You’re likely to find Jeff Beck‘s face on any Mount Rushmore of guitarists — and maybe of musicians, period.
His musical praises are being sung worldwide since his shocking death Wednesday (Jan. 11) from bacterial meningitis at age 78. And rest assured that everything being said about the seven-time Grammy winner and two-time Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee is true. And maybe even understated.
While his skills are unquestionably worth celebrating, those discussions sometimes obscure the fact that Beck’s greatest gift was in service to the songs he played. Whether with the Yardbirds or the various incarnations of his own band, or with a wide variety of collaborators, Beck elevated his songs with purposeful and deliberate choices — of notes, riffs, phrasings — that raised them to the proverbial next level. He demonstrated plenty of flash and drama during his 60 years of recording, but always in a manner that made the songs soar.
The best are, not surprisingly, hard to choose, and there’s plenty of genuine greatness to be found deep in all of Beck’s albums. But these 10 — in alphabetical order — are at the top of the heap, all performances that transcend the individual songs to establish some new standards for music itself.
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