What album do you think of when a person asks you ‘what is your favourite Jeff Beck album?’? I quite imagine most people answering that question would say, ‘Blow By Blow’, or ‘Wired’. A few brave souls might include ‘Roger the Engineer’, the only Yardbirds album that featured guitarist Jeff Beck on all tracks. Jeff Beck was very prolific with something in the area of 17 solo albums to his credit. He also collaborated on dozens of albums, way too many to list here, go to Discogs to see them. He also has nine live albums to his credit with one album from that list that I have to say is my favourite Jeff Beck recording.
That album is ‘Jeff Beck with the Jan Hammer Group Live’. I doubt very much is this recording makes to many other lists, favourites or otherwise. So what is there about this recording that makes it my choice as favourite Jeff Beck album?
Jeff Beck is a guitar wizard and likes to play live, showcasing his licks. He also enjoys collaborating with other musicians in live venues. He also jams with other musicians and bands and feeds off that creativity and spontaneity. This album, ‘Jeff Beck with the Jan Hammer Group Live.’ checks all of the boxes and comes across as an excellent live recording.
Beck’s guitar skips around the beats laid down by Tony “Thunder” Smith on percussion and Fernando Saunders on bass. Steve Kindler and Jan Hammer on all manner of keyboards and synthesizers flow throughout the album supporting Beck on his trusty weapon, his signature Stratocaster. There are times when they bounce off each other in a magical jam session that builds and showcases their immense talents.
Something to be aware of when listening is this bit of trivia that I found on Wikipedia, the stereo spectrum of this album duplicates the stage set-up with guitar positioned centre-right, keyboards centre left, violin right and drums and bass centre stage. I like the instruments’ interplay and how they seem to move across the room between my speakers. I found it best to sit as close to centre stage as possible and avoid distractions so I could fully appreciate the soundscape coming at me. I would give this recording a solid 4.2 out of 5 stars. Definitely worth the time spent listening to it.
1969 I bought my first LP, Best of Bee Gees, easily identified by its bright yellow cover. I have to resist the urge to write it as Best of the Bee Gees; there is no ‘the’ in there. I played that album over, and over, and over. I knew every word to every song. I can clearly remember laying on the floor with my head in the middle of the two speakers on my parent’s record player. I don’t recall them ever complaining about listening to it so often, mind you Dad was away from home most of the time, Mom kept herself busy, and I didn’t turn the volume up to 11.
That was the only album that I bought that year, but I did purchase other albums from 1969 later on. Some of those albums that are still on my turntable include The Guess Who with Wheatfield Soul. Bob Dylan’s Nashville Skyline and Crosby, Stills and Nash, the story of that is below. The Rolling Stones compilation Through The Past, Darkly (Big Hits Vol. 2), Isaac Hayes phenomenal album Hot Buttered Soul, Abbey Road from the Beatles, and closing it with some more Guess Who, the crop is Canned Wheat this time. Some call 1969 the penultimate year of rock and roll. It closed the door on the 1960s with the Beatles dissolving as a band, the hippy era drawing to a shadow of its former self ( it never really went away), and rock and roll reinventing itself going into the 1970s. I may have only purchased one LP that year, but it was still an excellent year.
In 1970 I was travelling more, bin flipping in more record stores and with a bit more coin I was able to take home more music. I also was good at sticky finger shopping. A memorable addition to my music library from that year was a copy of Déjà Vu by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. I was introduced to this band by the clerk in a record store in Montreal. During layovers between flights, I would take a taxi to a nearby shopping mall that had a nice little record store, and the guy always had something good on the turntable that I would invariably take home. In 1969 he had Crosby, Stills & Nash on the turntable but I was short on cash so I just filed that away and in 1970 he had Déjà Vu up and playing, so that came home with me, Stills, Nash & Young would arrive later. Another special purchase that year was In the Court of the Crimson King by none other than King Crimson, although I heard it first in that same record store in 1969, like CSY, I had to wait a year to bring it home.
The list of albums released in 1970 is long, the list that I bought in 1970 is short, the two albums already mentioned and Woodstock: Music from the Original Soundtrack and More. I have a confession; I agreed to trade Woodstock to my friend Greg in exchange for the purple nazi helmet he had. I got the helmet, but he never got the album, and I have not seen him since then to make it right. If you ever read this, Greg, contact me, and I will ship the album to you. I do not have the helmet or the album as I write this. I also stole Suitable for Framing by Three Dog Night from the youth centre in Churchill Falls, Labrador. I don’t know who owned it, which makes restitution difficult. Some noteworthy albums from 1970 that I didn’t swipe and I am still spinning include Moondance by Van Morrison and The WhoLive at Leeds. Atom Heart Mother by Pink Floyd is notable for its excellent cover art and a long-standing relationship between The Pink Floyd and me.
