Friday, May 9, 2014
The Jeff Beck Group with Rod Stewart, 1968
By 1968 Hard Rock had barely crawled itself out of the primordial bluesy ooze: Led Zeppelin I was a year away, Clapton was still string-wanking in Cream, Deep Purple was banging out covers, and Tommy's seeds had only just begun to swim around Pete Townsend's egghead. Two years before, after being voted #1 Lead Guitarist by the British magazine Beat Instrumental, Jeff Beck left The Yardbirds (and Jimmy Page) at their peak and went solo. After charting a couple singles he went on to form the classic Jeff Beck Group with Ron Wood and a baby-faced 23 year-old Rod Stewart. (As you'll note below, Stewart has been working the pineapple head haircut for at least 46 years.)
As would be seen over and over again, self-sabotage was the leitmotif of much of Beck's career. Following the release of the band's first album Truth, now considered a "seminal work of heavy metal," Beck flaked on a chance to play at Woodstock. (Stewart says Beck never bothered to inform the rest of the band they wouldn't be playing.) Through the bent filter of Beck's psychology at the time, he'd soon come to see the group as a wholly unoriginal endeavor and a waste of his time (he'd fire original drummer MIcky Waller before the second album and Ron Wood before a tour). By the time the band completed its second album, Beck-Ola, Beck's anorexic passion for the project would eventually lead him to fire everyone.
After, Beck would return with another line-up and record two more albums to generally good reviews. Fortunately, Beck's spiritual wiring did improve with age – he'd create more classic work (Blow by Blow), and continue on as the rare Rock and Roll elder still capable of buffing up the glittering nugget when he wants to.
Here's a choppily edited snippet from what I'd presume to be German television ca. '67-'68, revealing a perky Rod and a glum Jeff as they interact with their producer-of-note Mickie Most.
The music starts at 2:15:
The Truth band live in an amazing performance from '68 off an apparent bootleg. Another sad reminder of the greatness Beck squandered.