Monday, February 3, 2014

Jeff Beck Group -- "Beck's Bolero" (1968)

You could say that the Yardbirds had some pretty good lead guitarists.  

Eric Clapton joined the band in late 1963.  Jeff Beck replaced him in May 1965.  Beck’s good friend, Jimmy Page, joined the band in 1966 – initially he played bass – and remained when the band gave Beck the boot later that year.  Rolling Stone ranked those guys as #2, #5, and #3 on their “100 Top Guitarists” list, respectively.  (Jimi Hendrix and Keith Richards round out their top five.)

Jimmy Page and Jeff Beck
After he was fired by the Yardbirds, Jeff Beck formed the Jeff Beck Group.  Rod Stewart was the group’s lead singer and Ronnie Wood (who later joined the Rolling Stones) its rhythm guitarist. 

The most interesting song on the group's 1968 debut album, Truth -- an instrumental titled "Beck's Bolero" -- had been recorded in the spring of 1966 by Beck, Keith Moon of the Who, Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones (a busy session musician who shortly thereafter joined forces with Jimmy Page to form Led Zeppelin), and Nicky Hopkins (best known for his keyboard work on several classic Rolling Stones albums).

For you guitar aficionados, Beck played a Gibson Les Paul guitar, while Page played a Fender Electric XII.

Jeff Beck playing a Gibson Les Paul guitar
Beck had hoped to record an entire album with this group, but contractual difficulties presented what might have been the ultimate supergroup album from getting off the ground.  (Damn lawyers!)

The rhythm of "Beck's Bolero" is modeled on the rhythm of Maurice Ravel's famous orchestral piece, "Boléro."  Jimmy Page ended up with the composer credit for the record, although Beck claimed that he came up with the guitar melody line and the second "hard rock" section of the song (which begins at about 1:38 with a scream and drum break by Keith Moon).  

"Beck's Bolero" was one of Jimi Hendrix's favorite tracks, and it inspired Duane Allman to learn to play slide guitar.

Here's "Beck's Bolero":

Click below to buy "Beck's Bolero" from Amazon:

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