Since the late ’90s, Jeff Beck has been fusing equal parts blues, jazz-rock, and heavy-duty electronica; this time he’s added spoken-word sections and vocals over the big, throbbing grooves, thanks to singer Rosie Bones and co-guitarist Carmen Vandenberg. Carmen is a young Brit player, and her bluesy leads and elegant chords nicely complement Jeff’s raw, brutal solos.
Even with the politically charged voice-over, “The Revolution Will Be Televised” is largely an excuse for El Becko’s fat Stratocaster attack – his tone can still shake the universe.
“Live In The Dark” has a brooding Afro-blues vibe, leaving ample room for the guitarist to deliver Bo Diddley-like rhythm chunks and Chicago blues notes.
“Thugs Club” finds Jeff and Bones railing at the wealthy elites, unjust war, and social inequality over a stomping beat and sick, highly processed crunch tones.
It wouldn’t be a Beck album without a beautiful guitar ballad and for that, cue up “Edna.” Over Vandenberg’s lush chordal work, Jeff soars in the distance with deeply echoed lead licks. It’s gorgeous, but sadly, all too brief.
Loud Hailer is not Jeff Beck’s best album this century (that would be 2001’s You Had It Coming), but it reveals a man who’s angry at the world and wants to fight back – this time, armed with a Strat.
This article originally appeared in VG‘s October ’16 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.