Cyclone (no label)
In some ways Jeff Beck’s 1980 release There And Backis the end of his commitment to the fusion idiom he helped define early in the decade. Even though Jan Hammer, with whom he had his most fruitful collaboration in the middle part of the decade, wasn’t part of his band, he wrote and played on the first three tracks on the album “Star Cycle,” “Too Much To Lose” and “You Never Know.”
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. He spent much time in the seventies in live performance and in touring the world several times over, but these Japan shows would be a farewell. For almost ten years, with the exception of very few live shows, he would confine himself to the studio.
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.
The four concerts in the Cyclone box set have been released before. But these come from new tapes which have never circulated before. The come from the same taper who recorded the December 5th, 1980 show (found on The Moving Finger (Wardour-080)) and the June 1st, 1986 show (on Sound Market ‘86 (Wardour-083)).
Last year the same manufacturer released the three Budokan shows from insulated tapes on Budokan 1980 Complete (no label). There is overlap with three shows, and the sound quality on Cycloneis a substantial improvement. It is limited to one hundred copies and has sold out after being out for less than a week, already making it a rare and desirable Jeff Beck collectible.
Cyclone Vol. 1
Budokan, Tokyo, Japan – December 4th, 1980
Disc 1 (37:51): Opening, Star Cycle, El Becko, Too Much To Lose, The Pump, Cause We’ve Ended As Lovers, Space Boogie, Led Boots
Disc 2 (53:23): Freeway Jam, Diamond Dust, Scatterbrain, Drums Solo – Scatterbrain, 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) and on discs one and two of Budokan 1980 Complete (no label). Compared to last year’s source, this tape is a significant improvement. The sound is very clear and powerful.
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 good but still 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.” “Blue Wind” contains references to other Beck hits from his career and the encore “Going Down” has the only vocals in the set when Beck leads the audience along in the chorus.
Yokohama Culture Sports Center, Kanagawa, Japan – December 16th, 1980
Disc 3 (42:53): Opening, Star Cycle, El Becko, Too Much To Lose, The Pump, Cause We’ve Ended As Lovers, Space Boogie, The Final Peace, Led Boots
Disc 4 (57:50): Freeway Jam, keyboard solo, Diamond Dust, Scatterbrain, Drums Solo – Scatterbrain, Blue Wind, Goodbye Pork Pie Hat, You Never Know, Going Down
The December 16th Kanagawa show is one of the more popular from this set of dates. Prior releases include Now & Then (Amsterdam AMS1996-03-2-1/2), The Final Peace (Masterport) and excerpts can be found on Star Cycle 1980 (ZA-44). Cycloneuse an excellent stereo, three dimensional recording of the entie show that is startling in its clarity and power. The Yokohama Cultural Sports Center is smaller than the Budokan, so there is less audience noise on the tape. The music is much sharper on this than the Budokan tapes as a result.
The show begins with a short jet engine noise exploding into “Star Cycle.” This marks the return of the tour from Osaka back to the Tokyo region. It is both one of the sloppiest and most creative of the shows in the collection. Throughout the night Beck tries different and unique variations on well known melodies and guitar riffs.
It causes some miscues, like one in “El Becko.” But what prevail is Beck’s improvistory genius in creating new textures of sound within the songs. Also added, when compared to the first night, is “The Final Peace” from the new album. It’s a slow, contemplative number only played at a handful of dates. Placed between the fast paced “Space Boogie” and the heavy “Led Boots” is rather odd, but it is a pretty sounding song which should have been retained in the set.
Cyclone Vol. 2
Budokan, Tokyo, Japan – December 17th, 1980
Disc 1 (43:15): Opening, Star Cycle, El Becko, Too Much To Lose, The Pump, Cause We’ve Ended As Lovers, Space Boogie, The Final Peace, Led Boots
Disc 2 (59:43): Freeway Jam, keyboard solo, Diamond Dust, Scatterbrain, Drums Solo – Scatterbrain, Blue Wind, Goodbye Pork Pie Hat, You Never Know, Going Down, member introduction
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. Discs three and four of Budokan 1980 Complete (no label) contain a newer tape source released last year which is distant, thin but clear.
Cyclone’s tape source is a significant upgrade over that which was used on Budokan 1980 complete. Like the other tapes in this set, it’s a clear and powerful stereo recording.
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, it sets a torch song mood in the otherwise electric based jazz fusion. “Blue Wind” is extended with a short “She’s A Woman” quote in the beginning and an 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 3 (39:42): Opening, Star Cycle, El Becko, Too Much To Lose, The Pump, Cause We’ve Ended As Lovers, Space Boogie, Led Boots
Disc 4 (68:26): Freeway Jam, Diamond Dust, Scatterbrain, Drums Solo – Scatterbrain, 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 and a newer tape surfaced last year on discs five and six of Budokan 1980 Complete (no label). The new Cyclone source is, like the others from this taper, glorious three dimensional stereo.
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, and what would be his final show for more than three years.