Jeff Beck’s not happy and he’s decided to tell the world on his eleventh studio album, ‘Loud Hailer’.
Collaborating with singer Rosie Bones and guitarist Carmen Vandenberg of the little known pop-punk band, Bones, ‘Loud Hailer’ is Beck’s ‘making a statement’ album and addresses the world’s problems of the recent past, present and future.
Musically, Beck has shown once again that he’s not afraid to push the boundaries and it’s hard to believe that at 72, he can still navigate a guitar fretboard with such style and verve. He swings the whammy bar around with gusto on the riffs of ‘Right Now’, and gives sub-woofers a workout with pounding club-techno bass on the instrumental ‘Pull It’, all the while wailing and screaming through licks that sometimes sound unrecognisable as a guitar.
This guitar work, as well as Beck’s formula of utilising electronic sounds, combines well with Bones‘ vocals; her punk-like, beat-poet style complimenting the attitude of the music and the themes of the album. However, while Beck still shows himself to be musically ahead of his time, unfortunately, the lyrics are not.
Beck has never been known as a lyricist, his back catalogue contains many instrumental works and how much responsibility was given to Bones for the task is unclear but in trying to make statements about things that have already been sung about ad nauseam, the lyrics on ‘Loud Hailer’ seem very dated and, at times, simply cringeworthy. ‘Scared For The Children’ says it all in just the title alone and the album’s opener, ‘The Revolution Will Be Televised’ tells us – “The graphics won’t be as realistic/As Grand Theft Auto Three/Guess that makes the wheel unwheelable/But this shit is real baby”. To vociferate today’s problems by referencing a video game that was released 15 years ago is just a little too out of touch to be able to relate to.
There are references to David Cameron (no longer in power) and George Bush (also no longer in power) on ‘Thugs Club’ and Bush has been the focus of many a band’s acrimony for more than a decade now. ‘O.I.L. (Can’t Get Enough Of That Sticky)’ is so unsubtle that its attempt to be poetic simply falls flat.
The way to enjoy this album is to ignore the lyrics and instead focus on the gentle guitar work on ‘Shame’, the heart-pounding rhythms and screaming solos of ‘Live In The Dark,’ or simply to wonder how on earth Beck can still push the limits of his guitar when most people his age struggle to push the buttons on the TV remote.
‘Loud Hailer’ is out now via Rhino Entertainment.
This Jeff Beck article was written by Neil Stopforth, a GIGsoup contributor. Edited by Natalie Whitehouse.