By Phyllis Pollack
Paying tribute to a longtime icon and friend, the concert documentary DVD ‘Jeff Beck: Rock ‘N Roll Party Honoring Les Paul’ will be released on February 22, 2011. The disc features live performances by the British guitarist, filmed on what would have been Les Paul’s 95th birthday. The show, held as a tribute to the late guitarist and innovator, ensued at NY City’s Iridium Jazz Club last June. The film is distributed by Eagle Rock Entertainment, which also released the Grammy-winning Doors documentary “When You’re Strange,’ narrated by Johnny Depp.
Paul, who died on August 13, 2009, played at the club weekly for fifteen years. Beck, who first rose to stardom when playing with the Yardbirds, played two shows at the club, paying tribute to Paul.
In addition to tthe five-time Grammy-winning Beck, the band features Irish singer Imelda May, Brian Setzer, formerly of the Stray Cats, bassist Al Gare, drummer Stephen Rushton, Darrel Higham on guitar and vocals, and Gary U.S. Bonds. Other musicians include Leo Green and Blue Lou Marini on sax, Dave Priseman on trumpet, Trombone Shorty and keyboardist Jason Rebello.
27 songs deep, the disc features a set list of songs that had performed by Les Paul, a few of which he had performed with his late ex-wife Mary Ford, including “How High The Moon,” “Mockin’ Bird Hill,” “Vaya Con Dios,” “I’m Sitting On Top of the World,” “Sitting on Top of the Word,” “Bye Bye Blues,” “The World Is Waiting for Sunrise,” “I’m a Fool to Care,” and “Tiger Rag.”
The live set opens with the band playing the rockabilly song “Let’s Play House,” a song made famous in 1955 by Elvis Presley. Beck then breaks into some “Double Talkin’ Baby,” flaunting a black vintage Les Paul with a Bigsby tremelo. A rendition of the Gene Vincent number “Cruisin’” is also heard. “Apache,” “New Orleans,” and “The World Is Waiting for the Sunrise” are also among numbers included on the disc.
The guitar-friendly song from the late fifties and early sixties television “Peter Gunn” is also featured in the concert film. An early innovator that helped bring rock and roll to life, Paul was also honored by performances of ‘Rock Around the Clock” and “Shake Rattle and Roll.” There is also a take on “Twenty Flight Rock,” a song made famous by the film “The Girl Can’t Help It,” a song also included on the disc’s set list. “Twenty Flight Rock” has been covered by many artists, including the Stray Cats, Paul McCartney and the Rolling Stones. The torch song “Cry Me A River” from that film is also part of the DVD’s fare. CONTINUE READING BELOW THIS ADVERTISEMENT.
Imelda May is perfectly cast for the gig with members of her band. Ever the rock and roller, the extremely versatile Beck also offers the rwakus rock and roll standard “Train Kept A Rollin.’
Beck is seen interviewed on the DVD in its extras section. “To a kids who’s six, that’s very intriguing,” Beck noted of his first hearing Les Paul, as he elaborated about his guitar influence and late friend. He said when he was first invited to meet Les Paul, he thought the phone call was a hoax. He weaves a beautiful tale of his love for Paul and his music.
In an effort to be a true souvenir of the gig, the extras also features footage of the fans waiting outside the venue, some of whom are interviewed about their memories of Paul and Beck. There is also footage of the crew working inside, setting up the stage and sound inside for the exclusive gig that only held 200 people. Members of Imelda May’s Irish band are interviewed, and the Gibson Guitar promotional van is seen outside the venue.
The DVD also has live performance of Beck and Paul playing together, and a scene with Paul talking about his “Little Black Box” used for overdubbing, and a beautifully filmed performance of him playing the song with that title.
Last week, Beck performed at the MusiCares Person of the Year gala honoring Barbra Streisand. He was among those that played on Herbie Hancock’s Grammy-winning album ‘Imagine’ that also included the Grammy-winning performance of “A Change Is Gonna Come.”
Beck’s ‘Rock ‘n Roll Party (Honoring Les Paul)’ Tour will continue through April 9, with its final date in San Francisco at the Fillmore.