Jeff Beck with Stanley Clarke – Final Freeway Jazz (Tarantura TCDJB-2)

Final Freeway Jazz (TCDJB-2 – 1,2)

Bukokan, Tokyo, Japan – December 2, 1978

Disc 1 (Side Jeff): Opening; Darkness; Star Cycle; Freeway Jam; Cat Moves; Goodbye Pork Pie Hat; School Days; and Journey to Love

Disc 2 (Side Clarke): Lopsy Lu; Diamond Dust; Scatterbrian; Rock ‘n’ Roll Jelly; (encore) ‘Cause We’ve Ended As Lovers; Blue Wind; and Superstition

Presented in a superb gatefold jacket that unfolds to display a killer close-up color picture of Jeff Beck and Stanley Clarke locked into what looks like a very pleasing moment on stage, Tarantura’s Final Freeway Jazz offers collectors a stark contrast to the very similar concert put on by this band a week earlier in Nagoya, Japan as found on Watchtower’s A Battle Without Honor and Humanity.  While both are audience recordings, Tarantura’s is a Mr. Peach recording (as evidenced by the tiny fruit on the jacket’s backside), which is a trademark of quality, if I may be so bold. 

The source found on Watchtower’s release is very good indeed, but given the option of which show to hear due to their proximity, there really is no comparison for me.  Tarantura’s sonic breadth simply destroys that found on the Watchtower release, making this title an absolute gem. 

And while Beck and Clarke are the headliners, the true attraction in this recording for me is Simon Phillips, who has always been on a different plain than his contemporaries.  Final Freeway Jazz is such an awesome, balanced recording that listeners who want to hear more than the front men will come away satisfied and, as is the case, seeking out more of Tarantura’s Peach recordings.

For me, “Star Cycle” is the opening number, with Tony Hymas’s synthesizer pattern spiking out from a Jeff Beck thrust off the guitar neck to end “Darkness”, and they nail this wild, fusion onslaught.  There is a peculiar glitch in the recording at around 2:09, but it’s fleeting and just before the break in the tune that Phillips fills and ends with his unmistakable enormity. 

A heavy, driving groove then gets laid in the song evidencing that all artists had already connected with each other, and is thrilling, before the track comes to a close with an amazing pattern laid down by Phillips and Hymas.  Truly unbelievable, and what a great recording by Mr. Peach!  “Freeway Jam” is next, and the audience is feeling good as they clap along with the funky song as it steadily develops from a ripple into a wave. 

Once again, there is no loss of sound to distortion, or overload, but, instead, a perfect balanced recording that simply rocks with balls.  The ride cymbals are flowing with Beck’s slide guitar work while Clarke’s doing his craft amidst it all.  This is a prime example of how an audience recording can be preferable to a board tape due to the expansion, depth, and illuminating audience reaction. 

And that continues throughout the entire recording and concert with the new (at that time) song “Cat Moves” (which ended up being released on a Cozy Powell album), “Scatterbrain” (where Phillip’s just sick), “Blue Wind”, and “Superstition” to end the show with amazing authority.

It almost goes without saying that any collector of this genre should obtain this title forthwith!  On another note, I want to personally thank Tarantura for bringing previously uncirculated recordings such as this to the appreciative collectors, and for providing beautiful packaging over and over again that complements the massive sounds pressed into the discs that are works of art themselves!  Highly, highly recommended.

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