If like us you have a deep love affair with everything rock ‘n’ roll, then there’s a good chance that Jeff Beck has played a significant impact in your lifelong love affair with the art. While not gaining attention on the same scale as his counterparts, Jimmy Page or Eric Clapton, Beck was arguably one of the more prominent founding fathers of the rock and roll scene that made London the only place to be in the sixties.
Whilst Beck always found himself on the peripheries of the mainstream’s adoration, he quietly went about making some of the most notable tunes in rock and roll. With his band The Yardbirds, Beck made some incredible material and his rhythm guitarist of that group, Chris Dreja proclaimed: “Jeff was, and is, a fucking genius.”
The musician has been a shining influence on a generation of guitarists who have looked to his immense repertoire of music as inspiration which begs the question, who are the artists that Jeff Beck most admires?
Fortunately enough Beck provided a list of his six favourite albums of all time to the Express, which offers a fascinating insight into one of the greatest guitarists of all time’s record collection.
Check out his choices, below.
Jeff Beck’s 6 favourite albums:
BB King – Live At The Regal
Beck’s first choice is Live at the Regal, a 1965 live album by the iconic blues guitarist B.B. King. Recorded at the Regal Theatre in Chicago, the work is widely viewed to be one of the definitive blues records.
Other guitarists such as Eric Clapton, Carlos Santana, John Mayer and Mark Knopfler along with Beck have paid tribute to this album’s greatness.
“I was into blues around 1963 and stumbled across this,” Beck said on the record. “It’s an electrifying live performance of blues guitar and BB is a master of microphone technique. He brings his music down to a whisper then bursts out with amazing solos.”
Gene Vincent – Gene Vincent & His Bluecaps
The former Yardbirds man’s second pick comes from one of the founding father’s of rock Gene Vincent and his pioneering sophomore album Gene Vincent & His Bluecaps. Vincent is undoubtedly a true rockabilly legend who carved out a path that made it possible for people like Beck to be able to go on to have the conquering career he went on to have.
“When ‘Be-Bop-A-Lula’ came out, I was hooked,” Beck noted on Vincent’s debut single back in 1956 which sent shockwaves around the world and influenced his own style of performance.
“My older sister made the mistake of leaving this album around and I played it all day. No other band so encapsulated refined rockabilly. When my mother told me to take it off, I knew it was my kind of music,” he added.
Jan Hammer – The First Seven Days
Jan Hammer is an artist that Jeff Beck has collaborated with on many occasions, even joining forces on 1977 effort Jeff Beck with the Jan Hammer Group Live which is taken from their US tour. What makes The First Seven Days a fascinating record is that it features no guitar contributions, instead Hammer opts to rely heavily upon synthesizers as well as a grand piano, electric violin and percussion.
“The music on this is so graphic,” Beck admirably stated. “Jan became my hero when he was in John McLaughlin’s Mahavishnu Orchestra. He was playing bendy notes with a keyboard so it sounded like a guitar and I became obsessed with how he did it.”
Miles Davis – A Tribute To Jack Johnson
A Tribute To Jack Johnson isn’t one of Davis’ most well-known pieces of works but it’s one that means a lot to Beck nonetheless. The album was conceived by Davis for Bill Cayton’s documentary about the life of boxer Jack Johnson.
It consists of two 25-minute-plus tracks that were produced from recordings made on February 18 and April 7, 1970, at 30th Street Studio in New York City. The fact that Davis can record an album of this calibre in just two days says everything about his talent.
“This album got me out of the gutter after my split with Rod Stewart. I was working on a car outside my house when this amazing free-form shuffle came on the radio,” Beck revealed. “Davis’s trumpet comes in randomly with the melody and that freedom appealed to me. McLaughlin played on this as well and gave me my next career move,” he added.
The Jimi Hendrix Experience – Are You Experienced?
It should come as little surprise that Beck’s list involves the ultimate member of rock royalty, Jimi Hendrix, and his classic debut album Are You Experienced?.
The album needs little introduction but it’s no overestimation to say that this record helped change the trajectory of rock ‘n’ roll as Hendrix introduced the world to this whole new way of playing the guitar and, over half a century later, nobody has quite matched his excellence.
“Just before this came out, I saw Jimi live at an underground club. Dollybirds in Biba clothing were probably expecting a folk singer but he came on and blew the house down,” Beck reminisced on the heady days of London in the swinging sixties. “It shook all of us – me, Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page. He was so good, we all wondered what we were going to do for our living.”
Muddy Waters – At Newport 1960
At Newport 1960 captures Muddy Waters’ appearance at Newport Jazz Festival in 1960 which is credited as being the very first live blues record.
The album saw Waters perform with his longtime backup band, the legendary musician played a career-spanning set that blended his older popular tunes as well as some recent compositions.
“Muddy Waters could sing with the worst guitar player and still sound amazing because the voice is so deep and thick, with the bad grammar that blues singers have. This is live and he played up a storm,” the former Yardbirds man praisingly noted.