Featured Album – Wired – Jeff Beck

A while back I wrote about Jeff Beck’s Blow by Blow album at which time I said: “But nothing really prepared the rock world for Blow by Blow which was basically a full-on jazz-fusion album. (Produced by none other than the estimable Mr. George Martin, whose work with Mahavishnu Orchestra inspired Jeff.) This album, IMHO, represents some of the best playing of Beck’s life. His creativity is endless and the whole band is incredibly tight.”

Blow by Blow was released in 1975 and Wired in 1976. As much as I liked Wired and as influential as it was, it didn’t seem to reach quite the same peaks as the former album. But that does not mean there isn’t some good shit on it. George Martin again produces it and the ensemble consists of:

  • Jeff Beck – guitars
  • Max Middleton – Hohner clavinet, Fender Rhodes electric piano
  • Jan Hammer – synthesizer; drums (on “Blue Wind”)
  • Wilbur Bascomb – bass
  • Narada Michael Walden – drums (on “Led Boots”, “Come Dancing”, “Sophie” and “Play with Me”); piano (on “Love Is Green”)
  • Richard Bailey – drums (on “Goodbye Pork Pie Hat” and “Head for Backstage Pass”)
  • Ed Greene – second drum kit (on “Come Dancing”)

I’ll allow you to entertain thoughts about what the title “Head for Backstage Pass” might mean:

Jan Hammer was well into a solo career by the time of this album and had been an original member of the great Mahavishnu Orchestra. I’ll cheat here a little and give you a great “live” version from the Hollywood Bowl:

Narada Michael Walden is a very well-known accomplished drummer. He also played with Mahavishnu as well as Santana and a host of other jazz greats. He is also a producer having worked with everyone from Ray Charles to Natalie Cole to Al Green and Elton John. I probably first heard his name on a Weather Report album.

Allmusic: “Released in 1976, Jeff Beck’s Wired contains some of the best jazz-rock fusion of the period. Beck contributed no original material to Wired, instead relying on the considerable talents of his supporting cast. Perhaps this explains why Wired is not as cohesive as Blow by Blow, seemingly more assembled from component parts.

Walden’s powerful drumming propels much of Wired, particularly Middleton’s explosive opener, “Led Boots,” where Beck erupts into a stunning solo of volcanic intensity.

This tune is called “Goodbye Pork Pie Hat.” It has become a jazz standard and was written by Charles Mingus for saxman Lester Young who had recently passed away

9 thoughts on “Featured Album – Wired – Jeff Beck

  1. As much as I liked Blow By Blow (a lot) Wired was/is even a bigger favorite. Did not realize JB did not contribute any tunes to that – more great reportage by ME. BTW, a digression…the Hollywood Bowl clip is reminder of Beck’s excellent choice of side “men”, notably a bunch of bad-ass lady bass players. Not sure if that tradition started with Tal Wilkinfeld or earlier – you’ve seen this but always a good time for a rewatch (for Tal’s heroics start at about 10:25 – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AoQHnzHrqgE).


    1. Good question about when Beck started using female “sidemen.” Good for him, eh? I know Tal came to him via a tape where she was playing with the Allmans. I’ll check this video out. Thanks.


    2. You know, you piqued my interest with that question about when Beck started having women players in the band. I had to look that up and the first one was not a bass player but was, in fact, a guitarist. In 1999, Jennifer Batten – who played with Michael Jackson – was on his “Who Else!” album and also toured with him. Tal shows up about 11 years later on an album called “Emotion & Commotion.”


  2. Great stuff, Jim. Speaking of bassists, yes, Tal Wilkenfeld is amazing. So is Wilbur Bascomb who played on this album! Of course, it’s not surprising Beck teamed up with top notch musicians here.


  3. Listened to all these cuts this morning and responding now. Top shelf stuff with Beck hooking into a style that works perfect for him. Heavily influenced by a lot of the stuff that was floating around at the time. I think I mentioned on a comment way back when you did Blow By Blow that Mahavishnu , Return to Forever were pumping this stuff out. I get locked into it and it’s hard for me to stop listening
    The Carter doc is coming up for me this Thursday. Looking forward to that one. Thanks for the heads up on that.


    1. Beck was in town recently. Badly wanted to go and take Sonny Boy. But I spent way too much on tix this year.
      Yeah, that was a great era for music. Gotta go looking for it now. Looking forward to the Carter doc as well. Have it on my calendar.

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      1. When Beck toured Blow my buddies went and I skipped out. They never let me live it down. They said they smoked a reefer with Jeff in the can but I think that was bullshit to piss me off more.
        Yeah I’m pvring the Carter so ill save for a special night of viewing


        1. Yeah, that’s too bad. I’ve seen him a couple times, once on the SRV tour. So I took a pass. Next time maybe. But the guy is a guitarists guitarist. Much respect from everybody.

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