Fillmore West 1968 (JBG#1-72468)
Fillmore West, San Francisco, Ca. USA – July 24, 1968
(31:40) You Shook Me, Let Me Love You, Morning Dew, Jeff’s Boogie, The Sun Is Shining, Hi Ho Silver Lining
The Bill Graham archives have given music lovers a wealth of mostly superb material in the form of Wolfgang’s Vault, it has also given the collectors market much to buy! This new release from the JBG label features a concert given by the Jeff Beck Group as they storm through a set at the Fillmore West in San Francisco, second on the bill to Moby Grape. The recording was originally done as a broadcast on KSAN FM, as were many Bill Graham concerts in the sixties and seventies. The sound is perfect stereo, it has a lush and warm full sound but there is just a small trace bit of hiss present but does not interfere or diminish ones listen enjoyment.
The Jeff Beck Group in its original incarnation was a powerhouse band featuring Beck on the six string, Ronnie Wood on bass and Rod Stewart on vocals with a rotating cast of drummers, on this eve Micky Waller. The group’s aggressive blues rock sound would certainly influence Jimmy Page as he put together his post Yardbirds band. The JBG was touring and playing songs from their forthcoming record, Truth and open the show with “You Shook Me”, already joined in progress. Beck’s interpretation of the Willie Dixon classic is a barnstormer. Ronnie Wood’s bass playing must be commented on immediately, while better know for his six string abilities he shines in this recording by not only providing a solid back beat but by playing some lead bass runs, he heats up and is tearing it up during the next song, “Let Me Love You”. Also from the Truth record the song is one of the few original songs on the record of mostly covers. It infuses lyrical content from the ancient Sleepy Jon Estes that would also be used by Page as “The Girl I Love”; the song also features some fine guitar work by Beck.
Beck thanks the crowd then introduces a song by “your Tim Rose”, the apocalyptic “Morning Dew”. San Franciscans are very familiar with this song, not only from Rose but the song was also a live mainstay of The Grateful Dead. This version is very strong, it starts very quietly then Beck roars in, slashing at his guitar with aggression and Stewart is there to match him. The light and shade interplay of the song works for a very dramatic version of the song. “Jeff’s Boogie” quickly follows. The showcase for the songs namesake starts off with a bit of a shuffle but quickly turns into the Jeff Beck show, he teases “Mary Had A Little Lamb”, “Heart Full Of Soul”, and even the theme from the Beverly Hillbillies to great fashion.
The song that really hits you is the bands take on the Elmore James “The Sun Is Shining” is simply electrifying. While Beck seems primarily known for his jazz fusion playing in the seventies, he is overlooked as a blues player. This song will, with the help of Stewart’s perfect raspy blues soaked vocals, will remind of his incredible talent. He is quiet one second then in a flash he lets fly with a flurry of notes then backs off, then does it all again, most certainly the most gratifying song in the set indeed. The last song is the bands first single, “Hi Ho Silver Lining” with Beck himself handling vocals with back up by Stewart. Beck’s guitar dominates the music, and there is even a brief crowd participation where Stewart tries to get the crowd to clap along. One only has to take a listen to this set to confirm that Jimmy Page most certainly used the Jeff Beck Group as a blue print for what would become Led Zeppelin.
The packaging is simple but effective, photos of the band, both live and staged. The photo on the back is really great, with a dashing looking Rod Stewart looking right at you. I also like the graphics employed and there is even a small picture of the concert poster to boot, all packaged in a slimline jewel case. The drawback is the time of the disc; at just shy of 32 minutes there is plenty of room to add some filler. Godfather is releasing their version of this show and it looks packed to the brim with other goodies, it will be interesting to compare the two titles. It is nice to see some early Beck material come out on a silver title, it seems like there are only a precious few.