Monday, March 30, 2015

40 Year Itch : Dabbling Dangerously with Easy Listening

   The important thing about Blow by Blow... is that Beck seems finally to have found something to do with his talent other than waste it. 
-Dave Marsh, Rolling Stone

    "Scatterbrain" is one of the highlights of Jeff Beck's Blow By Blow, an all-instrumental jazz fusion album released March 29, 1975. Maybe because it's the only number that gave producer George Martin something to do. His string section lifts this rollercoaster ride of a tune into the stratosphere. Both Epic Records and FM Radio loved the album from the outset which was a pleasant surprise for Beck.

   "I didn't really think much of Blow By Blow when we were doing it," he said. "I thought it was probably a middle of the road mistake. But when [Epic] heard it, they rolled out a red carpet that stretched from my house to New York. I just went with it."

    "Scatterbrain" began as a warming up exercise for Beck. The solo was done in one take.

  With an uncredited Stevie Wonder contributing clavinet on "Thelonious",  Blow By Blow peaked at #4 on the US album charts. Yet the album failed to do much business in the UK. That may be due in part to reviews like this one from Melody Maker:

  "Frankly, it's not very good. But then, it's not amazingly bad either. It's just lame, about as lame as all the other guitar instrumentals he's ever done...Blow by Blow is remarkable only for it vacuity"

Years later Beck would agree up to a point, saying "it dabbled dangerously with easy listening."

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