Jeff Beck “Rock N’ Roll Party (Honoring Les Paul)”

Today’s Cool Album of the Day (#435 in the Series and #41 in the Live, Saturday Night Series) is Jeff Beck, Rock N’ Roll Party (Honoring Les Paul)

Every Monday night for 12 years up until his death at age 94, Les Paul would hold court with his Les Paul Trio with a show at The Iridium Jazz Club in New York City.  The shows more often than not included guest musicians that happened to be in town at the time.  The club after his death, in keeping with this tradition, has renamed the room he would play, The Les Paul Room, and invites special musical guests to play with The Les Paul Trio each Monday to keep this time honored tradition alive.  To give you an idea of the variety of eclectic  guests that show up for these free-flowing shindigs,  in the month of June Alone two of The North Mississippi All-Stars,  Nils Cline of Wilco, and Vinnie Moore of U.F.O. all sat in with the trio and attempted, however much in vain, to fill the great man’s shoes.

The Great Les Paul

Jeff Beck, taking this tribute concept one step closer to musical heaven put together a tribute show in the same venue to honor and celebrate the life of his musical mentor and friend.  The resulting CD and accompanying DVD of the event is a joyous rockabilly, smash up, hoe-down party with Jeff Beck and his current running partners The Imelda May Band  along with noted rockabilly freak Darrell Higham serving has ringleaders for this wonderful one ring circus.

In order to make sure all of the musical genres that Les Paul influenced over his storied career are represented Beck enlist the help of Brian Setzer to handle the rockabilly duties, Trombone Shorty for that touch of jazz in the night, and Gary U.S. Bonds doing the heavy lifting representing the golden age of 50’s rock and roll.  To call this a fun record would be like saying kids are “kinda sorta”  fond of Disneyland.  This awesome romp almost sounds like an old U.S. tour on steroids with Imelda May providing the look of a W.W. II vintage female act along with the excellent musician’s spot-on duplication of the Les Paul guitar licks.

The set kicks off with Darrell Higham stepping up front and center with “Double Talking Baby”, and “Cruising” a double dose of faster than lightning Les Paul style guitar magic.

Jeff Beck and Imelda May

“Train It Kept a Rollin’” is a sloppily brilliant version of the classic song with a tempo that is slightly faster than many popular versions with guitar scales that will blow your mind. The vocal while not quite Elvisian in nature, is never the less quite good and evokes a kind of a “Burning Love” vibe.

Imelda May joins the party on the fourth song, “Cry Me a River” and slows the tempo down considerably with her sultry vocals layered over a serving of classic muted guitar, erotically supplemented by the soft brush drumming in the background to provide a palate cleansing treat to the proceedings.

The tender respite does not last long however as Imelda immediately cranks it up to 11 on the Andrews Sisters scale with a scorching version of “How High The Moon”.  The chemistry between May and the Guitar virtuoso is simmering almost making me go look for that bugle boy and join company C.  For a guy like Jeff Beck that prefers to do his talking with his guitar instead of interacting with the audience he has found his perfect muse that immediately forms a warm relationship with the crowd with her vintage looks, warm smile, and scorching talent.

Trombone Shorty jumps in the conga line with a rousing rendition of “The Peter Gunn Theme” with of course, some sublime guitar work and a little honky-tonk piano.   The piano portion of the show continues with a good time version of “Rockin’ Is Our Business” featuring Jason Rebello on piano and Trombone Shorty on the trumpet.

Jeff Beck and Brian Setzer

Not to be outdone Jeff Beck jumps back into the fray with a double dose of note perfect guitar instrumentals with “Apache” and “Sleep Walk” two classics of the Les Paul genre.

From the didn’t know he was still alive department comes Gary U.S. Bonds who not only is alive but continues to put the “Rock” in Rock & Roll and takes us back to “New Orleans” in fine style.  The show ends with a song I had never heard before “Please Mr. Jailor” that Imelda May downright owns with her Janis Joplin snarly vocals and Courtney Love attitude followed by a pretty standard, almost anticlimactic, you know what you are going to get from him, performance from Brian Setzer on “Twenty Flight Rock”.

