Techno With Big Guitar

Jesse Christen

Jesse Christen

On a recent trip to the local record store I was bombarded by a sonic blast of synth. drums, tape loops and sound effects.

“Oh no,” I said to myself. “I Hate techno!”

A few moments later, this awful techno music included a knock-your-jaw-off guitar lead followed by a guitar sample -something you wouldn’t expect from a form of music that lacks musicians.

This is how I was introduced to guitar legend Jeff Beck’s new album, Jeff.

For those unfamiliar with Jeff Beck, his first big musical break was filling Eric Clapton’s shoes in the pre-heavy metal hard rock/blues group the Yardbirds. Beck and Clapton are not the only guitar legends to come out of the Yardbirds: Led Zep’s Jimmy Page took over Jeff’s position when he left the group. After the Yardbirds Jeff set out on a solo career and never looked back; he’s done everything from jazz to pop to proto heavy metal. Almost every guitarist has a Beck lick or two in their arsenal of chops.

Sadly, Beck seems to be running out of ideas. This is his third album of electronic music; most of his fans, myself included, would have been happy with just one. The heavy techno beats and samples do nothing musically until Mr. Beck starts kicking out his amazing guitar playing.

On track number four, titled “Seasons,” Beck’s playing is reminiscent of his work from his 1975 jazz/fusion album Blow by Blow. Then, unfortunatly, the heavy club beats kick back in.

Other tracks worth mentioning are “Hot-Rod Honeymoon,” which includes some of Jeff’s finest lead work on the album and sounds like a combination of Ministry and the Grease soundtrack. “JB’s Blues” is another fun song featuring Jeff’s blistering guitar work.

One composition, “Pay Me No Mind (Jeff beck Remix),” is damn goofy; it’s blues style song that, like the rest of the album, has been given the techno treatment.

Maybe Mr. Beck’s point with this album is to play a joke on his fans. He’s already remembered as one of the greats out of a generation that produced many: Hendrix, Clapton, Page, Green etc. And several of his albums still sound as fresh today as when they released. So what else does he need to prove? It could be he’s just having fun playing guitar over the top of music that isn’t supposed to have any, especially when it takes the forefront over the dance rhythms.

One thing Jeff