What's New! 1997

Compiled by Dick Wyzanski

January 25, 1997 - February 26, 1997 - May 7, 1997 - May 28, 1997 - June 24, 1997

September 3, 1997 - October 28, 1997 - November 28, 1997- December 12, 1997

January 25, 1997

  • Is That A Bagpipe Or Are You Just Glad To See Me...

    The January issue of Mojo magazine (#38) has a great Jeff Beck story on it's last page. It reprises the 1981 story of how Epic Records promotion man Judd Lander convinced Jeff to appear on the BBC TV interview show 'The Old Grey Whistle Test'. Back in '81 Judd was working on promoting Jeff's latest 'There And Back' and Ernest Chapman had told him that Jeff was willing to do selective interviews 'reluctantly'. Not because of an ego thing but just that Jeff felt uncomfortable being asked questions about himself and felt as he does now that his music should do all the talking. With this in mind Judd arranged for Jeff to appear on 'The Old Grey Whistle Test' with host Annie Nightingale for an exclusive interview. All the stops were pulled, press releases, promos etc. for the show but then on the day before Jeff's management called and said, 'Jeff can't do the show'. Needless to say Mr. Lander freaked out, so the next day he gets in a limo and heads down to Tunbridge Wells with a set of bagpipes. On arrival, he takes off all his clothes and marches up Jeff's driveway naked playing 'Hi Ho Silver Lining' on the bagpipes much to the household's amusement. In the end Jeff agrees to appear on the show provided that Judd does his bagpipe thing live on TV! And sure enough that's just what happened right in the middle of the interview Judd can be seen walking behind Annie and Jeff naked playing the bagpipes! (See videography for more.)
  • This just in...according to the latest Billboard Magazine, Jeff Beck and Ron Wood will be collaborating (one track) on a project with two other rock legends, Scotty Moore and D.J. Fontana who of course were members of Elvis' original back up group. Off the Usenet, more info...the CD will be titled 'All The Kings Men' and as well as Jeff and Ron will include Keith Richards, members of The Band and Steve Earle. Release is slated for late-spring/early summer on Sweetfish Records.

    February 26, 1997

  • February has Jeff still at home with the flu. Seems he caught it in L.A. He was seen at 'The Baked Potato' at a Steve Lukather gig and some at the time thought he was coming down with something...All ten tracks from the 'Steakhouse' sessions are in the can for the next Jeff Beck Lp to be released sometime in the Fall. Jeff will do some touchups when he feels better. Robert Knight heard the new stuff and said there's lots of guitar and drums on it. At this juncture there are no keyboards on it.
  • Rumours of Jeff playing the Montreaux Jazz Festival and on the Alexis Korner tribute album are just that. Jeff has a habit of not saying 'no' and various publicists have a field day with those types of things.
  • No release from Sony on Bill Wyman's Lp track with Jeff yet.
  • Two Playboys tracks with Jeff not on 'Crazy Legs' are still in the can. We may however be able to listen to them in the near future.

    May 7, 1997

  • Early May sees Jeff doing a session with blues legend B.B. King, more details when we get them. Also Jeff is still putting finishing touches on the tracks recorded last January in Los Angeles.
  • Also we have learned that the track Jeff does on the Scotty Moore/D.J. Fontana 'All The Kings Men' CD features a reunion with Ron Wood. Ron plays guitar on the track that Jeff appears on and the two of them were in the studio together for the session.

    May 28, 1997

  • Here's the latest we've found out about the 'All The Kings Men' sessions with Jeff and Ron Wood courtesy of the July 1997 edition of Guitar Player magazine. The cover story by Rusty Russell is devoted to Scotty Moore and here are the details we Beck fans are concerned with. The cover story recounts the time Jeff's older sister first played 'Heartbreak Hotel' for him and the effect it had. Later on there is mention of a documentary film to be released later this year also called 'All The King's Men', will it have footage of the Beck/Wood session??, we'll see...then the article goes on to say, "In early December, Moore and Fontana traveled to Ron Wood's Sandy Mount Studio outside Dublin, Ireland, to record the album's final track with Wood, Beck and bassist Ian Jennings. 'It feels really good to know these guys remember us,' says Scotty, relaxing on a barstool in Wood's private pub while Ron, Jeff and others watch a tape of Elvis and the boys in action. 'Makes you feel like what we did counts for something after all these years.'"

