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Beck’s name may have had the biggest star wattage, but all three musicians were top of the heap and able to lead or follow each other through improvisational twists. The band’s sound fused pop, hard rock, psychedelia, prog, blues, boogie, and jazz. The Osaka show begins with the sound of Beck’s talkbox guitar as the group lashes into a combustive version of Stevie Wonder’s “Superstition.” The song is soulfully sung by Bogert before the band erupts into a dazzling instrumental workout. “Lose Myself with You” breaks down for a nimble and wide-ranging solo by Bogert. In the included book, Beck is quoted as saying, “He plays like a Martian from Motown.”
Live in Japan 1973 includes performances of eight of the nine songs from the band’s studio effort, augmented by tracks including the Yardbirds “Jeff’s Boogie” with Beck’s quote of “Over Under Sideways Down” and a rollicking bluegrass diversion a la The Beverly Hillbillies. The Jeff Beck Group’s “Going Down” is reinterpreted by the trio, and “Morning Dew” is stretched into an expansive 14 minutes with humorous musical call-and-response between the players and Appice’s spirited solo. Appice drives each of the band’s stylistic diversions with awe-inspiring technique and a madman’s energy. The group joins in close vocal harmony during “Sweet Sweet Surrender,” and Bogert offers a playful and saucy twist to the saccharine song’s second verse. Appice takes lead vocal during boogie “Living Alone” and Curtis Mayfield’s gentler “I’m So Proud.” The group ignites “Lady,” with considerable firepower by Beck. Beck’s talk box returns alongside his rare lead vocal during the bluesy “Black Cat Moan.”
This set marks the first official release of material from the heavily bootlegged 1974 concert at London’s Rainbow Theatre, featuring material intended for the band’s aborted sophomore studio album. Live in London 1974 and repeated tracks like the boogie “Livin’ Alone” and hard-charging “Lady” find the band playing even more expressively, explosively, and intuitively than the earlier Japanese date despite simmering interpersonal tensions. The group introduces six songs intended for its sophomore effort including the hard-hitting “Satisfied” with Beck’s skipping riff. “We’re going to do something from the new album,” says Appice before launching the tender “Laughin’ Lady.” “That’s for all you lovers out there,” he adds afterward. The spacefaring instrumental “Solid Lifter” with its ascending progression and the off-kilter “Jizz Wizz” (striking a balance between Cream’s jazz-blues savvy and the Who’s unrestrained fury) with Appice’s thundering solo were additional new tracks. Beck, Bogert, and Appice all trade wild riffs and fills during “(Get Ready) Your Lovemaker’s Coming Home.”The set allows listeners to fully inhabit the time-traveling experience with a replica Japanese tour book, a 24”x36” poster, the 40-page hardbound book containing manager Bruce Pilato’s band history with frequent quotes from Beck and Appice, liner notes, and photos.
The LP platters are pressed onto heavyweight vinyl and stored in anti-static sleeves. Mixing for the set was overseen by Beck and Appice, working from original multi-track tapes. The sonic results do far better justice to the material than what has been available over decades of bootlegged copies.
Although credibly hailed by Melody Maker as successors to Cream, interpersonal issues brought the trio to an abrupt end mere months after the Rainbow show. In the book, Appice laments that it all ended too soon. He nonetheless expresses gratitude for the experience and enduring love and respect for his bandmates. This set attests to the supergroup trio’s power and truncated potential even better than its gold-selling studio album.
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