Jeff Beck: Loud Hailer

review beck x1 cong

“The revolution will be televised” via a loud hailer effect are the opening words on this strong new album from Jeff Beck; now 72, he rather disproves our belief that aging white men playing the guitar have little left to say and are mostly dull. This new album is neither dull nor lacking in interesting opinion.

A bit like Johnny Marr, Beck is perpetually cool, a vegetarian since 1969 and always one to experiment, as this new album shows. He’s made it with singer Rosie Bones and guitarist Carmen Vandenberg of Bones. He told Rolling Stone that he wanted to move past “guitar nerd” albums, and he has succeeded. If you heard this, you’d assume it was some hip new group developing the blues rock sound of bands like Royal Blood and even White Stripes; a trendy new band with an outstanding guitarist.

Opener The Revolution Will Be Televised sets the scene, a dirty blues riff and Rosie Bones singing about revolution, ditto Live In The Dark, a song with a bass riff so big it almost walks out of the speakers.

Pull It is just ridiculous, a bassy guitar-led tune whose riffs are so dirty and crude they’d send Royal Blood running for cover. A young band would probably never make a track like this, unsure it would ever work. The percussion merely marks time while the guitar thrashes about like a pained anaconda.

Thugs Club is a rhythm that’s more rooted in some derivative of hip hop and appears to be a rant against the last Tory government (“We’ll feed you greed ‘til you’re too fat to run from the poor man’s gun”). David making “ignorant statements / brainwashing my nation” and George “a creepy little puppet” are both mentioned. “It’s a rich man’s war only rich men will win,” note the lyrics.

Elsewhere, Right Now is very Hendrix, Shame is slow blues, Edna is a rather mournful rock classic and O.I.L. is slick and funky. A surprisingly modern, fresh and relevant album from such an elder statesman.

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