Spotify playlist: https://spoti.fi/3JbXkdT

This album is a masterpiece.

Except when Johnny Depp sings, that’s unlistenable, you can’t click off fast enough.

This collaboration between Jeff Beck and Johnny Depp has gotten positively scathing reviews. The kind that say why was this record made and no one should ever hear it. Which meant that I wasn’t interested in it.

But then…

I’m still fascinated by my Dragonfly Cobalt. I heard from Gordon Rankin, who designed the product, and he said:

“Quality wise Qobuz is the best, Tidal second if you have MQA capable setup, Apple then Amazon.”

Normally I listen to Amazon, because they have more Ultra HD tracks than Apple by far. And I tell you, I can hear the difference, ANYBODY could hear the difference! There’s more presence, more immediacy.

But today I started researching what else was in Hi-Res Lossless on Apple Music, and I ultimately came upon a Reddit thread and someone said “Cause We’ve Ended As Lovers” by Jeff Beck.

Everyone should know this track.

The song is payback for “Superstition,” which was written for Jeff and then ultimately taken back by Stevie Wonder, so the no longer Little Stevie wrote “Cause We’ve Ended As Lovers” for Jeff.

“Blow By Blow” is the apotheosis of Beck’s recorded work. Not only does it have the iconic version of “Cause We’ve Ended As Lovers,” it’s got a cover of the Beatles’ “She’s a Woman” and one of Beck’s signature tunes, “Freeway Jam,” made legendary mostly by the live version with Jan Hammer. That they played all over the radio, whereas “Blow By Blow” not so much. “Blow By Blow” was a secret, well, a well-known one, but the immediacy of the live version was undeniable.

And since that time, Beck has been a journeyman putting out eclectic albums, like “Crazy Legs,” his tribute to Gene Vincent and His Blue Caps, but then came 1999’s “Who Else!” With “Brush with the Blues,” whew!

It’s the only live cut on the LP, and if it weren’t for the occasional cheering you would swear it was cut in the studio, I mean who else can do this so definitively on the fly? NOBODY!

I went to see Beck at the long lamented Universal Amphitheatre on that tour.

It’s hard to describe rock and roll.

It’s hard to describe Jeff Beck.

Beck started when it was about the music, and pretty much only about the music. You had to know how to play to sustain. And that Beck knew how to do.

But he couldn’t write and sing like Jimi Hendrix or Eric Clapton. And he legendarily didn’t get along with people, which even Jimmy Page could do, so Beck was left out in the cold. Well, there was “Truth” with Rod Stewart,” but unfortunately it came out about the same time as the first Led Zeppelin album, and not long thereafter Stewart left the band and went solo. Stewart didn’t need Beck, but Beck needed Stewart. Until Beck decided to ditch the lead singer, to lead the band himself, make the instrumentals the most important element, ergo “Blow By Blow.”

So if you see Jeff…

It’s not like the usual rock act. It’s not the song so much as the playing. Not the singing, but the guitar work. Also, Jeff always surrounds himself with the best players, even another guitarist, Jennifer Batten, who was a woman to boot. Jeff was pushing the envelope, and he was willing to share the stage, because nobody could blow him off it.

So you go to see Jeff Beck and it’s a primal experience. It starts in the chest, not the head. Your whole body resonates with the music, the sound. You can’t ignore it, you can’t talk, you can’t sit on the phone, there’s a channel directly between Jeff and you, it’s electric, but so solid, so ALIVE!

And then Harvey Goldsmith became his manager a little over a decade back and got Beck the appearances he needed for his well-deserved victory lap. But then there was an argument, the partnership ended, and you don’t see Jeff at Musicares or on TV like you used to, and that’s a damn shame. If for no other reason than Jeff is getting older every day. He turned 78 just last month. You see Jeff is a progenitor, positively first wave, he came in with the Beatles and the rest of the original British Invasion. But unlike those on the oldies circuit, Jeff is still testing the limits, he’s not just repeating what he once did to satiate aged boomers wanting to relive their youth, what he’s doing may not be commercially popular but it’s positively now, if not FUTURISTIC!


Depp can play the guitar, he hangs with rockers, some of the most famous, but he is not in their league, he’s essentially a wannabe. He looks the part, but he has no track record of success in music, and good guitar players are a dime a dozen and he can’t write and he can’t sing. Why is he muddying up, why is he messing with, WHY IS HE WASTING THE TIME OF JEFF BECK?

Pisses me off. Beck was the best and he’s still got the chops, and he doesn’t work that much, we want more of HIM!

