It's nearly impossible to find a picture of Jeff Beck that doesn't somehow also involve a guitar. Playing live, album covers, even posed publicity shots, the legendary and pioneering Brit player is never without his trusty white Fender Strat. But when you're an iconic classic rock figure spanning more than 45 years (he did after all replace Eric Clapton in The Yardbirds -- and Jimmy Page did the same for him), it somehow makes sense that man and instrument would be so eternally entwined. Beck has always been both influential artist and artisan, music scholar in a way as well as technician (just how does he get that particular distorted tone?). His fluid, inventive playing style -- almost always in an instrumental setting -- has become one of the most recognizable in rock and his groundbreaking mid-70's albums Blow By Blow and Wired still sound amazingly fresh today.
Aptly titled new album Emotion and Commotion, due April 13 (Rhino) and his first in seven years, is a grab bag of scattershot styles and moods, from jet-fueled rock pyrotechnics ("Hammerhead") to stately classical grandiosity ("Nessun Dorma") to soulful classics ("I Put A Spell on You" w/ Joss Stone) to...well, much more in between. And that's not a bad thing. As an instrumentally minded virtuoso, Beck's guitar is, of course, his voice. Listening to the monumentally gorgeous closing track "Elegy for Dunkirk", a stunning combination of orchestration and Beck's signature soaring guitar lines, you understand perfectly why Beck doesn't really need a singer (plus they're "too poncy and they get in the way", he jokes). Recommended.
Jeff Beck - "Serene" (from the album Emotion and Commotion)