LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Guitarist Jeff Beck wants to make one more mind-blowing album with Rod Stewart before the singer becomes a fixture on the Las Vegas Strip.
The British rockers, both 66, recently discussed collaborating for the first time in more than 25 years, with hopes that the resulting project would pick up where their groundbreaking blues work from the late 1960s left off.
Beck recently told Reuters there is “some mileage” to be had in a reunion project that radically reworks old tunes by the likes of Muddy Waters and Elmore James.
But the ball’s in Stewart’s court.
“It all depends on how he delivers. He’s gotta come across big-time, vocally,” said Beck, who was confident Stewart still has the goods. “But until the fat lady — uh — the skinny geezer sings!”
The two old comrades met up in Los Angeles just before Christmas and excitedly laid the groundwork. Stewart the stadium crowd-pleaser would reclaim his title as the rightful successor of Sam Cooke, and Beck the infamous perfectionist would supply a powerful musical foundation of different keys and riffs.
Does Beck plan to rock the world Led Zeppelin-style?
“Oh we’re gonna do that,” Beck said without missing a beat. “It won’t even see the light of day unless it does.”
In fact, he promised to destroy the tapes if the project was aborted.
“I WOULD HAVE SPARED YOU ‘MAGGIE MAY’”
Before he became a global pop idol, Stewart got his big break in the late 1960s singing gritty blues songs with the Jeff Beck Group, a short-lived combo that could have overshadowed Led Zeppelin.
Their two albums, “Truth” and “Beck-Ola,” established “Rod the Mod” as one of England’s greatest soul singers. But then the group fell apart. Stewart became a huge rock star and rarely stretched himself again. Beck remained a cult favorite.
“He should have stayed with me. I would have spared you ‘Maggie May,’” Beck jokingly said of the 1971 chart-topper, Stewart’s first big hit.
“There’s nothing wrong with ‘Maggie May,’ but it would have been so much more powerful, I think, more strident, more futuristic. But who am I to say? Look at the results he got.”
Beck and Stewart reunited in 1985 for an R&B cover of Curtis Mayfield’s “People Get Ready.”
Beck promised to instill Stewart with the necessary confidence to step out of his comfort zone. He recalled that when the Jeff Beck Group played New York’s Fillmore East in 1968, Stewart was so shy that he sang behind the curtain.
“He was so frightened,” he said. “I don’t blame him.”
The big variable, of course, is Stewart, who became a father for the eighth time a few weeks ago. He and Fleetwood Mac’s Stevie Nicks will kick off a North American tour on March 20. Beck also has a busy tour itinerary.
According to Rolling Stone, Stewart is also in talks to extend his recent stand at Las Vegas’ Caesars Palace to multiple residencies over the next two years. He’s also considering a stint at Carnegie Hall where he would perform songs from the hit “American Songbook” albums on which he crooned old standards, Frank Sinatra-style.
“He has a penchant for being Sinatra, like all singers do, end up in Vegas.” Beck said. “And I think that’s where he’s gonna probably end up. Big band, stuff like that. So what? That’s a good, gracious way to wind things up.
“This is a bit of a left-turn, isn’t it this?. A bit of a thin-ice deal. But trust me, I won’t let anything get out that shouldn’t get out.”
Editing by Jill Serjeant and BobTourtellotte