The Moving Finger (Wardour-080)
Furitsu-Taiikukan, Osaka, Japan – December 5th, 1980
Disc 1 (39:42): Opening, Star Cycle, El Becko, Too Much To Lose, The Pump, Cause We’ve Ended As Lovers, Space Boogie, Led Boots
Disc 2 (57:12): Freeway Jam, Diamond Dust, Scatterbrain, drum solo / Scatterbrain, Blue Wind, Goodbye Pork Pie Hat, You Never Know, Going Down, outroduction
Touring for the 1980 album There And Back ended with a tour of Japan beginning on December 4th in Tokyo. The following night was in Osaka, and has been documented on a good audience recording that was released on Back In 1980 (Sinsemilla) and Final Woman (Scarecrow 029/030).
The Moving Finger on Wardour is a significant upgrade over the older releases. It utilizes a newly discovered audience recording, made by the same taper of the Eric Clapton show in 1979 found on British Pride (Tricone 015/016). It is an excellent, three dimensional stereo recording that captures the music, dynamics and atmosphere of the performance perfectly. It is one of the best sounding Beck tapes to exist from this trip to Japan.
Beck plays with a tight slickness inherent in all of the Japanese shows. For much of the preceeding decade he had been an important expositor of jazz-rock-fusion. There And Back and this tour would be a culmination of those efforts. When this tour was done Beck would take a hiatus for several years and would never return to the style he helped popularize in the seventies.
The tape opens as the lights go down. Beck’s trill intro to “Star Cycle” sets the tone of excitement and anticipation for the keyboard melody of the song. “El Becko” also is very tight, but “Too Much To Lose” sounds a bit too tight.
But things loosen up with a schizophrenic performance of “The Pump.” The plodding rhythm underscores the tune’s versatility as Beck makes his guitar whale and sing like a bird. It is the same skill he brings to a gorgeous version of “Cause We’ve Ended As Lovers.”
“Led Boots” returns the show to the older material and to very long jams. Beck likes to play contrasts between tender melodies and mindless, bombastic power chords in the improvisation (makes one wonder if this is how he saw Led Zeppelin?) Tony Hymas on keyboards also makes his presence felt on the electric piano as he duels with Beck to the end.
“Freeway Jam” is stretched into a ten minute long extravaganza. After “Diamond Dust,” they play a very long “Scatterbrain” in which Simon Phillips plays a drum solo.
“Blue Wind” is also greatly expanded with Beck quoting from many and various sources including vaudeville and his cover of The Beatles’ “She’s A Woman” he used to play on past tours. “Goodbye Pork Pie Hat” is an introduction to the gorgeous “You Never Know,” the Jan Hammer tune recorded for the new album. The final song of the set is “Going Down” which has the only vocals in the entire show.
The Moving Finger is an good title for this show, expressing the amount of dexterity Beck displays in the improvisational passages. Wardour did a very good job with the artwork and overall presentation of the tape and is another very good document worth having from Beck’s first tour of the eighties.