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