As time draws nearer to the Lp release, I will attempt to get in touch with Epic in L.A. as I've been told that a lot of veteran PR people are back with Sony. However, since their Jeff Beck Webpage has nothing of substance on it at this time, I'm not holding my breath. Anyway, with out further hoopla, here is our new feature....
May 1, 1999 - May 27, 1999
One funny anecdote Jeff told Jennifer was that he saw Rod Stewart on a BBC show. Rod suddenly pointed to a member of the audience and said, "What are you doing here?" The camera panned to the surprised face of one Ronnie Wood who was not exactly supposed to be in the UK at the time due to those infamous British tax laws! As to the fate of the impending Lp, Jennifer said, "A heavy hitter from Sony/Japan is behind it." According to Jeff's management there is also another heavy hitter behind it, John Kalodner, who was the driving force behind a lot of Geffen Records successes.
Jennifer can't wait for the next leg of the tour, South America, and she said if that goes well they may go to another place where Jeff has never been...South Africa. We of course know of one very interested fan/biographer likely to attend at least one show there. We won't say who but her initials are A.C. ! Hah!
On the next Batten Report: Track by track descriptions of the new stuff and during the South American tour....Jennifer's post card pages.
P.S. This news flash just in....Jennifer is headed back to England earlier than for the expected South American tour rehearsals. On September 5th she will arrive there, we've been told, to do some recording with Jeff.
The South American tour started off with ripping axes - literally! It seems a nasty Continental Airlines agent in Houston wouldn't allow Jeff or Jennifer board with their guitars. When thet arrived in Mexico "Dick Small" was fine (although Dick Small has since been retired. It has too many splits from all the times it's been dropped.) but Jennifer's axe was not. "My main Washburn was smashed. The headstock was ripped right off!" After a change of guitar, opening night in Mexico City was a huge success. "We got four standing ovations opening night." A proud Jennifer exclaimed. I wanted to find out if any set changes had occured in the interim and she replied, "We've got the set up to about an hour and forty-five minutes. Some stuff Europe got dropped and new songs by Tony Hymas have been added." Noting that I commented about 'Arab Hoot' and the whole world concept of the new material, Jennifer added, "Yeah, we've even got a Bulgarian number in the set now and it's in 15/8 time!" I then asked if Jeff still used the wah-wah pedal for a brief bit. "No, that was on 'Even Odds' and we dropped that from the set." We had heard that a show was added in Brazil to which the response was, "What a killer! We did our set at 5:30 in the afternoon. Then after Wayne Shorter did a set we came right back on. We won't be doing that again!" Another reader had e-mailed us about Jeff smashing a red Strat. "It was a white Strat." Jennifer quickly corrected. "Jeff had tore some strings on 'Where Were You'. He got the white Strat and started to play the encore but there was a bad ground problem so he smashed it!" Strolling on, (sorry I couldn't resist) I wanted to find out about the older material to which Jennifer told us that 'Syreeta' is now back in the set. It should also be noted that on set lists from Europe it mentions 'Orbit'. Jennifer told me that they never did that number but it was probably 'Space For The Papa' that we were referring to. Since there has been no mention of 'Jammin' With Jesus' since Steve Luthaker mentioned it in a guitar mag, I asked for it to which Jennifer replied, "We're not doing that. It's a vocal number." No explanation necesary, hah!
"I'd like to do some old medley things on the next tour." Jennifer offered. I asked when that might be. "If all goes as planned, and the new album comes out in mid February, the States tour should start in Florida around the last week of February." (Pause while the two estatic Floridians responsible for what you are now reading let out a big and hopefully not premature YEEESSSS!!) Finally the subject of cuisine came up as only Jennifer had been to South America before, one time in Columbia. "It was fine. Nobody got badly sick but everyone was tired at the end and got some jet lag."
P.S. Jennifer's post card mailed from Mexico postmarked October 11th just arrived on November 4th.
On the next Batten report....hopefully a live face to face with JB and JB in sunny Florida. As to the medley issue, we can only hope that Jeff once again climbs down from that glorius 'A' after changing keys (as in the '75 shows) in 'Freeway Jam' to the minor key heavens of 'Definately Maybe'.
