I would like to officially welcome Jennifer Batten to our ranks. Besides being an outstanding guitarist, she is a huge Jeff Beck fan. More about their meeting later in this issue.
Finally I want to share an observation about the nature of our existence given to me by a mate of mine close to Jeff. He reminded me that if we were given 100% of every bit of Jeff Beck news exactly when it happened, then we would cease to be the very things that we are, His Fans! The fun is the hunt! Good hunting!
Besides the usual gang of lunatics who put together this fanzine, I would personally like to thank...
Issue #1 still available order now! You can write to Dick Wyzanski 3221 Noah St. Deltona, Florida 32738. Include SASE for a reply.
Questions about the Jeff Beck Fanzine can be mailed to David Terralavoro 43 Spring St. Wappingers Falls, NY 12590 Include SASE for a reply.
Thank You J.B. and J.B.2
Secondly, we tried to tie up a few loose ends for Beck fans about supporting people and events during that time frame that were not explained through the music media. For example, the events that led up to the formation of the Lp studio band. This was accomplished with an informal chat with bassist Phil Chenn.
Thirdly, I put some of my own recollections about the live '75 shows and after show party encounters to give the artilcle some personal flavour.
Finally, we gave mention to Jeff's memorable one shot quick guest appearance on an American TV show during that era, the all star jam with Billy Preston, Buddy Miles, Max Middleton, Ollie Brown and Willie Weeks.
Sometime around the spring of 1974, Jeff commited himself to do a solo guitar Lp. BBA had driven 100 mph boogie stuff to the limit and was getting to be a dangerously schizophrenic band. On one hand they were recording beautiful white soul songs in the studio as witnessed by collector's tapes of the BBA never released BBA 2 Lp. Conversely Jeff had done "Jizz Whizz" in the studio and liked the possibilities of really being out front with the guitar as the main melodic line. Live however they were still committed to the boogie fare. Gregg Geller delivers an appropriate analysis by saying, "BBA was in terminal state of disarray."
Tim Bogert was the first to leave the UK, homesick for the states. Somewhat relieved, Jeff Beck was free to pursue his new jazz influenced brand of solo rock guitar. Deciding he needed players of comparable quality, Ralph Baker reflected, "I don't think Jeff felt that Timmy and Carmine had the subtlety to pull it off." Carmine Appice however, did hang on for a while. Ralph adds, "Carmine hung around after Timmy quit the BBA situation and was involved with the early rehearsals for the Lp." In fact, Carmine's management at the time, a reticent figure named Phil Basile, obtained an acetate from the early Blow By Blow sessions and one day at his home flashed it in front of his mailman, who was a known Beck fan. Basile proclaimed that he had the next Jeff Beck/Carmine Appice record in his hand. The fact that Basile wanted Carmine to get equal billing with Jeff Beck did not go down well with Jeff and that was the end of Appice's involvement with the project. Jeff at the time gave this explanation to the press - "It all got very silly."
Beck turned to ex-bandmate Max Middleton with his enthusiastic ideas for a solo Lp. While giving Jeff the freedom to roam on guitar, Max gave him a whole new range of chordal texture to work from. "Jeff and Max would spend quite a lot of time together at Jeff's house or in a studio until they had the germ of what they were looking for." adds Ralph Baker.
Jeff had three tracks as a basic idea for an Lp at that time as he stated in the April 1976 Music Gig Magazine. Bass player Phil Chenn on his intial exposure to Jeff and his relationship with Max says; "Richard Bailey and I were in a band of West Indies musicians named "Gonzalez". Besides us, there were Robert 'Crackle' Ahwai, (later of Hummingbird) Daryl Leeque, Clive Chaman, Bob Tench - in all there were about four bass players, three or four guitarists, drummers, whoever from that group was not doing a session and was in town - that would be 'Gonzalez'. We would play at clubs in London when we weren't doing sessions. It was a Latin-Reggae-Funk sound. Mick Eves, a horn player, was responsible for Gonzalez. It was his pet project. We used to to sessions for Linda Lewis and Maggie Bell with Max Middleton on keyboards. Max would be the keyboard player whenever Gonzalez played live. Jeff Beck used to check us out and sometimes he would jam with us in the clubs. He loved Richard and myself as the rhythm section. Richard Bailey and me are like two peas in a pod. Carmine Appice and Tim Bogert also jammed with us once at a club in Piccadilly Square.
