Jeff Beck's manager, Ralph Baker, has been of great importance to all of the issues including this one.
A very special thanks to Jeff Beck who has provided us all with his music over the years.
David Terralavoro 1992
Firstly, "Beckology" was released on November 19, 1991 and is 3 CDs (not 2). The ALL STARS jam session of a Motown song and Stevie Wonder session song were not included on "Beckology". They were at first planned. Release dates varied throughout 1991, first it was October, then 3 different weeks in November.
The story written by Gene Santoro who included both portions of past and recent interviews is incorporated into his excellent liner notes. I have to point out though - Jagger did not take Beck to New York to record "She's The Boss" Lp, that was "Primitive Cool". A band tree is included in the booklet written by Pete Frame. (I only noticed one mistake - DIANA ROSS's Lp Beck played on is "Swept Away" not "Eaten Alive".) The next thing to rave about are of course the songs included. It is common practice to include unreleased and/or rare songs on box sets like others do.
There is also the inclusion of 4 Yardbird songs broadcast on BBC radio which were released about 10 months ago prior to "Beckology" on a Yardbirds Lp and CD. For those who can not find imports in their record store, another plus is the inclusion of BBA's "Black Cat Moan" live (from the Japanese release live album). Not many people realize that the "Jeff Beck With The Jan Hammer Group Live" Lp is available on CD here in the US. In was thought to be released only in Japan in that format. One song "Freeway Jam" live is also included on "Beckology".
Out of the 55 songs in the set, 19 of them are Yardbirds songs. Volume One CD contains those 3 Tridents songs, Yardbirds and only 3 solo Beck 60's songs. Volume Two contains 6 songs from the JBG, 4 songs from the (70's version) JBG, the remainder is BBA. One live song is 16:41 long so that explains the short choice.
Volume Three ranges from 1975 - 1989. Yes, a fourteen year period when Beck's recording (solo) output was 6 solo Lps and songs which had appeared on soundtrack Lps. Some of those soundtrack songs, "Sleepwalk" and two which have the help of Hymas and Bozzio "Train Kept A Rollin'" and "The Stumble"* from "Twins" soundtrack Lp/CD* are included as well as songs from each of the solo Lps. It would have been nice to hear some unreleased songs during this period. I guess Beck didn't think it would have been.
Two good reasons for owning "Beckology" are: 1)It's a bargain and 2) The music contained is excellent, varied and worth listening to. There's alot of songs that didn't make this set, songs never before released both on CD or in the US and of course Beck is still recording. In case this set becomes successful I hope another Volume will be considered for release another time. This set is sure to be introduced to yet another generation of fans too. I wait for the next set...
Why only a 3 1/2 star grading for song selection? That isn't a bad rating. Certainly "New Ways Train Train" was the only logical choice from "Rough And Ready". All of the non-Nile Rodger's material from "Flash" was present. Classic Yardbirds performances as well as unreleased BBA songs were indeed welcome additions. However, several subjective criticisms from my viewpoint are in order.
"Definately Maybe" (as Ernest Chapman pointed out in the CD booklet) was a crucial turning point in Beck's career in his "set" (aka "Live" set). While the Lp number is a classic statement, definitive versions of the song were always performed live. One need only listen to the '72 BBC "In Concert" with Mike Harding series for a ready to remix/remaster hot live version as an example (rebroadcast on US radio and available on private collectors tapes).
Why wasn't this type of thing used? My guess is that CBS/Sony Music wanted Gregg Geller to use material that they already had in their vaults without having to spend any more money on the project. The other song selection point that I would like to focus on is the "Twins" movie soundtrack selection "Train Kept A Rollin'". For some reason, Beck doesn't like to hear himself too much when he has the biggest voice in song production. A pity, if one puts their eardrum right up to the speakers, they would hear the most amazing riffs ever invented on guitar grossly undermixed. Instead, I would have liked to have seen either "I'd Die For This Dance" of "Green Onions" (the Booker T and the MGs classic was performed by the band, breifly, heard and not included on the Lp or the CD). "I'd Die For This Dance" featured sonic mutatin of yet another example of Beck's versatility - Country Western! (Jeff - you really should change your mind and do at least a rockabilly accented Beckstyle burner of an album.) However, I mentioned to Gregg Geller his selections were generally right on as it was scaringly close to my own box set wish list.
If kudos are to be given, one must not forget the CBS/Sony marketing department! Beck is of course synomonous with quality guitar, so he scored kudos with being the first of his genre to be memorialized in a guitar case. Gene Santoro's writing style added a distinctive touch to the booklet with its descriptive phrasings of Beck's guitar sounds. Pete Frame's "family tree" is superb and I'm sure he'll read Issues #2 and 3 of this 'zine series and find a way to pencil in missing session notes in between trees in his impeccable penmanship style.
