Release Date: 03.16.99
Record label: sony music
Genre(s): Movies, Film Scores, Musicals, Etc.
by: peter naldrett
Jeff Beck? Isn't he dead?
Well, you may have thought so, but the name that means the same to the younger generations as Hendrix, Cohen and Dylan is back to ply his now-outdated trade to modern-day students. The new album, Who Else is his first collection of new material in a decade, which is quite a mammoth event for him in a career that stretches back over 35 years. To go for ten years without gracing his fans with something new must have been a real downer for them, but notheless, here he is, large as life, complete with all his guitar solo's, variety of styles and monotonous riffs.
Who Else is neither a soundtrack, nor a side project, the promotional blurb promises us. "It is a fully realised collection of eleven new guitar instrumentals, its styles and influences ranging from techno to blues to traditional Irish music. In each and every setting, Jeff's playing demonstrates his absolute technical and total emotional conviction." As on so many other occasions, the promo literature is only half true.
You cannot doubt the glorious creative ability Beck must hold in his fingertips to turn out track after track that sounds so unlike the ones that have played before. On each of the eleven instrumentals on Who Else, he does bring surprise after surprise and deliver a musical quality that has to be respected. "What Mamma Said" mixes heavy rock with Fatboy Slim style edits and dance rythms, "Declan" is as peaceful and serene as an Enya single, and "Brush With The Blues" is exactly what it suggests.
But for all this variety, this Jeff Beck effort is hardly the spice of life. Indeed, the diverse nature of the album is what tackles it by its legs and brings it crashing to the ground. His moods are up and down like a bride's nightie, and it leaves the listener more than a little bewildered as to what exactly it is that he wants to create here. While there will be tracks that everybody can find enjoyable, there will also be a fair few that you will want to skip over as well. That is where it falls down - at the hurdle called consistancy. And there is always something else that appears to missing from the album. What can it be? Ah, yes... vocals. Come on, let's keep the genre of instrumentals to the likes of Richard Claderman, Pan Pipes collections and other things to listen to when we're dead.