Rock 'n' Roll Party: Honouring Les Paul

Jeff Beck rocks. We all presumed that to be self-evident but now it’s palpably true. He rolls as well – although that may be more to do with the passing of years.

This album is a celebration of the life, career and music of Les Paul.  It’s incredible to think that the man who built and put his own name to one of the iconic guitars of rock music lived until 2009.  Even more so that, right up until his death, he played live every Monday at the Iridium jazz club on Times Square, New York. Jeff Beck was one of the iconic 60s virtuosos of the 6-string who, along with fellow Yardbird Jimmy Page, played Les Paul guitars.  So it’s perhaps fitting that he was chosen to anchor this project – a live “celebration of Les Paul” – recorded in June 2010 at that very same Times Square nightclub, on what would have been Les Paul’s 95thbirthday.

It is indeed a bona fide rock & roll jamboree – proper winkle pickers and bobby socks fare. Swing belters like ‘Crusin’ and ‘Bye Bye Blues’ bump backsides with gentler cuts such as ‘Cry Me A River’ and ‘I’m A Fool To Care’, along with rock & roll standards like the theme from ‘Peter Gunn’ and ‘Twenty Flight Rock’.  The crowd applause between tracks only makes you wish you were there.

Beck’s guitar work is precise, evocative, mellifluous. I’m a Beck fan, and always felt he had more to him than that other ex-Yardbird, Eric Clapton. As I come from a later generation I’ll always feel his best work was on the jazz funk albums of the mid 70s, but I appreciate where he’s coming from on this album, especially as he grew up on a diet of rock & roll.  As a particular retrospective celebration, this is something quite different from other Beck albums, yet still his playing stands out, especially on instrumentals like “Sleep Walk”.

Guests at this rock & roll party include Imelda May, Brian Seltzer and Gary U.S. Bonds – and that’s quite a swinging affair right there.  It would perhaps be unkind to pick faults with such a well-meaning and well-executed project.  So I won’t.  Beck has said Les Paul was the first electric guitarist who impressed him, so let’s be carried along by the spirit of the project. Check our preconceptions with our coats at the door, and join in the party…

Release Date 21/02/2011 (Rhino)

Simon is a writer, broadcaster and countercultural investigator. Over the last 15 years he has written for everyone from The Guardian to Loaded magazine, presented television for Rapture TV and hosted radio programs for the likes of Galaxy. He has also found time to earn a Masters Degree in Novel Writing and write three books (a collection of journalism, a guidebook to Ibiza and one on financial planning for young people – the most varied publishing career it’s possible to have) and establish and run a PR company, Pad Communications, looking after a range of leisure and lifestyle clients.He currently splits his time between researching his PhD at Leeds University, looking into various countercultural movements; consulting freelance for PR clients; writing for the likes of Marie Claire in Australia, The Big Issue and the Manchester Evening News, where he reviews concerts, theatre and is their Pub & Bar Editor. He is also broadcaster, appearing regularly on Tony Livesey’s late night 5Live show for the BBC, and also for BBC Radio Manchester Gourmet Night food and drink show.Simon’s main focus has been music and travel. His career has included editing Ministry of Sound’s magazine in Ibiza for two summers and also writing two long-running columns for DJmagazine – ”Around The World in 80 Clubs” (which took him everywhere from Beijing to Brazil, Moscow to Marrakech) and “Dispatches From The Wrong Side”. A collection of the latter was published in the UK and US as the book Discombobulated, including tales as varied as gatecrashing Kylie Minogue’s birthday party, getting deported from Russia, having a gun held to his head by celebrity gangster Dave Courtney and going raving in Ibiza with Judith Chalmers. He has recently written for the likes of Red magazine, Hotline, Clash, Tilllate, Shortlist and the Manchester Evening News. Pad Communications has recently consulted for clients as varied as Manchester nightclubs and New Zealand toy companies.On a personal note, Simon is a Londoner who left the capital at the age of 18 and never looked back. He sees himself as a citizen of the global dancefloor having lived in Sydney, Los Angeles, Ibiza and Amsterdam. However his life is now rather more sedentary. After all his adventures he bumped into and subsequently married his highschool sweetheart from their North London Grammar. They now live in Stockport with their four children and four chickens, trying to live the good life. Simon recently turned 40 and is steadfastly refusing to have a midlife crisis – as in, growing a ponytail and buying a shiny red sports car.OK, maybe he’ll buy the sports car…