Jeff confirmed to Classic Rock that the two old buddies would renew a partnership that first saw light in the late 1960s when the two rock gods were working on Truth and Beck-Ola and were scheduled to perform at Woodstock, a plan that never materialised when the Jeff Beck Group disbanded on the eve of the festival.
The idea broke as a rumour when Rod mentioned that the two men had enjoyed a convivial meeting just before Christmas but when Classic Rock spoke to Jeff he put a great deal more meat on that bone.
“Something has been on the cards for a while,” he says. “There have been rumblings in the studio, and yes I have done some demos for him and with him. This happened after our lunch liaison in Los Angeles, but just as matters were proceeding his new baby came along and completely screwed up the whole thing.”
An exhilarated and clearly jokey Jeff continues: “I thought,’ Rod why don’t you just put it away! Leave her (his partner Penny Lancaster gave birth to son Aiden on February 17) to get on with it! She’s used to it mate, you don’t need to be there’. It’s her second child. Why not leave it at that, then? How many more miracles does he want!
“Seriously, I put in a lot of effort over the week we were together in the studio. We’ve co-written 11 tracks and I’ve suggested what might be a good starting point, and so hopefully we can come to an exciting agreement as to what to do with all this stuff. We’ve agreed on something together, a beginning for the project. At the same time I’m seeing him today (February 24) for a further chat. I’m into the idea but I’m going to shoot myself in the foot aren’t I? Because everyone’s going to be wanting this reunion and not my next album. One will obviously overshadow the other, and after the reaction and great response to my 2010 record Emotion & Commotion it seems a bit of a shame to suddenly go left field over the other thing.
“But I know people won’t have been having their tongues hanging out for 30 or 40 years or whatever, waiting for us to do it, or maybe they will be? And then of course it makes no sense not to tour it, have to! Take it out on tour. It will be enjoyable anyway. We can do just a couple of Hollywood Bowls here and some Madison Square Gardens there and then there’s England. The O2 in London isn’t what I’d want. It’s too echoey. I’d much rather do three or four nights at the old Hammersmith Odeon (now Apollo). I want it to be right in your face and the sound has to be just right. The sound is my number one priority.
“Over our next lunch Rod and me will probably beat each other to death, but the fact remains he’s coming to see me and we are going over the material, all of it. I want to see that Rod is genuine into the idea and that it’s not just a weekend’s fancy. I don’t think it is because his manager (Arnold Stiefel) is well into it.”
Indeed Stiefel has recently offered the opinion that the new material, “Is mind-fucking stuff”. Beck concurs.
“It is good actually. Stage One was just agreeing that it was basically a good idea and then Stage Two was the actual collaboration and co-writing. Stage Three was me lending my studio in Los Angeles to Rod for the demos, to the tune of $17.000! So I’ll be expecting a cheque from Rod for that! But I’ve got two chances there! No chance and no flippin’ chance! But while he’s sitting there listening to the tracks I’ll sneak out and….nah I can’t say that!”
Details on the actual songs are still well under wraps. In 2004, the Jeff Beck Group reunited to play at the Royal Albert Hall with Ronnie Wood on bass, Rod at the mic and Jeff on guitar. They rehearsed a lot of classic material from their original albums and a couple of choice numbers like Rock My Plimsoul and I Ain’t Superstitious. And in 1985, Stewart guested on the Beck album Flash; the pair performed a cover of The Impressions’ People Get Ready.
“It sounded fucking brilliant,” Stewart recalled. But the concert was cancelled when Jeff phoned Rod and said he’d had a change of heart. Subsequently they did perform together in Los Angeles, and Beck caught the bug again. Now he has said that he “Would have to turn the clock back 20 or 30 years to match what Rod does, stylistically. Not that that is meant to be a derogatory statement. He loves the 60s. He loves blues he loves old stuff.” So no stretch for Beck there then.
We’ll have to wait and see what transpires regarding new material. Beck is keen to offer a modern twist on whatever the two men come up with, and the songs are bound to reflect both his single-minded desire, and Rod Stewart’s undoubted love for a belting old rocking blues tune.
Max Bell, Classic Rock Magazine