Jeff Beck Group: Jeff Beck Group

MAY 1972 (40 YEARS AGO)
Jeff Beck Group: Jeff Beck Group is released.
# Allmusic 3/5 stars
# Rolling Stone (see original review below)
Jeff Beck Group is the fourth studio album by The Jeff Beck Group and the second album with the line up of Jeff Beck, Bobby Tench, Clive Chaman, Max Middleton and Cozy Powell. It was released in May, 1972 and produced by Steve Cropper.
During January 1972 the second Jeff Beck Group flew to the US and joined Beck at TMI Studios in Memphis, Tennessee. Some of the songs they worked on were already in their stage act and unlike Rough and Ready they also recorded five cover songs for this album, including a new version of Ashford & Simpson’s “I Can’t Give Back the Love I Feel For You” and Carl Perkins’s Sun Records release, “Glad All Over” (1957). The Cropper and Beck collaboration “Sugar Cane” was one of several songs written whilst in the studio. At an “end of recording party”, Beck was congratulated by Don Nix on his version of “Going Down”, which Nix had written and which was originally released by the band Moloch in 1969. Freddie King had covered the song in 1971.
Should you ever find yourself in the mood to be bored comatose, simply hop on the next jet to Hollywood, where this writer will gladly spend an afternoon with you explaining why–on the basis of the soon-to-be-mentioned’s irrepressible musical eccentricity, exquisite taste for the hilariously incongruous, and expertise at producing some of the lewdest noises ever enjoyed by teenage ears–he considers Jeff Beck a peerless rock and roll guitarist, as good in his own way as are Robin Trower and Ralph Oswald in their own ways.
The mystery (and tragedy) of the recent Beck is his election to showcase his brilliantly idiosyncratic instrumental style in the context of a band upon which he himself has imposed severe stylistic restrictions.
This album, and the group in general, is usually terrific when Beck’s guitar-playing is in the spotlight. When either Bob Tench’s vocals or Max Middleton’s usually pleasant but seldom arresting and never-smoothly-integrated jazz piano are basking therein, Jeff Beck Group’s music is mostly just dull–commonplace and predictable.
Despite his mastery of a particular vibrato-laden style of R & B vocalizing, Tench never comes across as more than competent–and uninteresting. Employing the identical intonation on everything that’s placed in front of him–be it Dylan’s “Tonight I’ll Be Staying Here With You” or the venerable “Goin’ Down” (here curiously credited to Don Nix)–he wears quite poorly. I, for one, would almost prefer to hear Beck himself doing the singing in his charmingly wobbly and adolescent yelp (previously displayed to best advantage on the irresistibly horrific “Hi Ho Silver Lining”).
One might reasonably have expected Steve Cropper, as producer, to have nudged the Group into a mellifluous Stax groove–whence Beck’s sudden flights to the outskirts of outrage might have been Nirvana itself–but no such good fortune. Truth be told, the record doesn’t even sound–in the basic sense–appreciably better than Rough And Ready. Thus, another zero for Cropper as a producer of white Epic heavy/hard-and country-rockers.
To venture an opinion whose unpopularity may well exceed that of any other in the history of rock criticism, Beck may well have been best off in the hands of the dreaded Mickie Most. Which is not to imply that shameful ignominies like “Love Is Blue” should be Beck’s lot, but rather that Most’s self-proclaimed genius for detecting hit material almost invariably resulted in embarrassing musical situations from which Beck extricated himself with usually quite stunning and cogent guitar work. Better that Beck should be slicing up someone’s silly idea of hit single material than struggling to redeem the out-dated ploddings of his own crew of yes-men.
Best yet, of course, that he should hook up with a personage or personages whose talents of conception and composition correspond with his own genius as a guitarist. (RS 110)
~ JOHN MENDELSOHN (June 8, 1972)
“Ice Cream Cakes” (Beck)
“Glad All Over” (Aaron Schroeder, Sid Tepper, Roy Bennett)
“Tonight I’ll Be Staying Here With You” (Bob Dylan)
“Sugar Cane” (Beck, Steve Cropper)
“I Can’t Give Back the Love I Feel For You” (Simpson, Ashford, Holland)
“Going Down” (Don Nix)
“I Got to Have a Song” (Wonder, Hunter, Hardaway, Riser)
“Highways” (Beck)
“Definitely Maybe” (Beck)

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