The Star Festival (Scarecrow 095/096)
Star Festival, Vienna, Austria – July 7th, 1979
Disc 1 (39:55): Star Cycle, Blue Wind, Journey To Love, Freeway Jam, Goodbye Pork Pie Hat, Bass Solo – School Days
Disc 2 (41:21): Diamond Dust, Lopsy Lu, Scatterbrain, Rock ‘n Roll Jelly, Cause We’ve Ended As Lovers, Superstition
Jeff Beck’s collaboration with jazz bass great Stanley Clarke was centered upon a highly successful tour of Japan in the November and December of 1978. It was fruitful enough to demand a short encore tour the following year. However, Clarke’s touring commitments with the New Barbarians meant that any work had to be scheduled for the summer. They played together a total of eight dates around the continent focusing upon festivals including Roskhilde in Denmark and the Star Festival in Vienna.
Three tape sources exist for this set and Scarecrow use the master cassette for the best sounding. It is loud and clear although a bit narrow in sonic range and suffers from distortion in the lower end. The very beginning of “Star Cycle” is missing raising the question about the set’s completeness. On some of the dates such as Roskhilde the set begins with “Star Cycle,” but in others, such as on July 3rd in Frejus and July 10th in Les Arenes, the show begins with “Darkness – Earth In Search Of A Sun” as on the Japan dates the previous year.
It would be a safe assumption, since Vienna was a multi-act festival, that Beck shortened the show to fit into the schedule and thus started the show with “Star Cycle.” It is always interesting to hear Jan Hammer songs performed without him and see how his absence is compensated. Although “Star Cycle” is still dominated by the keyboards, Clarke adds his own style to the as yet unreleased song.
It is interesting to note that, even though this was written by Hammer, it was introduced to the stage the previous November and all live performances up to this point featured Stanley Clarke. Hammer wouldn’t perform on the song in concert until the ARMS concerts in 1983.
“Blue Wind,” normally an encore, is moved up to second before the first Clarke song “Journey To Love.” This is the title track to Clarke’s 1975 album and sounds superior as an instrumental without the L. Ron Hubbard lyrics. Clarke again has the spotlight for a lengthy bass solo that segues into his classic song “School Days.” His melodic and dexterity are the highlight of the show at this point.
In the latter half of the set “Scatterbrain” takes on a fast, heavy and destructive tone captured nicely in the recording. The set ends with the relatively mellow “Cause We’ve Ended As Lovers,” one of Beck’s most popular covers still in the set today.
The final song of the night is the Stevie Wonder cover “Superstition” which, with the voice box, takes on a different tone that the original. Singing through the voice box has the effect of making the vocals irrelevant and emphasizing the human voice as one instruments among many. Overall this is one of the better documents form Beck’s short 1979 tour with Clarke and, even with the challenging sound quality, is a gook title to have.If you liked this review, buy me a cup of joe. (Suggested: $3 a shot or $7.5 for a double)