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UPP - Upp

The major selling point of this album by Upp has always been the fact that it was produced by Jeff Beck, and also features him on guitar. I was still not convinced until I read a review that mentioned that it includes some of his best work on guitar from the period, and so I invested in a cheap(ish) vinyl copy to see if was true. As it turns out, this 1975 album is pretty ordinary, and in no way compares to his work on his own albums such as ‘Blow By Blow’ (1975), or ‘Wired’ (1976), and so was consequently something of a disappointment. Basically a progressive funk band, similar in style, I suppose, to a band like Kokomo, they purveyed a sort of soft funk/rock which leaves Beck little room to produce anything of value, being reduced to odd fills here and there in a style that could be any jobbing guitarist of the time. ‘Bad Stuff’ is a case in point - a perfectly acceptable funky little song, but the guitar is relegated to just a chopping rhythm and the keyboards take the lead on the solo. It seems surprising that Beck was producing this funk/rock band while at the same time delivering two of his best jazz/rock albums, but I suppose you can hear traces of the guitar voice box featured on his solo releases in tracks like ‘Friendly Street’ and ‘Give It To You’ so perhaps he was using this album as a sounding board for his own stuff. His one co-writing credit ‘Jeff’s One’ does have some trademark guitar on it, but it is too little too late to save the album. With funk/rock like this being very much out of favour at the moment this will only appeal to Beck completists, but even they should tread warily.
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