Incidentally, I'd love to have the whole show of that quality. Lastly, where is the beginning segment of "Jizz Whizz"? It's hard to believe that this was the actual finished waiting to be released track, as the selection with the ascending chord structure seemed so integral to the song.
The "Blow By Blow" and "Wired" Lp selections are also kind of strange. No problem with "Cause We've Ended As Lovers" and "Goodbye Porkpie Hat" which are two certified Beck classics, but "Diamond Dust"?? (Even more explicibly:) "Love Is Green"? How about "Do You Know What I Mean", "Scatterbrain", "Led Boots" or even "Blue Wind"??
I noticed other mistakes on the track information, and the date and venue of the "Freeway Jam (Live)" song are wrong. It's actually the Philadelphia Spectrum October 9, 1976 concert. I was there and even have an audience tape to verify it. The Philly track used for the album was "She's A Woman" though the beginning is slightly edited to allow the melody to begin in an even measure.
Despite the criticisms and flaws, I really enjoy "Beckology" especially the early TRIDENTS tracks and items that were otherwise hard to find or unavailable on CD until now.
Of the three discs, I found disc one to be the most satisfying. "Nursery Rhyme" by the TRIDENTS was worth the price of the set by itself. Some may be put off by the raw sound of this track, but I found it charming. Beck's playing was alot wilder at this time than the other TRIDENT tracks would indicate.
The selection of THE YARDBIRDS material was very good. I was especially pleased with the inclusion of "Psycho Daisies". The selection fo solo singles was also good although some people may be disappointed by the lack of "Love Is Blue".
Disc two contained some of the best highs and worst lows. I may be in the minority but the JEFF BECK GROUP with Rod Stewart is one of the least interesting periods to me. With that said, I thought they did an excellent job with the programming of these tracks. The high point being the 45 version of JBG's "Rock My Plimsoul".
The JBG II tracks were also well programmed. The BBA tracks give me the most problem. I first discovered Beck through this band and have fond memories of them. "Superstition" and "Black Cat Moan" were good choices but 16:41 worth of "Blues Deluxe/BBA Boogie" is stupid. While the sort fo thing is fun when you see it at a show, audience participation numbers stink as recordings. This is like an outtake from the movie "This Is Spinal Tap".
The BBA tracks also have one of the high points, in the studio version of "Jizz Whizz". I've been anxious to hear this since it was first mentioned in a Circus magazine article back in 1974.
Disc three was good but a little anti climatic since it didn't contain any unreleased material. If I had been the one programming the set here are the changes I'd have made:
"They're (TRIDENTS recordings) extremely rough in quality but fascinating from a historical point of view. The studio demo is taken from a very scratchy acetate. It's astonishing what Jeff was up to prior to being in the YARDBIRDS. His work in the YARDBIRDS has been cited quite rightfully, as the beginning of a lot of what we call rock guitar playing, and here he is, a year before, doing all that - and sometimes more.
I really wanted to give that (YBs) period its due. I'm a bigh Beck fan, and it's always bugged me that when people mention the YBs they talk first about Eric Clapton and then about Jimmy Page, and then sometimes they mention Jeff Beck. Clapton and Page are more household names than Beck, but the fact of the matter is virtually every famous YBs recording, all the records that their reputation is based on - features Jeff playing guitar. I really wanted to make that clear, so we lean pretty heavily on the YBs material." (Many thanks to Pete Howard editor if ICE newsletter for letting me reprint this interview.)
Dick Wyzanski spoke to Gregg Geller on the phone and found out these other facts about "Beckology".
In an August 1973 Creem article/interview on Beck, he said that SMOKEY ROBINSON was going to write some songs for the "Motown Album". Also, in that interview he said the VANILLA FUDGE "Coke Commercial" was used on television.
In a Zoo World article (no date indicated) it told about Beck's involvement with the band ZZEBRA (that's the correct spelling as Zoo World also indicated.) Could this actually be the same band "UPP"? (Thanks to Kenny Sexton from Ohio who provided me with these articles.)
Roy Bernhus wrote me and said he saw a documentary on Mickie Most. In it it showed some footage of the JBG recording two songs (from "Beck-Ola" Lp) "Rice Pudding" and "Plynth" at Most's London studio. This was shown in Sweden and Norweigen television back in 1969. (This could also be the same documentary shown in the US once - David T.)
Doing some research, I found out that Nicky Hopkins joined the JBG in September 1968. They played the Fillmore East, NYC October 12-19. Most likely that "Shapes Of Things" promo (term for videos back then) was made at one of these dates.
I also found out that this promo (shown on MTV in 1984) is now available as a Japanese import. (Made to play on US systems.) To order a copy the serial # is R-2078, price $74.95, shipping $3.00, Canadians must add an additional $3.50, Arizona residents add 5% sales tax and Pennsylvania res. add 6% sales tax. The address is: Spectrum Music Video, P.O. Box 1128, Norristown, PA 19404. Phone # is 215-272-6142.
