Wired Up 1976 (Watch Tower WT 2001003/4)
Music Hall, Boston, MA – October 10th, 1976
Disc 1 (53:26): Magical Dog, Evolove, One To One, Stepping Tones / Drum Solo / Awakening, Darkness / Earth In Search Of A Sun, You Know What I Mean, Freeway Jam
Disc 2 (63:56): Goodbye Pork Pie Hat, Earth (Still Our Only Home), Scatterbrain, Bass Solo / Come Dancing, She’s A Woman, Diamond Dust, Rice Pudding / Full Moon Boogie, Blue Wind (incl. Train Kept A Rollin’)
Jeff Beck and Jam Hammer played Boston twice in the same week in October 1976. October 10 was in the smaller and intimate Music Hall and a week later on October 19th at the massive Boston Gardens. Wired Up 1976 is the an amazing sounding document of the first night in Boston. The front cover claims to be from the console desk. There were many very careful tapers living in Boston in the seventies and this is definitely an audience recording taped from very close to the stage with near professional equipment and not a soundboard. It is fantastic to listen to since it rivals the fidelity of many officialy recorded shows.
The structure of the Jan Hammer / Jeff Beck shows in the fall were similar to those earlier in the summer. Jan Hammer and his group would start the show by playing several songs and Jeff Beck would join in and play his set. In the summer run Hammer usually began with “Sister Andrea,” “Oh Yeah?,” and “Country And Eastern Music,” songs with a boogie funk edge to them. But later in the fall he started the sets with “Magical Dog” and “Evolove.”
There is a darker, more mysterious tone to the arrangements. “One To One” is a love song sung by Tony Smith who calls it “casual part of the show.” The excellent “Stepping Tones,” a song dating from Hammer’s time with the Mahavinshu Orchestra and the famed lost Trident sessions of 1973 starts off a long sequence with tension and excitement. A drum solo then leads into “Awakening” from Mahavinshu Orchestra’s first album The Inner Flame with its melodoic twin riffing between the violin and electric piano.
Hammer introduces himself afterwards (and it’s strange hearing him talk since he has such a nerdy voice). “Darkness / Earth In Search Of A Sun” is Jeff Beck’s cue and he walks onstage in the middle of the piece to play the solo and he stays on stage for the rest of the evening. “You Know What I Mean” and a cute version of “Freeway Jam” follow.
“Goodbye Pork Pie Hat,” according to Beck, is an attempt to “retrace our steps a bit to an era when I played the blues” he says before his cover of the Charles Mingus tune. There are hints of blues but the song is firmly committed to the jazz genre from whence it came. “Scatterbrain” sees Beck playing wildly, getting his licks out on the guitar. Fernand Saunders plays a lengthy bass solo which is, in the words of Beck, completely opposite to “Scatterbrain.” Saunders injects the heaviest voice of funk and dance during the entire evening and the piece sounds brilliant.
Afterwards Beck, after introducing the song, says, “it’s really nice to be back in Boston. I started my American career in this town and I still feel a really great affection for you people” before trying to remember the name of the album “She’s A Woman” is one. He stumbles before saying Blow By Blow. The Beatles cover sounds very relaxed as Beck recites some of the lyrics through the voice box as they play the song in a reggae beat, “for all you reggae lovers out there.”
“Full Moon Boogie” with Hammer singing along is the set closer. Before they get into the encore Beck speaks to someone in the audience and sounds very apologetic. It’s impossible to hear the context of the context since whatever was said isn’t audible. Be defending himself, Beck says, “there’s no use in getting away from it. I’m a rock and roll guitar player. I ain’t trying to kid anyone. I used to play for enjoyment once upon a time.” The brilliant “Blue Wind” has a reference to “Train Kept A Rollin'” in the same arrangement as played by the Yardbirds.
Overall it’s a great concert before one of the really wild audiences for his music. Both Hammer’s and Beck’s sets sound magnificent in this recording. Watch Tower released Wired Up 1976 in 2001 and released this show a second time in 2004 called Live At Boston 1976 (Watch Tower WT 2004115/6). The second issue presumes to be from another tape source that is slightly more complete since it has the house announcer at the beginning of the show telling the audience that the show will be professionally taped and then introducing the Jan Hammer Group. With all things being equal, it’s hard to pass up this one since the sound quality is simply outstanding. Watch Tower package Wired Up 1976 in a double slimline jewel case with a four fold insert with tour photos.