geezer cinema: the pale blue eye (scott cooper, 2022)
mommy (xavier dolan, 2014)

music friday: jeff beck

OK, The Beatles were everyone's favorite band back then, but we all had second-favorites, and my second-favorites were The Yardbirds. In retrospect, they weren't a great band ... they always had great guitarists, Jim McCarty was an underrated drummer, but, as Robert Christgau said, "A more than OK band, sure, but not much as songwriters, which matters matters matters". Still, there's a reason they were my favorites back in the day, and Jeff Beck had a lot to do with that.

"I Ain't Done Wrong"

I don't know what you young'uns think about 60s music ... you might think the psychedelic bands had a crazy sound, and you wouldn't necessarily be wrong. But in 1965, there wasn't a whole lot on the radio that sounded like what Jeff Beck was doing with The Yardbirds.

"I'm a Man"

The Yardbirds' recorded history is as messy as any British band. We all know about the different versions of Beatles albums, but The Yardbirds take the proverbial cake. In the U.K., they released Five Live Yardbirds in 1964 ... that's when Eric Clapton was the guitarist. It wasn't released in the States. In 1965, they released two albums in the U.S. that were cobbled together ... there were no U.K. releases that year ... For Your Love had Clapton on most cuts, Beck on three cuts (and Beck was pictured on the album cover). Having a Rave Up with the Yardbirds is the one I played the most ... Side One had Beck and included several singles, Side Two had selected cuts from Five Live with Clapton. In 1966, they released their only U.K. studio album, called variously Yardbirds and Roger the Engineer. It was released in the U.S. as Over Under Sideways Down, missing two tracks. This was the last Yardbirds' album with Jeff Beck.

"What Do You Want"

Jimmy Page then joined the band, and for a brief moment, he and Beck were together. In '66, they released "Happenings Ten Years Time Ago", a psychedelic single. And they appeared in the 1966 Antonioni film Blow-Up":

Beck left the band. In 1967, they released the album Little Games in the U.S. but not in the U.K. There was a quasi-legal live album in 1968, and then the band broke up, Page fulfilled contractual obligations with "The New Yardbirds", who eventually became Led Zeppelin.

Meanwhile, Beck began a solo career that continued until his death this week, releasing 14 albums on his own and several others in groups. His first solo recording came back in 1966, with a "supergroup" of Page and future Led Zeppelin member John Paul Jones, keyboardist Nicky Hopkins, and Keith Moon on drums. It later became the B-side to Beck's first single:

"Beck's Bolero"

That track turned up on Beck's solo album debut, Truth, which was another album I played all the time. His band featured Rod Stewart, Ron Wood, and Micky Waller. I loved that record, but for any number of reasons (songwriters matter?) I quit listening to Beck after that. I always knew he was around, was always impressed by his immense command and creativity of his instrument, always happy to check him out on live YouTube videos. But I never bought another of his albums.



This is the most cogent overview of his context and story (in that context) I've read. Thanks!

Steven Rubio

Thanks! You know, if I hadn't written this in advance, I probably would have tried to say something about Lisa Marie. But honestly, I didn't have anything interesting on that subject.


I know! I don't have anything to say either, other than the shock.surprise of her death.

Steven Rubio

This is really good, from Sheila O'Malley, although it may be behind a paywall:

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