Lenny Henry - "Live And Unleashed" (Palace Video PVC 4031A) England (note: this videocasstte is not compatable with US systems) I'd still pay the money to have it transfered, as it looks like its worth watching the comedian (Henry) and Beck together in this John Lee Hooker spoof. Released around 1990.
Collectors have written to me and said the Beck/Hymas/Bozzio April 23, 1989 concert in Italy is available privately. Also, August 1989 in Japan.
In 1989 Beck appeared on Italian TV's "Rapido" giving an interview. Beck is also shown at home working on his car and there are clips of Jagger and Malcolm McLaren shown too. This is a 5 minute clip.
I finally had the chance to see the Buddy Guy With Jeff Beck "Mustang Sally" video which first aired on August 29 last year. The video was directed by/camera: Michael Oblowitz and produced by David Gordon. The video has Guy and Beck (looks like they are superimposed onto the scenes) playing side by side. First they are in front of a casino. A girl drives a red Mustang with the license plates "Sally" on it, she goes off to the desert where a gas station attendant Jeff Beck waits on her. Beck and Guy are shown playing out in the desert. MTV and VH-1 channels in the US showed this for a breif period. If you can ever track down a record convention or find one of those collector magazines look for a promo copy video cassette by Silvertone Records of the video. Or maybe someday a compilation videocassette from Buddy Guy will be released containing "Mustang Sally".
Much of the series information is taken from music magazines (both Beck articles and articles on people who have worked with Beck), radio and TV interviews as well as talking to Beck fans who have written to me. Lately, with the "Beckology" booklet's sessionography and obtaining information from Ralph Baker, the article which follows gives a more interesting account. I welcome any and all additions and corrections.
At this time (November 1978), Beck would begin recording his next solo Lp "There And Back". Jan Hammer had sent him a cassette tape with six originals on it. Beck would have recorded all of the songs but three of them had already appeared on Hammer's albums. At least one of the songs Beck did record out of the three remaining was titled "Star Cycle". Beck even tried out this song on his upcoming tour in 1978 and 1979.
Beck assembled a touring band of Stanley Clarke (bass), Tony Hymas (keyboards) and Simon Phillips (drums). They toured in Japan for three weeks in November 1978 and the following year in France during April and also in Spain during July. On that tour, included in their set were two more Jan Hammer originals; "Cat Moves" and "Hot Rocks". Both which remain unreleased by Beck. (Ironically Beck plays guitar on those songs and only on those songs, on Cozy Powell's "Tilt" Lp. The Lp was released in both the US and England sometime in 1981.)
All of the musicians except Stanley Clarke, would help out with Beck's "There And Back" Lp. Beck also utiized Jan Hammer and Mo Foster (bass) on the album. Another name from the past - Ken Scott (he engineered the "Truth" Lp) was called in and he and Beck produced the "There And Back" Lp. The album would be recorded during 1979 and 1980. The songs are more (Progressive) Rock than Funk as its last two predecessors. Like those last two Lp's - this one contains all instrumentals. "There And Back" was released around August 1980. A US tour started almost immediately. A single "Too Much To Lose"/"The Final Piece" was pulled from the Lp for a US release - but went nowhere. However, "There And Back" would hit #21 on the US Billboard charts. For the tour this time Beck took only Hymas, Phillips and Foster along. The US tour lasted during the fall and ended up heading to Japan in December. The following year they did some dates in England during March. On March 10, at the Hammersmith Odeon Theatre in London, Beck brought a surprise guest onstage - Jimmy Page. Page had not set foot on stage for a year and a half since the Zep had to break up due to drummer John Bonham's death. On the encore performance Page, with Beck, performed a rockin' version of "Going Down". The tour in 1981 stopped in March but Beck and his band made an appearance at the benefit concert for Amnesty International. The event, which was at the Drury Lane Theatre Royal in London, also included such stars as Sting, Eric Clapton, Donovan and others, was eventually included in part in both a live album and videocassette (both out of print and not available on CD) released the following year.
On the album, Beck and Clapton perform three songs together; "Cause We've Ended As Lovers", "Further On Up The Road" and "Crossroads". For the finale all of the artists joined for a jam on the Bob Dylan song "I Shall Be Released". This event (September 1981, date not specified, the concert was between the 9th - 12th) marks Beck's last stage appearance for two years. Save for a couple of appearances on records by others (I told in detail about the Cozy Powell "Tilt" Lp released in 1981, Beck also played on a Murray Head "How Many Ways" Lp and is also on a PhD "Is It Safe" Lp on the song "I Didn't Know" released in 1983.
