Jeff Beck – Budokan 1980 Complete (no label)

Budokan 1980 Complete (no label)

When Jeff Beck ended his live dates with Stanley Clarke in early 1979, it was thought he would record a studio album with the bassist.  However, Beck returned to the studio with the touring band minus Clarke and recorded There And Back.  After the album’s release in the summer of 1980 he went on a twenty date tour of the US in late summer followed by eleven dates in Japan.  The first night in Japan and the final two were at Budokan in Tokyo.

Joined by Tony Hymas on keyboards, Mo Foster on bass and Simon Phillips on drums, Beck presented an (almost) all instrumental showcase with songs from the new album and other tracks derived from his genre bending release Blow By Blow and Wired with only “Going Down” representing his work with the Jeff Beck Group.  

All three of these shows have been released before but Budokan 1980 Complete presents the three from previously uncirculated sources from the same taper.  The quality of the three shows vary but they are all good to very good and clear recordings of very effective concerts before an appreciative audience.  

Budokan, Tokyo, Japan – December 4th, 1980

Disc 1 (51:20):  Star Cycle, El Becko, Too Much To Lose, The Pump, Cause We’ve Ended As Lovers, Space Boogie, Led Boots, Freeway Jam, Diamond Dust

Disc 2 (38:39):  Scatterbrain, Drum Solo/Scatterbrain (reprise), Blue Wind, Goodbye Pork Pie Hat, You Never Know, Going Down

The first Tokyo show was pressed on silver with First Budokan 1980 (Masterport 150), but the no label set debuts a brand new tape source.  It is good to very good and clear but taped a distance from the stage.    The new tape is good with only a cut at 1:33 in “Diamond Dust” where the sound quality becomes slightly better for the rest of the show.  This is the best sounding tape of the three included in this collection. 

For the first night in Japan in two years Jeff Beck delivers a tight, professional but nervous performance.  The arrangements are the same used on the previous tour of the US.  The first couple of numbers, “Star Cycle” through “Cause We’ve Ended As Lovers” sound stiff and undistinguished.  Only with the fast paced jazzy “Space Boogie” does Beck begin to lighten up a little and allow himself to improvise a bit. 

It’s also after this number when he speaks to the audience for the first time when he says, “it‘s not too often we get to Japan so it’s nice when we do” before introducing “Led Boots.”  “Scatterbrain” features a drum solo by Simon Phillips in the middle and the show ends with “You Never Know.”  The encore “Going Down” has the only vocals in the set when Beck leads the audience along in the chorus.

Budokan, Tokyo, Japan – December 17th, 1980

Disc 3 (50:28):  Star Cycle, El Becko, Too Much To Lose, The Pump, Cause We’ve Ended As Lovers, Space Boogie, The Final Peace, Led Boots, Freeway Jam

Disc 4 (51:03):  Diamond Dust, Scatterbrain, Drum Solo/Scatterbrain (reprise), Blue Wind, Goodbye Pork Pie Hat, You Never Know, Going Down

The December 17th show is the most popular of the three Tokyo shows.  Previous releases include Freeway (Amsterdam AMS9615-2-1/2), Tokyo (JB 2-1/2), and New Master 1980 (Masterport 049) on professional CDR.  This new tape source is slightly more distant than the December 4th tape but is still clear and enjoyable with a much more interesting performance. 

Hymas’ keyboards compete with Beck’s guitar at the outset in “Star Cycle” reminiscent of the older shows with Jan Hammer.  Beck has the final word though delivering an effective improvisation which carries over into the new song “El Becko.”  It sounds as if Beck is attempting to channel the muse as the song reaches the height of the fretboard.  “Space Boogie” is another quick tempo, high energy jam session where the Bill Haley influence truly shows and is followed by “The Final Peace,” the There & Backcloser.  It was added to the set list several days before and is played for the only time in any of the Tokyo shows and contains several Clapton-like guitar riffs buried under the synthesizers. 

“I want you to listen closely to Tony Hymas who is gonna play” is Beck’s introduction to the keyboard lead “Diamond Dust.”  One of the more bizarre songs of the set, its sets a torch song mood in the otherwise electric based jazz fusion.  “Blue Wind” is extended with a hyperkinetic keyboard solo as Hymas and Beck race to the end.  Afterwards Beck thanks the audience saying:  “It’s been very enjoyable for us to play for you.  Thank you very much for listening to us.” 

Budokan, Tokyo, Japan – December 18th, 1980

Disc 5 (56:26):  Intro., Star Cycle, El Becko, Too Much To Lose, The Pump, Cause We’ve Ended As Lovers, Space Boogie, Led Boots, Freeway Jam, Diamond Dust

Disc 6 (49:02):  Scatterbrain, Drum Solo/Scatterbrain (reprise), Blue Wind, Goodbye Pork Pie Hat, You Never Know, Going Down

Going Down (Aphrodite Studio APH-91004-1~2) is a previous release of the final night in Tokyo utilizing the older tape source.  The new tape source on this release is more distant and less clear than the previous night.  It is the lesser sounding of the three new tapes but still enjoyable. 

It begins with a minute long tune up (something omitted from the other two tapes) as they launch into “Star Cycle” and the beginning of one of the more intense shows from this era.  There is greater propensity for improvisation in the numbers with the musicians playing off of one another very well.  “Too Much To Lose” is introduced by Beck as a number “written by a very talented musician and friend of mine Jan Hammer,” giving credit to the one who helped refine his musical direction.

“The Pump” sounds majestic and stately in this recording and shines as one of the all-time great rock instrumentals.  “The Final Peace” was dropped for this performance and the only variation in the set list is a few notes of “Greensleeves,” which Beck recorded for the first Jeff Beck Group album Truth, is played as a prelude for the encore “Going Down.”  Afterwards Beck thanks the band, road crew and audience for what is the final show in 1980.  The artwork is in tasteful variation of There And Back with various photos from the gigs packaged in a six-disc fatboy jewel case.  Overall it is a very good collection of the Tokyo shows worth having.

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