Blue Wind Over Yokohama, JB 2013 May Tarantura (TCDJB-9-1, 2)
Tuesday 16 December, 1980, Yokohama Bunka Taiikukan, Kanagawa, Japan
Disc 1: 01. Announcement; 02. Star Cycle; 03. El Becko; 04. Too Much To Lose; 05. The Pump; 06. Cause We’ve Ended As Lovers; 07. Space Boogie; and 08. The Final Peace
Disc 2: 01. Led Boots; 02. Freeway Jam; 03. Keyboard Solo; 04. Diamond Dust; 05. Scatterbrain; 06. Drums Solo; 07. Scatterbrain; 08. Blue Wind; 09. Goodbye Pork Pie Hat; 10. You Never Know; 11. Going Down; and 12. SE / Announcement
Jeff Beck’s album There and Back, released in June, 1980, was his first studio album since Wired in 1976. The virtuoso musicians accompanying him on There and Back consisted of Jan Hammer, Tony Hymas, Simon Phillips and Mo Foster. At this exact same time, Phillips and Foster were also playing and recording on The Michael Schenker Group’s seminal studio album released in August 1980, which is an artistic fact of mind blowing proportions when one listens to what these musicians accomplished on the JB and MSG albums. Hammer’s contribution to There and Back included the perennial concert opener, “Star Cycle,” where he played both drums and keyboards, but Hymas provided the majority of the keyboard work on the album. Phillips and Foster did not tour with MSG in 1980, but with Beck and Hymas in support of There and Back.
Tarantura’s Blue Wind Over Yokohama documents the band’s thrilling December 16, 1980 performance in what can only be described as Mr. Peach sound quality. Expansive, lush, and detailed are fitting words because of the recording’s enveloping sound boasting deep bass with clear mid and high range sounds, free from distortion, and with respectful audience applause and clapping in a virtual surround sound dynamic. To top it off, Beck’s between song remarks are captured so closely that you’d think he was talking right in front of you. These recordings are truly amazing and we are blessed with the first class treatment they are given by Tarantura.
The high quality, glossy paper sleeve is decorated with separate pictures of Beck from the era. Inside of the jacket are images of the two ninety minute Sony duad cassettes used to record the concert and a reproduction of the ticket and its underside that humorously warned “no cassette and taperecorders are allowed.” It’s obvious that Mr. Peach was not the only archivist who did not heed that warning because this night in music history was also presented in the no label box set Cyclone. In contrast to the no label recording, Peach’s recording was of the whole experience, from opening announcement to closing announcement, and there’s also a distinct enhancement in Peach’s recording, definition, and volume. Tarantura apparently also utilized sturdier, higher quality discs that are beautifully decorated with the image seen on the front cover of this title.
After the sound of a gust of (blue?) wind swept across the concert hall, with some final guitar tweeking, Hymas began “Star Cycle” and we are immediately transcended into the beginning of another startling Peach recording. The detail in Phillips’ hi-hat accents, cymbal and brilliant drum work is heard just as clearly as what Beck, Foster and Hymas were playing at the same time. A crystal clear keyboard solo starts around 3:50 into the song that worked into a call and response with Beck, who thanked the happy crowd after the song’s conclusion and then said simply “this next one goes like this.” A rousing version of “El Becko” included sweet slide guitar soloing by Beck that continued to develop the good feel of this show.
Things slow up a bit for the next three songs. “Too Much to Lose” involved some funky bass slapping by Foster and simply ridiculous shredding, fret board and tremolo bar work by Beck; “The Pump” was melodic and intricate, beautifully recorded and relaxing to hear; and “Cause We’ve Ended as Lovers” had almost a dimly lit lounge feel to it, possibly lulling the audience before the explosive performance that was about to be performed.
Beck introduced Mo Foster and then came “Space Boogie,” quite possibly one of Simon Phillips’ most amazing pieces of work. An exhausting song with Foster flying alongside Phillips, Hymas moving up and down his keys and Beck playing a wild sounding solo starting around 2:30. It’s unlikely that anybody was looking at each other at this point in the song, and almost as impossible to comprehend how they held this together, but sure enough they do to reunite and drive the song across an exhilarating finish line. Instrumental mastery on full display here. The audience’s raucous applause seems cut short as the recording exposes a majestic version of the “The Final Peace” to end disc one in grand fashion.
“Led Boots” opens disc two with more superlative drumming by Phillips. This more than five minute version of an “old one called Led Boots” as described by Beck paved the way for Phillips to count in his sticks before laying down another killer beat to start “Freeway Jam.” Mo Foster solos about midway through the song, which is followed by a beautiful two minute keyboard solo by Tony Hymas that is electric piano and no synthesizers. Classy dedication to traditional style and sound. The mellow “Diamond Dust” is followed by “Scatterbrain,” which was divided by a nearly nine minute drum solo by Phillips. His market value must have been off the charts at this point in his career, and just one listen to this solo would tell you why. A remarkable combination of brute power, uncanny dexterity and legendary innovation always set him apart and was on full display in this concert.
The showstopper “Blue Wind” follows and extends to more than eleven minutes of what must have been a party on stage. The song’s catchy harmony, whether by Foster and Hymas or Beck and Foster, doesn’t tire, even with numerous solos. This is likely again because of the amazing clarity of this recording.
One might think fatigue would set in at some point with these guys, but “Goodbye Pork Pie Hat,” “You Never Know” and “Going Down” provided another fifteen minutes of virtuosity. Beck shredded to end “Goodbye Pork Pie Hat” and “You Never Know” is similar to “Blue Wind” in feel and positive energy. “Going Down” finds Beck on vocals to take the show to its eventual conclusion, surely to the delight of an audience that clapped and chanted right to the final announcement.
Mr. Peach captured it all and this can easily be described as a must have for any fan of this era of Jeff Beck’s music, jazz fusion, or those of us whose collections continue to expand with the unprecedented bounty of Tarantura’s gorgeous Mr. Peach productions.