Also no interviews appeared during this retirement period. Dick Wyzanski, a lifelong fan of Beck's says this about the 1981-1983 period:"Beck started two trends. One was to show up with other 60's and early 70's mates to jam. (Kind of like him coming to terms with himself and realizing it was OK not to have to pioneer new musical directions all of the time and to be friends with peers that had more commercial success than he did). The other trend was to start to take extended vacations to pursue his love for his antique race cars and his English castle estate. (Which he could afford to do now after two Top 20 Lps and two more in the Top 40!)."
With nothing to report on 1982, the next time Beck was heard of was the summer of 1983 recording with (yet another familiar name) Rod Stewart. Beck had been fooling around with a new guitar a friend had given him, one of the first that came out of it was "People Get Ready" (the old 1965 Impression's song). The friend commented how great that song would sound with Rod Stewart's vocal part added. Beck made a rough instrumental demo and an attempt was made to get Stewart to listen to it. In BAM Magazine September 22, 1989 issue, Beck recalled the incident to Steve Rosen: "We (his friend - DT) took it up to Rod that night. He was on the phone in this glass booth in the house, not interested at all. And then he heard the song coming out and he ran up the stairs and the next day we cut it in about two hours. It's too bad we didn't do and Ep or mini-album."
By the time that song was actually released, two years would pass by. Not many Beck fans know that BBA used to perform "People Get Ready" on the US/European fall of '72 tour. Speaking of Carmine Appice, Beck had stayed at his house a few times during 1983 and during one of those times he joined Stanley Clarke on a session for his "Time Exposure" Lp (not released until the next year). Beck would be asked to play on some songs for the Vanilla Fudge reunion Lp "Mystery" (released in March 1983).
Carmine Appice recalled that session in International Musician and Recording World magazine August 1984 issue: "We went to England with our producer, Spencer Proffer and put him on two cuts ("My World Is Empty" and "Jealousy" - DT). And it was great. Jeff did the usual, got it all down in two takes."
Beck is credited as "J. Toad" - maybe a joke at the Box Of Frogs band, perhaps? Getting back to mid 1983 (I am trying to tell events in chronological order), Beck was asked to join the A.R.M.S. benfit concert tour. Ronnie Lane (ex-Small Faces, Faces) was suffering from Multiple Sclerosis and his close friends Eric Clapton, Bill Wyman and Pete Townsend (who did not participate by playing onstage but had actually helped out) saw fit to help Lane and other victims of MS out. It was Eric Clapton who asked Beck to help out which he agreed. Beck's next band he assembled was Tony Hymas, Simon Phillips and Fernando Saunders(bass). Other acts included Stevie Winwood, Andy Fairweather-Low, Kenny Jones, Charlie Watts and more suprisingly Jimmy Page. In England two dates (September 20 & 21) were performed at the Royal Albert Hall. One of those dates is available on videocassette and has even been reissued recently on Rhino Video, the date unfortunately is not specified. More interesting, around the time this event was shown in some clubs in the US and MTV aired it.
The idea of the all star line up was to have each band come out and perform a set (Clapton, Beck and Page each assembled their own band). After each band has performed all members of this charity tour joined for a few songs. In the US, some changes were made: Stevie Winwood was replaced by Joe Cocker, Tony Hymas was replaced by Jan Hammer and also Paul Rodgers was added. Unfortunately, for most people in the US, the ARMS tour consisted of nine dates total, in three states, California, Texas and New York. Lucky for me, living only 70 miles from one of those gigs! I attended the first night at the Madison Square Garden concert on December 8. Beck was great. He was making the guitar speak. He asked the audience to clap their hands and he was moving all over the stage. One number he performed he said was a title song to an English TV show. The song, "Star Cycle" which I already knew was on the "There And Back" Lp. (What I learned much later on was that he had reworked that song for the English TV show "The Tube". Actually, there were two versions of "The Tube" theme. One was done with Trevor Horn and runs ninety seconds long. "The Tube" TV show was shown on MTV Sunday nights around 1984 and was basically just a couple of bands performing live. One of the members of the band "Squeeze", Jools Holland, hosted the show. "The Tube" theme song was once considered for release in 1985 but that was not to occur, more on that later on.) The songs Beck performed were: "Star Cycle", "The Pump", "Definately Maybe", "Blue Wind", "People Get Ready" (Andy Fairweather-Low singing), and "Going Down". Beck also had the opportunity of bringing out Jimmy Page who didn't "need no introduction". After Page's great performance, all seventeen stars joined on stage for a jam of "With A Little Help From My Friends", the 1967 Beatles song. This was a very appropriate choice, the title says it all. This date also marked the three year anniversary of the death of John Lennon (which no one forgets in NYC) also Jimmy Page had played guitar on Joe Cocker's 1969 remade version.
