Picks and Pans Review: There & Back
The British guitarist's first album since 1977 is a gem. His electrifying attack soars above the thundering drums, bass and synthesizer backup to create a sound that fuses rock, jazz and R&B (but no New Wave). Of particular note are Star Cycle and Too Much to Lose, where Beck's unrelenting rock complements the deep textures of Jan Hammer's electronic keyboards. You Never Know is a spellbinder offering Beck, Hammer and drummer Simon Phillips plenty of space for intricate solos. The Pump is slow and spacey, but breaks off into Beck's searing guitar runs. It's as if the man can't get through a number without pushing his play, if not his amplifier, to the maximum, though since his mid-'60s Yardbird days Beck has been too tasteful to lapse into excess. The album's finest moment is in The Golden Road, when Beck plays solos around rich chords from Tony Hymas' synthesizer. There is a staggering amount of inspired musicianship here, and with sharp co-production by Beck and Ken Scott, you catch it all.