Beck’s Bolero

Interesting that Jeff Beck puts a version of “Greensleeves” on his “Truth”, although rock musicians doing folk ballads at that particular time (1968) was in vogue. One only has to think of Jimmy Page redoing Bert Jansch’s “Blackwater Side” as “Black Mountain Side” on Led Zeppelin I.

But I was not listening to Greensleeves but instead to another track from “Truth”, “Beck’s Bolero”. This has to be one of the most exciting rock instrumentals ever recorded, with Jeff Beck’s and Jimmy Page’s guitar being pushed into other dimensions by the explosive drumming of Keith Moon. It’s a bolero, easily recognisable as such to anyone familiar with Ravel’s “Bolero” that is probably the most well known of all, but it’s also a storming hard rock song, short and sharp and pulverizing. Recorded in the thickly compressed middle range that is characteristic of much mid-1960s pop music, the instruments appear to be glued to each other and when they all come together the dominant effect is of a surge of distorted and electric, almost electronic, sound over which Beck’s eerie leads float. Wonderful music, and it would take a determined lo-fi enthusiast to replicate it today.

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