From his days with The Yardbirds in the mid-'60s to his solo career afterward, Jeff Beck has been a revolutionary guitar player. Six years since his last studio effort, Emotion & Commotion, he takes the idea of revolution to another level with his 2016 LP, Loud Hailer.
For those of us who believe that great art should speak to the truth of the moment in addition to being aesthetically pleasing, Loud Hailer may be the greatest artistic achievement Jeff Beck has made to date.
The album features a couple of young guns from the London-based band Bones: singer Rosie Bones and guitarist Carmen Vandenberg. It was produced by Beck with Filippo Cimatti, who recruited the fantastic rhythm section of drummer Davide Sollazzi and bassist Giovanni Pallotti.
While Jeff Beck's guitar sounds as fresh, exciting, and creative as ever, what really makes this album special is Rosie Bones. It can't be easy singing in a group with Jeff Beck, and Rosie proves to be more than up to the challenge. She sings confidently about the systematic injustice and social upheaval around the world, and sounds great doing it.
In a press release, Beck explained his intentions for the record and how he ended up working with Bones and Vandenberg:
I really wanted to make a statement about some of the nasty things I see going on in the world today, and I loved the idea of being at a rally and using this loud device to shout my point of view.
invited me to one of their shows, and I was blown away... When we got together in January, I explained the subject matter I had in mind, we sat down by the fire with a crate of Prosecco and got right to it. The songs came together very quickly; five in three days.
While songs like "Thugs Club" and "Scared For The Children" address those troubling social issues, there are a few songs toward the end of the record like "The Ballad Of The Jersey Wives" and "O.I.L." that are a fun and funky change of pace. The album's closer, "Shrine," takes a page from Bob Dylan's style of epic folk balladry but with that classic Beck twist that feels like a beam of light shining through a dark cloud.
Raw blues DNA and high energy guitar shredding are all over this record, but there are a few complete changes of pace. (We expect no less from Jeff Beck.) "Pull It" is an electronic foot stomping instrumental that draws from the wave of aggressive electronic music best known as dubstep, while the other instrumental track on the album, "Edna," is a restrained number that oozes emotion.
The production is phenomenal throughout, with guitars, vocals, bass, and drums that all sound crisp and powerful. Jeff Beck told Rolling Stone, ""Rather than do a guitar-nerd album, I thought, 'If I don't change course now, I'll be stuck with that Guitar World thing, and that's not where I come from at all...'"
While his approach here is in many ways more direct than it has been in the past, he gives gearheads a lot to chew on with a megaphone effect on guitar and vocals that fits the concept of the album beautifully and pushes the envelope of creativity in the lucrative field of rock & roll amplification.
Loud Hailer is a good listen from front-to-back, although the slower and more abrasive songs may take some patience and open-mindedness for listeners to get through. Our favorite tracks are "Live In The Dark," "Right Now," "O.I.L. (Can't Get Enough Of That Sticky)," "Thugs Club," "The Revolution Will Be Televised," "Scared For The Children," and "Shrine."
Pick up Loud Hailer on Amazon. You can also stream the full album above, courtesy of Spotify.
Jeff Beck will be heading out on tour later this month with Buddy Guy. For his latest music, news, and tour dates, check out his Zumic artist page.