Beck, Bogert & Appice | Live In Japan 1973, Live In London 1974 – Live Release Review

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There are many chapters in the Jeff Beck story. There is, however, one without closure. From 1972 to 1974, Beck released an album and toured with bassist Tim Bogert and drummer Carmine Appice, most famously known as the powerhouse rhythm section for Vanilla Fudge. Together, the trio, known simply as Beck, Bogert & Appice, tapped into a heavy boogie unmatched by their peers of the day. Their one and only self-titled debut only told half the tale; the live performances tell the rest. The four disc Live In Japan 1973, Live In London 1974 may well provide the closure the BBA chapter needs.

Beck reportedly reviewed BBA’s live recordings before his untimely passing. Appice joined the guitarist in mixing those recordings for this set. The two performances at Koseinenkin Hall in Osaka, Japan (recorded May 18 and 19, 1973) were previously released in limited numbers exclusively in Japan as — you guessed it — Live In Japan just a few months after the shows. The complete concert at the Rainbow Theatre in London, England (recorded January 26, 1974) has never been released in any form anywhere until now.

Dedicated to Beck and Bogert, who died in 2023 and 2021, respectively, Live In Japan 1973, Live In London 1974 features a booklet with extensive liner notes by Bruce Pilato, archival photos, and a replica concert poster. Of course, the music is the main attraction, and it’s there where the explosive power and true essence of the players comes to fruition.

The set kicks off with a thunderous rendition of Stevie Wonder’s “Superstition” — Beck played guitar on the original version — immediately establishing the band’s unheralded energy. A gong intro and a little adlib on the talkbox opens the floodgates for Bogert’s vocal and Beck’s phenomenal guitar work. His solos burst with technical brilliance and raw emotion. Bogart’s basslines and Appice’s drumming provide a solid and groovy foundation, perfectly complementing Beck’s fiery fretwork.

Both Bogert and Appice take turns on the vocals throughout the set. The bottom end, dynamics, and overall sound quality are exceptional, given the fact that these are 50-year-old recordings. Live stabs of “Going Down” and “Morning Dew” are prime examples of the breadth of material and sheer execution of BBA on stage. One standout is a cover of “I’m Losing You.” Beck’s bluesy guitar licks and Bogart’s soulful vocals create a mesmerizing and emotionally charged atmosphere. The band’s interpretation of Don Nix’s “Black Cat Moan” is another high point, with Beck’s guitar taking center stage, proving once again why he is considered one of the greatest guitarists in rock history.

Throughout the set, the trio’s chemistry is palpable. They seem to anticipate each other’s every move, creating an improvisational and jam-like quality to the performance. This spontaneity adds a level of excitement that keeps the listener engaged from start to finish. The whole set showcases the unparalleled talents of its three iconic members. Jeff Beck’s guitar wizardry, Tim Bogert’s soulful vocals and bass, and Carmine Appice’s vocals and powerful drumming combine to create an unforgettable live experience. The sheer musical prowess on display makes Live In Japan 1973, Live In London 1974 a time capsule of an era when rock ‘n’ roll was raw and absolutely exhilarating.

~ Smedley Whipplestein

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