one, starting slow and dreamy, but soon working up into a frenzy of syncopation and hot licks. Max Middleton gets center stage on his clavinet for “Play With Me” for even more of the same. Finally, “Love Is Green” is a short, slow ballad for guitar, bass, and piano, its title recalling Beck’s cover from the decade before. While written by Walden, it’s very reminiscent of the quieter Hammer tunes on John Abercrombie’s Timeless album.
Wired has no gimmicks, just playing. It stays pretty far away from rock, and forms a worthy companion to its older brother. It could use a little more variety, and further explorations like “Goodbye Pork Pie Hat” would have been great, but you try telling Jeff Beck what to do.

Jeff Beck Wired (1976)—3

2 comments:

  1. Thanks for another year of great reviews. No love for Eurythmics? Would be interested to hear your take on them!

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    1. My pleasure, thanks for reading!

      Eurythmics might be worth tackling, someday. I owned "Touch" on cassette not long after it came out.

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