Jeff Beck – Emotion and Commotion (2010)

Posted: February 5, 2011 in Music

One of 2010’s best-kept secrets was Jeff Beck’s April release of Emotion & Commotion. Full of the same rock and roll power of his past solo albums but with added participation from several up and coming vocalists to balance out the shredding, it is nonetheless Beck’s album. While Beck is respected and well-known among music fans for his guitar work, his relatively low public profile has long puzzled many of us.

Where contemporaries such as Eric Clapton and Jimmy Page are much more famous – yet arguably no more talented or creative – Beck seemingly toils in the background, emerging every few years with an album that blows everyone’s mind, then retreating back into the darkness content to fix his roadsters while the spotlight shines on other, mostly lesser talents rendering his reputation as that of an also-ran.

While his regular hiatuses are a big culprit in that regard, possibly the most glaring reason was and is the lack of a strong vocalist throughout his career to augment his music. Where Jimmy Page had Robert Plant and Eddie Van Halen had David Lee Roth, Beck had Rod Stewart – but only for two years. For those who say a lot of jazz guitarists and newer phenoms like Eric Johnson have succeeded without vocalists, I would retort that while semi-famous, none are held in as high regard in the rock pantheon as Clapton, Page or Van Halen. And before anyone says it, Hendrix was his own vocalist (as is Clapton), so he’s in a different strata.

Suffice to say, this album proves Beck is still at the top of his game. With more vocalists present on this new disc than on most of his outings, Beck finds the perfect balance between playing his usual balls-to-the-wall style and framing his guitar work tastefully around his chosen singer. Joss Stone, Imelda May, and opera diva Olivia Safe serve as Beck vocal foils on this disc and each one adds her own special way with a song to the proceedings, while Beck is content to work his magic around them on their songs and go for the throat on the instrumentals.

Those who expect a wall-to-wall shred party may be taken aback by the lyrical mood of Beck’s playing on this one. Beck has always been a tasteful player, even when he was shooting for the sonic stratosphere, but he takes it to a new level here and the production by Trevor Horn and Steve Lipson frames his elegant and graceful playing perfectly.

I like this disc. Not only does Beck play his ass off, but he balances the album with the perfect ratio of instrumentals to songs with vocalists. That Beck has decided to stay away from trends and stick to the kind of playing that brought him to the dance back in the ’70′s is refreshing as well. This new Beck (same as the old Beck) is a great listen I will be enjoying for a long time – probably at least as long as it takes Beck to reappear with his next CD.

Tracklist:
01 – Corpus Christi Carol
02 – Hammerhead
03 – Never Alone
04 – Over The Rainbow
05 – I Put A Spell On You (feat. Joss Stone)
06 – Serene (feat. Olivia Safe)
07 – Lilac Wine (feat. Imelda May)
08 – Nessun Dorma
09 – There’s No Other Me (feat. Joss Stone)
10 – Elegy For Dunkirk (feat. Olivia Safe)
11 – Poor Boy (feat. Imelda May)
12 – Cry Me A River

MySpace: Link | Wiki: Link | Download (320kbps): Link

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