June 25, 2018  (Web Review)

Still On the Run: The Jeff Beck Story

(2018) 108 min. DVD: $15.98, Blu-ray: $21.99. Eagle Rock Entertainment (avail. from most distributors).

Reviewer rating: 3.5/4

Filmmaker Matthew Longfellow’s biographical portrait tells the story of Jeff Beck, a legendary guitarist for the past half-century who is a superstar but not a household name. Partially that’s because Beck’s drive is purely music, and everything else—internal dramas with bandmates, record label demands—are all secondary. The documentary traces Beck’s rise as lead guitarist in the essential 1960s band the Yardbirds, an ensemble that allowed him to begin stretching the limits of guitar sound, such as replicating the bent notes of a sitar on the classic “Shapes of Things.” Moving on, Beck created The Jeff Beck Group and pushed into new sonic frontiers, ultimately realizing that he wanted to be a virtuoso like Miles Davis in the latter’s fusion phase, remaking the rules about what constitutes jazz versus rock. The profile here is both informative and charming, with many moments of Beck fiddling around with hot rod engines in his private workshop. Viewers also learn that for many years, at least half (if not more) of Beck’s ever-revolving bandmates have been women, all extraordinary musicians. Interviewees include Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page, and many of Beck’s past and present collaborators. The overall impression is that Beck is a decent, likable, generous, and passionate artist. Extras include bonus tracks from a 2007 Montreux Jazz Festival performance. Highly recommended. Aud: P. (T. Keogh)