Jeff Beck is my one guitar hero; that’s a known fact. I have all his albums, right through to Flash and have tried to incorporate some of his sound into my own style but that’s neither here nor there. Beck, out of the so-called “holy trinity” of guitarists that came out of the glorious Yardbirds, has always been the only one that stood out head and shoulders above the rest for me. So to find out that his first two Epic singles were being re-issued for Record Store Day by the incredible people at Sundazed Records, I knew this was a no-brainer and a must. Added to sweeten the deal even further was the first time issuing of his rendition of “Love Is Blue” (on his 1968 debut album “Truth”) – it had been released as a single everywhere except the United States and now it’s been given that perfect Sundazed treatment. All three singles come with picture sleeves and the original Epic labels; liner notes for “Hi Ho Silver Lining” and “Tally Man” are by Gene Simmons, while the “Love Is Blue” single has notes written by the amazing Andy Schwartz of New York Rocker fame.
What can be said of these three singles/six tracks? “Hi Ho Silver Lining” is the debut; sung as a joke (in his words) by Beck. Apparently, it’s been something of an albatross for him, but yet it managed to become a timeless classic (considering it is a pretty awful song – it’s fun but it’s silly); the flipside, “Beck’s Bolero” is, naturally, his masterpiece – aided and abetted by Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones, Nicky Hopkins and You Know Who on drums… which, if you didn’t already know and couldn’t figure it out, is Keith Moon. A stunner. Originally done while he was still with The Yardbirds, the simplicity and soaring guitar melody shines until the patented Beck “rave up” kicks in.
“Tally Man”, the second single, is the last to feature Beck’s lead vocals and is a great, classic track (backing vocals by soon-to-be Jeff Beck Group lead singer Rod Stewart and written by the brilliant Graham Gouldman) with The Jeff Beck Group; the B-side, “Rock My Plimsoul” is, indeed, The Jeff Beck Group’s debut (and a re-working of B.B. King’s “Rock Me Baby”) – heavy, bluesy and a portent of the brilliant things to come from the original Jeff Beck Group. “Love Is Blue”, which is included on the Truth album’s CD re-issue, along with the other two A-sides, is silky, with an unexpected orchestral opening and a harpsichord backing (a la the Paul Mauriat version). A perfect showcase for Beck’s unbridled range. The B-side, “I’ve Been Drinking” is, again, the Group and was not included on the original LP but on the CD re-issue.
So do I separate the fan from the critic. No. Simply put, if you like your guitarists to have width and skill, passion and power, then Jeff Beck’s your man. And there’s no better place to start than at the beginning with these three classic singles.
If you can find these, buy them!