The tour attracted much press and reviews agreed that Beck was so superb he overshadowed the continuing comeback of Eric Clapton and the reappearance of Jimmy Page. When Rolling Stone gave the tour a cover story, Eric Clapton said in the interview that he was the warm up act and the stars were Beck and Page.
About Ronnie Lane - his Multiple Sclerosis subsided for awhile after having his lead teeth fillings removed and replaced with plastic. However today he is at a facility in Texas with his medical bills rumoured to be paid by Rod Stewart. Much of the money raised from the tour ended up mysteriously disappearing. It would have been a good idea of releasing a live album from the tour but that never happened. Bootlegs did appear though. Perhaps it was the audiences and the fun of playing with all the stars that helped inspire Beck to start recording again. After the US dates, Beck returned to England to soon find himself playing with (of course some old friends) the remaining YARDBIRDS. On December 23, Beck joined Jim McCarty (drums), Paul Samwell-Smith (bass and producer), Chris Dreja (rhythm guitar) and John Fiddler for a couple of drinks which soon turned into a recording session.
Beck said in BAM Magazine November 1985 issue about those recordings:"They went away without me knowing it and made some tapes to avoid kind of 'will you come and play with us?' thing. The tapes were pretty good. Mostly because Paul Samwell-Smith was a good producer; he'd kept his finger in the pot. It was better than most of those revamped, reguritated things."
These recordings came out as BOX OF FROGS "Box Of Frogs" Lp, released in June 1984. Beck played on four songs including the single "Back Where I Started" (which was also a video shown regularly on MTV and even on USA channel and network TV shows like "Friday Night Videos", Beck did not appear in the video and there wasn't a tour to support sales of the record.)
I was around December of 1983 that Beck decided to use Nile Rodgers as the producer of his next solo Lp. He told Rockbill's Lou O'Neill in the February 1984 issue his next Lp represents "the biggest risk I have taken in my career."
Nile Rodgers had produced Madonna, Duran Duran and David Bowie among others, still his schedule was full for producing Beck's next album. Beck also had other commitments too, he was appearing with Les Paul at Perfkin's Palace playing on a few songs. That appearance was aired on the US TV show "Rock and Roll Tonight" a short lived show. Then, on March 20 Beck joined Stevie Ray Vaughn at a CBS Record convention in Hawaii. (See Issue #2 for details in the Video/TV appearance listing).
Beck would also be invited to play on sessions for others during this time, such people like Mick Jagger, Tina Turner and Rod Stewart. (He was even asked to do another session while recording the solo Lp!)
The first sessions for Beck's solo Lp began on April 30, 1984 at the Power Station in New York City. The first song recorded for the Lp was a Nile Rodger song "Get Workin". Rodgers insisted that Beck sing on his own Lp, so another Rodger's song "Night After Night" would also feature Beck's vocal. Beck reluctantly agreed to sing on these two only. When Rodgers played Beck the song "Ambitious" Beck suggested that Jimmy Hall sing on that one. Hall was flown in and he put his vocal part in on only three takes. Since he handled that one with ease, they let him sing on a couple more songs. He sang Rodger's "Stop Look And Listen" and "Nighthawks" (the latter one only available on the CD version of "Flash" and in England on a 12" record).Then, Hall was asked to sing for the Arthur Baker song "Gets Us All In The End" which Baker produced, and "Ecstacy" written by an outsider but produced by Baker. (The Baker involvement is a later part of the story.)
I don't have enough evidence to pinpoint what songs were recorded when or where (several recording studios were used). A private tape of some of the Rodger's outtakes exists among the most avid Beck fans. So here is where I am basing this part of the story, included on that tape are "You Know I Like To Jam Alot" (a Rodger's song sung by him), and an instrumental refered by fans as either "Jeff's Anthem" or as "Jeff's Theme". This song sounds heavily influenced by Vangelis. The other songs on the tape are instrumentals of what was later released. No dates ro titles are mentioned with the tape either, it should be pointed out that around this time Beck hired four session men to remake a song from the Vangelis "Chariots Of Fire" soundtrack. The results of this session however, proved unsatisfactory. Beck said the timing was way off and he aborted the project. Beck later contacted Vangelis, who was going to write him a whole song. That too went down as Vangelis' studio blew up and the whole thing was called off. (If anybody knows anymore information on this please let me know.)
