Jeff

Jeff Beck is surely the only guitar hero of his generation — a former Yardbird and the man who lit the fuse of 1970s fusion — who now makes records like a Chemical Brother: wildfire-instrumental affairs set in fat, dirty jungles of looped percussion and synth licks. He's damn good at it, too. Some of the vocal-sample high jinks ("Seasons," "Hot Rod Honeymoon") wear after repeated plays; this is, after all, a guy who wisely dispensed with singers after 1974. But Beck rules machine parties such as "So What" with a knockout brutality — cutting through the programming with feedback-tipped spears of lyricism and big-cat growls of distortion — while his biting, acrobatic elegance in the album's closing ballads highlights the beauty and melody inside the violence.