    "Held in Ron Wood's converted sheep barn, the session for 'Unsung Heroes' unfolded like many of the early Elvis dates. Scotty settled into a chair in the center of the main room, plugging his late-80's Gibson Chet Atkins Country Gentleman into Boss delay and chorus pedals and a tweed Fender Twin. Beck, hearing him warming up, dashed from the control room and hurriedly unpacked his guitar while Ron got him a vintage Vox AC30. 'I'd planned to bring a large rig from London,' Beck smiled, 'but decided that ran counter to the spirit of the meeting.' Instead, he showed up with only a Strat Plus and a 10-foot chord. As D.J., Ron and Jennings joined in, Beck picked the melody of 'Blue Moon of Kentucky'. For nearly an hour, politeness prevented everyone from suggesting any specific direction, and, as on the first Elvis session, the players bogged down after jamming on a few standards. A break was called, during which Scotty began to play around with a funky lick that caught Ron's ear. 'What's that?' he asked. 'I dunno,' Scotty replied, 'just something I was fooling with a week or so ago.'

    'Well, that's it! Keep that going!' With that Ron grabbed a '54 Strat and started chunking rhythm and ad-libbing lyrics about meeting his two heroes. Beck suggested an occasional line between otherworldly bends and fills. Eventually, 'Unsung Heroes' became a song. 'This is incredible,' observed executive producer Dan Griffin. 'It's just the way they used to do things-somebody gets an idea and they just go with it. The amazing thing to me-and Jeff was saying this too-is that Scotty and Bill came up with that original stuff completely out of the blue. They didn't have any real precedent to go on, and that's the very last time that happened in rock and roll. Everyone who came along after that had those guys to listen to. You take Jeff Beck-he and the Yardbirds were a big part of the British Invasion, and he'll tell you they were bouncing off what they'd heard from America. Then American bands bounced it back, and so on and so on. And the guy sitting right in there (points through the control room window to Scotty) started it all.'

    Later, over pints of Guinness, Scotty and his host listen to a working mix of 'Unsung Heroes.' He and his contemporaries, Scotty says as Ron Wood's eyes begin to mist, have done their part. 'You guys have to carry the torch now-you and the younger guys. We did our thing.'"

    Boy, we can't wait to hear this!

    June 24, 1997

  • On the day of Jeff's 53rd birthday, we have some news to report. On June 9th Jeff was in New York City and in attendace at Les Paul's usual Monday night gig at the Iridium Room (44 W 63rd St, check out their site at: www.iridiumjazz), which on this night was a celebration of Les' upcoming 82nd birthday. Billy Squire and John Pizzarelli jammed with Les, but Jeff wasn't coaxed up onto stage til after Les had left for the evening and he only stayed for 3 or 4 minutes. Jeff had however spent time with Les earlier at an exclusive dinner party prior to the gig.
  • Don't expect a new Jeff Beck album until February 1998...Jeff is waiting for Tony Hymas to add keyboards but Tony is busy writing another symphony.
  • Hey, thanks to Sweetfish Records!! We just got our promo copies of 'All The King's Men' and the Jeff and Ronnie Woods 'Unsung Heroes" cut is a killer. Ronnies sings, 'Can you believe we're here with Scotty Moore?' and then three quarters through the song, 'Take it on home Jeff Beck!'. The documentary film that was shot during the sessions will include the Sandy Mount sessions with Ronnie and Jeff. The film, produced by Nashville's Dan Griffin and Peter Lippman is slated to be released this September and should appear on A&E or some other cable channel. Also, if you can't find 'All The King's Men' at your local record shop you can order it online at: www.sweetfish.com for just $12.00.

