An EP featuring a trio of Jeff Beck recordings that had hitherto only been aired at the late guitar hero’s funeral have been released in the build up to a pair of tribute concerts at London’s Royal Albert Hall.
The tracks include live versions of Going Down and Elegy For Dunkirk, plus a version of his instrumental Midnight Walker Lament, from his last studio album, 18, that features the spoken word of Irish poet Imelda May.
The poem was written at Beck’s suggestion, and one he loved, but sadly he never got to perform this version with May. May and Beck had collaborated together on the live 2011 tribute album to the late Les Paul, Rock ’N’ Roll Party (Honoring Les Paul).
Elegy For Dunkirk also features guest vocals from one of Beck’s collaborators, with opera singer Olivia Safe having previously recorded the track with Beck for 2010’s Emotion & Commotion. Safe sang Gabriel Fauré’s Requiem: In Paradisumat at Beck’s memorial service in February.
Going Down, meanwhile, is one of those tracks that many will remember Beck for. An old Freddie King favourite, this version was recorded in Paris in the company of a band fronted by Jimmy Hall on vocals, with a backing band comprising Carmen Vandenberg on electric guitar, Rhonda Smith on bass guitar, and Jonathan Joseph on drums. Beck’s widow, Sandra Beck, said the EP version of Midnight Walker Lament brings tears to her eyes.
“Imelda’s poem on Midnight Walker Lament on top of Jeff’s beautiful guitar work brings tears to my eyes,” she said. “Elegy for Dunkirk featuring Olivia Safe is a reminder of how Jeff’s playing, and opera interact. Going down, an up-tempo tune, was played live at Jeff’s funeral with a powerful vocal from Jimmy Hall.”
Sandra Beck and Eric Clapton have joined forces to put together an all-star lineup of talent for two nights celebrating Beck’s life at the Royal Albert Hall. On 22 and 23 May, the likes of Doyle Bramhall, Eric Clapton, Gary Clark Jr., Johnny Depp, Billy Gibbons, Kirk Hammett, Imelda May, John McLaughlin, Robert Randolph, Olivia Safe, Rod Stewart, Joss Stone, Susan Tedeschi, Derek Trucks, and Ronnie Wood will grace the stage and pay their respects.
Beck’s regular players – Rhonda Smith, Anika Nilles and Robert Stevenson – will also be in attendance, and there are sure to be a few surprises on the night.
- Jeff Beck: "I was pretty down at the time, I'd lost my girl, Hendrix had come and smeared everybody across the floor… I’d fallen out with the Yardbirds"
Just last week, Eric Clapton shared a previously unreleased version of Moon River that featured Beck teasing all kinds of magic from his Stratocaster. It was a track the pair had often played together live, and was made all the more poignant by the fact this studio version was recorded shortly before Beck passed away.
The two concerts will raise money for the Southern Wildlife Care and Advisory Service (Folly Wildlife Rescue), which Sarah and Jeff Beck were patrons of. The charity rescues and rehabilitates wildlife in England’s West Kent, East Sussex, and surrounding areas. See the Royal Albert Hall for ticket information.
Jeff Beck Tribute EP is out now via ATCO/Rhino, who will also be donating to the charity.