DW: We would do an Email chat if it's ok with u. JB: COOLIO DW: Still do promise to call me live once before you go back out? JB:O'TAY DW: First How did the shows improve and differ on the last western swing of the tour? JB: THE MORE WE PLAY, THE BETTER WE GET. IT'S A NATURAL GROWTH AS WE BECOME MORE FAMILIAR WITH HOW EACH OTHER PLAYS. DW: We heard that Eric Johnson, Steve Vai and others? were at some gigs. Any stories about Jeff relating to them after the shows? JB: I ACTUALLY WASN'T PART OF THE CONVERSATIONS FOR EITHER BUT DID SEE VAI HUG JEFF. I HEARD LATER THAT HE WAS TOO SHY TO EVEN GO BACK STAGE BUT SOMEONE FORCED HIM TO. THEY'VE BOTH BEEN JEFF FANS SINCE TEEN YEARS. VAI WAS IN THE 3RD ROW IN VEGAS. I REALLY DON'T LIKE TO KNOW WHAT FAMOUS PEOPLE SHOW UP UNTIL AFTER THE SHOW SO HE WAS IN MY THOUGHTS A LOT DURING THAT SHOW. DW: What happened with the ABC airing of the anthem? You originally said it might be on TNN. JB: DON'T KNOW--WILL FIND OUT. PRETTY DISSAPOINTED DW: Who was Jeff playfully thumbing his nose at when he sat down with Lettterman? JB: PAUL AND WILL IN THE BAND--DIDN'T REALIZE HE WAS ON AIR!! HE WAS ALSO TOLD TO SIT UNTIL THE THANK U'S SO IMMEDIATELY LEFT AFTER LETTERMAN SHOOK HIS HAND. HE DIDN'T REALIZE HE SHOULD HAVE STAYED THROUGH TIL THE END. WE WERE ALL BACK STAGE HOWLING!! DW: What if anything replaced Austin Powers on the tour bus during the last part of the tour? JB: MAD MAD MAD MAD WORLD, SOME LIKE IT HOT, CLUELESS, SOUTH PARK. DW: There was a report from one of the Texas gigs of a pro video shoot that was out in the open. Any word on what that was about? JB: DON'T KNOW ABOUT IT. DW: The LP came in at a solid 99 at the 1st week and had all the signs of going up. JB: BITCHEN--IT'S #4 IN JAPAN. DW: There was massive publicity. All reviews were Great to Fabulous! Shows all sold out. Letterman show was a success in the ratings. JB: TELL ME MORE DETAILS ON THAT....COMPARED TO WHAT?? DW: What happened? JB: WHAT DO YA MEAN? DW: The lp dove just as quickly back into the high one hundreds ? What is Jeff's and your reactions to the success of the tour versus the lp ranking? JB: EPIC IS PREPARED TO WORK IT FOR A YEAR. SINCE HE HASN'T HAD ONE IN 10 YEARS, IT'S GOING TO TAKE TIME FOR EVERYONE TO REALLY BE AWARE OF IT. DW: Any mention at all of any session plans or other recording plans Jeff has after Japan? JB: HOPE TO BEGIN NEXT RECORD ASAP. DW: Please let us have the scoop on any confirmed additional US/World tour dates? JB: WILL BE ON THE SITE AS SOON AS I GET 'EM. DW: Any sneaky Jeff sessions coming out other than Chrissie Hynde's? JB: NOT AWARE OF ANY. DW: Did you guys jam spontaneously at all on any of the off days or at any of the soundchecks? JB: S CHECKS-YES BUT OFF DAYS WERE TRAVEL DAYS. DW: Any new material being developed? JB: YUP. DW: What might some of the changes in musical arrangements be for the upcoming Japan Tour? AS ALWAYS---A SECRET, BUT WE ONLY HAVE JB: 2 DAYS REHEARSAL, SO NOT MUCH CHANGE. DW: Any guitar equipment modifications for you or Jeff planned? JB: NOPE--- I MIGHT SWITCH TO AKAI'S WAH FOR EVEN ODDS. DW: Describe your thoughts and feelings during the last show in San Fran. JB: WE WERE PRETTY TOASTY FROM 4 IN A ROW. FOR SAN DIEGO DAY, WE WOKE UP IN VEGAS, PLAYED S DIEGO AND DROVE OVER NIGHT TO SLEEP IN LA. PRETTY GRUELING. WE HADTO REALLY PULL SOME ENERGY TOGETHER FOR THAT ONE. DESPITE PLANS