|JEFF BECK AND VINYL RECORDS – IN MY LIFE|
|Written by Del Breckenfeld - Author|
|Wednesday, 21 April 2010 13:18|
I got a preview of Jeff Beck’s new band when I watched him rehearse for his tribute to Les Paul brilliant performance of “How High the Moon” at this year’s Grammy Awards. But nothing could prepare me for the mind-blowing concert I attended this week in Los Angeles when Jeff pretty much performed the new record “Emotion & Commotion” in its entirety. The new symphonic direction he explored on this recording was further enhanced by the string orchestra that backed him most of the night. Because of the soaring melodies, this is probably his most accessible album for non-guitarists. For guitarists, Jeff has taken the instrument so far that very few can even begin to fathom what he does, or how he can possibly get all those amazing sounds out his Fender Stratocaster guitar. I recall the first night I met Jeff was about 15 years ago when he co-headlined the Greek Theater in Los Angeles with Carlos Santana. The first row of was filled with other guitar greats who came to pay homage and after each song they would get up in unison to bow to the master. When I finally got a chance to speak with him I had so many guitar questions prepared but we never talked guitars; he was much more interested in hot rods.
Warning: Get ready for a sharp left turn…
This blog is actually not just about Jeff Beck, because I really wanted to talk about the resurgence of vinyl records and what the local record store meant to us growing up. The first band I was in, The Tobacco Rouges, used to hang out at Pearson’s Music in Niles, IL spinning the latest 45’s in the listening booth. We would try to figure out the chords to a new Stones or Kinks single – that was until kindly Mr. Pierson would ask us not to wear out the merchandise unless we wanted to buy it. At that time, Dee Hunt, the older sister of our drummer Jim, recommended a lead singer from her college that was looking for a band and she knew we needed a singer. Steve Nakon looked just like Mick Jagger – shoulder length hair and all. Keep in mind we went to Catholic schools so we couldn’t wear our hair any longer that a short “Beatle” cut so this guy was our idol. Steve took us to Old Town where the hippies hung out to get cool rock clothes inspired by the British Bands. Steve helped us almost look like we were a real rock band, to the point that the black-leather-clad-slicked-
Anyway, Steve would clue us in on the latest records, particularly the British imports. One day he told me I had to hear this new record from ex-Yardbird guitarist Jeff Beck. I told him that I had just read a review in Hit Parader Magazine that liked Jeff but referred to his singer “Class Z.” Steve said, “No you got to listen to this guy he’s great – his name is Rod Stewart.” The record was “Truth” and it changed my life and no doubt the lives of many future Heavy Metal musicians before we ever even knew there was such a thing. It was one of the few records that I actually wore out to the point that it would no longer function. Our band changed our style, name, clothes and everything else to become more Beck-like – and never looked back.
Those memories of the old record stores are not just nostalgic – those stores were the social networking of that era where music lovers congregated to discover and share the best new music like Bloodwyn Pig or Taste. Often we would gather before a store opened just to be the first in line to get the latest offering from Zeppelin, The Who, or Traffic. Recently I read an interview with Gary Calamar, the co-author of the new book “Record Store Days: From Vinyl to Digital and Back Again” and he talked about the stores as a music hub & more for the community and how they are making a slight return. When Michael Jackson died, people connected through the media. Calamar states, “I worked in Licorice Pizza when John Lennon was killed. I had the day off but I came in anyway because people needed a place to mourn.”
Coda: The great thing about being an author and having a blog is just like the old neighborhood record stores, it connects you with new friends and it reconnects you with so many more old friends. In addition to Jeff Beck, this blog was also inspired by Steve Nakon contacting me after all these years through my website. He founded Northwest Yoga in Chicago and he’s still introducing me to new releases – he just sent me his newest Yoga record “Yoga: Breath & Body.”