Tuesday, September 13, 2022

Jeff Beck 17: Emotion & Commotion

After another layoff between albums, Jeff Beck decided to leave techno behind and get back to just playing. Emotion & Commotion combines songs featuring female vocals—thankfully, not the all-star route that made Carlos Santana really rich in this century—with unexpected covers, most accompanied by an orchestra. The focus is on melody.
We see the title is apt, as following his interpretation of Jeff Buckley’s version of Benjamin Britten’s “Corpus Christie Carol”, the “Hammerhead” riff comes tearing through. “Never Alone” is quieter, closer to his ‘80s fusion style underscored by the Steve Lipson and Trevor Horn production. The classic “Over The Rainbow” would be a lovely lullaby except that it’s followed by an “I Put A Spell On You” that sticks mostly to the Screamin’ Jay Hawkins original, with Joss Stone restraining herself just enough.
That ‘80s Trevor Horn sound returns on “Serene”, which wanders through dentist office territory but still lives up to its title, then Imelda May tackles the vocal on Jeff Buckley’s version of Nina Simone’s version of “Lilac Wine”. Lovely as that is, it’s no competition for his treatment of “Nessun Dorma” that to these ears is just as tearjerking as Luciano Pavarotti’s. Vinnie Colaiuta’s complicated rhythms bring in another Joss Stone vocal on “There’s No Other Me”, and we go out on a soft note with “Elegy For Dunkirk”, plucked from the Atonement soundtrack and featuring the classical vocals of one Olivia Safe.
Emotion & Commotion isn’t Jeff Beck’s most innovative album, but it’s a nice listen, and that helps a lot. Truth be told, we kept up with his catalog through all those middling albums just so we could crow about “Nessun Dorma”. We’re going to go listen to it again.

Jeff Beck Emotion & Commotion (2010)—3

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