JEFF BECK – ” Beck-Ola “

Posted: February 2, 2021 in ALBUMS, MUSIC
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In 1969, Jeff Beck recorded the album “Beck-Ola”, the second and final album with Rod Stewart and Ronnie Wood. Nicky Hopkins who was now a permanent member.

After the release of their previous album “Truth”, by the end of 1968 drummer Micky Waller was replaced by Tony Newman, as Jeff Beck wanted to take the music in a heavier direction and he viewed Waller as more of a finesse drummer. Pianist Nicky Hopkins, who had also played on Truth, was asked to join the band full-time for his work in the studio.

Recording sessions for the album took place over six days in April 1969 – the 3rd, 6th, 8th, 10th, 11th and 19th. Two covers of Elvis Presley tunes were chosen, “All Shook Up” and “Jailhouse Rock”, as well as “Girl From Mill Valley”, an instrumental by and prominently featuring Hopkins. The remaining four tracks consist of band originals, with the instrumental “Rice Pudding” ending the album dramatically cold. The album cover features a reproduction of Belgian surrealist artist René Magritte’s The Listening Room. On the back cover to the original vinyl issue, beside “Beck-Ola” is written the tag “Cosa Nostra”, Italian for “Our Thing”. When it was originally released in June 1969, “Beck-Ola”, the Jeff Beck Group’s second album, featured a famous sleeve note on its back cover: “Today, with all the hard competition in the music business, it’s almost impossible to come up with anything totally original. So we haven’t.

Following the sessions for this album, the Jeff Beck Group toured the United States. They were scheduled to play Woodstock and are listed on posters promoting the festival, but by then internal friction had reached the breaking point and both Ronnie Wood and Rod Stewart were out of the band. Stewart and Wood would go on too form The Faces with members of the Small Faces in 1969, while Hopkins played Woodstock with Jefferson Airplane, joining Quicksilver Messenger Service, and toured the world with The Rolling Stones in 1971, 1972 and 1973.

Beck himself would be out of commission by December due to an automobile accident.

During 1967 the band released three singles in Europe and two in the United States, the first, “Hi Ho Silver Lining”, being the most successful, reaching No. 14 on the UK singles chart; it included the instrumental “Beck’s Bolero” as the B side, which had been recorded several months earlier. The line-up for that session included guitarist Jimmy Page on rhythm guitar, John Paul Jones on bass, Keith Moon on drums, and Nicky Hopkins on piano.

In a contemporary review for The Village Voice, music critic Robert Christgau was unimpressed by the album and facetiously remarked that Stewart and Beck had encouraged Hopkins’ overblown playing. At the time, Beck commented on the album cover the impossibility of coming up with anything original, and that Beck-Ola indeed was not. Although a short album at half an hour, along with its predecessor it is regarded as a seminal work of heavy metal due to its use of blues toward a hard rock approach and the squaring off of Beck’s guitar against Stewart’s vocals, and claims that it was duplicated the same year by Beck’s confederate Jimmy Page with his singer Robert Plant  although in actual fact Zeppelin had been displaying such style since the summer of 1968.

On 10 October 2006, Legacy Recordings remastered and reissued the album for compact disc with four bonus tracks, all of which had been previously unreleased. Included were two early takes of the Presley covers, one done at Abbey Road Studios in January, a jam on “Sweet Little Angel” by B.B. King done the previous November with the Waller edition of the band, and a song intended as a single by producer Mickie Most but never issued

Ronnie Wood: Appeared on Beck-Ola and then quit to join The Faces with Rod Stewart. He went on to recording solo albums in 1974 starting with I’ve Got My Own Album To Do, Now Look (1975), Mahoney’s Last Stand (1976), and Gimme Some Neck (1979). He officially joined the Rolling Stones in 1976 and continues to record the odd solo album.

Rod Stewart: Sang on Beck-Ola and simultaneously pursued a solo career while joining The Faces with bass buddy Ron Wood. Recorded Rod Stewart (1969), Gasoline Alley (1970), Every Picture Tells A Story (1971) and Never A Dull Moment(1972) as a solo artist. As a member of The Faces, he recorded First Step (1970), Long Player (1971), A Nod’s As Good As A Wink… To A Blind Horse (1972), and the swan song, Ooh La La (1973). Became solo superstar; currently sells crooning compilations to grannies.

Nicky Hopkins: One of the most in-demand session men of the 1960s, Hopkins played with everyone from The Beatles, The Kinks and the Stones to Quicksilver Messenger Service, Jefferson Airplane and on his own solo albums. He died in 1994.

Mickey Waller: Played with many bands including Georgie Fame, Charlie Watts’ Rocket 88, recorded with Paul McCartney in the noughts, but died in 2008.

Jeff Beck  moved on to his R&B period with the JBGII and a pair of albums titled Rough And Ready (1971) and Jeff Beck Group (1972). A studio album (1973) with ex-Vanilla Fudge rhythm section Tim Bogert and Carmine Appice called Beck, Bogert & Appice and a Japan-only live album release followed. In 1975, Jeff then entered the instrumental phase of his career with the wondrous Blow By Blow, followed by 1976’s Wired and 1977’s Jeff Beck With The Jan Hammer Group – Live! There And Back [1980], the shaky vocal/instrumental Flash [1985], and Guitar Shop [1989] formed the next group of releases. In 1992, Epic released the three-CD Beckology set. Jeff continues to record mainly guitar records to this day.

Beck-Ola stands as a prime example of late-’60s British blues-rock and one of Beck’s best records.

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