Dallas Observer Music

Jeff Beck

Concerts Photo

Jeff Beck

Saturday, April 10

Starplex Amphitheatre

Jeff Beck now requires the use of his first name, thanks to some young twerp who sells a lot of records. But he remains a musician who takes no shit, suffers no fools. A few weeks ago, he stormed out of the guest's chair at The Late Show with David Letterman without a word, leaving the talk-show host apoplectic. He walked off a reunion tour with Rod Stewart a few years back when Rod, whom Beck discovered, could no longer suppress his moronic superstar ego. Beck was gone only a few shows into the tour.

Beck is also an enigma: Has the world's greatest rock guitarist ever been married? Does he have children? There is not a mention of such things in the thousand articles written about him since the 1960s. The only private information he divulges is his passion for hot rods and vintage cars. And it probably takes millions of pounds to keep the Beck collection oiled and running. So every few years, the English country squire must emerge from his 70-acre estate outside London for another American tour. The man just don't get his due. In 1991, Epic Records released a poorly conceived three-disc boxed set, Beckology, doing the old boy — who's been on the label an astounding 34 years — a grave injustice. And it's a crime that more Beck records are not in the diminishing graveyard of flashback radio play. The Jeff Beck Group's 1968 "Ain't Superstitious" is another glaring omission of Classic Rock Radio (which boasts a standardized set list nationwide of fewer than 600 songs — all pre-approved by focus groups and beer companies).

Beck is in his mid-50s, but looks not too different than he did during the 1960s; his visage is set in stone. Yet he has alluded to this tour possibly being his last time out. He and Epic want the new album, Who Else! (his first solo disc in a decade), to chart high, or they might all call it quits. Like his last handful of albums, Who Else! is filled with computerized noodling, with many inspired moments of Beck's stylistic genius. This one's got more adventure and innovation. And, of course, Beck considers it a matter of pride that he hasn't needed a vocalist for 25 years.

Jeff Beck is not set for life: He has never earned the astronomical fortunes of his royal British peers. This is mentioned in Beck interviews as a crime. Look, we want Beck to have millions, so he can buy even more cars and finally retire without a financial worry. After all, didn't he more or less invent the very music that transformed close comrades like Led Zeppelin into the Bank of England? He was first to harness feedback, to use a wah-wah pedal, a fuzz-tone, and a hundred other elements in the vocabulary of electric guitar. Shouldn't he get a little tariff from all the wah-wah companies, the fuzz boxes sold? A little recompense from the generations of guitarists who have copped so many of his licks and tricks, many of whom don't even realize it came from Beck? Before we appeal to the Rhythm & Blues Foundation, which raises thousands for destitute blues pioneers, everyone should hustle down to Starplex and sell out his concert. Let us right this wrong, because Jeff Beck deserves, if not a billion, at least a hundred million bucks. Let him go unto old age gracefully.

— Josh Alan Friedman

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