Jeff Beck is an artist who has taken the road less travelled. Throughout his career that has spanned some fifty odd years, he has constantly pushed the boundaries of instrumental guitar music, forging his own original sound rather than following trends that have been set by others. Live+ is a showcase of the amazing talent the British guitarist has to offer, and will no doubt whet the appetite for those who are hungry for the release of his 17th studio album.
At 16 tracks long the album is made up of a nice balanced combination of original songs, covers, and two new studio tracks. All recordings are from his 2014 US tour with ZZ Top and include hits that span his lengthy career. I think hearing live recordings from Jeff Beck is a more enthralling experience; with a studio album you can never really be sure what has been added in post production, but with Live+, you know for sure that all those other-worldly sounds that you hear are the result of Jeff Beck’s inimitable technique.
Jeff Beck’s band is made up of musicians who are ridiculously talented individually, but they mesh well together as well. It must be one hell of an experience to listen to these guys live in person, but this album gets us as close to that experience as it can. Jimmy Hall’s vocals are well suited to the array of songs that have a singing part, particularly the cover of Freddie King’s Going Down. Rhonda Smith provides the groove on bass, stealing the show with a jaw-dropping solo on You Know You Know. Jonathan Joseph is an equally formidable piece of the rhythm section on drums, and Nicholas Meier shows his proficiency as second guitarist.
And of course, at the front of all these talented people stands Jeff Beck. The album reveals the many different styles of playing at which Jeff Beck is totally adept. From robotic, metallic riffing in the opening track Loaded to the delicately beautiful Danny Boy, Jeff Beck makes his guitar speak in many different ways. The highlight for me is Where Were You which evokes so much feeling that it really sounds like the guitar is wailing out of grief.
I could write an essay about all the different sounds and feelings Jeff Beck conveys through one instrument but I really don’t think I can do him justice. His instrumental music speaks for itself. If you haven’t listened to Jeff Beck much before, this album is a great place to start. You’ll hear some familiar tracks made famous by other artists and I’d wager you’ll appreciate how Jeff Back makes them his own. And if you’re a fan you may be excited by the two new tracks Tribal and My Tiled White Floor which may be teasers for what will hopefully be released later this year.