1971, a new year and some new music, I was back in Alberta and access to new music was a bit difficult living in the little town of Czar. I managed to snag Aqualung by Jethro Tull, which triggered an interesting event. My Mom, who was super religious and my Dad, who was super narrow-minded about music, challenged me about Aqualung, so the three of us listened to it and talked about the lyrics. I don’t know why they did that. It was a weird experience. Another memorable piece of music that I acquired in 1971 was Imagineby John Lennon. It was my birthday present from Mom, she didn’t like this one either, but we didn’t sit and listen to it together. After Aqualung they let me put the stereo in my bedroom, so they didn’t have to hear it. 1971 makes for a long list of releases that I still listen to, including 4 Way Street by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, an album that I consider one of the best live recordings of all time. Sticky Fingers by The Rolling Stones, another example of great cover art with its iconic zipper. It Ain’t Easy by Long John Baldry, and I brag that I managed to see him live at a show in a bar in Red Deer. I had a signed copy of the album cover from that show but lost it along life’s highway. A few other albums worth mentioning are A Space in Time by Ten Years After which I loved to listen to on the quadraphonic sound system that I briefly owned. The music surrounded my head and was very trippy, nod, nod, wink, wink. Who’s Next and Meaty Beaty Big and Bouncy a pair of albums that year by The Who. Meddle by Pink Floyd and Pawn Hearts by Van der Graaf Generator kept my psychedelic groove going. Van der Graff Generator is an often overlooked band that I got into early in the 1970s and still enjoy listening to, especially the Pawn Hearts album.
I’ll close this brief disclosure on what I listened to as a young man. As a young boy, I heard my Dad play mostly Hank Williams, and we had a handful of country and western records that seldom got played. It was when I hit about 15 years old, 1969, that I got into serious listening. I’ll close out this era at 1973, the year that I graduated and transitioned from a schoolboy buying records with money from allowance and part-time jobs to a working man with a steady income. That steady income meant buying more records to play on the stereo that I bought so Mom and Dad could have theirs back. They had given it to me as a bribe to keep me in school till I graduated. It was a good investment. The Dark Side of the Moon by Pink Floyd, I’ll let Wikipedia explain it.
“The Dark Side of the Moon is among the most critically acclaimed records in history, often featuring on professional listings of the greatest albums. The record helped to propel Pink Floyd to international fame, bringing wealth and recognition to all four of its members. It has been certified 14× platinum in the United Kingdom and topped the US Billboard Top LPs & Tapes chart, where it has charted for 950 weeks in total. With estimated sales of over 45 million copies, it is Pink Floyd’s most commercially successful album and one of the best-selling albums worldwide. In 2013, it was selected for preservation in the National Recording Registry by the Library of Congress for being deemed “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”.”
I bought this as an LP in 1973. I added an 8 track copy and a cassette later that year. As of today, October 12, 2020, there are ten copies of it in our music library in all of those formats. I can remember driving around town with the windows down and the volume up listening to DSotM over and over. Little has changed. I am a bit chubbier and have fewer hair follicles, and what hair I do have it is a lot shorter. Other than that, I still enjoy hearing this album, and I occasionally can yet be seen driving with the windows down and the volume up on DSotM.
There is one other album that defined 1973 for me, that album is Bachman–Turner Overdrive. It doesn’t grace the turntable as often as some of the other era albums, but it still brings a smile to my face and good memories.
That closes out this definitive time of transition in my life. I travelled extensively, gathered plenty of good experiences and listened to a lot of good music. Many, many good albums didn’t make it to this blog. I didn’t want this to be a long and tedious list; it is a snapshot of me. Me from 1969 to 1973. Happy listening and play safe.
Carl Louis closed out 2019 with the most excellent album “Silent Soldier”. As of this writing, we are about halfway through 2020, and Carl is bestowing a single on us, “Portal To Happiness”. The first song to be released off of his forthcoming EP, which is to be released later this year.
Carl had this to say about the new single:
“Portal to Happiness» is about being in the moment. Going to that place inside you where time doesn’t exist. For me, that place is both happy and sad at the same time. That intense feeling is «Portal to Happiness».”
I love some of the imagery on this song, topnotch writing in my humble opinion. Take, for example:
”No sleep in the light
Damn, the sun in July.”
Earlier today, I was basking on my deck in the evening sun, where I live we get about 18 hours of daylight, so if you have trouble sleeping with the light on this might not be the best place to live. I, on the other hand, like the sun in July, bring it on. But, ye, I can relate to what he is saying.
That is just one example, listen to this song and then join the queue to buy to the album when it comes out. I’ll be in that line someplace.