Welcome to the musical meandering insights of Aaron Joy. Here you'll find 600 reviews of CDs & DVDs of rock & metal in all its variations, mainstream & indie. What they all share is that the album or band is unique in some way & not every submission was reviewed. Please share these reviews or link to them if you like what you read. Reviews are no longer being posted here but feel free to e-mail Aaron & post comments. (Formerly the Roman Midnight Music Blog)

Sunday, October 16, 2011

DVD: Jeff Beck ~ The Visual Story

(Click on heading to visit official website.)
Style: classic rock, hard rock, instrumental, blues-rock
Label: XXL Media
Year: 2011
Home: Britain

Concert location: multiple locations
Year Recorded: multiple dates
Length: 51 minutes
Bonus Features: none

Members: Jeff Beck ~ guitar
additional players n/a

Guests: Jan Hammer ~ keyboard
Doug Wimbish ~ bass
Simon Philips ~ drums
Steve Lukather, Carlos Santana ~ guitars


When you need a respected guitarist who is diverse, creative & with a powerful musical presence plus with a long history ... sadly, JB is not a name that is often offered but he should be in the top 10 on the top of the list. The problem might be he's more a guitarist's guitarist than a casual listener's guitarist. With a catalog ranging from pulling the Yardbirds away from the blues into more progressive territories to gutsy bluesy recordings with a young Rod Stewart on vocals, to the powerhouse rock line-up of Beck, Bogart & Appice to a solo career of largely instrumental albums that's been completely unpredictable with forays into blues, rock, avant-garde jazz, funk, electronica & even classical JB has not been necessarily kind to his fans neither giving them what they might want, expect nor music that can be always casually listened to. JB's love of experimentation has often led to musical forays more welcomed by guitarists who are into technical playing then someone looking for a rainy day record ... though, at the same time, he's released solos that would make peers Jimmy Page & Richie Blackmore wilt with tears & experiments that could go head to head with Hendrix, a guitarist who can be just as difficult when it comes to listenability by casual fans as many bootlegs contest. To truly understand JB one needs only turn to the instrumental guitar rockers of the 80's such as Steve Vai & Yngmie Malmsteen to hear his influence. This odd little video, sadly, only continues to push JB away from the casual fan & towards guitarists looking for a hardcore playing lesson & insight into this guitar legend. Opening with a undated & undetailed clip, not helped any by a complete lack of linear notes or any packaging details, is a 1970's British TV performance where JB fronts a top-notch band churning out the blues. It's got a very Led Zeppelin feel to it. The quality is horrendous with a fuzzy picture, obviously not taken from master tapes as the rolling counter on the screen belays, but that doesn't get in the way of JB shining. The song is followed by an on the spot discussion with the unidentified host of the guitar itself, it's switches & strings, JB's foot pedals & even a strange looking "bag" that JB says is one of only three he's seen & turns out to be a proto-vocoder. If you want to know JB's early set-up this is a near must view & with lots of close-ups on JB's fingerplay it's a lesson as good as it gets to a lesson. Actually, watching him it's amazing how much sound comes out of so little & unflashy movement of his right hand. This is followed by a second, & equally unidentified, clip of JB recording a solo in a studio via camera obviously stuck on a table & not meant for anything but personal viewing. The recording is a stop & start process with unidentified producer on hand & half the time is spent discussing or experimenting with different sounds. The highlight is seeing JB play both with an without the previously recorded rhythm section in the background. Put all your dreams of grandeur aside ... there's nothing glamorous about recording. It's a tedious process & a tedious film to watch ... though Andy Warhol would probably rave about it. On the other hand, it's interesting, if not a bit shocking, to see JB call a solo not very good though most guitarists would be exhuberantly happy with the previously improvised moment. The clip ends with him rolling a cigarette. Warhol would be squirming with glee. The remaining part of The Visual Story is taken from a 1986 broadcast that was originally shown on Japanese TV & featured JB headlining with Carlos Santana in an outdoor concert. This has been previously released both officially & bootlegged & in longer complete form. It opens with a weak performance of "Wild Thing", a song that really should only be attempted by the original band as it was raunchy by being primitively raw due to recording limitations but when made raunchy comes out everything but. Further, JB is not a dynamic stage presence, though on the backing band includes legendary Jan Hammer, Doug Wimbish & Simon Phillips. Compared to the previous TV & studio bits JB is in prime high energy form giving it his all. The song selection might not the best, relying more on improvisation, but one can clearly see the power JB has with a guitar in hand. The weak opening gives way to a stronger end with songs featuring JB playing with Steve Lukather & Carlos Santana. Three very distinct guitarists in a unique moment. With a lack of bonus features, packaging detail that even extends to not listing song titles for the TV & studio recordings & generally third generation video quality this is a collector's only item. But, if you want a close-up fingerboard lesson on what JB plays this is a must. Or, if you want to see a progression of an artist from rigid tv studio with everything toned down, to working through problems in a studio to letting it all go free on stage then ... well, this video shines.

Track listing: Wild Thing
Freeway Jam
Going Down
Super Boogie







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