Musically, I’ve been told before that I’m not that broad. I primarily like my hard rock and it doesn’t matter whether it is a flashy piece from the 80’s or a grungy alternative piece from the 90’s. But there is something that a lot of the music I listen to has in common with each other. A great guitar track. From the brilliance of an Andy Timmons to the soothing energetic sound of a Tom Cochrane. It is only fitting that a blu-ray capturing the guitar god simply known as Jeff Beck graces my door step. Furthermore, he is having a party honoring the late Les Paul. This ought to be a treat.
There is a concert inside the Iridium Jazz Club in New York City tonight. Let’s see who is playing. Well, there is Darrel Higham on guitar and vocals. He’s been a lead guitar with rockabilly bands since the late 80’s. Then there is Darrel’s wife: Imelda May, a fairly established Irish singer who has sang with many greats and loved the world over. Then there is Al Gare on bass who has often played with the husband and wife combination.
On Keyboards, we have Jason Rebello who is a British jazz pianist. Finally on drums, we have the always energetic, Stephen Rushton. There is also a lead guitarist here who looks awfully familiar. Let me read my cue cards here. Jazz Club, Husband/Wife combination, bad jokes, oh here we go. Jeff Beck?! The Jeff Beck? The same one who has played with the Yardbirds, Eric Clapton, Rod Stewart, has his own long tenured successful band, and has been inducted in the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame twice? Yeah, that guitar god.
This isn’t just another concert either. It’s a party to remember legendary guitarist Les Paul and his classic music with Mary Ford. But, in addition to those songs, there is also a smattering of music that seems to channel the late great of guitars. It is 1 part Rockabilly, 1 part Blues, 1 part Jazz, and a whole lot of good ole fashioned Rock n Roll. Jeff Beck has invited some special guests too.
For special guests, we have the great trombone player, Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews who really broke out in the last year. There is Gary U.S. Bonds who sang the legendary songs, “Quarter to Three” and “New Orleans”. To finish off the trio, we also have the great Brian Setzer, the amazing guitarist from the Stray Cats and plenty of other bands with his namesake.
It is an all-star and an amazing concert. I really can’t say that enough. The funny part is that this isn’t even my type of rock and roll. I’m not big on swing, the rockabilly thing, or even bluesy rock. It just isn’t my bag. But it doesn’t matter, with Jeff Beck and this boat full of great musicians, they could be performing the phone book and nobody would care. There are twenty-seven selections here and as mentioned before there are Les Paul/Mary Ford songs as well as plenty of Rock n Roll classics.
Songs like “Train Kept a Rollin”, “Rock Around the Clock” and “Peter Gunn” among others make this a fitting tribute and inspirational concert. I mean seriously, Peter Gunn? Anybody who can’t have fun with that song should be thrown under a 40 ton rock so they don’t reproduce. But there are others too and with Imelda May and Darrel Higham throwing out some impressive vocals for most of the songs, it becomes quite a performance.
Enough can’t be said about Jeff Beck here either. While he is the top billing on this performance, he acts more like the master of ceremonies by being the anchor of the songs. Sure, he plays top notch guitar and it is fantastic but this concert is about the sum of the parts, not him in particular. Even for a couple of solo guitar songs such as “Apache”, the band brings it home, not necessarily the lead guitarist.
The video is in 1.78:1 widescreen presentation in 1080i resolution. This was one of more impressive video displays by an Eagle Rock Blu-ray. Despite being in a small club which typically is probably lighted the equivalent of a dungeon, the concert is bright and full of color. The light sparkles whether it is one of Beck’s guitars or Imelda May’s dresses. Everything looks wonderful and you have to keep reminding yourself that you aren’t there and instead sitting at home. Trust me, it is okay to get up off your couch and give a standing ovation at the end of the concert.
For the audio portion, we get a 5.1 English DTS-HD track (5.1 Dolby Digital & PCM 2.0 tracks also included). Flat out, one of the best audio tracks I’ve ever heard, even on the high-def format. The first thing you will notice is that it is loud. Once you adjust the sound down a little bit, one will realize that it has amazing clarity. Voices are clear and everything has this beautiful harmony.
One thing I was able to do almost immediately is pick out different parts of the band and hear the separation of the wonderful music they brought to the table. Surrounds are used frequently and there is a real concert experience here that is typically reserved for high-end action movies. Subtitles are included for English, Dutch, Spanish, French, and Italian.
- Interview with Jeff Beck 26:35: The largest extra as Jeff Beck spends a while with us. He goes into a variety of subjects including the influence of Les Paul and how he first met him. He mentions that his first guitar only had two strings (yes he eventually got new strings for it) and how he grew listening to his mother on the piano. He makes a movie recommendation (which I am now curious about) for The Girl Can’t Help It. Unfortunately that movie isn’t very easy to obtain on dvd. Jeff also explains his dealings with the Yardbirds and of course the controversy with Eric Clapton. Great interview, a lot of information is given.
- Behind the Scenes 18:20: This could be labeled the making of featurette which goes over how the whole show came together. We get a lot of talks with the fans who attended the show. They range from Beck fans to socialites to Meatloaf. Yes, it’s that broad which is surprising because it was only 200 people they played to. Two interesting things I saw, one an Eric Johnson poster who was apparently playing at the same time(where is that concert blu-ray?) and a very complicated Jeff Beck shirt which seemed to go over every band or person he’s played with. Needless to say it was a huge list. The featurette also massively goes into the production and how much difficulty it was to shoot it. It was a club in the basement of a diner for pete’s sake. Good stuff.
- At Home with Jeff Beck and his Guitars 14:33: I love these featurettes where they go into a guitar god’s home and he shows off his best axes. If it carried on for an hour, I would still be enthralled. Beck certainly has an affinity for Telecasters. He also plays the guitars as he talks which makes this very intimate.
- Jeff Beck and Les Paul: Rock and Roll Tonite 8:28: Footage from 1983 where Jeff Beck and Les Paul play a couple of numbers including a Blues Jam and Back at the Chicken Shack.
- Les Paul and his Little Black Box 4:59: More footage from 1983. Les Paul shows off his invention which is just as it sounds, a little black box on the guitar which allows you to multiplex guitar parts into one harmony.
Eagle Rock Entertainment has brought home another great concert. This time they bring it in the form of Jeff Beck and his bevy of musician powerhouses at the Iridium Jazz Club in New York City. Twenty seven songs are presented here and the run time is roughly an hour and a half which means fast play and a rocking good time. There is such a harmony here and to think it is honoring the great Les Paul is just an added bonus.
The disc is fantastic too with some great video and one of the best audio tracks I have ever heard on my stereo system. The extras are also top notch with concert behind the scenes material and some classic footage that they went and dug out of Jeff Beck and Les Paul playing together. I recommend this blu-ray to any rocker who likes the hum of the guitar from one of the gods. A wonderful pleasure all around.