Album Review: ‘Loud Hailer’ by Jeff Beck
Working with a noisy young band, the guitar virtuoso pairs politics with nuanced playing
Jeff Beck has earned the right to wax virtuosic on a cushioned stool at jazz fests. Instead, at 72, he’s rediscovering his love of Jimi Hendrix with Bones, a young British rock duo whose better moments recall the big-beat noise of Sleigh Bells. See “Pull It,” an exercise in off-the-leash, bass-drop guitar-tone nastiness that could make Jack White blush. It’s the high point of Loud Hailer (an English colloquialism for megaphone), and its wordlessness is a plus; other songs decry war, apathy, greed, crass media, evil politicians, empty fame and other ills with less art than righteous heart. But Beck’s playing is as powerful as ever – by turns brutal, with the heavy-metal flamethrowing at the tails of “Thugs Club” and “The Ballad of the Jersey Wives,” and nuanced, with the ambient folk-blues of “Shrine” and the instrumental “Edna.” Here, his guitar is the most articulate voice in the room.