Back in the studio, while Beck and Rodgers were recording, Diana Ross was in the next studio and heard Beck's guitar. Beck told Q Magazine (October 1989 issue) in an interview with David Sinclair about this: "I was in the studio doing some overdubbing and she came in to see Nile. We were introduced and she said 'My God it's hot in here.' I said really? She said 'I mean your music is so hot. Would you come and put some heat on my record one day?' So we went down to Soundworks Studio and I was totally in awe of that golden voice. I did a couple of tracks, but it was a bit of a naff album. It was disappointing in that I would really like to have played on 'Ain't No Mountain High Enough'." The album when released in September, was titled "Swept Away". Beck has said in an interview that he played on (Bob Dylan's song) "Forever Young". Nile Rodgers plays on the album also (doesn't produce). Another session that Beck and Rodgers did together and which also put the solo album on hold was The Honeydrippers one-off project. Assembled by Robert Plant, he hired the best musicians: Beck, Paul Shaffer (keyboards), Nile Rodgers, later Jimmy Page and also Ahmet Ertugun who produced the "mini-Lp". (His name by the way is spelt backwards in the credits.) No other musician is credited on the record, but at the time mostly everyone knew about it anyway.
On the KMET radio show in Los Angeles, California (summer 1985) Beck told Cynthia Foxx about this session: "I think we did the whole lot in one afternoon, we did seven tracks in one afternoon. Nobody knew what was going on and that's what was so good. We were all a bit worried because we knew we were going to do 50's style music, but these kids, (there was a kid about 22 years old on drums). And he didn't know what we were talking about. And a bass player the electric Fender bass. I told him to dub the strings to make it sound like a double bass. He thought I was crazy, but it worked. Anyway, I mean it was great fun. Robert (Plant) was standing in this glass, like phone booth affair. We were all taking the mickey out of him, you know sending him up. It was good because a) we knew we were going to do it in an afternoon because we didn't have anymore studio time booked. I think we did two takes of each song."
Following this interview segment Beck confirms he played on the following songs: "Rockin' At Midnight", "I Gotta Woman" and the song "Sea Of Love" although, Plant brought the tape over to England with him and had Jimmy Page overdub his guitar part on it! The 12" EP when released therefore had Page's solo on "Sea Of Love". Also, when a single was pulled off the EP in contained "Sea Of Love"/"Rockin' At Midnight". The record company felt the B-side was good enough for and A-side and two months later "Rockin' At Midnight" became a single which scored a Top 40 hit in the US (and was also a video - but no Beck appearance).
More session work kept coming in, right now in the story it's difficult to say what dates went with each artist. Around this time, Beck flew down to the Bahamas to record with Mick Jagger for his first solo Lp. Nile Rodgers also appears on the Lp but not on any of songs Beck plays on. Beck told Musician Magazine's David Fricke in an interview (in the May 1985 issue): "No one really knew what Mick wanted. I heard a tape and I couldn't really see me fitting in too well. There were six songs on it, very bare bones. Not crude demos, they were quite well put together, but I couldn't really see why he needed me. It seemed like he had fixed ideas. And Bill Laswell (who produced the Lp - DT), I couldn't understand Laswell at all. It was as if the powers that be created this little episode, thrust into this room down in Nassau and told us to get on with it.
Mick's a very moody guy. He would strum chords for about three hours to get into the mood. By that time, I was tired. There's this extra nervous condition I have when I'm not in there for my own stuff; I want to get in there and do it straight away. I was thinking of his dollar, his time trying to please him. And he wouldn't show any appreciation or pleasure at what I was doing. 'Oh yeah that was alright, let's call it a day.' You go home and you feel dejected. But that's the way he is. For two weeks I just did by best and it appears to be alright."
In Rolling Stone Magazine (February 14, 1985 issue) Jagger said about Beck recording with him: "(He was) very patient. And very hard working. I went home at like two in the morning and he was still in there. That's not bad."
Beck spent three weeks recording with Jagger. The Lp would be released the following year in February and would feature Beck on six songs (one more would be released in 1986 as a B-side). Beck's guitar could be heard on two of the three hit singles: "Just Another Night" and "Lucky In Love" (again, both were videos but didn't feature any Beck appearance).
Much to Beck's surprise, he got a message at his managers office inviting him to play on a Tina Turner session. Beck said in an interview (source not known, reprinted in "Tina" book by Bart Mills) about the session: "I'd always been a fan of hers ever since playing with the Yardbirds and Rod Stewart in the 60's, so it was great to be asked to play on the album. We went in and did it all pretty quickly, but it turned out great, and Tina was really pleased. I was so thrilled to work with her that I asked her to sign my guitar (the pink Jackson - DT) - something that I never ask anyone to do. Anyhow she said sure and went through her bag. I thought she was just looking for a pen or something, but she suddenly pulls out this flick knife and starts carving her name 'T-I-N-A' across my beautiful guitar! I was totally speechless, but very proud!"
The results of this session became Tina Turner's "Private Dancer" Lp which was a big success that year, released in June. Beck can be heard playing on "Steel Claw" and "Private Dancer" (the last song was also a hit single and video - you guessed it - no Beck appearance either!)
