Groundbreaking album Blow by Blow by Jeff Beck
Blow by Blow was an all-instrumental album that reached number four on the U.S. charts. Released in 1975, it was Beck’s fifth effort as a leader and marked a significant change from his earlier rock-based works. Considered by many to be one of the greatest albums in the jazz-rock fusion genre, Beck brilliantly created an instrumental work that flowed like a rock concept album. Drummer Richard Bailey exhibited incredible musicianship by orchestrating and complimenting the melodies and complex arrangements. Beck effectively mixed sensitive ballads, funk, and jazz.
For Blow by Blow, Jeff Beck hired legendary Beatles producer George Martin to handle the production. Beck had previously worked with keyboardist Max Middleton and hired him to play Fender Rhodes, clavinet, and analog synthesizers. Beck also solicited the help of the legendary Stevie Wonder who gave Beck his songs “Thelonius” and “Cause We’ve Ended as Lover.” Wonder played clavinet on “Thelonius” but was uncredited. Beck also decided to cover The Beatles song “She’s a Woman” and the song “Diamond Dust” by Bernie Holland from the group Hummingbird. The other five songs were Jeff Beck originals with help from Middleton.
Side one opened with “You Know What I Mean,” followed by “She’s a Woman,” “Constipated Duck,” “Air Blower,” and “Scatterbrain.” The last track on both sides of the album featured string arrangements by George Martin. On “You Know What I Mean,” Beck played a blistering blues-based solo with angular lines. “Air Blower” featured elaborate layers of rhythm. It segued into “Scatterbrain” with twin keyboard and guitar solos.
Side two opened with “Cause We’ve Ended as Lovers,” which preceded “Thelonius,” “Freeway Jam,” and “Diamond Dust.” Beck dedicated “Cause We’ve Ended as Lovers” to guitarist Roy Buchanan. This song also highlighted Beck’s great ability to express his emotions in a ballad setting. Jeff Beck achieved a new creative peak on Blow by Blow. This album ranked as one of the premiere examples of high-level collaboration, compositional skill, and virtuoso performance in the instrumental rock genre.