Rock 'n' Roll Party
(Eagle Rock Entertainment)


Funny, just this morning I spoke with New York guitar icon Johnny Farina about his upcoming tour of England later this year. Then, as I sat down to write the DVD review of Rock ‘n’ Roll Party Honoring Les Paul, the 2011 DVD release on Eagle by Jeff Beck, later the same day, I realized Jeff's DVD also includes a version of Johnny Farina’s classic 1959 smash “Sleepwalk,” the world renowned instrumental classic by Santo & Johnny. Wow, talk about coincidence! Anyway, Les Paul died—they say it actually happened on August 13, 2009—back in the summer of ‘09, with Les taking it right till the end of this crazy just past decade. One month later my mom died—2009 was indeed a most sobering year to end a most sobering decade for sure. Once, among the several times that I was lucky enough to speak to him, I asked Les a question about his quest for the perfect note (his own self-proclaimed “Les is more approach”) and in return Les said two words to me: ‘Jeff Beck.’ That stuck with me for years, but upon watching Jeff’s tribute to Les, it finally dawned on me what Les was actually talking about. In many ways, Jeff Beck’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Party DVD release on Eagle—a truncated CD version is also available on Atco/Rhino—is the quintessential tribute to the world's greatest guitar master. Les would be (and in heaven he is actually) awed of the great way Jeff has chosen to honor, both in song and sound, not only Les, but, in fact the entire era Les helped create for the next generation lucky enough to be able to implement the great advances Les created for both the guitar world and the recording world and the record world. I say this because Les was not only the greatest electric guitar inventor in history and a recording technique pioneer but he was also the most brilliant recording guitarist of the late ‘40s and early ‘50s. The ultimate Les Paul fan, Jeff Beck took his Les tribute live to the Iridium—the cramped, midtown Manhattan night spot Les brought his stage show to every Monday night, from the ‘90s to when he passed away that fateful summer of ‘09. I much preferred seeing Les, when he came back to the concert stage in the early ‘80s, at the much more open Fat Tuesdays down on 14th street, but the Times Square area Iridium, despite it’s small ambiance, was the place where Les lived and breathed and held court so to speak during his last years. For Rock 'n' Roll Party, Jeff Beck brought some great musicians with him to the stage that night at the Iridium for his tribute to Les, including singer Imelda May, who amazingly here sounds just like Mary Ford, the fantastic singer who Les chose to be his partner and wife during their heyday. Also backing up Jeff at this Les Paul birthday bash is an amazing horn section, drummer Stephen Rushton, singer/guitarist Darrel Higham, keyboardist Jason Rebello and more including a solid guitar spot by Brian Setzer, wild horn man Trombone Shorty and rock & roll great Gary U.S. Bonds—who brings to life his early ‘60s classic “New Orleans.” Just as amazing as the concert—filmed and recorded on what would have been Les Paul’s 95th birthday, June 9, 2010—are the ample bonus features on this incredible DVD, including 2010 interviews with Jeff Beck, great b&w and color pics of Jeff and Les in the must see DVD booklet. But best bonus features here are several vintage video clips from 1983 featuring Les jamming in concert with Jeff Beck and Billy Squire. The DVD, coupled with the Atco CD version, makes a most fantastic tribute to the man who gave everything to Jeff Beck, and in fact, to just about all of us. The DVD concert tribute of the year, Rock ‘n’ Roll Party is a veritable time capsule of 20th century guitar magic.


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