Jeff Beck / Johnny Depp – 18 (2022)
After seeing the concert last month, it tempered my anticipation of this release, so I’ve given it a few plays before hitting the keys….
Surprisingly. It’s not the dog’s breakfast I had thought it might be; in fact, I’d go so far as to say it’s one of Beck’s better platters in recent years. Going back at least to You Had It Coming and Jeff, when he was in a relatively prolific phase.
That’s not to say that all is good; the cover of The Everly’s Let It Be Me, with Depp’s vocals should be regarded as a misdemeanour, if not full-on criminal offence: why didn’t they just make it an instrumental? And one of only 2 non-covers [of the 13 tracks] Sad Motherfudgin’* Parade with its droning chant of "deep down motherfudger*" is frankly just puerile….
So, the dross out the way. Depp does pull of a surprisingly competent falsetto on The Miracles’ Ooo Baby Baby and a fitting growl on an Industrial take of Killing Joke’s Death & Resurrection Show; and , have to say it, good work done on the Dennis Wilson cover, Time (from his only solo album, 1977’s Pacific Ocean Blue). However, its more the actor than singer behind Velvet Underground’s Venus In Furs, yet it’s still a highlight, as is a working of John Lennon’s Isolation. However, I can’t find the same enthusiasm for Janis Ian’s Stars though it is lifted by beck and Robert Adam Stevenson’s keys; or Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On. That then leaves the only other new track, This Is a Song For Heddy Lamarr, which to be honest, is quite good.
Where Mr Depp’s vocals aren’t required, it’s good to hear jeff Beck doing what he does best, Davey Spillane’s Midnight Walker is a melting gem, especially with Vanessa Freebairn’s cello giving haunting backing. And Brian Wilson's Don’t Talk (Put Your Head On My Shoulder) as well as Caroline, No; both from Pet Sounds is as good as anything JB did in the 1970s.
In summery then, far better than the Johnny Depp Show tour led us to expect.
Venus In Furs - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tLxzlQBgGXY
* word substitution, they system won't allow the proper title, but you can all guess...
Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana...