Blow By Blow
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89 of 97 people found the following review helpful
on September 19, 2004
I've been a professional guitarist and music teacher for over two and a half decades. I listen to guitar music day in and day out, ranging in style from Luis de Milan (1536) to Leo Brouwer and Alan Holdsworth. It isn't difficult to observe that almost all music that has survived the test of time has had something valid to say: some of it expresses well the particular fashion/taste of the period; some successfully pushes the existing musical boundaries; and some is just uniquely personal to its creator.

As a musician Jeff Beck belongs mostly within the last of the preceding three groups. Examination of his output suggests it would be hard to argue that he created any new genre, but whenever he experimented in a new field he always sounded unmistakably true to his own unique musical identity. I also believe that a creative performing musician can receive no greater compliment.

The hallmark of Beck's style is melodic fearlessness. This boldness sets him apart musically from perhaps 'superior' technical and 'harmonically informed' peers, especially those of the so-called 'improvisational' based jazz scene. Beck's playing is instantly recognisable and is almost devoid of cliche. Jeff Beck only ever sounds like Jeff Beck. On the occassion that he ever employs a tired phrase of (say) Chuck Berry's, it is in such a manner or in such a place as to turn it on its head or throw new light upon it.

To those wondering whether to add this CD to their collection I recommend that you bear in mind Duke Ellington's words - "There are only two kinds of music: good music and bad music", because this CD belongs unquestionably to the first category. All instrumental, it contains a variety of styles - including ballad, reggae, funk, and rock - read the other reviews for the details. And finally, please don't ever pretend to have any inkling of what Jeff Beck is about, or what he is capable of, without being familiar with this particular album.
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42 of 44 people found the following review helpful
on June 13, 2003
The first album someone interested in hearing Jeff Beck's musical genious should get (yes, pass up any greatest hits or best of selections). It's funk, fusion, jazz - with healthy doses of rock and blues. The great thing about the band on this album is that they're all very good at their respective instruments. Of course we all know that Beck is going to be great, but it's surprising when fellow band members can equal the equivalent of his talent on their own instruments. This is, in my opinion, Beck's best album - and in saying that I mean one that showcases his versatility and intelligent playing. All these songs sound like jams, but they don't have the rawness or 'rough areas' of jams - wow.
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31 of 32 people found the following review helpful
on April 21, 2000
Few people have used the guitar as voice so effectively as Jeff Beck. And few recordings in any genre have so beautifully melded guitar with instrumentation. Although Blow By Blow has weak and dated moments, its standout tracks are so startling that I keep referring back to it as a kind of touch-point...to my own past, to an eternal expectation of how really transcendant great music can be. Three tracks have not dated, will never date: "Because We've Ended as Lovers", "Scatterbrain" and "Diamond Dust". Each has a distinctive, difficult, complicated mood. Lovers weeps. Scatterbrain has a manic, brilliant energy and wonderful interplay with a lush, erotic backing string arrangement. But my favorite Jeff Beck song will always be Diamond Dust. Its mood is brooding, edgy, and yet elegiac. The opening bars introduce an uneasy melody against a counterpoint of piano. From there the melody twists around, punctuated by electric piano and the faint, brilliantly arranged strings. It builds and fades, sometimes bright, sometimes aching, and when it ends, you feel as if you need to think a while, maybe take a walk. It's one of the most complicated and beautiful songs in modern music and it amazes and hurts me that some people will die never having heard it.
Jeff Beck's fusion forays aren't for everyone. But there is no denying his musicianship, nor his intimate virtuosity with mood and subtle coloring. This recording has been on my shelves for twenty-five years and, God willing, it will be there for another fifty.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on September 2, 2006
