Encounter Velocity (Wardour-088)
Budokan, Tokyo, Japan – May 14th, 1973
Disc 1 (43:44): Introduction, Superstition, Livin’ Alone, I’m So Proud, Lady, Tonight I’ll Be Staying Here With You, People Get Ready, Morning Dew / Drums Solo
Disc 2 (59:53): Sweet Sweet Surrender, Lose Myself With You / Bass Solo, Black Cat Moan, Jeff’s Boogie, Why Should I Care, Plynth / Shotgun, Going Down, Oleo, Boogie
The Beck, Bogert & Appice project is certainly one of the hardest to explain episodes in Jeff Beck’s career. Between initial inception in 1969 and its implementation, it took two years and when the finally did form they split after one studio album, one live album, half of a second album and many live concerts.
And the difference between this outfit and the second Jeff Beck Group is minimal. At first BBA had Max Middleton on keyboards and invited several vocalists to sing with them on tour in America in August 1972. The late Kim Milford, several years before his role as Rocky in the Los Angeles production of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, sang in six shows and Bobby Tench followed him for five shows.
By May 1973 they were a three piece band. On May 14th they started a short four night tour of Japan with a concert in the Budokan, Tokyo. This was Beck’s first visit to Japan, and it would yield a live record as the second and final BBA release.
Several titles document the opening night. The first came out in 1990 on Live Volume 2 (Improvisation IL-366805) and was followed by Tokyo Budokan Tapes (REMA-001/002), The Train Kept A-Rollin’ (Dirty 13 Volume 11) and The Train Kept A-Rollin’ (Oh Boy 1-9029).
Encounter Velocityis a good but distant audience recording capturing the entire concert. The taper was a bit distant from the stage and the dynamics of the recording are a bit narrow, but it is clear enough to appreciate the performance in Tokyo that night.
Beck himself sounds a bit nervous at first. Before they play a note he tells the audience that “it’s a pleasure playing here in Tokyo and thank you for having me.” Opening with “Superstition” from the Beck, Bogert, & Appice LP, Beck sings through the talk box. Although it is a Stevie Wonder cover (having been released the previous year), Beck deserves partial credit for writing the drum beat.
“Livin’ Alone” introduces three part harmony, something entirely unique in a Jeff Beck concert. The Dylan cover “Tonight I’ll Be Staying Here With You” is retained from the previous Jeff Beck Group tours, but only about half of the song is played before a nice segue into “People Get Ready.” The Curtis Mayfield song, played with vocals, was introduced about this time and would become a constant in Beck’s live and studio repertoire.
“Morning Dew” is another retention but is supplemented by a power Carmine Appice drum solo that riles up the placid audience. Later, in “Lose Myself With You,” Bogert will have his spot with a long and generally very interesting lyric bass solo.
Afterwards Bogert introduces “Adrian our sound man” as he sets up the talk box for “Black Cat Moan.” The long piece has references to “Blues DeLuxe” and “You Shook Me” with Beck singing through the device.
More jamming follows with “Jeff’s Boogie” which has references to The Yardbirds’ “Over Under Sideways Down,” faux-Japanese sounding riffs and ending with the theme to “The Beverly Hillbillies.” The concert ends with a long meditation on “Pynth” and a version of the Vanilla Fudge cover of “Shotgun,” one of their most well known hits.
The promoter riles up the audience again for an encore and they come out with a long jam on “Oleo” and what Bogert calls “The Tokyo Boogie.” He has the audience spell out B-O-O-G-I-E while they jam into “Train Kept A-Rollin’.” It’s a magnificent end to a very effective opening night.
With all the attention Wardour have given Jeff Beck over the years (and releasing many incredible titles), Encounter Velocity is the first to focus upon the Beck, Bogert & Appice era. They chose a very good show to press onto silver and, although the sound quality isn’t perfect, is worth having.