    September 3, 1997

  • Here's the latest on Jeff's next album...Steve Lukather should be arriving in Britain next week to continue his producing duties along with Jeff at various locales in the English countryside. Tony Hymas will be writing some material for the album but at this time it does not appear he will be performing on it. This is for sure though, "Hurricane" (Jeff's opener during the '95 tour) will be on the album.

  • This is also for sure, Jeff will appear on Steve Vai's latest, titled "Merry Axemas", due out the end of this month. On this 'cast of thousands' album, Jeff will doing "Amazing Grace" which features just Jeff with a choir. The choir bit was done in London then Jeff brought the track back to his studio to do the trickier guitar bits.
  • Jeff has recently received a working mix of the track he is considering to appear on for B.B. King's next album. However since no business agreement concerning his appearance has been worked out yet, we'll just have to wait and see if Jeff shows up on the album which according to MCA is due to be released in November. (This just in...Jeff definately will not be on B.B. King's 'Duet' album...MCA sites 'licensing problems'(with Sony) concerning Jeff's appearance. Jeff's cut will be replaced by a Dr. John cut.)
  • Bill Wyman's latest which has been held up should be out soon...what's the hold up? It seems Jeff and Bill couldn't work out some musical differences they had concerning Jeff's appearance so the album should be out soon, minus Mr. Beck.

    October 28, 1997

  • This just in...via e-mail we have learned that Steve Lukather is back in the states and has stated that he and Jeff have 17 cuts in the can...now Mr. Lukather is off to South Africa for some Toto dates. And since this last bit of news we have heard that 6 of those 17 have been approved by Jeff for inclusion on the next album...When? We still hear it will be this spring and a tour is expected to follow.
  • It seems that Jeff's work on B.B. King's latest wasn't all for nought, at least for us fans. Prior to MCA's licensing problems with Sony concerning Jeff's appearance on B.B. King's 'Duets' album, they sent out promo copies of the album with Jeff's cut, 'Three O'Clock Blues' on it! (On the final release it was replaced with a Dr. John cut.) We've got it and heard it and let's just say it's blistering blues. For Dick's review of the cut go here.
  • Also just in...Bill Wylde from L.A. dug up a great list of Jeff Beck Group dates from '67 to '69, from what we can tell a complete list. Click here to go to an updated 'Concertology'.

    November 28, 1997

  • There's a new Yardbirds book due out next month that is the definitive historical account of the group. The book, written by Greg Russo who has also written liner notes for the EMI 2CD set "Little Games And More", has loads of photos and solo discographies for all of the Yardbirds members, most of important of whom (we think), Jeff Beck. If you're interested click here for more info and how to order.
  • Also for those of you in the L.A. area check out the November 28, 1997 edition of the L.A. Daily News for an article by a new friend of the page, Fred Shuster. Fred recently went down to the Steakhouse Studio and interviewed Steve Lukather about his latest project with Jeff. In the article are a few quotes by Dick W. and a plug for the page (thanks). We'll get ahold of it next week and give you an update.

    December 12, 1997

  • Hey, we mentioned last week Fred Shuster's L.A. Daily News article on Jeff and thanks to Eric May we just got a copy and here 'tis.

    Ex-Toto member joins Beck's cause

    By Fred Shuster, Daily News

    Session producer enlisted to create guitarist's new disc

    Onetime session guitarist and ex-Toto member Steve Lukather calls himself the great hope for guitar fans everywhere because he's producing an album by the notoriously difficult Jeff Beck.

    Beck, the legendary British guitarist whose album "Truth" (1968) was the blueprint for hard rock, could never be labeled prolific. In fact, his last collection of original material under his own name was "Jeff Beck's Guitar Shop" almost nine years ago.

    Since then, he released an album of incidental soundtrack music for a cable TV miniseries called "Frankie's House" (1992). The following year saw "Crazy Legs," a tribute to Gene Vincent guitarist Cliff Gallup.

    Summer sessions

    Lukather, who has known the ex-Yardbirds guitarist for a dozen years, spent much of the summer in Britain working on the Beck album, which has changed direction two or three times since work began.

