has never shied away from following trends, at least as far as the musical styles he uses to back up his signature guitar sound. Back in 1969, in a sleeve note on Beck-Ola
, he noted that he hadn't come up with "anything totally original," and instead made an album "with the accent on heavy music" at a time when the "heavy music" of the Jimi Hendrix Experience
and Led Zeppelin
was all the rage. In 1975, at the height of the jazz fusion movement, he made a jazz fusion album, and a good one, too. In both cases, however, the fashionable genres only provided a contemporary-sounding context in which his playing could flourish. If anyone has ever needed to be inspired to work, it's this recluse. So on his first regular studio album of new material in ten years, Who Else!
, on at least a few tracks, solos over heavily percussive techno tracks reminiscent of Prodigy
. But whether he's piercing such a rhythmic wall, rearranging the blues on the live "Blast From the East," or floating over an ambient soundscape on "Angel (Footsteps)," it's the same old Beck
, with his stinging and sustained single-note melodies, his harmonics, his contrasting tones, his drive. And the man who played "Greensleeves" straight on Truth
in 1968 is the same one who is faithful to the Irish air "Declan" here. Older fans who haven't been spending time at raves in recent years may want to program their CDs to avoid the electronica, but they should at least give those tunes a listen -- are they any heavier than the "heavy music" of 1969?