Monday, 4 February 2019

Jeff Beck - Beck-Ola (1969)

Spanish boots....

  

Released June 1969

After a wonderful blues rock album in 1968's Truth, Jeff Beck, again with Rod Stewart on vocals and Ronnie Wood on bass wanted to plough a heavier furrow. He brought in Tony Newman on drums and Nicky Hopkins on piano and produced his heaviest album. Huge thumping riffs abound, together with searing guitar solos and excellent rock vocals. There is still a bluesiness to it all, but there is a real powerhouse heavy hammer as well.

TRACK LISTING

1. All Shook Up
2. Spanish Boots
3. Girl From Mill Valley
4. Jailhouse Rock
5. Plynth (Water Down The Drain)
6. The Hangman's Knee
7. Rice Pudding                                              

The opening cover of Elvis's All Shook Up is as heavy as can be, full of stonking, muscular guitars, pounding drums, clunking piano from Nicky Hopkins and a great gravelly Rod Stewart vocal. Spanish Boots is magnificently strong with a huge bass and drum sound. Girl From Mill Valley sees the feeling quieten down a bit for Hopkins' melodic piano instrumental. Another Elvis cover is up next, a feedback-driven slowed-down grinding Jailhouse Rock. While it undoubtedly has a huge rock power, it doesn't quite do it for me. Not that it is without good points Beck's mid-song guitar is visceral and Stewart's vocal sounds as if it follows a large consumption of Jack Daniel's.

Plynth (Water Down The Drain) featured some infectious cymbal work, hunky riffs and, of course, another great vocal. The drum/guitar interplay a minute in is spellbinding. It has echoes of Rod Stewart's first solo album from the same year in it, for me. The Hangman's Knee is another heavy industrial chugger. The solid approach doesn't let up for a minute. This is straight between the eyes stuff. Rice Pudding is an extended "jam"-style instrumental workout to end, with some gargantuan Led Zeppelin-influenced riffs in amongst some quieter passages. There is some nice bass/guitar and piano interplay near the end. The jamming suddenly comes to an abrupt end.

So ends the album and, unfortunately, within months Stewart and Wood had fallen out with Beck and left to form The Faces and record Stewart's debut solo album, missing out on a booked appearance at Woodstock (just imagine how good that might have been). These had been two great albums from Beck, Stewart and Wood et al, however. Overall, though, I prefer Truth for its bluesiness.

**The deluxe remastered edition includes an excellent piece of Rod Stewart blues in Sweet Little Angel. Also included is a typically Stewart slightly folky rocker in Throw Down A Line. (It was, surprisingly, a Cliff Richard cover). Surely these two cuts could have been included on the original album?

B-