Jeff Beck, Blow By Blow (1975)
An album that will forever be in my Top 10/desert island discs/best-ever list/s. I bought it – the first time – on a whim. I was in to Jeff Beck, mostly from reading about him – and from hearing some of the early material. And I bought this, on tape, knowing nothing about it, from the Deka store in Gisbourne. I was 13 years old. It’s one of the albums I can easily/honestly say I’ve listened to the most in my life. Beck’s lines are like that of a bebop player as he tackles covers and pushes his own form of fusion in to place; a spacey jazz-rock that might seem naff to some but still feels right to me. I should probably treat myself to a decent vinyl copy of this – I’ve long since given away the tape and worn out two CD versions. The LP I have has what looks like a bite taken from one of the corners. Probably a last-minute attempt to stop the drooling from whatever rabid guitar fan owned the record before me. Someone taking someone else’s word so literally that this is a record every guitarist should sink their teeth in to. A few years ago I got to interview Jeff Beck for The Listener. It was rather weird that a publication like that would want a 2,500 word four-page spread on Beck (especially in this day and age). But I was the man for the job. I loved the chance to speak to a hero and hoped I’d be able to tell him how much Blow By Blow has meant to me without feeling like too much of a cheese. I did – and I got the feeling Beck loved to hear this. I would imagine he gets pretty terrible interviewers from the mainstream media these days, “tell us about your new album?” and “so you replaced Eric Clapton, huh?”-type questions. Perhaps. I only had a few minutes. But it was easily one of my favourite interviews I’ve ever done. And made me like him and his music even more. But this is the one. This album. It’s magic. The playing – from all of the musicians – is that special kind of wonderful. I could imagine a person digging this even if they never played another Jeff Beck album ever. And that would be fair enough for many. But to me this was (and always will be) the start of a journey. Well, the start of two journeys, really. My appreciation of Jeff Beck and his work – that’s the one obvious journey. But you listen to this and you can see/hear/feel that this is the real start of Beck’s journey: a voyage to show that the guitar can be lyrical, can be the melodic voice, can stand up as the lead instrument and not make you miss the human voice. (Oh, here’s the interview by the way).
Sample Track: Diamond Dust