Jeff Beck: Blue Wind
Jeff Beck (guitar)
Wired (Epic EK 33849)
Recorded: London, England and Hollywood, CA, 1976
Rating: 98/100 (learn more)
In 1975, the superlative rock guitarist Jeff Beck discovered fusion music. It wasn't long before he was the top-selling fusion artist. His album Blow by Blow raced up the pop and jazz charts. Many rock fans were perplexed by Beck's sudden shift into the genre. But enough of them came along that, when added to his new fusion following, they were quite a large group.
Beck, who quite honestly says his move into fusion was strongly influenced by his admiration of the Mahavishnu Orchestra, took the music one step closer towards mass appeal. He did this by playing shorter tunes that had ingratiating hooks, giving his music a better chance of being heard on the radio. It was no accident that he hired Mahavishnu keyboardist Jan Hammer and the second Mahavishnu Orchestra's drummer, Narada Michael Walden, to write and play some tunes on 1976's Wired.
Though Wired was a bit less popular than Blow by Blow, it was a far superior album, full of impressive jazz-rock numbers that would eventually obtain iconic status. Not the least of these was Hammer's "Blue Wind." Jan's writing style was now taking a direction that in a few short years would have him in demand as a soundtrack composer. It also set the stage for his greatest commercial success as the innovative composer for the Miami Vice TV series. His writing for that show forever changed the nature of music on television. In addition, Hammer was now playing a scaled-down Moog synthesizer that he could literally carry around and play like a guitar, enabling him to be a front-and-center melodic player.
This tune is not all just about Jan Hammer. Jeff Beck is one of the finest guitarists on Earth. His touch and intonation are without peer. Hammer and Beck are the perfect foils on "Blue Wind." The opening synth chords and syncopation are among the most recognizable in the fusion lexicon and get you in the mood for a series of hook-laden calls and responses. Hammer handles the rhythm and funky bassline. Beck lets loose with a bit of dirt. The two play off each other the rest of the way, producing many moments of brilliant interplay. "Blue Wind" is one of the all-time fusion anthems.
Reviewer: Walter Kolosky