Loud And Heavy (Guitar Cycle GCD-004ABC)
Loud And Heavy contains three Jeff Beck Group shows in the Boston Tea Party in the spring of 1969. These occur during a tumultuous time for the band (something which could be said for their entire three years together). Several dates in April in San Francisco were cancelled as were the rest of the US dates that month.
In the meantime the band did final work for the follow up to the successful Truth LP, Beck-Ola (Costa Nostra). Touring was rescheduled to begin in New York on May 2nd and then travel up to Boston. These were the first shows in Boston since November and were met with the same near hysterical reaction from the audience. The set lists bear a resemblance to those used in their previous visit, anchored by “Let Me Love You,” “Rice Pudding” and “Jeff’s Boogie.” But some of the new songs such as “Plynth (Water Down The Drain)” are given more prominence.
Pianist Nicky Hopkins was still in the band at this point, but would be fired (or quit) after the Jeff Beck Group would end this tour right after Boston on May 9th in New Haven. The piano is in all of the arrangements but the emphasis upon the instrument is reduced.
The Jeff Beck Group would make one more visit to the Tea Party before breaking up, on July 5th, the night after their infamous appearance at the Newport Festival. At the end of that performance Rod Stewart said “We’re sorry to leave, but we’ll come back to play here in September.” But that tour never came to fruition since the band went their separate ways by the end of the summer. Loud And Heavy remains the final documents of the first Jeff Beck Group’s relationship to Boston.
Boston Tea Party, Boston MA – May 6th, 1969
Disc 1 (64:51): Plynth, All Shook Up, Let Me Love You, Rice Pudding, Blues De Luxe, Rock My Plimsoul, Spanish Boots, Jailhouse Rock, Shapes Of Things, Jeff’s Boogie, outroduction
Up front and nicely centered, this is a very good audience recording which has been pressed before on Spanish Boots (Scarecrow 039). Slight distortion prevents this from being classified as excellent. And like most Jeff Beck Group audience recordings the vocals are pushed to the rear and the guitars are very loud in the mix. There is a small cut after “Let Me Love You.”
The new song “Plynth” opens the concert, establishing Beck’s intent as the first statement of the evening. This is one tune which truly is loud and heavy, it certainly made an impression upon journalists who singled out this tune as one of their best live numbers at the time.
“Rice Pudding” features Beck making spacey noises on the guitar and Hopkins playing a pretty sounding (but too short) piano solo by the end. “Blues DeLuxe” is retained from past tours and remains the long, slow “clean” blues Beck played at the time. The ten minutes long piece is followed by an eight minute “Rock My Plimsoul.”
Their cover of “Jailhouse Rock” must be one of the strangest by drawing out the notes, squeezing them to death. This segues into “Shapes Of Things,” the Yardbirds cover from the first album Truth. This properly ends the short but intense show. A very quick, three minute version of “Jeff’s Boogie” is the only encore. It’s played quickly but he retains the “Beverly Hillbillies” theme. The “outroduction” is fifty-seven seconds of the mc encouraging the audience to cheer and telling them he hopes to see them at tomorrow night’s show.
Boston Tea Party, Boston MA – May 7th, 1969
Disc 2 (58:56): All Shook Up, You Shook Me, Plynth, Rice Pudding, Rock My Plimsoul, Spanish Boots, Let Me Love You, I Ain’t Superstitious, Shapes Of Things
May 7th has the exact same sound quality as the previous evening and has been released previously on Bless My Soul (Scarecrow 040) and Lost Beck Tapes Vol. 3 (Sinsemilla). At least one source claims the Jeff Beck Group played two shows this night with the tape being the second. That this is the shortest of the three tapes in this collection lends some merit to that assertion.
Another quality which points to this being a second show is the amended setlist. Instead of opening with “Plynth” which they did the other two nights in Boston and in the Fillmore East in New York earlier in the week, they begin with their cover of “All Shook Up” (completely unrecognizable from Elvis’ version) followed by a fast “You Shook Me” from the first album.
Beck himself introduces the new song “Plynth” under its original title “Water Down The Drain.” The stage shakes with “Rice Pudding” and one of the heaviest riffs in rock. It’s no wonder Led Zeppelin stole that for “Heartbreaker” later in the year.
Afterwards Beck mentions the piano isn’t working and how Hopkins has to make due with an electric piano. He asks for requests before starting the riff for “Rock My Plimsoul.” One of the standout jams is “Spanish Boots,” which on the album is credited to Jeff Beck, Rod Stewart, and Ronnie Wood. Wood plays a melodic bass solo in the middle which Beck acknowledges to the audience.
The rest of the show returns to Truth with “Let Me Love You.” Their cover of “I Ain’t Superstitious” lasts six minutes and includes a lengthy drum solo at the end. The audience cheers loudly for the band who return with “Shapes Of Things.”
Boston Tea Party, Boston MA – May 8th, 1969
Disc 3 (65:55): Plynth, Talk To Me Baby, Jeff’s Boogie, Blues De Luxe, Shapes Of Things, Rock My Plimsoul, Rice Pudding, Jailhouse Rock, I Ain’t Superstitious, Bye Bye Baby
The third and final night at the Tea Party is another very good audience tape. It is similar to the other two nights with the emphasis upon the guitars and the vocals pushed back, but this tape doesn’t have the distortion like the other two. In some ways this is the best sounding tape of the three. A previous release of this show can be found on Lost Beck Tapes Vol. 21 : Jailhouse Rock (Sinsemilla).
“Plynth” returns to as the opener, followed by “Talk To Me Baby.” A loud buzz in the PA can be heard because of a malfunction in the equipment. “Can you hear what I’m saying? There seems to be an awful lot of noise” Beck says.
“Jeff’s Boogie” is a bit longer than the previous night but still short compared to the epic jams the previous year. “Shapes Of Things” contains some very unique, psychedelic sounding guitar improvisations. Afterwards Beck says to the audience, “Boston I think, well I know, this is the place where we broke out and you lovely people made us what we are. Really.”
Then Stewart says he wants everyone with them on the next song, “literally everybody. This is the last night and we won’t be back until July.” There are more problems with the PA as Beck starts the “Rock My Plimsoul” riff with the audience clapping along to the beat. It’s impressive to hear the entire audience clapping along and Beck jamming off of it.
The buzzing in the PA becomes very loud during “I Ain’t Superstitious” and Beck asks the audience to clap with hopes it will take care of the noise. He spits out some long moans at the very end before closing the show. “Bye Bye Baby” is the encore.
Loud And Heavy comes packaged in a fatboy jewel case. Guitar Cycle is a minor label who were in operation several years ago and produced some very good titles. This one is essential for the Jeff Beck collector as a reminder of how potent the first Jeff Beck Group were as a live band in front of a wild audience.