This is one amazing fusion album that shouldn't go ignored by anyone claiming to appreciate guitar technique. I've heard faster guitarists 'shred' their way through song after song and CD after CD with the same blistering speed but this album puts Beck in a different catagory. One where technique and style take center stage. There isn't a single note on this album that doesn't show Jeff Beck to be an absolute virtuoso with the guitar. Cuz We've Ended as Lovers is so well done you can easily identify the guitar as being two people breaking up complete with all the emotional baggage that goes along with that scene. Easily one of the most overlooked guitar masterpieces of all time.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on February 24, 2001
This CD blew me away 25 years ago, and still does today. Despite the number of 'guitar heroes' (whom all of which I admire very much) out there, 'Blow by Blow' was THE one to get the guitar-rock-fusion thing going.
This CD is FAR from dated - it has hooks, jumps, jams and all sorts of other stuff to put it ahead of the pack. Beck, already a 'classic guitarist', outdid himself on this one. The variety of tones and intensity on all the compositions are awesome. 'Freeway Jam' is a classic, as well as the mellow 'Cause we ended as Lovers' - just these 2 are worth price of admission. 'Scatterbrain' and the other gems on 'Side 1' displays Beck's ability to make his way around a guitar like no guitarist could...
This has to be one in your collection if you are a 'guitar-rock' fan (eg Satriani, Vai). Even if you are not, this CD would appeal to the non 'guitar-rock-music' fanatic...
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on August 30, 2001
Though BLOW BY BLOW had antecedents in the seminal heavy fusion of Coryell, Cobham, Larry Young's Spaceball, etc, for Jeff Beck this was a quantum leap forward in sound, an inspired mix of styles/genres that not only works, but single-handedly made the all-instrumental rock album, heavy on lead guitar, commercially viable. BLOW BY BLOW featured Beck out of his usual guise - noise merchant strangling his Strat - and his artistic restlessness leads him into subtler and more varied hues of playing on such diverse offerings as "You Know What I Mean" (jagged-edge funk), "Scatterbrain" (high-powered fusion) and "Cause We've Ended As Lovers" (permafrost blues), to cite only three. This opened the doors-of-perception of any number of guitar-hero acolytes at the time (quite a few journeys towards the inner mounting flame pitstopped at this album for refueling on the way), as well as cementing Beck firmly in the all-time Guitar Pantheon. People who don't know guitar players from Adam know who Jeff Beck is - at least partially, if not mostly, due to this terrific album. To some of us who bought this on vinyl Way Back When, BLOW BY BLOW's huge sales and high profile are hopeful signs that now and again, even if by accident, the public-at-large actually gets it.
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24 of 31 people found the following review helpful
on January 18, 2003
I bought this recently on the strength of reviews here having never heard it before, though I have had Beck Ola and Truth since they came out as LPs, and have personally seen the Jeff Beck band in performance with lead singer Rod Stewart. I was not disappointed. This is a truly wonderful and totally original album of instrumental jazz rock fusion that really succeeds in carrying it off.
I have been a bit disappointed in some guitar albums I have listened to recently. For example, Santana's Caravanserai has way too much aimless noodling, displaying the weakness of the rock star who doesn't quite have whatever it is that you need to do jazz, and Roy Rogers' Slideways shows you what happens when you have an instrumentalist who is not really a composer.
You could say the same about Beck, but the difference here, I think, is that this album was produced by Sir George Martin (the Beatles producer) and seems to be superbly balanced and arranged. There are even some strings at some point, but it is all very tasteful.
Anyway, I'm not going to comment track by track, and all I'm going to say is that this is a superb album.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on August 29, 2004
I bought this album many years ago, when as a young guitarist, I was trying to develop a style that blended hard rock with jazz fusion. The influence this album had on my playing is beyond description. I literally wore out every groove absorbing the sheer mastery of Jeff Beck's playing. Now getting this re-mastered CD version and putting it on my stereo brought all those memories back.

For my money, Jeff Beck is one of the greatest guitar players on this earth. And this may be his best effort ever. His playing on this album is so focused that it sends chills down my spine. The absolute highlight would have to be "Cause We've Ended as Lovers". Jeff's solo just builds and builds to a climax with each bar more powerful than the previous.

