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Best Songs - Rolling Stone

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he never had signature music in much the same way that his peers and former bandmates Jimmy Page and Eric Clapton did, but the genres that Jeff Beck explored throughout his career mark the changes in rock – and rock guitar – over decades . One of rock’s most physical technicians, seeming to enjoy wrestling with his instrument, Beck made his name with British Invasion pop. But not content to stay there, he moved into the vogue blues-rock of the late ’60s and then into the heavier boogie and fusion of the next decade. Settings changed, but his style remained constant: notes that could cut like a switchblade, but also delight in a song’s melody. Here are his best songs.

“Heart Full of Soul” (1965)

The two great fuzz guitar riffs of 1965 were recorded just weeks apart, and Jeff Beck got there first, laying down his decade-defining sitar imitation line on this hit before Keith Richards stepped on his own pedal for “( I Can’t get any) satisfaction.” For the solo, Beck simply reprized the melody of the verse – a move that worked just as well for him as it did for Kurt Cobain 26 years later. — BH

Yardbirds, “Jeff’s Boogie” (1966)

“You had to meet ‘Jeff’s Boogie,’” Stevie Ray Vaughan once said. “And nobody knew it was actually the Chuck Berry song ‘Guitar Boogie’.” full of blindingly ahead-of-its-time racing and ping harmonics. — BH

The Yardbirds, “Stroll On” (From Explode1966)

There are a ton of unforgettable moments in Michelangelo Antonioni’s 1966 film Explode, one of which being the scene where David Hemmings’ character catches the Yardbirds at a club while trying to solve his photographed murder. Keith Relf rips up vocals while a young Jimmy Page plays along, but Beck gets frustrated with his amp and destroys his guitar. “When Antonioni said he wanted me to break my guitar, I had a fit,” he told us in 1971. “I said, ‘Wait a minute, that’s Townshend stuff.’” He also remembers seeing the film for the first time. first time: “I was completely embarrassed. I had a hard-on in the picture, man! After all, it gets hot under these lights, breaking me out in those tights. – AM

Beck’s Bolero” (1967)

This deceptively mad and genius proto-prog instrumental is the work of a historic supergroup, with Keith Moon of the Who on drums, future Led Zeppelin member John Paul Jones on bass, frequent Rolling Stones collaborator Nicky Hopkins on piano and Beck trading guitars with Page, his Yardbirds bandmate and future founder of Zeppelin. It starts with Page strumming an acoustic guitar while Beck loads up the electric melody, before rising to ominous psychedelia and an all-time classic hard rock blast. — BH

Jeff Beck Group, “I’m Not Superstitious” (1968)

When Led Zeppelin debuted, some rock fans (including rock critic John Mendelsohn, who trashed them in Rolling Stone), saw them as an inferior imitation of the Jeff Beck Group. Tracks like this powerhouse take on Willie Dixon’s blues classic, first recorded by Howlin’ Wolf, help explain why, with Beck croaking triumphantly over a stereo pair of wah-wah guitar tracks throughout. — BH

Jeff Beck Group, “You Rocked Me” (1968)

A year before Zeppelin got their hands on it, the Jeff Beck Group made a fuzzed version of Willie Dixon’s 1962 blues classic “You Shook Me” that included future Zeppelin bassist John Paul Jones on organ. “I was terrified because I thought they were going to be the same,” said Jimmy Page. “But I didn’t even know he had done it, and he didn’t know we had.” We’ll take Page’s word that his bassist didn’t mention it to him, and it must be said that Jeff Beck’s version is clearly the superior. — AG

Beck, Bogert, Appice, “Superstition” (1973)

The result of a jam session with Beck and Stevie Wonder, “Superstition” was recorded before Wonder’s own version on talking book, and became the signature song of Beck’s short-lived trio with Carmine Appice and Tim Bogert’s Vanilla Fudge rhythm section. It’s still a kick to hear Wonder’s monstrous clavinet part played over Beck’s guitar. — DB

“Because We Ended As Lovers” (1975)

Beck’s skills as a technician often overshadowed just how emotional his playing could be, and there’s no better example in his catalog than his instrumental version of this 1975 Stevie Wonder ballad. blow for blow. His guitar strokes coax and ultimately cry. — DB

“Blue Wind” (1976)

For a period in the mid-’70s, Beck reinvented himself as a fusion gearhead, working with producer George Martin and, at times, keyboardist Jan Hammer. Written by Hammer and included on the 1976 album Wiredthe insanely rubbery and tumultuous “Blue Wind” demonstrated that Beck could fly up and down the fretboard as much as any of the leading fusion musicians of the day, but with added fury and sting. — DB

Jeff Beck and Rod Stewart, “The People Prepare” (1985)

Jeff Beck and Rod Stewart went very different ways when the original Jeff Beck Group dissolved in 1969, but they got back together 16 years later to cover Curtis Mayfield’s “People Get Ready” on Beck’s LP. snapshot. Stewart said Rolling Stone in 2018 that her voice and Beck’s guitar playing were a “match made in heaven”, and that’s very apparent on this cover, which capped their final studio collaboration. — AG


“A Day in the Life” (1998)

The Beatles’ “A Day in the Life” is the kind of masterpiece that is difficult to cover in any meaningful way. An exception came on the obscure 1998 George Martin LP. In my life, where Jeff Beck approached the song without a vocalist, recreating the vocal melody on his acoustic guitar. It is an impressive example of his virtuosity and was the climax of his concerts in the last quarter century of his career. — AG