Thank The Lord (Wardour-082)
The 1980s were a period where the big rock acts flirted with a manufactured pop style then popular. There were a heavy reliance upon keyboard arrangements, sultry saxophones and attempts at hooks with every song to the exclusion of individual expression and experimentation. For twenty years (since 1966’s Roger The Engineer with the Yardbirds), Jeff Beck eclectic and experimental and is one of the founders of such diverse genres as heavy metal and jazz fusion.
1985’s Flash was one of his mot successful recordings, winning a Grammy award for Best Rock Instrumental performance. Beck’s dislike for the project can be seen in the lack of touring for the album (just the tour of Japan in June). In 1989, after the release of Guitar Shop, he told journalist Steve Rosen that:
“it was a very sad sort of time for me. I didn’t have a grip on what I should be doing or what was expected of me. It was in the hands of the gods of New York (Nile Rogers). At that time it just seemed the right thing to do, to try and get a sneaky hit album with Nile. I’m not making any bones about it; we were after a hit album. Unbelievably, ‘People Get Ready’ didn’t go where we thought it was going to.
“The record company lost heart and all of Nile’s tracks were kind of played down and I got a Grammy for one track, which was a Jan Hammer composition. You know what I mean? So I didn’t have to go with Nile at all. We’d probably have done much better doing what we’ve just done three or four years ago, but unfortunately that didn’t happen.”
Any lack of confidence in the material is not audible in the performances. Thank The Lordcontains new tape sources for the final two shows of the Japan tour, both in Budokan in Tokyo. Both are from the same person who taped the December 5th, 1980 in Osaka and released by Wardour on Moving Finger, and who taped others.
Budokan, Tokyo, Japan – June 10th, 1986
Disc 1 (41:05): Intro., Escape, Gets Us All In The End, Ecstasy, Ambitious, Goodbye Pork Pie Hat, Stop Look And Listen, The Pump, Star Cycle
Disc 2 (63:52): Cause We’ve Ended As Lovers, Miami Vice New York Theme, Led Boots, Love Will, Miami Vice Theme, Blue Wind, People Get Ready, Freeway Jam, Going Down, Wild Thing
The first Tokyo show is an excellent stereo audience recording of the complete performance. The set was rearranged after the opening night in Karuizawa with “Star Cycle” and opens with four songs from the new album. Jan Hammer’s proto-industrial instrumental “Escape” starts off followed by “Get Us All In The End,” one of the few songs with vocals as is “Ambitious,” the big hit from the album.
“Goodbye Pork Pie Hat” is played as an introduction to “Stop, Look And Listen.” Hammer showcases his two latest hits, the music from the TV show “Miami Vice.”
Beck has more fun in “Blue Wind” by stretching it out to include a reference to “Train Kept A-Rollin’,” a song he hadn’t played since his days with the Yardbirds. “People Get Ready” sounds good with Jimmy Hall’s vocals. The show ends with “Going Down” with “Wild Thing” as the only encore. This is in reverse order compared to the other shows which ended with “Wild Thing” and had “Going Down” played as encore.
Budokan, Tokyo, Japan – June 11th, 1986
Disc 3 (42:20): Intro., Escape, Gets Us All In The End, Ecstasy, Ambitious, Goodbye Pork Pie Hat, Stop Look And Listen, The Pump, Star Cycle
Disc 4 (60:17): Cause We’ve Ended As Lovers, Miami Vice New York Theme, Led Boots, Love Will, Miami Vice Theme, Blue Wind, People Get Ready, Freeway Jam, Going Down, Wild Thing
The final night in Tokyo was previously released on Get Ready (Craze CR-8606109) and Be Ambitious At Budokan (Masterport 026). The new tape source sounds tremendous and is even better than the previous night. It has more dynamics and really captures the performance well.
The band play the same set as the previous night with “Going Down” the final number and “Wild Thing” played as encore. The first half of the show is dominated by the Flash number and this would be the final time any would be played live. In fact, the only song from that album to be played past this show is “People Get Ready.” However, that song was in the set even before being recorded for the LP.
Beck tells the audience that he’s proud to have Jan Hammer in the back before they start “Star Cycle.” Hammer improvises a new and unique introduction to the piece before the familiar electronic trills start the track off. Hammer also plays a pretty counter melody in “Cause We’ve Ended As Lovers.”
The “Miami Vice” theme follows. “Led Boots” is notable for the audience wooping and cheering in the breaks in the melody (something which the Japanese audience continues to do with this number). Bassist Doug Wimbish gives a workout playing the melody at certain points in the song. He is also given a short solo spot in “Blue Wind,” which doesn’t have a “Train Kept A Rollin'” reference tonight.
Simon Phillips has an energetic workout on the drums at the start of “Freeway Jam.” Over the eight minutes Beck pushes the melody through various permutations until ending it in a fuzz of feedback. It is an interesting effect and an effective way to end the song. “Going Down” is the final song of the set and, when they come back for the encore, Beck jokingly introduces “Wild Thing” as “a soft ballad.”
Thank The Lord is a great release for anyone interested in the Jeff Beck Flash era. Since touring was confined to only few shows in Japan, these live arrangements are de facto definitive statements. Despite any dislike he may have had for the material, there’s no doubt Beck is having a lot of fun on stage as are Jan Hammer and the others. The four discs are packaged in a double slimline jewel case with Wardour’s usual exceptional artwork on the inserts.If you liked this review, buy me a cup of joe. (Suggested: $3 a shot or $7.5 for a double)