The Beck Bulletin has learned from Phil Chenn that exactly four tracks with Carmine Appice on drums and George Martin producing exist from the early Carmine involvement as stated by Ralph Baker earlier in the article. I'm sure one of them is a version of "Constipated Duck" because Phil sang me the bass line over the phone as he could not remember the song title-Ba Dee Ba Deep, Ba Dee Ba Deep, Ba Dee Ba Dee Deep! Phil also confirmed he played the bass on those sessions. At presstime I had just spoken to Carmine Appice who added that another one of these 4 tracks was "Scatter Brain". "I did a Billy Cobham bit on drums at the beginning of the song and the drummer (Richard Bailey) copied it for the Lp version."
Blow By Blow itself was released in early 1975. Much has been written about the actual tracks over the years. From the melodic riff of a lifetime "Freeway Jam" to the enchanting "Diamond Dust", to the techno-magnificent "Scatter Brain". Two choices of special note are the Stevie Wonder penned "Cause We've Ended As Lovers" (which has even surfaced Jeff Beck style on MUZAK U.S. stations!) and the reggae reworking of the Beatle's classic "She's A Woman". Stevie had written "Cause We've Ended As Lovers" for Jeff during their 1972 sessions, Jeff brought it out for the Lp because as Ralph Baker put it, "Jeff wanted a track with a strong melody and as always loved Stevie's work." A tie in dedication to the then recent Beck influence Roy Buchanan was made through two techniques: First the severe bending of notes as Gene Santoro pointed out in the Beckology booklet and second, the use of the volume and tone knobs to mimic wah-wah cries as mentioned in the "Eclectic Beck Part I" article in Issue #4 of the Jeff Beck Fanzine. In the case of "She's A Woman" Baker adds, "Max did a lot of versions of this in the studio before Jeff arrived each day. I think it was a case of 'yeah, let's use that.'" Phil Chenn embelished upon Ralph's explaination further noting that Max did do a lot of reggae type "She's A Woman" takes. One of them had been an arrangement for Linda Lewis who was married to Jim Cregan (Rod Stewart's band) and featured Richard Bailey and Clive Chaman. Phil's bass setup for the Beck version featured and old warm Ampeg B15 amp, a 62 or 63 Precision bass with La Bella strings. The reggae bottom to that tune was Chenn describes as "Pop-A-Top Jamaican style". Back for a second to "Cause We've Ended As Lovers", Phil was heavily influenced by Ron Carter who used to slide a lot on that with a fretless bass. Phil didn't have a fretless but slid some on that song pretending he did have one. The dunk-a dunk-a dunk-a bass line on "Freeway Jam" was a tribute to Stevie Wonder bassist Michael Henderson. Finally on some parts, most notably "Diamond Dust", some of the bass parts Chenn admitted and Baker confirmed, were done at Beck's request on a Mini Moog.
Meanwhile, back in N.Y.C. at the home Epic Records, the Blow By Blow promos were causing massive befuddlement. Beckology producer Gregg Geller recalled, "Epic was used to having Jeff sell three to four hundred thousand copies of his Lp's. Truth and Beckola were approaching 500,000 copies which in those days was not too shabby. So there was naturally a concern about Jeff's new direction." However Gregg went on to say that he and Don Ellis, then head of Epic A&R, "encouraged the project at all costs." They realised the quality of the work and public's yearnings for new, fresh sounds. Once the Lp was approved for release, Geller told this writer that, "It was hard for some people at Epic to break from the past as their main concern was what's the single going to be?" They obviously wanted the familiar "She's A Woman". What was eventually released was "You Know What I Mean", back with "Constipated Duck".
It was indeed a moot concern because as we all know, the Lp shot right to the top of the charts peaking at No.3 in BillBoard which remains to this day the highest ranking rock instrumental Lp. As Gregg Geller added, "The public so quickly and positively responded largely because of FM progressive radio. Artists like Minnie Ripperton and Jeff Beck were able to get a hearing from FM radio. People responded to the quality."
The final Lp lineup of Beck, Middleton, Bailey and Chenn entered Air Studios in London in mid '74 to record what was to become the lengendary Lp. To Phil Chenn at the time it was just another session although he was aware who Jeff Beck was and eager to play with him. I asked Phil what was the most striking thing about Jeff's playing. "THE FEELING!" was his reply, "I didn't know a white person could sound the way Jeff did. It was like the first time I met Steve Cropper. I said the same thing to him. I thought you were black!"
The general pattern of recording the Lp was Chenn explained centered around "playing a lot of pool, we would play pool, then drink tea or coffee, eat biscuits and then go upstairs and jam." Max and Jeff had certain things worked out beforehand as Ralph Baker previously explained, so the jams must have had good direction by then because as Phil noted, "There weren't too many takes. Jeff would do some overdubs but most of the songs were done in a couple of takes."
