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-metalÂ 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.