Jeff Beck with the Jan Hammer Group – Sophie (Wardour-054)

   Sophie (Wardour-054)

Masonic Temple Theater, Detroit, MI – July 3rd, 1976 (early)

Oh Yeah?, Country And Eastern Music, Darkness – Earth In Search Of A Sun, You Know What I Mean, Scatterbrain, Freeway Jam, Earth (Still Our Only Home), Diamond Dust, Full Moon Boogie, Sophie

Sophie contains a newly discovered tape of Jeff Beck and the Jan Hammer group’s early performance at the Masonic Temple Theater in Detroit on July 3rd, 1976.  An eighty-five minute tape of the evening performance circulates but this is the first appearance of the early show and it seems to contain the entire performance.  The sound quality is flawless and sounds very similar to the Eric Clapton Beano release Peaches And Diesel and it may come from the same taper who was close to the stage and captured the details of the performance perfectly.  Beck toured with the Jan Hammer group between April 1976 through to February 1977 with the live LP With The Jan Hammer Group as a result.  His association with Hammer seemed a natural flow from Beck’s drifting into fusion on Blow By Blow

Some have criticized this decision since this meant playing with Hammer’s “plodding rhythm section” rather than his own excellent band and that Hammer himself “couldn’t reproduce a lot of (Beck’s) effects live, and his squiggly sound gets kind of monotonous.”   On the positive side many of the performances on this tape are mesmerizing and are excellent examples of late seventies fusion.  The tape begins with a brief introduction, after which Hammer introduces “Oh Yeah?” as a “new kind of boogie”.  The first three numbers feature Jan Hammer and his group alone.  “Country And Eastern Music” is introduced from the Like Children album and Kindler plays a great violin solo in the middle.

Afterwards Hammer introduces his band Steve Kindler on violin, Fernand Saunders on bass and Tony Smith on drums.  “Darkness – Earth In Search Of A Sun” is introduced as being from The First Seven Days and the audience becomes very rowdy during the slow opening section, shouting, and “we want Beck” during the song.  At the four and a half minute mark their shouts are answered as Beck comes on stage unannounced.  The audience greets him with a loud ovation as he adds his distortion to the song.  “Darkness” segues directly into the first Jeff Beck song of the set, Blow By Blow’s “You Know What I Mean?” 

Beck addresses the audience afterwards by saying, “Here we are in Detroit.  Everybody feeling okay?  This is a tune off the same album and it goes like this” before the band launch into the relatively mellow introduction of “Scatterbrain.”  At the two minute mark Kindler plays demonic scales on the violin answered by Hammer’s keyboards.    “Freeway Jam” is begun without any introduction and includes the best solo played by Beck in the performance complete with car horns augmenting the airy theme.  “Earth (Still Our Only Home)” features interesting noises emanating from Beck’s guitar.  “Diamond Dust” is introduced as a song that will “change the mood” and contains many dramatic contrasts.  This is perhaps the most intricate song of the evening and is delivered flawlessly.  Beck sings, “I ain’t superstitious” through the voice box and says, “sorry, we played that last time” before demanding that everybody boogie before playing “Full Moon Boogie”. 

One of the virtues of this tape is the inclusion of the Wired track “Sophie”, which also happens to be the only song off of the new album Beck plays.  It exists on only four other tapes:  May 29th, 1976 from the Community Concourse in San Diego, June 5th, 1976 from the “Day On The Green No. 4” at the Oakland Coliseum in Oakland, June 19th, 1976 at the Orpheum Theater in Vancouver, and February 7th, 1977 in the Activity Center, Brisbane, Australia.  The track is complete on this tape and the audience noise fades presumably since this is the final song played in the early set, although it is hard to tell. 

Jeff Beck was quoted in USA Today several years ago about bootlegs and replied, “I don’t think anyone really likes bootlegs.  It’s nasty.  The only merits are that a guy catches a really brilliant night.  If I was given a button that says no more bootlegs, I’d press it.  It’s so disrespectful.  Usually the sound is bad.”   Sophie on Wardour does capture a brilliant night but certainly does not have bad sound.  It is packaged simply in a single jewel case utilizing the same font as the official live LP on the front cover.  Japan is going through a Jeff Beck phase with many silver titles being produced for the mass market.  Many are reissues of common tapes, but this one is recommended for Beck collectors if only because it is a brand new show source that has never circulated before.  But since it is of excellent quality and a very good performance, it is another stellar release by Wardour who has come up with many of them.

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