Album: Jeff Beck, Emotion & Commotion (Atco)

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The Independent Culture

Jeff Beck has to be the most eclectic of the great guitar heroes, rarely restricting himself to a single mode across an entire album, yet without once abandoning the signature touches that enable one to recognise his hand the moment it strays across the strings.

Here, his muse wanders between classical and R&B, standards and early music, with just the whizz-bang stunt-guitar flourishes of "Hammerhead" representing his trademark muscular fusion-metal riffing. There's a guitar-and-strings version of the "Corpus Christi Carol", inspired by Jeff Buckley's interpretation, Beck's subtle control of tone, volume and sustain characteristics quietly accumulating emotional momentum. Elsewhere, "Over the Rainbow" offers a masterclass in evocative subtlety, while Joss Stone fires Beck to more demonstrative efforts on both a brusque take of "I Put a Spell on You" and a dazzling "There's No Other Me", where the gentle patter of Vinnie Colaiuta's hi-hat provides the secure bed for the guitarist's most animated lines. "Elegy for Dunkirk", from the Atonement soundtrack, finds Beck's guitar occupying a similar sonic position to the wordless female vocal, while "Never Alone" and the nimble-fingered "Serene" could both pass muster as rousing movie themes, too. All in all, one of the more satisfying releases of Beck's career.

Download this Corpus Christi Carol; Hammerhead; Nessun Dorma; There's No Other Me