Cratedigger

Jeff Beck - Emotion & CommotionI wish I could tell all of you how good my just-out-of-the-shrink-wrap vinyl copy of the new Jeff Beck album Emotion & Commotion (Rhino Records) sounds. I would like to invite you all over to my place to listen, but that seems a little impractical; plus, you would probably drink all of my Coke Zero, and clean out the refrigerator. I’ll tell you what I can do, though: I can give one of you a very special 180-gram vinyl copy of your very own. Stay tuned to the end to find out how you can win the latest Popdose contest.

Has Jeff Beck ever played a bum note? Has he ever played anything stale or cliche? I don’t think so, and based on Emotion & Commotion, he’s not about to start now. As usual, Beck’s astounding instrumental prowess dominates the album, but this time he has included three female guest vocalists who each add another dimension to the music. Joss Stone gets an opportunity to show off her best blues wail on the Screamin’ Jay Hawkins classic “I Put A Spell on You” and “There’s No Other Me,” a song she wrote with keyboard player Jason Rebello.

The album includes two tunes from the Jeff Buckley songbook, Benjamin Britten’s “Corpus Christi Carol,” which is presented as an instrumental, and “Lilac Wine,” which is given a very nice reading by Imelda May. Opera singer Olivia Safe adds an ethereal element to Beck and Rebello’s “Serene” and Dario Marianelli’s stirring “Elegy For Dunkirk.” Elsewhere, there is the power-riffing “Hammerhead,” which will remind you of earlier Beck classics, as well as orchestral versions of “Over the Rainbow” and everyone’s favorite aria “Nessun Dorma.”

While the rock and blues songs sound great, it’s Beck’s playing in the orchestral settings that steals the show. He has the uncanny ability to use his guitar to mimic the human voice, and in one case transposes a melody traditionally played by cellos without sacrificing a bit of emotion. The playing is precise, and faithful to the source material, but completely imbued with the human spirit. I have no doubt that Emotion & Commotion, produced by Steve Lipson (Trevor Horn is the Executive Producer), sounds great on CD, but I don’t think there is any way it could possibly sound as rich as the vinyl version.

And speaking of the vinyl version, here is your chance to win your very own copy. All you have to do is answer this very simple question:

In what year did Jeff Beck play his first gig with the Yardbirds?

Please send your responses to ken@popdose.com. The contest ends on Tuesday, April 13, 2010 at 5:00 p.m. EST. After that, I will draw one winner at random from all of the correct entries. Sorry, but the contest is restricted to people with U.S. mailing addresses.