At the same time Beck had been appearing on everybodys records (an exaggeration, of course) he also started gracing the covers of most of the guitar magazines and giving interviews. One of those magazines, Guitar World September 1984 issue shows a picture of Beck and Nile Rodgers playing guitars and Beck's Jackson Soloist has "Tina Turner" scratched into it. This suggests that another session was booked for the "Get Workin'" Lp. Beck, needless to say was getting more and more popular around this time. Newer fans were becoming familiar with his work both old and new.
Beck had joined his old mate Rod Stewart to record his solo Lp (Stewart's that is). Beck told David Fricke in Musician Magazine May 1985 issue about recording with Stewart: "He had half an album done with Michael Omartian, a guy I'd never heard of, but who was a fan of mine. I had decent tracks to play on and a producer who liked my playing. Then Rod didn't turn up at the sessions which upset me, didn't even bother to come and listen to what I was doing. He said he had a date and had to sort out his kids. I can appreciate that (voice bristling with sarcasm), running around with women, hiding from wives and girlfriends. I finished my tracks and said 'Rod, why don't you come down and just listen to what I've done? Just for ten minutes.' He said, 'Uh I can't, I'm flying to Hawaii to write the rest of the lyrics.'"
The result of the Stewart sessions was the "Camouflague" Lp released in June 1984. Beck plays on three songs: "Bad For You", "Can We Still Be Friends" and "Infatuation". The last song became a hit single (in the US it reached #6). The song was also a video - this time (yes) Beck appeared in it. He is shown in the room on TV squeezing out these incredible solos. (There were 3 different videos made for this each with a different ending - 3 different people drive off with the girl. Also, this video is available commercially on the "Storyteller" video cassette 1984-1991, available through Warnner Bros.
Beck did more than just appear on the album and video. He agreed to go out on a 70 city US tour with Rod Stewart. The both of them did a 60 minute special on MTV, they posed for a bunch of publicity shots (one made the front cover of a Japanese music magazine).
The idea of the tour was Beck would come on for only fifteen minutes, do some songs with Stewart, then a few of his own songs. I believe this was sometime in late July. Seven shows into the tour Beck walked out of it. Stewart's band when interviewed on MTV a little after the tour said that Beck told them (not Rod) that he was leaving, when he got off the plane he just split. The cities that Beck was featured on included: Reno, NV/ Boise, ID/ Portland, OR/ Seattle, WA/ Vancouver, Canada/ Calgary, Canada/ and Edmonton, Canada.
It seems that every time Beck was interviewed after this the most frequent asked questions were as to why he left the Rod Stewart tour. Reasons ranged from him not liking the idea of having a fifteen minute slot, didn't like Calgary or, as he told the Outer Shell fanzine (Volume 51 1989) to Katherine Bessette: "It was a defintate doom-ridden tour. Rod wasn't in vogue at the time and he was still doing his bum wiggling act."
In Musician Magazine May 1985 issue he told David Fricke: "As each day passed and I was out on the road with him, it was painfully obvious we weren't going to come remotely close to what I had in mind. I saw the rough repertoire list that he wrote up for the show and he was doing fifteen or twenty songs before I even came on stage, I was a sideshow. I thought when I came on we were going to go places, blow up a few buildings. But he had no plans for that at all."
Rod Stewart said in Rolling Stone magazine June 5,1986: "It was so good to work with Jeff, it really was - until the tour started. And I still love to play with him. He's his own worst enemy as many of us are."
I've heard only one tape of the Stewart tour with Beck and Beck joined Stewart for: "Infatuation", "People Get Ready", "Rock My Plimsoul" and "I Ain't Superstitious". Beck performed his song "The Pump" (which recently had appeared in the movie soundtrack to "Risky Business"). Then Stewart joined on stage for "Bad To Me" and "Young Turks".
After the tour Beck went back in the studio to finish up his solo Lp. From this point (August 1984) until the spring of the next year, all of the facts about the solo Lp are not known. What I do know is that at this time Beck decided to use the grandaddy of dance remix Arthur Baker as the next producer for his "Get Workin'" Lp.
Beck said in BAM Magazine (November 1985 issue) to Jerry McCulley: "It was Arthur Baker's turn then. It was a great move, because Arthur was at loggerheads with Nile about the album. He was going in saying, 'Hey, I'm taking over Nile's job now.' But he was great. He didn't say, 'Oh God, those four Nile tracks have to go.' He loved them."
Two or maybe three Nile Rodger songs were not used on the finished album. They were thought to be unsuitable for the album. Also, Beck has said on MTV that in all he spent four weeks putting down his guitar solos while with Rodgers. Rodgers had too many projects going, Beck "was slotted in between two Madonna singles." (as he said on MTV in 1985 while interviewed by Martha Quinn).
Beck did get back together with Rod Stewart to rerecord "People Get Ready". Carmine Appice's voice was sampled electronically in the song. According to the CD booklet in the "Beckology" box set, it was recorded at the Record Plant in Los Angeles, California late 1984. Beck produced this version.
