Thursday, March 4, 2010

Beck's Bolero

Middle of 1969, my freshman year of high school at LaSalle Academy on the Lower East Side, I heard Beck's Bolero for the first time and lost it, literally lost it. When this song came on a radio, I'd stop whatever I was doing and move to the speaker source like a wayward space craft being magnetically pulled into the mother ship.

This instrumental tune off Jeff Beck's album, Truth shook my core. It featured Beck, Jimmy Page, Nicky Hopkins, John Paul Jones, and Keith Moon on drums. Moon snuck into the recording studio to avoid pissing off Pete Townshend. This Lp album, including my favorite versions of Shape of Things and Morning Dew, triggered the most stringent money saving effort in my life. I needed to hear this music the way it needed to be heard. Loud and clear. Working 30 hour weeks after school and Saturdays for three months, I earned $350 delivering groceries at Daitch Shopwell, allowing me to buy a high end Lafayette stereo receiver and a pair of Criterion 100s, Lafayette's best speakers. I bought the gear at the Lafayette store on 87th Street & Lexington Avenue. I usually got thrown out of the store for not buying nothing, so it was odd to be there with lots of money, ready to spend, and the staff was ignoring my friend, Ekis and me. To attract attention we began to play Saluggi with a portable record player. This immediately brought the sales help we sought.

I timed my purchase to coincide with an evening I'd have our family apartment to myself until 11pm. I got in the house at 7pm. I wired the speakers to the receiver and the receiver to my low end Garrard turntable. I laid the speakers on the floor facing each other two feet apart, I lowered the needle onto Beck's Bolero, I turn the volume knob up three quarters, I laid on the floor with my head in between both speakers pointed towards my ears. When the song started I had two thoughts: this was bliss & a firm belief that my decision to keep the volume at 75 percent was a prudent choice preventing me from blowing the speakers out on their first use. The deep bass vibrations rattled the bedroom window panes like a train hurtling along an imaginary El outside.
Beck's Bolero:


Steve Geosits said...

I remember that one of my guitar lessons in high school was a simple Mel Bay version of Greensleeves on acoustic. Then one day, a friend of mine put on Beck's Truth. Well the entire LP was an ear-opener but when Beck's Greensleeves came on and I was simply blown away by his simple yet beautiful invention.

Thomas Pryor said...

Steve,agreed,on Greensleeves. I thought, well there's a song Dad will enjoy, a thousand year old traditional. I was wrong, didn't matter. "Lower the music!"

Larry said...

That sure brings back memories.I collected all of Jeff Beck's albums back then.I remember Truth and Beckola were similar but I preferred Truth.

Thomas Pryor said...

Thank you, Larry, you have great photographs at your Brownstone Birding Blog