It is no surprise to me that many amazing guitar players with such diverse styles as Steve Lukather, Mike Stern, Brett Mason, Tony McAlpine, and George Lynch worship Jeff. As much as I admire Clapton, Page, and Hendrix, Beck is my favorite rock guitarist of all time.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Jeff Beck reinvents himself on this masterful piece of musician artistry. With production help from George Martin, along with the triad of Max Middleton on keys(previously from the 2nd Beck Group incarnation), Phil Chen on Bass and Richard Bailey on Drums, Blow by Blow is realized and recognized as one of the most popular and accessable guitar instrumental releases of its time. The record begins with You Know what I Mean, penned by Beck and Middleton, and is a funky groove complimented by Middleton's various keyboard arrangements on Fender Rhodes, Clavinet and electric piano, driven of course by Beck's multi-layered guitars and the tone that he achieves on his lead lines are deliciously strong, succinct and unprecedented. The rhythm section of Chen and Bailey shows off impeccable chops and structured improvisational qualities of a most high order. The cover of the Beatles' She's a Woman follows in and the arrangement given has a flavor of reggae/funk and Beck also uses the infamous "talk-box" contraption(something Peter Frampton would utilize to great success with a year later on his Frampton Comes Alive set), which further adds texture and a little bit of charm to this well arranged and tasteful cover.

Further highlights on Blow By Blow is the cover of Stevie Wonder's Cause We've Ended as Lovers, which features one of Jeff's most prolific and endearing performances on this moody and organic number. His tone is absolutely on point with this track and the trend of "less is more" is used to a most great advantage here. Stevie himself guests on clavinet on the following track Thelonius, which is a tribute to the jazz icon Thelonius Monk and Beck once again uses the talk box in conjunction with the rave up fusion quality this track emanates. Middleton's Freeway Jam would also be another track of considerable legendary status as to the validity of Beck's guitar prowess and would be a featured number in most of Beck's live performances over the years. Blow by Blow re-establishes Jeff Beck as one of the more important British guitarists' of his generation, born out of the legendary Yardbirds foundation(including fellow peers Eric Clapton and Jimmy Page), and also the early years of his own solo career, culminating in a fresh and musically beneficial route for the guitarist to build his career upon. I've always admired Beck for his musicianship qualities and he is a favorite of mine as a result of his seemingly lack of commercial accessability sacrificed for the sake of his intimitable talents on the fretboard. Its musician's music, for the most part, but Blow is one of those rare instances that provides a broader spectrum for musicians and music fans alike. Therein lies Blow by Blow's great appeal. 5 Legendary Stars
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
...Or at least one of about 25 albums that belong in the "Essential Fusion" Hall of Fame(along with albums such as "Birds of Fire","Thrust","Romantic Warrior","Unorthodox Behavior","Believe IT","Black Market","In a Silent Way","Spectrum","Enigmatic Ocean","School Days","Elegant Gypsy".....Need I continue?). Though a little "Bluesy" for my tastes in fusion,it is a defining testament of what I know to be the jazz-rock genre. It combines,as any music calling itself fusion should, a blend of different musical styles...jazz,rock,world,Latin and, in this case,Blues. And as we've all come to expect with this type of music, there's plenty of Virtoustic playing, shifting time meters and solos to be heard on this release. What did it for me with Blow by Blow can be described in one word...THE GROOVE! This album just has a wonderful vibe and Flow about it---the title was no coincidence...these songs literally come at you like punches from a Prize Fighter(often one song flowing into the next). There is also a great diversity of music represented on this album. The listener will certainly find something in this mixed-bag to "latch onto"---The intense jamming on tunes like "Air Blower" and "Scatterbrain"; The Funky grooves of "You Know What I Mean", "Constipated Duck" and "Thelonious"; The Rockin' "Freeway Jam" and the mellower moods of "Cause We've Ended..." and "Diamond Dust". So if you are looking for "more adventurous" sounds and are just starting to explore this music form that we have dubbed "Fusion", this is a MUST BUY. As a side note, I would strongly recommend his follow up to this one,"Wired",as well as any of the above mentioned Albums/Artists. Have Fun with this one! Jeff
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