Beck's Bolero

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Beck's Bolero
Appears on Truth
Published by Universal Songs
Registration ASCAP 023254027
Release date 25 March 1967
Recorded 16 May 1966 at
IBC Studios, London.
Genre Hard rock, rock
Language English
Length 2 minutes 53 seconds
Composer Jimmy Page
Label Columbia Records
Producer Jimmy Page, Mickie Most
Engineer Glyn Johns

'Beck's Bolero' is a short, rock-based instrumental piece heavily influenced by Maurice Ravel's Bolero, recorded by Jeff Beck with Jimmy Page on guitar, John Paul Jones on bass, Nicky Hopkins on piano, and Keith Moon on drums. The song was first released as the B-side of a Jeff Beck solo single on 25 March 1967, and was later on released on the 1968 album Truth. The single charted at number 14 on the UK charts.[1]

Overview

The song is considered by many critics to be an important work in the early proto development of both the heavy rock and progressive rock genres.[2] 'Beck's Bolero' was recorded at IBC Studios on 16 May 1966.[3] John Entwistle was scheduled to play bass but couldn't attend, so John Paul Jones was called in as a last minute replacement.[4] Beck, Page, Hopkins, Jones and Moon planned to record a whole album, but contractual obligations prevented them from recording together again, and this was the only song from that session that was released, eventually as a B-side. Moon couldn't leave the Who and he resorted to arriving at the studio during the sessions in disguise, so no one would know he was playing with another band.[5] Jeff Beck claimed that Pete Townshend 'glared like daggers at me' after he later found out about the recording sessions.[6]

The song is roughly divided into three parts. The first part being two lead guitars playing separate melodies over a bolero rhythm; the first a rock lead in a moderately overdriven tone; the other playing a slide piece in a clean slinky tone resembling a steel guitar. A simultaneous drum break and vocal scream is heard at halfway (courtesy of Moon, who knocked over his recording microphone in the process, resulting in his crash cymbal being heard over the other percussion for the rest of the piece), after which the band begins playing a powerful blues-rock section. The first fuzzbox-distorted lead guitar eventually emerges from the sonic sludge along with the bolero rhythm, this time being played with percussive flourishes. Shortly thereafter, another lead guitar playing its own melody. The song is then brought to a very abrupt end as the band simply stops playing.

Mickie Most claimed production credit on the song when it was released as a single, even though he was not in the studio either during the recording or mixing stages.[7]

Page is officially credited for the arrangement, although there is disagreement over creative input. Beck explained on how the tune was written:

Well, with some difficulty and largely without me! ..... I went over to Jim's house and he had this 12-string Fender and he loved the idea of using a bolero-type rhythm for a rock record. He was playing the bolero rhythm and I played the melody on top of it, but then I said, 'Jim, you've got to break away from the bolero beat - you can't go on like that for ever!' So we stopped it dead in the middle of the song - like the Yardbirds would do on 'For Your Love' - then we stuck that riff into the middle.[8]

Page formerly inducted Beck into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.[9] Page and Beck were previously present and inducted as members of the Yardbirds in 1992.[10] 'Beck's Bolero' was performed by both Beck and Page together at the induction ceremony, with Page playing the original Fender XII guitar from the 1966 session.

Accolades

Publication Country Accolade Year Rank
Bruce Pollock United States The 7,500 Most Important Songs of 1944-2000[11] 2005 *
Toby Creswell Australia 1001 Songs: the Great Songs of All Time[12] 2005 *
DigitalDreamDoor United States The 100 Greatest Rock Guitar Solos[13] 2005 133
DigitalDreamDoor United States The 100 Greatest Rock Instrumentals[14] 2008 44

(*) designates unordered lists.

Credits

Personnel
  • Musicians:
    • Jeff Beck - electric guitar
    • Jimmy Page – 12 string electric guitar, producer
    • Nicky Hopkins – keyboards
    • John Paul Jones – bass guitar
    • Keith Moon - drums, percussion
  • Production:
    • Mickie Most – producer
    • Glyn Johns - engineer, mixing
    • Peter Mew - remastering (2000s)

Notes

  1. Top 100 Singles - 13 May 1967. chartstats.com. Retrieved on 2009-01-19.
  2. Clayson, Alan (2002). The Yardbirds: The Band That Launched Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, Jimmy Page, 1st. San Francisco: Backbeat Books. ISBN 0-87930-724-2. 
  3. Clayson, Alan (2002). The Yardbirds: The Band That Launched Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, Jimmy Page, 1st. San Francisco: Backbeat Books. ISBN 0-87930-724-2. 
  4. Terralavoro, David (November 1990). Jeff Beck - 'The Early Years'. The Jeff Beck Fanzine Issue #1. Terralavoro. Retrieved on 2009-03-28.
  5. Noble, Douglas J (June 1993). Jeff Beck on 'Beck's Bolero'. Guitar Magazine Vol 3 No 4/The Jeff Beck Bulletin issue 2, Summer 1993. Guitar Magazine. Retrieved on 2009-03-28.
  6. Fletcher, Tony (2000). Moon: The Life and Death of a Rock Legend, 1st. New York: Harper Collins. ISBN 0-380-78827-6. 
  7. Terralavoro, David (November 1992). Jeff Beck - The Early Years (1965-1967). The Jeff Beck Fanzine Issue #4. Terralavoro. Retrieved on 2009-03-28.
  8. Noble, Douglas J (June 1993). Jeff Beck on 'Beck's Bolero'. Guitar Magazine Vol 3 No 4/The Jeff Beck Bulletin issue 2, Summer 1993. Guitar Magazine. Retrieved on 2009-03-28.
  9. Rock Hall presenters to include Eminem, Jimmy Page. Entertainment News. Associated Press (20 March 2009). Retrieved on 2009-04-04.
  10. Rock and Roll Hall of Fame + Museum: Inductee Biography: The Yardbirds (1992)
  11. The 7,500 Most Important Songs of 1944-2000 - 2005. Acclaimed Music. Retrieved on 2009-02-10.
  12. Creswell, Toby (2005). “Beck's Bolero”, 1001 Songs: the Great Songs of All Time, 1st. Prahran: Hardie Grant Books. ISBN 9781740664585. 
  13. The 100 Greatest Rock Guitar Solos - 2005. DigitalDreamDoor. Retrieved on 2009-02-10.
  14. The 100 Greatest Rock Instrumentals - 2008. DigitalDreamDoor. Retrieved on 2009-02-10.