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Album review: Jeff Beck's 'Emotion & Commotion'

Jeffbeckemotion For a guy who plays guitar as well as anyone alive, Jeff Beck makes things a little easy for himself on "Emotion & Commotion," which features the former Yardbird's treatments of such heartstring-pluckers as "Over the Rainbow," "Nessun Dorma" and composer Dario Marianelli's "Elegy for Dunkirk" from the film "Atonement."

Sure, Beck handles the lovely melodies with a jeweler's delicacy, turning each one over as if examining a priceless diamond. But rare is the musician incapable of revealing the facets of Puccini's aria; it virtually guarantees a baseline of wonder, especially when cushioned by the lush murmur of a 64-piece orchestra, as it is here.

Imagine Phil Mickelson in a round of putt-putt and you'll get a sense of what's on the line for Beck's first studio album in seven years.

As the title suggests, "Emotion & Commotion" isn't all concert-hall melodrama; there's also harder-edged rock-band material: a down-and-dirty take on Screamin' Jay Hawkins' "I Put a Spell on You" with vocals from the English retro-soul singer Joss Stone; the reggae-accented "There's No Other Me"; and "Hammerhead," an appealingly overblown goth-funk workout that Beck says in the liner notes was inspired by "Miami Vice" theme composer Jan Hammer.

That's about as unhip a reference as one can make these days, but you have to admire Beck's audacity in making it. After all, what use are all those guitar-hero accolades if you don't put them to work?

-- Mikael Wood

Jeff Beck
"Emotion & Commotion"
Atco/Rhino
Two stars

 
Comments () | Archives (4)

2 stars? Everyone's entitled to an opinion, I reckon, but this strikes me as bitter and absurd. It's a stunning and gorgeously performed and produced record. A step away from the more electronic records he's made in recent years, and not least worth of mentioning is the fact that Jeff Beck continues to reinvent himself, try new things, and evolve -- with an unrivaled ability.

I respectfully but vehemently disagree with this negative CD review. "Emotion and Commotion" is replete with ethereal songs including "Elegy For Dunkirk", "Serene", "Corpus Christi Carol" and "Somewhere Over The Rainbow." "Hammerhead" is a brawny and frenetic gem too.

Four Stars

Ouch! I'm in agreement with the two above posts. It seems Mr. Wood pushed play with the expectation of hearing Jeff's flamethrower licks burn everything in sight. Mr. Wood is not alone in this camp.

Unbiased ears are a necessity, I think, in appreciating this work, which is more about compositional style and arrangement. This is Beck at a different level. A stirring and heart-burning masterpiece, it is exactly what its title implies.

2 stars is an unqualified insult. Seriously.

I think this is the Jeff Beck Album a lot of people have always wanted to hear. It showcases his more gentle,melodic sounds. He's always added a couple of those romantic gems on most of his albums,and on this one,we get a feast of them.Peter.Australia.


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