Album: Jeff Beck

Jeff, Epic
Click to follow
The Independent Culture

"If the voice don't say it, the guitar will play it," claims a female voice on "Pork-U-Pine", one of a slew of typical Jeff Beck instrumentals on this follow-up to 1999's Who Else!. She's right - Beck's guitaris more eloquent than his voice, whether he's squeezing out an impassioned, tense piece in the vein of Norwegian jazz-rocker Terje Rypdal, or blasting his way through a showcase like "So What", a plunging, vertiginous opening shower of guitar pyrotechnics and careening cop-siren stunt-guitar tricks. "Plan B" makes the point aptly, as Beck makes his guitar speak in a series of "talking guitar" phrases demonstrating his peerless command of touch, tone, and string-bending. This isdazzling technique that makes lesser guitarists - i.e. everyone else - pack up and take up crochet. But there's nothing here that would pass muster as a tune: Beck's wizardry is expressed in small clusters of apparently impossible guitar phrases, the musical equivalent of a match carelessly tossed into a box of fireworks. Accordingly, these 13 tracks are reliant on vocal samples or special effects; on "Hot Rod Honeymoon", a stew of car-race effects, admiring phrases like "what a set of wheels!", and even snatches of harmony-vocals parodying The Beach Boys' car songs customise the fast, slippery slide guitar runs, without stamping the track with any distinctive melody. An awe-inspiring demo, but not to be played for pleasure's sake alone.