For as long as I’ve been playing live guitar I’ve had people come up to me and ask me who my favorite guitarist is. Ever since I began playing at age 13 my favorite guitarist has been Mr. Jeff Beck. I bring some of Jeff Beck’s influence with me into every live band that I’ve ever been a part of. I just love his phrasing and the adventurous way he coaxes a myriad of different and astonishing sounds out of his Fender Stratocaster.
I buy every Jeff Beck album that the man releases and there have been many that I love and listen to over and over. I particularly like his 8o’s album Guitar Shop but I’ve also really enjoyed his late 90’s and early 2000’s albums Who Else?, You Had It Coming and Jeff as well. It’s been seven years since his album Jeff was released and Jeff Beck has just released an excellent new album titled Emotion & Commotion.
Emotion & Commotion is appropriatly titled as the songs take you everywhere from the soft and melodic to the hard and rocking. Just the contrast between the first two tracks, Corpus Christi Caron and Hammerhead illustrate the contrast between commotion and emotion. The way the album moves between the two moods is again proof of Jeff Beck’s mastery of the guitar.
Two of my favorite tracks are Jeff’s covers of Somewhere Over The Rainbow and Nessun Dorma. The melody of Somewhere Over The Rainbow is instantly recognizable by millions of people and Jeff doesn’t vary much from the original melody. He has the ability to make the guitar sings the notes like a vocalist which he uses to great effect on this track. Nessun Dorma is my favorite track on the album because I love that melody. Again, Jeff is able to make the guitar sing the notes like a classical opera singer. If you listen to the way he handles the sustain on Somewhere Over The Rainbow versus Nessun Dorma you can hear how he varies his touch to suit the song. Rainbow is much more subtle while he attacks Nessun Dorma more aggressively. They’re both a joy to listen to and are performed with a 64 piece orchestra.
Jeff also covers two Jeff Buckley tunes on the album, Corpus Christi Carol and Lilac Wine. On Corpus Christi Carol Jeff gives a fairly straightforward rendition of the tune which is very good. The best of these two is Lilac Wine which features Imelda May on vocals. The arrangement of Lilac Wine is subtle and beautiful with plenty of room for Imelda May’s gorgeous vocals which Jeff carefully adorns with his guitar playing. It’s really a perfect track illustrating the interplay between singer and and soloist and is one of my favorites on the album.
Another fantastic track is the album closer, Elegy For Dunkirk which features opera vocalist Olivia Safe singing with Jeff’s guitar. The interplay is beautiful and the orchestral production really brings a lot of feeling to this track. It’s a great way to close the album.
The rest of the tracks are very good and Joss Stone sings well on I Put A Spell On You and There’s No Other Me although the arrangements are a bit more standard on these. Another thing that jumps out is how much better Jeff sounds when playing with Tal Wilkenfeld and Vinnie Colaiuta on There’s No Other Me than with the other bass and drum players on the album. I’m still not a big fan of Pino Palladino and he doesn’t impress on I Put A Spell On You.
I highly recommend this album to any fan of the electric guitar and it’s must have for any Jeff Beck fan. Emotion & Commotion is the highest charting album Jeff has ever released in the UK and Australia and is second only to Blow by Blow in the U.S. so make sure you get your copy today.