was suggested to me recently that the word to describe Jeff Beck’s playing today was ‘mature,’ and I agree totally; Jeff’s style and feel has solidified itself into a rich texture that caresses the ears at the same time that it punches the gut. It’s a combination that translates out to a complete mastery of the instrument; Jeff no longer feels the need to play all the notes the guitar is capable of producing in every measure (although he’s more than capable of that. as well). The big secret to his success on both “Blow By Blow” and now “Wired” is his ability to play the holes in the arrangement. He makes much more effective use of silence to frame his lines, thus bringing out the inherent beauty of each.
For the most part, “Wired” spotlights the personnel that toured with Jeffrey last year: Max Middleton, Wilbur Bascomb, and Richard Bailey (from the “Blow By Blow” sessions) all contribute mightily, but it’s the addition of Jan Hammer and Michael Walden that puts across the maturity of this 1p. Significantly, Jeff didn’t write a single tune on this album, and the album as a whole is better for it. Not that Jeff’s a bad writer, you understand, it’s just that he’s always been a more creative arranger than he has a composer. From “Happenings Ten Years Time Ago” thru “Beck’s Bolero,” “Got The Feeling,” “Lady,” “Freeway Jam” and now numbers like “Play With Me” from ‘Wired,’ it’s been Jeff’s arrangements that have underscored the power of the piece. Taken from another angle, the’ very fact that Jeff doesn’t feel the necessity of writing to validate himself on record is proof of his increasing maturity.
During an interview with RATW last spring. Jeff admitted that he believed the ‘Rough And Ready’ band to be the best line-up for him, and regretted his lack of patience in fully developing the concept. Well, ‘Blow By Blow’ was the refutation of the charge leveled at the ‘Rough And Ready’ band that Jeff s audience would never accept his R&B/jazz tendencies, and ‘Wired’ is the proof that Jeff has found his audience over the entire spectrum of listeners. For Jeff’s still-numerous rock fans, there’s “Led Boots,” a high energy opener that allows Jeff the room to immediately flex his fingers in the closest approximation of an out-and-out instrumental rocker (mayhaps the title is a direct reference to the Led Zeppelin school of rock), but it’s immediately followed by a tune called “Come Dancin,” a much jazzier piece, conjuring up images of past works like “Raynes Park Blues.” Once the stage is set, “Goodbye Pork Pie Hat,” the Charlie Mingus favorite, follows with some superb riffing between Jeff’s guitar and the keyboards.
And so it goes; Jeff alternates between George Benson-type melodies and his own unique pattern of playing. “Blue Wind” and “Play With Me” simply abound with