Arthur Baker was producing the rest of "Get Workin'" Lp, it was supposed to be finished around December. In an interview during January to David Fricke, who also previewed the Lp for the interview (the same one that was published in Musician May 1985 issue) a song "The Tube" theme was included on the (tape of ?) Lp. This song, to this day unfortunately, remains unreleased. Press reports said the Lp was to be released at the beginning of the new year. Not quite.
In the spring, Beck and Rod Stewart filmed a video together for "People Get Ready". The video was filmed near Los Angeles. The video, credited Jeff Beck with Rod Stewart, is filmed in black and white. It opens with Rod Stewart writing Beck a letter about playing guitar professionally with him (or something). Beck, is shown reading the letter on the train which arrives meeting Stewart at the station.
One small problem was a B-side was needed for the single. Beck tells about the new song "Back On The Street" to Guitar Player November 1985 issue in an interview with Jas Obrecht: "We needed it quickly to fill up the 7" single. They said, 'Quick, quick, quick - we have to have something to go out on the other side.' And I wrote it in about ten minutes."
A girl singer, Karen Lawrence, was found in a day and she sang the lead vocal. Taken this fact and listening to the actual song, it doesn't sound like anything Beck's ever done. This song would have actually made a good A-side for a second single.
Sometime earlier in the year (1985), Beck had recorded the Santo and Johnny song "Sleepwalk" for the movie soundtrack "Porky's Revenge" which was released in March. This was only a slight distraction for Beck completing his own Lp. A song that Tony Hymas composed "You Know We Know", which he and Beck had worked on before "Get Workin'", was chosen for the solo Lp which would be retitled "Flash".
Ralph Baker told me in a letter once, "in the end, 'Flash', seemed more appropriate." On June 3, MTV premiered the "People Get Ready" video which had alot of rotation around this time. (This video is also on the Rod Stewart "Storyteller 1984-1991" videocassette, released in December 1991). The "People Get Ready" single was released days after the video's release and finally "Flash" was released at the end of June. The single hit #48 on the US Billboard charts and the Lp eventually hit #39. Keep in mind this was without a tour to support it.
"Flash" contains a varied music throughout. There's the "disco" type drum machines on "Get Workin'", "Ambitious", "Stop Look And Listen" and "Night After Night". Jan Hammer had composed a song, "Escape" for the album which Rodgers and Beck had produced. The song later earned Beck a Grammy Award for the National Association For Recording Arts and Sciences (in February 1986).
Still, Beck performs some mean guitar playing on this record: "People Get Ready", "Ambitious", "Gets Us All In The End", "Nighthawks" (which is on the CD) and "Back On The Streets" (also on the CD). One of my favorites is "You Know We Know" which Tony Hymas and Beck produced.
In October (1985) a second video "Ambitious" was released. (Please see the Discography in the TV/Video listing as this one has a long explanation not worth repeating since it's been told in detail.)
It's been hinted that Beck was going to record a Rockabilly Lp to be produced by Dave Edmunds. Details of this are not clearly known, when Slim Jim Phantom and Lee Rocker (both of Stray Cats) were interviewed on MTV they said they recorded a few songs with Beck. Beck did say in Guitar For The Practicing Musician (September 1989 issue) this to John Stix about the Rockabilly Lp: "We were going to do that. I suddenly put that idea aside because Albert Lee has that stuff covered. I don't see much sense in following that. It sounded like a great idea. But I couldn't see any further than the sound of the idea."
In Musician September 1989 issue in an interview with Scott Isler, he explains: "I played Terry (Bozzio) a couple of ideas on tape and he said, 'Save it for your own thing. I'm not really into that.' He isn't a Rockabilly drummer and you need somebody who's lived with that. We have a great section of it on "Savoy" (from the Guitar Shop Lp); they let me get away with that."
Besides Beck's guitar playing on the Honeydrippers "Rocking At Midnight" and "Savoy", that's the closest Beck got to record Rockabilly. We may never hear any more of it - but then again who knows?
An album was supposed to be started in the fall but it never happened. Beck was spotted in the audience at a Sting concert and was asked by the Police man to show up on stage some night. The two talked about playing "I've Been Down So Long". One night at the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles (date unknown - definately 1985), Beck appeared on stage with Sting and the two played the song - which was recorded and soon used for a charity record (proceeds going to cancer research). The Lp is Various Artists - "Live! For Life", which was released in April 1986 (not available on CD).
Ian Stewart had recently died of cancer and The Rolling Stones and friends arranged a concert that would provide proceeds for his family members. Beck and also Eric Clapton showed up at the 100 Club in London, England on February 23, 1986 and played songs like "Mannish Boy" and "Bye Bye Johnny".