Between this and his excellent 2010  release, Emotion and Commotion, also featuring Imelda May, here’s hoping that Jeff Beck continues to expose the “unwashed masses” to his brilliance in this type of manner creating an ongoing win-win situation.  We get to listen to great music and he never even has talks to us.

— Walt Falconer

Track listing

  1. “Double Talking Baby”  (Feat. Darrel Higham) – 2:08
  2. “Cruisin'” (Feat. Darrel Higham)  2:13″
  3. “The Train It Kept A Rollin'” (Feat. Darrel Higham)  2:36
  4. “Cry Me A River” (Feat. Imelda May and Jason Rebello)  2:46
  5. “How High The Moon” (Feat. Imelda May)  2:10
  6. “Sitting On Top Of The World” (Feat. Imelda May)  2:23
  7. “Bye Bye Blues” (Feat. Imelda May)  2:12
  8. “The World Is Waiting For The Sunrise” (Feat. Imelda May)  2:21
  9. “Vaya Con Dios” (Feat. Imelda May)  2:57
  10. “Mockin’ Bird Hill” (Feat. Imelda May)  2:23
  11. “I’m A Fool To Care” (Feat. Imelda May)  2:59
  12. “Tiger Rag” (Feat. Imelda May)  2:22
  13. “Peter Gunn” (Feat. Jason Rebello and Trombone Shorty)  4:49
  14. “Rocking Is Our Business” (F. Darrel Highham, Jason Rebello and Trombone Shorty)  3:38
  15. “Apache”  3:07
  16. “Sleep Walk”  2:50
  17. “New Orleans” (Feat. Gary U.S. Bonds and Jason Rebello)  4:34
  18. “Walking In The Sand”  4:39
  19. “Please Mr. Jailor” (Feat. Imelda May)  4:54
  20. “Twenty Flight Rock” (Feat. Brian Setzer)  3:44

You can also get a DVD of this fantastic concert.  Here’s what you’ll see. 

DVD Track listing

  1. “Baby Let’s Play House”  (Feat. Darrel Higham) –
  2. “Double Talking Baby”  (Feat. Darrel Higham) – 2:08
  3. “Cruisin'” (Feat. Darrel Higham)  2:13″
  4. “The Train It Kept A Rollin'” (Feat. Darrel Higham)
  5. “Poor Boy” (Feat. Imelda May)
  6. “Cry Me A River” (Feat. Imelda May and Jason Rebello)
  7. “My Baby Left Me” (Feat. Imelda May)
  8. “How High The Moon” (Feat. Imelda May)
  9. “Sitting On Top Of The World” (Feat. Imelda May)
  10. “Bye Bye Blues” (Feat. Imelda May)
  11. “The World Is Waiting For The Sunrise” (Feat. Imelda May)
  12. “Vaya Con Dios” (Feat. Imelda May)
  13. “Mockin’ Bird Hill” (Feat. Imelda May)
  14. “I’m A Fool To Care” (Feat. Imelda May)
  15. “Tiger Rag” (Feat. Imelda May)
  16. “Peter Gunn” (Feat. Jason Rebello and Trombone Shorty)
  17. “Rocking Is Our Business” (Feat. Darrel Highham, Jason Rebello And Trombone Shorty)
  18. “Apache”
  19. “Sleep Walk”
  20. “New Orleans” (Feat. Gary U.S. Bonds and Jason Rebello)
  21. “Walking In The Sand”
  22. “Please Mr. Jailor” (Feat. Imelda May)
  23. “Casting My Spell on You” (Feat. Imelda May and Darrel Higham)
  24. “Twenty Flight Rock” (Feat. Brian Setzer)
  25. “The Girl Can’t Help It” (Feat. Darrel Highham and Jason Rebello)
  26. “Rock Around the Clock” (Feat. Darrel Highham)
  27. “Shake Rattle and Roll” (F. Darrel Highham, Brian Setzer, Jason Rebello,Trombone Shorty)

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Posted by Larry Carta


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