    "It was originally going to be a blues-based rock record, and now it's gone completely in the other direction with a different rhythm section and different players," Lukather said during an interview at the Steakhouse, the North Hollywood recording studio he owns and operates.

    Lukather said players on the record have included fretless bassist Pino Palladino, keyboardist and longtime Beck collaborator Tony Hymas, drummer Abe Laboriel Jr., and percussionist Lenny Castro.

    "Jeff is my favorite guitar player and one of my favorite human beings," Lukather, 40, said. "He does his parts five times, and he's still not happy. But he keeps getting better, so you can't really argue with him. Jeff is a very unique person. He never wants to repeat himself or sound like something he did before, which is good and bad."

    Studio savvy

    Although Lukather is generally best known for his membership in Toto, his reputation rests with the hundreds of albums he's played on. Some of his most respected session work can be found on Boz Scaggs' "Silk Degrees" (1976) and "Down Two Then Left" (1977), plus his jaw-dropping solo on Lionel Richie's "Running With the Night" (1983). In addition, Lukather played rhythm guitar and bass on Michael Jackson's "Beat It," on which Eddie Van Halen added the wild guitar solo.

    Lukather's third solo disc, "Luke" (Miramar/BMG), was recently released. On the album, the guitarist covers "The Pump," a Simon Phillips-Tony Hymas piece Jeff Beck recorded on "There & Back" (1980).

    "My record isn't a big guitar solo record," Lukather said. "I mean, the solos are there, but it's not like, `Hey, dig my chops!' I purposely restrained myself. I don't need to prove anything to anybody anymore. Live, I can ham it up a lot more. It's much more impressive to see somebody play really outrageously on stage than to hear it on a record. I'm really a songwriter who plays better than average guitar."

    Lukather said Beck is happy with about a half-dozen tracks. A few of them were played for the head of Epic Records, Beck's long-suffering, longtime label.

    "I guess I'm the great white hope here," Lukather said. "Jeff really trusts me. I'm really on his side, and I can speak the language on both sides of the fence. I'm there as a record producer to help him make the music the way he wants to hear it and see to it that it gets done."

    Lukather sees his role almost as an arranger and cheerleader. "I'm there to put a package together, help arrange the rhythm tracks and get something on tape," he said. "Jeff doesn't need me to tell him how to play guitar. We sit there and work on stuff, and we'll do a bunch of takes, and I'll put something together. But he's not a schooled musician in the sense where you go, `You should play this in blah blah blah.' "

    Nothing missed

    The longtime session player said Beck is a guitarist who works from inspiration from one moment to the next.

    "A guitarist-producer who Jeff respects can only result in an exciting album to follow," said longtime Beck fan Dick Wyzanski, who operates a Jeff Beck Web site (www.wsvn.com/~staff/beck). "Three cheers for Steve Lukather being able to get Jeff out of his street-rod garage and the British pubs long enough to finish the album that has been formulated so painstakingly since 1991."

    Lukather explained the recording process. "I might say, `That was really great!' and he'll say, `What?' and forget what he just played," Lukather said. "That's why everything is recorded. That red light is on all day long. He is truly the most unique guitar player we have. So full of soul. The hum of his amp blows away most people, you know."

    Lukather said we live in an era where everybody hates guitar solos, "but then you hear somebody play great and everybody goes, `Wow! What was that?' "

    The guitarist said he got burned out doing sessions 10 years ago and rarely does them anymore.

    "The great ones are maybe 5 percent of 100," he said. "To me, it's become uninspiring. When you're first starting out, you do everything because you want to be a session guy. When I was doing it, you played live with these incredible rhythm sections. It was really fun to be creating on the spot."

    Lukather said things changed in the studios when the Linn drum machine came along in the '80s, replacing live drummers at many recording sessions.

    "I prefer non-machine music," Lukather said. "I like real people to play. I mean, I've done machine music. Believe me, on some of Jeff's record, he loves that stuff. So, we got into a little of the techno thing. But I wanted to mix real guys with it, real drums with samples."

    Copyright 1997 Daily News Los Angeles

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