When the time came to tour in support of Blow By Blow in the spring of 1975, the USA and Japan were targeted. Oddly, Jeff's homeland, the UK, disliked his new style of rock and except for a brief warm up performance at the Roundhouse in London with Jan Hammer in 1976, it would be another six years before Beck would grace these shores with his musical presence.
Jeff now needed a road band. He didn't feel Richard and Phil were suited for a rock oriented stage presentation. Phil admitted to me that although he did feel disappointed at not being asked to tour, indeed he was new to the image of stage rock and most of Jeff's new music. Being the concientious bass sessionist that he was, he took home rehearsal tapes for the Lp to practice along with 'til the wee hours of the morning causing some rows with the neighbors in his apartment building. It wasn't until after that period when he saw the 'Stones play and was knocked out by them that he identified with a rock oriented stage presentation which of course landed him a later gig with Carmine Appice and Rod Stewart. Ironic. Unfortunately, Jeff had to move on. Ralph Baker explained it like this, "Phil didn't have enough attack for Jeff. Richard was lacking in any punch, he could play the parts technically but it was many years before he became a powerful stage drummer and by then we had moved on." Jeff at that time was quoted in the press as saying that Richard and Phil sounded so good together in the studio, it would be a shame to break that up by taking them on road.
Support musicians had to be hired to front a new stage band. Jeff had always admired the rhythm of the Motown sound of which drummer Bernard Purdie had been a big part of. Purdie, according to Ralph Baker, "suggested Wilbur Bascomb (bass). He was building a formidable reputation as a session player in New York at the time and was doing T.V. work." Max of course was Jeff's melodic counterpoint and the two had been on many tours together. Before the tour started there was one interesting event that remains a favorite of Beck fans - the Midnight Special (a TV show hosted by Billy Preston) with Buddy Miles, Max Middleton, Willie Weeks, Ollie Brown and Jeff. They played Preston's "Nothin' From Nothin'", Mile's "Them Changes" and Jeff's "You Know What I Mean" and "Cause We've Ended As Lovers". The show aired on May 2nd 1975.
The first part of the tour was packaged with John McLaughlin's Mahavishnu Orchestra by CBS. While being influenced by McGlaughin, Beck realised early in the tour that fans were responding more to his music than Mahavishnu's. Fellow colleague David Terralavoro points out that, "Jeff was really the only main rock player to cross over to the jazz influence. Almost everybody else like Stanley Clarke, Michael Walden, and McLaughlin etc. came over the other way from jazz to rock."
Jeff had an advantage of experience on stage milking every last note and gesture while the others playing a million notes and scales but not clicking with the audiences. At the Avery Fisher Hall show in NYC, McLaughlin opened the first show and by the second song I found myself with a splitting headache from the 500 m.p.h. high on the neck guitar runs and went to the lobby to get a drink. I found myself surrounded by about fifty girls gasping, "I wish they would bring Beck on."
Jeff's standard set during that tour was breathtaking. Realising he had the burden of fronting the main sound, he riveted solo after solo on the Lp tracks as well as "Superstitious" and then newly found friend Stanley Clarke's "Power". "Got The Feeling" was reprised for the encore. There remains a funky jam not on any Lp (a Blow By Blow throwaway?) at some recorded venues.
To this author the most captivating moment of the show was the transition from the fast paced "Freeway Jam" to the haunting ballad "Definately Maybe". Bernard Purdie would flail away with these twenty inch arms at that juncture as Jeff would give just a hint of the opening minor chord and beautiful slide work to follow. At the Music Hall in Boston '75 show, one can hear a voice screaming after "Freeway", "Definately Maybe!!". I have no proof, but I believe the voice to be my own as I had seen the show in New York City two nights earlier and remember yelling it out in anticipation.
The only other recollections I have of that part of the tour was the CBS party after the show in NYC. Free food, free drinks, offspring of CBS executives running rampant, the chance to listen to Carmine Appice talk about Beck, Jeff coming out of the elevator, everyone stunned silent, but not me! I had a few drinks in me and had waited 10 years to meet Jeff. At the time I was 230 lbs. and lean. So I pushed everyone out of the way and gave Beck a tentative handshake but those mechanic hands gave me a suprisingly good grip back. We talked about UPP and other "off sessions". Rick Derringer pulled up outside in a sports car, Jeff jumped on the hood, and off they went Jeff, Rick and Carmine. Jeff had a good time on the tour but complained about the burden of being the front man all the time. This paradox was the essence of the tour, Gregg Geller offers this, "Jeff did step out front and that was great! Jeff likes to slink back into a corner and hide. The whole show was Jeff and it worked like a charm." I asked Ralph Baker if in hindsight a more powerful stageband might have eased things a little for Beck. Ralph disagreed "No, I don't think so. It was always going to be strange for Jeff, no one had ever been instrumental in the rock field before, he just needed players he could rely on."
