Artist: Jeff Beck
Album: Performing This Week... Live at Ronnie Scott's
Label: Eagle Entertainment
Release Date: 02/06/2015
Recorded at the famed London jazz club Ronnie Scott’s, this essential double-disc set recasts many, though not all, of the individual highlights of Jeff Beck’s nearly fifty-year career. Memorable versions of his signature song, “Beck’s Bolero,” and other classics like “People Get Ready” (with vocals by Joss Stone), “Matchbox” and “Train Kept A Rollin’,” (the latter two performed with the Big Town Playboys), find an easy fit alongside offerings of a more fusion-esque variety, that being the sound and style that has dominated his repertoire since the early ’70s. Still, there are echoes of various other influences filtered into the mix: hints of reggae (“Behind the Wall”), jazz and blues (“Goodbye Pork Pie Hat/Brush With the Blues”) and a rock steady sound, that once made Beck’s stints with the Yardbirds and the Jeff Beck Group so memorable and remarkable. Even Clapton gives a nod to his former Yardbirds alum, sharing the honors on the Willie Dixon standard “You Need Love.”
Beck proves a point; while instrumentals are his forte, the range of moods, feelings and emotions expressed herein affirm the fact that for most of this set, actual vocals can be relegated to the sidelines. When he bends those notes with his trademark precision and finesse, songs like the Beatles’ “A Day in the Life” and Stevie Wonder’s “Cause We’ve Ended As Lovers” take on an exquisite lyricism that effectively re-imagines those duly inscribed classics.
For all his successful studio work, it can easily be argued that Performing This Week… Live at Ronnie Scott’s may be Beck’s most impressive effort yet, an extraordinary display of taste and technique that rivals any outlay notched up by any other master musician. Beck’s brilliance has never been more apparent.