8/17/99 -- 12:35 PM

Beck in the saddle again

By Curtis Ross

One of rock's biggest recluses returned to the spotlight in a big way this year.

Jeff Beck hasn't been dormant in the 1990s. He scored a television miniseries, ``Frankie's House,'' in 1993, and released ``Crazy Legs,'' a tribute to Gene Vincent's guitarist Cliff Gallup, one of Beck's early guitar idols, in 1995. He also co-headlined a tour with Santana that year.

But this year's ``Who Else!'' is Beck's first album of new material since ``Jeff Beck's Guitar Shop With Terry Bozzio and Tony Hymas'' in 1989. The new disc finds him exploring Arabic and Celtic music, as well as experimenting with tape loops and samples. And on ``Brush With the Blues,'' Beck even returns to a genre he has hardly touched (in public at least) since he turned toward jazz fusion with 1975's ``Blow by Blow.''

Beck, arguably rock's greatest living guitarist (with the arguments mostly coming from Eric Clapton fans), is back on the road, with a band that includes Jennifer Batten, Michael Jackson's touring guitarist.

Beck performs Wednesday at the Ice Palace, 401 Channelside Drive in Tampa. Teenage blues guitarist Jonny Lang opens. Show time is 7:30 p.m. Tickets, $27.80 and $35.80 plus service charges, are available at the box office, (813) 223-1000, or Ticketmaster outlets, (813) 287-8844.

Hirsch affairs:Tampa native Beth Hirsch, who gained prominence singing and co-writing two tracks on French duo Air's acclaimed 1998 album, ``Moon Safari,'' can be heard on the soundtrack of the current remake of the film ``The Thomas Crown Affair.''

The track, ``Everything (... Is Never Quite Enough),'' is credited to world beat singer Wasis Diop, with whom Hirsch co-wrote the song, along with Xavier Derouin. Hirsch and Diop share lead vocals on the song, which is from Diop's 1998 album, ``Toxu.''

Hirsch, who has relocated form Paris to London, has released a second European EP, ``P-Town Rubies,'' following last year's ``Miner's Son.'' The 1998 disc was distributed in the United States by 33 Hope Road, a company formed by Carl Webb, an assistant manager at south Tampa record store Vinyl Fever.

And Hirsch has been asked to open some European dates by folk-jazz performer Terry Callier. Callier, who recorded in the '60s and '70s, had left music to focus on computer programming in the '80s. He has returned to performing at the behest of such celebrity sponsors as Beth Orton and Paul Weller.

Faithless:With Faith No More a thing of the past, vocalist Mike Patton can focus his attention on the even-more wildly eclectic Mr. Bungle.

CMJ New Music Monthly called ``California,'' Mr. Bungle's recently released third album, ``a wondrous amalgamation of styles that induces memories of Disneyland's Pirates of the Caribbean, days at the beach, doses of hardcore rockabilly, lovable schmaltz and bizarre sound effects.''

Patton also has founded the Ipecac Records label, which is releasing three albums by the Melvins this year. Also on Ipecac is the eponymous debut of Fantomas, featuring Patton, the Melvins' King Buzzo and ex-Slayer drummer Dave Lombardo.

Mr. Bungle performs tonight at the State Theatre, 687 Central Ave. in St. Petersburg. Dillinger Escape Plan opens. Show time is 9 p.m. Admission is $15. Call the State, (727) 895-3045.

Flower power:A stavesacre is a flower found in Europe and Asia with poisonous seeds. Now you know.

It's neither here nor there in regard to the band of the same name. Recently departed guitarist Jeff Bellew came across the word in the dictionary (he was looking up ``staunch'') and liked the looks of it. Now you know.

The band plays melodic punk with thoughtful, reflective lyrics like many of its label mates on Seattle's Tooth and Nail. Stavesacre had the distinction of being the first group made up of ex-members of other Tooth and Nail bands.

Stavesacre has just completed its third album, ``Speakeasy,'' although no release date is set. The band is on tour with Puller, Denison Marrs and Train Dodger, and performs Tuesday at the State Theatre in St. Petersburg. Show time is 8 p.m. and admission is $8. Call the State or the Refuge, which is sponsoring the show, at (727) 894-3034.

Cat clothes:The Rockabilly Rumble promises a full evening of roots music tonight at Gyland's, 1901 N. 13th St. in Ybor City. Headliners the Belmont Playboys will be joined by the Blue Moon Boys, the Vipers, Skinny McGee and the Mayhem Makers, the Skirt Lifters and the Thrusters.

Show time is 8 p.m. Admission is $8. Call (813) 242-6260.

The Blue Moon Boys also will perform Saturday at the Blues Ship, 1910 E. Seventh Ave. in Ybor City. Show time is 9 p.m. and admission is $7. Call (813) 301-0224 or (813) 248-6097.

Local roots:Ronny Elliott and the Nationals headline a bill with the Leonard Croon Band and Hangtown on Sunday at Skipper's Smokehouse, 910 Skipper Road in Tampa. Show time is 5 p.m. and admission is $5. Call (813) 971-0666.

Elliott's third album sho