I’ve been a pretty big fan of Jeff Beck from at least the Truth album onwards. (Had to go back to hear him in The Yardbirds). I haven’t liked or bought everything he ever did but I stay in touch with what he’s up to periodically.
He just released a new album – Loud Hailer – and I figured I’d give it a spin. Here’s the pro – his guitar playing is as creative, vital, soulful and energetic as ever. The styles go from melodious to anarchic (Tom Morello would be proud) to bluesy from song to song.
But then here’s where I have mixed feelings. He’s teamed up with a guitar/vocal duo from the UK named Bones. As always, I give him credit for working with younger artists to keep his edge. (Carlos Santana does this too with, for me, hit or miss results. Don’t even get me started on Paul McCartney and Kanye West.)
And so my problem with this album is that I find the singer, Rosie Bones, to be very much of an acquired taste. She does that talk/sing/rap thing that I’ve never really been crazy about. She seems to me more about attitude than singing and well, generally speaking, not my thing. I tried to get into it but just couldn’t.
I keep wondering how this album would sound with somebody else singing it. Singers make a difference. Imagine the Stones with Keith Richards singing all those great songs.
Here’s something with gobs of funky guitar:
So if someone had played this album for me without telling me who the guitar player was, I’d say good player, but I wouldn’t buy the album. This strikes me as less about being a Beck album and more about him being a sideman to a not particularly interesting group. Great guitar playing in and among so-so material just doesn’t do it for me.
So I was hoping to review this and say, Hey, Jeff Beck has a new album and it’s good. (Like I was able to do with his peer Eric Clapton whose album at least sounds like a Clapton album). But at the end of the day, although I might occasionally listen to a tune online, disappointingly, I’ll pass on buying this one.
2.5 out of 4 stars