How Jeff Beck Changed Everything With Top 10 Smash ‘Blow by Blow’
Jeff Beck was no stranger to career crossroads. But the oft-abused rock 'n' roll cliche was especially true with Blow by Blow, which came out on March 29, 1975.
Beck had dissolved his widely acclaimed power trio with bassist Tim Bogert and drummer Carmine Appice within the span of a few, eventful months leading up to this LP's October 1974 sessions. He'd also auditioned with the Rolling Stones, before deducing that it wasn't the right job for him.
Nevertheless, Beck could have easily parlayed his considerable reputation into another best-selling rock-based project. Instead, he decided to challenge his ever-evolving musical talents by veering off into the unexplored terrain of instrumental jazz fusion with Blow by Blow.
This was technically Beck's seventh solo album, but only the second to bear only his name on the front cover after his 1968 debut, Truth. But Beck didn't go it alone.
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Former Jeff Beck Group henchman Max Middleton was on hand to collaborate on songs and play keyboards, along with in-demand session bassist Phil Chen, drummer Richard Bailey, and, based on his recent work with the Mahavishnu Orchestra, Beatles producer George Martin.
Together, they produced a diverse set boasting funky fusion experiments like "You Know What I Mean" and "Constipated Duck" (a bass-driven standout belying its silly title); propulsive virtuoso displays like "Freeway Jam" and "Scatterbrain" (even more catchy than it was spectacularly complex); and a pair of comparatively simple, but equally beautiful melodic improvisations on Stevie Wonder’s "Cause We’ve Ended as Lovers" (Wonder also guested on the track "Thelonious") and Bernie Holland’s positively sublime "Diamond Dust."
Beck had taken to a brand new musical lexicon like a fish to water. But, above all else, these tunes possessed a groundbreaking immediacy that was sorely missing in most attempts to fuse rock and jazz.
All of it helped turn Blow by Blow into a million-selling Top 5 album, and another reminder there was truly nothing Jeff Beck could not do with a plank of wood and six strings. He was on to the next crossroads.