Pazz and Jop 1971 – #15

Jeff Beck Group – Rough and Ready

I don’t think I’ll remember much about this record a month from now, but it was a (mostly) fun listen while it was on. It’s a messy record, a mishmash of rock, jazz, blues and soul influences that can’t seem to figure out what it wants to be. (Or maybe that’s exactly what it wants to be.) I know of Beck as a guitar god, and my first thought when I hear mention of him is his 1985 video for “Ambitious”, with its Murderer’s Row of B- and C-list celebrities (including Donny Osmond, who channeled George Michael’s look – and an unexpected assist from Peter Gabriel – into a comeback a few years later). So, of course, there’s a lot of great guitar playing, though it sometimes seems to serve no point other than to remind you that “Holy shit, Jeff Beck can really play!” The piano and drums are what stand out mostly (the instrumental centrepiece “Max’s Tune” is a showcase for the former) and my predilection for solid bass playing is frequently rewarded, but the vocalist is just a howler without much nuance in his delivery (sort of a discount bin David Clayton-Thomas was my initial impression). The lyrics are about as unremarkable as such things can be, with not a single phrase making an impression. Taken together, we are left with a record that is pleasing to the ear without making much of a dent on the soul.

(Originally posted on Facebook, April 21, 2021)

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