TO PARTY TIL THE SUN CAME UP I THINK WE WERE ALL ASLEEP BY 2 AM!! DW: How has your playing grown/changed since the tour began? JB: I CAN NEVER PUT IT INTO WORDS AS GROWTH IS SLOW DAY BY DAY, NOT IN LEAPS AND BOUNDS. THE WHOLE SYNTH THING WAS NEW TO ME, SO THAT'S COME A LONG WAY IN LEARNING HOW TO HANDLE EACH SOUND. DW: Did Jeff ever during the tour discuss any guitar techniques with you that you could share? JB:NOTHING THAT HASN'T APPEARED IN PRINT. DW: Your thoughts on Jeff jamming with Randy. Those two seemed to enjoy "You Never Know" as much as Jeff did jamming with Tim B. in the earliest days of BBA. JB: WHEN RANDY STARTED SOLOING ON IT, IT WASN'T PLANNED--JUST HAPPENED ONE NIGHT SO WE KEPT IT IN. IT'S A FUN PART OF THE SHOW, AND I CAN SIT BACK AND JUST LISTEN. DW: With the totally different acoustics of the varying venues (Halls, Clubs,Theatres,etc), were you satisfied with the overall mix and what if any were Jeff's thoughts on the subject? JB: IT WAS ALWAYS DIFFERENT EVERY NIGHT. SOMETIMES WAS FRUSTRATING ON STAGE BUT WE OVER ALL GOT GREAT COMMENTS ABOUT THE FRONT OF HOUSE SOUND. I DIDN'T LIKE THE HOB SOUND. THE STAGE WAS TOO SMALL FOR ALL OUR GEAR AND I FELT CRAMPED. THEATRES ARE BEST BUT SOMETIMES THE CEILING CREATED AN ECHO NIGHTMARE, OR THE MIXER CHRIS HILL WOULD HAVE TO BE PLACED IN THE BACK UNDER AN OVERHANG WHICH WAS A BASS TRAP---MANY CHALLENGES THERE. DW: Was Jeff as amazed as usual that he still had so many avid fans and did he mention anything concerning his fans? JB: HE'S NEVER SURE THAT PEOPLE WILL REMEMBER HIM BUT GLAD THEY DO. DW: Do you feel you've even scratched the surface of different MIDI sequences you could use in the existing material? JB: WE COULD HAVE GONE A MILLION DIFFERENT WAYS FOR THE EXISTING MATERIAL BUT HAVE OUR SIGHTS ON KICKING ASS FOR THE NEXT PROJECT. DW: For instance there 's a passage in Big Block towards the end where you twice in alternating passages answer the main guitar line with almost an accordian two chord sequence that wasn't in any of the original keyboard lines. JB: MY PART IN THAT IS IMPROVISED EVERY NIGHT--SO I DON'T KNOW WHAT YOU MEAN. DW: Jeff told me that you guys had tried more of Bolero during Space for the Papa but since the rythyms didn't match it was impossible. JB: I THINK HE JUST INTENDED TO DO A TEASER ON THAT ANYWAY. DW: Any chance you can do it by itself or in a medley? JB: I APPROACHED HIM WITH BOLERO/EL BECKO AND HE SAID HE 'D FORGOTTEN HOW BAD EL BECKO SOUNDED! END OF CONVERSATION. DW: What about Definately Maybe? We know that Jeff does not want to do Freeway any more so it couldn't be a segue but maybe by itself? JB: LOTS OF IDEAS FLOATING AROUND.... NEXT LEG IN U.S. WILL SURELY HAVE SOME CHANGES. DW: Jeff also in our conversation told me you were the backbone of the band. JB: I THINK I'M PROBABLY JUST MORE DEDICATED THAN ANYONE HE'S HAD IN THE BAND BEFORE, BECAUSE I WANT TO DO THIS FOREVER!!!!! AND I WANT TO SEE HIM CRANK OUT MATERIAL CONSISTENTLY. I DO PUT IN SOME REALLY LONG HOURS GETTING THE SYNTH + GUITAR TOGETHER + TRYING TO IMPROVE THINGS AS WE GO ALONG. I WANT TO SEE HIM FLOOR A NEW GENERATION OF PEOPLE AND TOP THE CHARTS AGAIN LIKE HE DESERVES. DW: Anything else we fans might want to know about at this point? JB: CAN'T THINK OF ANYTHING.. DW: Good luck on the Japenese tour . We're looking forward to the postcards! JB: COOLIO THANXBe seeing you....#6