The Jeff Beck Group
Twilight of the Idols: Classic Broadcasts From San Francisco and London – 1967-1968
Code 7 – Shockwaves
Here in one place – and with mostly very reasonable sound quality – is a set of BBC Sessions and some live radio broadcasts from the Fillmore West in San Francisco; charting the early development of The Jeff Beck Group.
Formed in 1967 when Beck left The Yardbirds to take blues further out, his group would feature Ron Wood on bass, and a young vocalist named Rod Stewart.
It would take a few months – and at least three drummers – before Aynsley Dunbar was behind the skins. He’d eventually get bored or frustrated or both and Stewart would bring in his old Steampacket chum, Micky Waller.
But what a band. Fully formed on debut – there were the hit singles Hi Ho Silver Lining and Beck’s Bolero, but neither seemed to really sum up what this group was about; nor did the odd Tallyman (even with its piercing, brilliant lead guitar solo).
It’s songs like I Ain’t Superstitious where we hear the blues base being given a big shake as the seeds of heavy metal are sewn. It’s songs like You Shook Me and Rock My Plimsoul, here both devastating in their live Fillmore renditions where the combination of Beck’s great rock’n’roll guitar playing and Stewart’s soulful, blues-soaked vocals both reach higher and wider – the songs can barely contain this type of star-power.
The version of Shapes of Things that The Jeff Beck Group reworked feels like a classic middle finger to The Yardbirds. And there are other examples of that kind of sneering solipsism here too; Morning Dew building to an incendiary noise, Jeff’s Boogie a tiny hint of the monster-virtuosity that was to come and The Sun is Shining is such a lazy blues but there’s spirit. There’s fire. There’s something magical and it happens in the spaces that Rod and Jeff leave for each other. They really were a phenomenal combo. And though this is trainspotter stuff – the official records offer enough – fans won’t be disappointed by this spectacular racket.