This week’s Sound Check features one audio recording, one video package and one book. Enjoy!
‘LOUD HAILER,’ Jeff Beck (Atco Records, ☆☆☆☆)
This July 15 CD, also available in vinyl and digital formats, is master guitarist Jeff Beck’s first new studio album in six years. He also is releasing a book (“Beck01”), undertaking a national tour (partly with blues idol Buddy Guy) and presenting a career-spanning Hollywood Bowl concert Aug. 10.
The best material of Beck’s career tends to emerge when he has strong collaborators. Here, he works with singer, lyricist and cover artist Rosie Bones and her cohorts — rhythm guitarist Carmen Vandenberg, bassist Giovanni Pallotti and drummer Davide Sollazi. Every song but Beck’s short instrumental “Edna” and the longer “Pull It” (producer Filippo Cimatti and Beck) were written by Beck, Bones and Vandenberg.
I don’t enjoy artificial-sounding drums, but Beck’s guitar is always on point. My favorites are the riff-tastic “Live In The Dark,” the slow-paced “Scared For The Children,” the hard-hitting “Right Now,” the regretful-sounding “Shame” and “Edna.”
Fans who can look past the production to the great guitar sounds and thoughtful words will dig the new album. Too bad he’s not scheduled to appear nearby.
‘Sinfonia Pop,’ Mika (Eagle Rock Entertainment, ☆☆☆☆)
This May 27 DVD/Blu-Ray/digital release presents worldwide pop phenomenon Mika, who has sold more than 10,000,000 recordings. The full orchestra concert was filmed at Italy’s elegant Teatro Sociale, and the audience seems quite familiar with Mika’s material. The British performer also speaks fluent Italian at times.
I admire his facile voice, which slides easily from tenor/baritone to strong falsetto; and the musical/lyrical hooks of some songs. I’m not familiar with the recorded versions, so my favorites are the percussive “Boum Boum Boum,” the ultra-catchy “Grace Kelly,” the BIG choruses of “Happy Ending” and “Origin of Love” and major audience favorite “Elle Me Dit.”
This isn’t my bag, but American music fans should investigate Mika.
‘Black Sabbath: Symptom Of The Universe,’ Mick Wall (St. Martin’s Press, ☆☆☆☆1/2)
This book was copyrighted and published in 2013, but I got it about a month ago.
Lots of rumors and insinuations have been bandied about concerning Ozzy Osbourne, Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler and Bill Ward — the original four members of Black Sabbath, who pioneered their own brand of punishing, doomy, tempo-changing and sludgy music. They’re credited as inventors of heavy metal, but no band has sounded like those first four or five Sabbath albums.
Unfortunately, they lost their way in a forest of drug abuse, alcoholism and economic travails that saw them go through tons of post-Ozzy vocalists, drummers and managers.
This book is an easy read and interesting for Sabbath fans and curiosity-seekers.
Ricky Flake, a music fan and former punk rocker, lives in Biloxi. Reach him at email@example.com