Blow by Blow
Jeff Beck went down a lot of roads in the first decade of his career, leaving British blues band the Yardbirds to make proto-hard rock albums on his own and with the thudding Beck, Bogert & Appice (a good idea poorly executed). It wasn’t until this 1975 solo album, though, that he truly came into his own as an artist, and it didn’t last. Blow By Blow is entirely instrumental, save for a few splashes of talk box here and there. It was recorded with keyboardist Max Middleton, bassist Phil Chen, and drummer Richard Bailey, and was produced by George Martin. The music is a unique blend of rock, funk and fusion, with Middleton’s keyboards getting at least as much spotlight time as Beck’s guitar and the rhythm section keeping the grooves taut and snappy — the reggae rhythm added to “She’s A Woman” might seem misguided at first, but the players make it work. The album also includes two Stevie Wonder songs, “Cause We’ve Ended As Lovers” and “Thelonius”; Wonder himself plays clavinet (uncredited) on the latter. Like Beck’s next album, Wired, this record sits comfortably alongside contemporaneous work by artists like Stanley Clarke, Al Di Meola, and Jean-Luc Ponty.