Jeff Beck Group
(Epic / Legacy)
First Appeared in The Music Box, November 2006, Volume 13, #11
Written by John Metzger
As was the case with Truth, Jeff Beck spent very little time planning his sophomore outing Beck-Ola, and his band’s obvious lack of material combined with its inattentive focus continued to hamper its development. Hastily constructed by the ensemble — which officially had become The Jeff Beck Group but, nonetheless, was on the verge of collapse — the set never completely gained traction. Without the distracted diversity that marred its predecessor, however, Beck-Ola undeniably was the more focused of the two endeavors.
Granted, Nicky Hopkins’ piano-driven instrumental Girl from Mill Valley — which essentially fused The Impressions’ People Get Ready, Aretha Franklin’s (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman, and Joe Cocker’s rendition of With a Little Help from My Friends — sounded terribly out of place, but the rest of Beck-Ola was a scrappy blast of propulsive, hard rock exuberance. All Shook Up and Jailhouse Rock, a pair of tracks that had been hits for Elvis Presley, were delivered as raucous bar band romps. Elsewhere, the shaggy fury of Spanish Boots, the thrashing funk of Plynth (Water Down the Drain), and the biting blues of The Hangman’s Knee pitted Beck’s torrential lead and Rod Stewart’s aggressive vocals against the thunderous cacophony created by the rhythm section of bass player Ron Wood and newly hired drummer Tony Newman. The effort concluded with Rice Pudding, a fully jammed instrumental that nearly succeeded in assimilating the finesse of Hopkins’ piano interludes into the ensemble’s more customary crash-and-burn assault.
Among the bonus tracks that have been appended to the newly remastered version of Beck-Ola are equally boisterous, alternate interpretations of All Shook Up and Jailhouse Rock as well as Throw Down a Line, another misguided attempt by producer Mickie Most to turn The Jeff Beck Group into a pop-oriented outfit. Rounding out the extra selections is a promising rendition of B.B. King’s Sweet Little Angel that was recorded during the sessions for Truth, and although it pales in comparison to the rest of the material on Beck-Ola, its flaws effectively highlight how far the collective had come. Unfortunately, the ensemble never did achieve its potential, and after Stewart and Wood fled to join the Faces, Beck was forced to piece together another band. Even so, regardless of their lack of perfection, both Truth and Beck-Ola remain historically relevant. ½
Of Further Interest...
Beck-Ola [Expanded / Remastered] is available from
Barnes & Noble. To order, Click Here!
1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2006 The Music Box