Still The One!


In the sixties, we didn’t go over our friends’ houses to play PS2 or Wii. We dropped by with cardboard sleeves under our arms, we were there to listen to music.

And listen is what we did. We weren’t IM’ing, weren’t texting. We were sitting in front of the largest speakers we could afford, silently nodding our heads, as the sound washed over us.

In this era of beats and boobs, you’d think that experience was gone. But just tune in to Jeff Beck’s performance of "Led Boots" at last Saturday’s "Crossroads" festival and you’ll be jetted right back, to those days of yore.

Talk about making a deal with the devil. Jeff looks only a decade or two removed from his heyday. With rooster-hair exceeding the coif of Rod Stewart, and a ripped body betraying all those hours spent working on cars, if not practicing.

Does Jeff Beck practice?

God, I’ve never heard the guy miss a note. It’s like he’s running on instinct, fired by God, mistakes are not in his repertoire.

I bought "Wired". During the summer of ’76. In that nasty window between Utah and law school, when I had the world’s worst case of mononucleosis. The only thing that got me through, that kept me optimistic, was those records. I was a regular at the record store.

And at this point, I prefer "Blow By Blow", with "Cause We’ve Ended As Lovers". Or maybe I just haven’t listened to "Wired" enough recently. But, experiencing Jeff’s playing on my computer I’m reminded that this track is classic. Mood accompaniment. For when you come home from work and need to be set free. When you need to be soothed.

And this live take… It’s every bit as good as the original.

How does he do it? He doesn’t use a pick. He employs that whammy bar all his contemporaries shove to the side. And what comes out of the Stratocaster is quintessential Jeff, he sounds like no one else.

Fire this up. You’ll be schooled.

Even if you’re not a picker, you’ll be wowed by the technique. More exacting than explosive, more to your soul than your belly, more human than all the machine-made sounds of today’s "musicians".

That’s what they were. Musicians. People who didn’t stay up all night surfing the Web, but honing their skills. In order to compete.

It wasn’t about tricks, but execution.

Listen to that tone!

And how about that little girl in the background, playing the bass! She’s got the music in her, more than all the girls on TMZ!

They tell us everybody wants to be an "American Idol". That all they’re interested in is fame and fortune. That no one’s willing to pay his dues anymore.

But this Tal Wilkenfeld is the anti-Jordin, the anti-Britney. God, if you weren’t watching, you wouldn’t know the bass player was under twenty and a woman.

Is it any wonder the generation that reveres Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd wants to follow in the classic rockers’ footsteps? That they want to play?!

Watch this video. All the way through. Til Beck picks the notes with his slide! Tapping the sound out. A sound that can only make you exclaim, I love rock and roll!

I recommend using FireFox on a Mac. In order to be able to blow the frame up as large as possible. But it will work in Safari. As for PC’s, I don’t think the browser you use makes a difference.

Go to: Then scroll down to track 14, "Led Boots", click on it. A player will launch, give it time. And sit through the thirty second commercial. It’s your payment for the experience, you’ve got no choice. And, while you’re watching the ad, click in the lower right hand corner of the frame, right below the video, to the right of the time elapsed counter, on the icon that grows the window, so you can be up close and personal.

I saw Blind Faith in Chicago. I wanted Clapton and Winwood’s rendition of "Can’t Find My Way Home" to be the keeper. But no, Beck steals the show, as per usual.

This is a read-only blog. E-mail comments directly to Bob.