So I’m not going to bother listening to the album “18,” the collaboration between Beck and Depp, but after listening to “Truth,” which suffers sonically from its age, my mind flashed on their album and I decided to play it.

First thing I noticed is it was only in Lossless. I can’t understand the rhythm of what’s in Hi-Res and what is not. The funny thing is “18” is in Ultra HD on Amazon Music. And I’m comparing the two now. It’s like a bit of noise has been scrubbed from the Ultra HD take, it’s cleaner, more in focus, and just a bit more immediate. You really think Jeff is playing right in front of you.

But at the time I stay with Apple, because I’m not going to listen for long, it really doesn’t matter that it’s only in Lossless, it sucks anyway, RIGHT?

Well, I start right at the top, with “Midnight Walker,” and Jeff’s presence is immediate, that sting that no one else can replicate with the same tone. And I’m waiting for Johnny Depp and…HE NEVER COMES IN! It’s an instrumental. And it’s not “Cause We’ve Ended as Lovers,” but it’s beyond everybody else playing in this sphere. I mean Peter Frampton plays instrumentals extremely well, his last album is phenomenal, but it’s kind of the difference between today’s MVPs and Babe Ruth. Ruth was one step beyond, AND HE DIDN’T EVEN SEEM TO BE TRYING!

Oh, Beck is concentrating, he’s taking the music seriously, but he’s not overdoing it, it’s like listening to a player with the Philharmonic!

Now I’m excited, maybe I have it all wrong, maybe it’s an instrumental album!

But NO! Depp starts to sing near the beginning of the next track, and it’s UNLISTENABLE! It’s not terrible, it’s MEDIOCRE! And nobody has time for mediocre anymore. Beck is still good, but just when you get into his playing Depp starts singing again.

And Depp is singing on the following track, “Time,” and it’s damn near execrable, and I’m done, I get what the reviews are saying. So I stop the music and look at the track listing before I bolt. And I see “Don’t Talk (Put Your Head On My Shoulder).” Really? From “Pet Sounds”?


No Depp whatsoever. And somehow Beck channels the same gravitas that’s in the Beach Boys original, but it’s up to date, it’s not nostalgia, it’s more than a cover, it’s not even an interpretation, it’s a LEVITATION! As if God stopped by in the studio to show the mere mortals how it’s done.

And then there’s a cover of “Caroline No.”

All the rest of the tracks, Johnny Depp ruins. But these three instrumentals, I’d say they’re world class, but once again, Jeff Beck is OUT OF THIS WORLD!

If only people heard these cuts.

I constantly ask guitar players, famous names, who the best rock guitarist ever is. And almost all of them say Jeff Beck. Occasionally, I hear Jimi Hendrix, but when I press the players they talk about Jimi’s innovation, but when it comes to pure playing, everybody ultimately agrees it’s Jeff Beck. And unlike Hendrix, JEFF BECK IS STILL HERE!

Makes me crazy. At some point Jeff is going to pass and people will be listening to the records lamenting they never saw him.

I saw him back in 2018. Outdoors, where it’s even harder to mesmerize, but he blew minds that night too, just by being him, with no flash, no production, HE’S ENOUGH!

And listening to Jeff play today it occurred to me that when time marches on his work has a much better chance of being remembered than most of the hits, which almost always end up being period pieces. Jeff Beck’s work is TIMELESS! It’s a bridge between what once was and still is.

Well, rock no longer gets any respect. Then again, today’s rock is far from Jeff Beck.

And it’s hard for anybody to be recognized.

But Jeff Beck could do an album of covers and it could become a classic. Rod Stewart’s “Great American Songbook” albums have already been forgotten, another Clive Davis marketing exercise, a dash for cash, but Jeff Beck adds something to the classics, makes them different, the underlying songs are just a jumping off point.

All these aged acts are getting unending hosannas for work they did decades ago, when Jeff Beck is still doing incredible work NOW!

Do I expect Beck covers to be in the Spotify Top 50?


Think of it like Rick Rubin doing those Johnny Cash records. Not bringing Johnny up to date, but stripping away all the dross and just letting his pure essence shine through.

It’s criminal Jeff Beck doesn’t get attention, for not only him, but us, we’re deprived of his music. And that’s what it is, the penumbra is irrelevant. There’s no perfume, no clothing line, just the sound itself, as it’s been from the beginning of time. Jeff Beck is closer to Beethoven and Bach than he is to today’s pop hits. Sure, he may not write, but actually he does, he takes what’s already down and turns it into something brand new. Anybody can just perform the notes, covers albums are rampant, but Jeff Beck is something else, he’s iconic, HE’S THE BEST!


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