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Best Jeff Beck Songs: 10 Classic Cuts From The British Blues Master
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List & Guides

Best Jeff Beck Songs: 10 Classic Cuts From The British Blues Master

Taking hard rock to new peaks, the best Jeff Beck songs saw the legendary guitarist leave The Yardbirds to embark on a soaring solo career.

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Widely regarded as one of the best guitarists of all time, Jeff Beck cut his teeth with the British Invasion group The Yardbirds – which also included future Led Zeppelin mastermind Jimmy Page among its ranks – before embarking on a remarkably varied solo career of his own. From his initial ventures in psychedelic pop-rock and hard rock, through to improvisatory jazz-fusion experimentations with funk and R&B, Beck trod a very different path from his peers, eventually preferring to eschew pop songwriting formats in favour of exhilarating instrumental rock jams. Across his career, Beck has proven himself a guitar legend who has never been afraid of going beyond sonic boundaries to discover new sounds. Here to prove it is our list of the best Jeff Beck songs…

Listen to the best of Jeff Beck here, and check out our best Jeff Beck songs, below

10: Tallyman (single A-side, 1967)

Released in July 1967 as Jeff Beck’s second solo single, Tallyman is a psych-rock gem written by Graham Gouldman (later frontman for 10cc), who had previously written Heart Full Of Soul for Beck’s former outfit The Yardbirds.

With pop supremo Mickie Most’s production, Tallyman sees Beck take lead vocals and wind his fingers around heady unison bends, staccato power-chord bursts à la The Who and a sinuous sliding solo. Much overlooked, this is radio-friendly 60s pop-rock at its finest.

9: Spanish Boots (from ‘Beck-Ola’, 1969)

With Faces bandmates Rod Stewart on lead vocals and Ronnie Wood on bass, it’s no wonder Spanish Boots stomps its way into our list of the best Jeff Beck songs. Pairing Beck’s masterful soloing with Wood’s ultra-busy bass riffs, the song’s thunderous stomping groove recalls Led Zeppelin, while Stewart is on typically gruff vocal form.

“I wrote the lyrics,” the singer confessed in his autobiography, “a load of old nonsense about monasteries and tapestries and putting your boots on.” Again produced by Mickie Most, the recording sessions for Spanish Boots were allegedly quite fractious, as an increasingly experimental-minded Beck grew disenchanted with Most’s commercial predilections. Nevertheless, Spanish Boots still kicks.

8: She’s A Woman (from ‘Blow By Blow’, 1975)

Teaming up with legendary Beatles producer George Martin for his 1975 album, Blow By Blow, Beck delivered a surprise cover version of the group’s 1964 B-side She’s A Woman, giving the song a reggae-inflected makeover.

Murmuring the lyrics through a talk box, this offbeat approach was inspired by soul singer Linda Lewis. Beck also fleshed out John Lennon and Paul McCartney’s arrangement with some blistering fretwork, extending the song to four and a half minutes and impressing George Martin with his innate guitar skills. “George loved that,” Beck later reflected. “He was the hippest guy in London.”

7: Blue Wind (from ‘Wired’, 1976)

Truly ahead of its time for the way it anticipated the sound of 80s synth-pop, Blue Wind sees Mahavishnu Orchestra keyboardist Jan Hammer provide a springboard for Beck’s drive toward jazz-rock experimentalism. “When I heard Jan’s Minimoog, I wanted to know all about it because it was so pure,” Beck said

Like all the tracks from Beck’s 1976 album, Wired, Blue Wind is an instrumental, mixing Hammer’s shimmering Minimoog tones with the guitarist’s improvisatory spirit, and flying high with a flurry of face-melting solos. Easily one of the best Jeff Beck songs, Blue Wind still blows listeners away.

6: Freeway Jam (from ‘Blow By Blow’, 1975)

A live favourite among fans, Freeway Jam sees Beck deliver yet another instrumental masterclass on his Fender Strat. Boasting one of the guitarist’s most spectacular solos, the song is a free-flowing wonder coasting on cruise control thanks to Max Middleton’s jazzy synth solos and drummer Richard Bailey’s leisurely drive-time groove.

“It felt like a slowed-down Irish reel to me,” Beck later said of Freeway Jam, admitting he never quite warmed to the song the way his fans did. “I used the Strat to frighten people at that point, really!”

5: Hi Ho Silver Lining (single A-Side, 1967)

It’s remarkable how much Hi Ho Silver Lining splits listeners down the middle. Peaking at No.14 in the UK after its original release, in March 1967, and reaching the Top 20 again upon re-release in 1972, the song is by far and away Jeff Beck’s biggest hit, and sees him combine a galloping double-tracked guitar solo with a cynical dig at hippie idealism (“Saying everything is groovy, when your tyres are flat”).