After a summer tour of Japan, Jeff agreed to a second leg of an American tour in the fall of '75. Gregg Geller was struck with the irony of Beck being sandwiched in between Aerosmith and Rod Stewart and the Faces. Ralph Baker explains it like this "He enjoyed Aerosmith and is still friends with them. The Faces were old friends. Jeff's set for the tour was shortened from one hour to 30 minutes. By this time he had abandoned the Les Paul guitar altogether for the Stratocaster, although he used the Les Paul on tunes like "Cause We've Ended As Lovers" and "Power" during the first part of the tour." Ralph continued, "He was simply going back to the Strat from the BBA days when the only guitar that would operate at BBA volume and not feedback was the Les Paul. Jeff never seemed to like playing it." On the same tour Jeff would send Rod Stewart tongue in cheek barbs. At the Omni, Atlanta show Jeff ended his set by thanking the audience and saying, "You've had enough music for the afternoon. Now on with the show."
Any discussion of the Blow By Blow era coundn't end without setting the stage for the next Lp "Wired". Jeff had made good contacts on the Blow By Blow tour with people like Michael Narada Walden, Jan Hammer and Wilbur Bascombe who, proved solid in and out of the studio. Bernard Purdie was fine on basic Funk and Rock but Jeff was getting more into technical specific time changing material. Richard Bailey was called back to the studio. Ralph Baker explained "Purdie would not play any of the difficult time signatures. Richard was fine technically and in the studio it could be made to sound powerful." With the advent of producer George Martin having to leave to finish and America Lp, Gregg Geller recalls, "Chris Bond basically finished the production of "Wired"." As for all the different musicians on the Lp, Gregg said, "I think it was largely a case of different people being available at different times."
So there you have it. Whether you have Blow By Blow on vinyl, half speed mastered vinyl, cassette, CD or the beautifully new digitally mastered CD set, enjoy it. Worldwide sales to date, according to Beck's management, is well over two million. If you have a private collector's live '75 show not on the published list in this issue, send a copy!
Be seeing you,Dick Wyzanski
Crazy Legs - Epic Records Rating *****...Hats off to producer Stuart Coleman...crisp modern recording without affecting that raw energy of the original Vincent and Blue Caps sound...We can now fully appreciate where some of Jeff's genius came from...Beck is humble when he says it's mostly a copy. Comparisons to the originals, while showing many similarities, nevertheless point out Jeff's ability to interject his own soulful sound while at the same time paying homage to Cliff Gallup... Big Town Playboys are a first class backing band...Great cover...Heartfelt credits.
The "whistle" has been utilized by Jeff Beck many other times as well. Collectors should dust off the May 6, 1969 show at the Boston Tea Party to catch Jeff using it as one of the many psychedelic foils on "Rice Pudding". Onwards to the November 1971 show at Winterland, San Francisco we hear the whistle as a playful companion to the hook from The Rascals "Groovin'" during the adlib solo to "Got The Feeling". A more realistic effect were those high pitched wails posting up after Tenches' call, "I can hear that (train) whistle blow" on the Orpheum Theatre, Boston May 1972 rendition of Dylan's "Tonight I'll Be Staying Here With You". After an emotionally charged segue from "Freeway Jam" right into "Definately Maybe", this technique added much needed comic relief to many teary eyes in the crowd at the Music Hall, Boston May 1st 1975 show (which I'm running off the hear right after finishing this segment). Following the above mentioned Hammer/Beck collaboration there is precious little of the whistling technique to be heard of Jeff's live performances save the bit during an early "There And Back" tour show at the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles in September 1980 during "The Pump". Listen to the upstanding concert-goer proclaim "He's (Beck) trippin' now!". I'm sure Jeff didn't want to be "labeled" with that trick technique so he cooled it for a number of years but interestingly enough brought it back slightly on "High Heeled Sneakers" from "Frankie's House".
The technique itself involves fingering a slide above the last frets while picking the string. The placement of the slide in relation to the pickups and the bridge has a lot to do with varying the pitch and quality of the whistling effect