Perhaps the best example of producer Mickie Most’s mastery of FM gold, Hi Ho Silver Lining was precision-tooled to ride the airwaves. “It’s just a commercial record,” Beck said in a Record Mirror interview at the time of its release, “but it did the trick.” It certainly did, and it deserves a spot among the best Jeff Beck songs for the way it anticipated the razzle-dazzle singalongs of early-70s glam-rock.

4: Come Dancing (from ‘Wired’, 1976)

One of Jeff Beck’s most fantastic funk-rock instrumentals, Come Dancing, written by drummer and Mahavishnu Orchestra member Narada Michael Walden, is a snarling cut from the guitarist’s 1976 masterpiece, Wired.

A hard-edged, herky-jerky bop full of Wilbur Bascomb’s belching basslines and some of Beck’s most gnarly guitar riffs, Come Dancing is an exhilarating listen among the best Jeff Beck songs, lent many colours thanks to Middleton’s forceful clavinet groove. Proving Beck’s enthusiasm for diversifying rock’n’roll with the free-spiritedness of funk and R&B, it’s a song that makes disco feel decrepit.

3: I Ain’t Superstitious (from ‘Truth’, 1968)

Inspired by the wah-wah raucousness of Jimi Hendrix and the muddy blues swirl of Cream, Jeff Beck’s debut album, Truth, saw him serve up a thumping hard-rock cover of Howlin’ Wolf’s I Ain’t Superstitious. Conjuring an array of primal roars from his guitar by mimicking animal noises, the song is a fuzz-laden showcase of Beck’s sonic proficiency as he ditched the Vox AC30 of his Yardbirds era in favour of a Marshall amp.

“I wanted it to sound like a war club,” Beck said of his recording. Boosting the treble by bending strings on his MKII Colorsound Tone Bender, I Ain’t Superstitious also saw Beck team up with a pre-Faces-era Rod Stewart for the first time. “I had to round up a singer,” Beck said. “I always liked Rod, I dug him, with the teased hair and all the rest of it.” A prototype for the sonic template heavy-metal guitarists would later build upon, I Ain’t Superstitious remains a hard-rock marvel as otherworldly as a voodoo ritual.

2: Cause We’ve Ended As Lovers (from ‘Blow By Blow’, 1975)

Originally written by Motown legend Stevie Wonder for his wife, Syreeta, to perform, Cause We’ve Ended As Lovers sounded tailor-made for Jeff Beck. “I wasn’t hearing Syreeta singing,” the guitarist later recalled of hearing the song for the first time. “I was hearing me playing. I picked up the guitar and there was this perfect song.”

Deciding to cover it for Blow By Blow, Beck transformed Syreeta’s soul ballad into an atmospheric guitar instrumental oozing with sensuality and an air of woozy dreaminess. From soaring overbends to toying with tonalities, Beck’s guitar work on Cause We’ve Ended As Lovers makes the track stand tall among the best Jeff Beck songs, proving how Beck had an impeccable ear for melody few guitarists could match.

1: Beck’s Bolero (from ‘Truth’, 1968)

Dating back to an infamous 1966 rehearsal with guitarists Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page, bassist John Paul Jones and Who drummer Keith Moon, Beck’s Bolero is the stuff of legend. It was during this session that the dream team concocted this miasmic hard-rock freak-out from a Spanish bolero rhythm inspired by Maurice Ravel. As the story goes, the idea of taking this line-up of musicians on the road led Moon to utter the immortal words: “That’d go down like a lead zeppelin.” Thus, Led Zeppelin’s name was born.

However, Beck has always claimed that the song itself is his baby, despite Page remembering otherwise. “Jimmy was playing the bolero rhythm and I played the melody on top of it,” Beck has asserted. “I don’t care what he says, I invented that melody.” Page, on the other hand, declares authorship: “I wrote it, played on it, produced it,” he told Guitar Player, “and I don’t give a damn what he says. That’s the truth.”

Whoever wrote it, Beck’s Bolero found its way onto Beck’s debut solo album, Truth, with Page credited as the sole songwriter. But there’s no denying Beck’s remarkable guitar talents as he lathers the song in slide, echo and phasing effects, before it erupts into a crescendo of rock’n’roll bluster. “The riff in the middle of Bolero is the first heavy metal riff ever written,” Beck has proudly stated, “and I wrote it.” As a seminal hard rock classic, Beck’s Bolero deservedly tops our list of the best Jeff Beck songs.

Looking for more? Check out our best guitar solos of all time.

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