While he was as innovative as Jimmy Page, as tasteful as Eric Clapton and nearly as visionary as Jimi Hendrix, Jeff Beck never achieved the same commercial success as any of his contemporaries, primarily because of the haphazard way he approached his career. After Rod Stewart left the Jeff Beck Group, Beck never worked with a charismatic lead singer who could have helped sell his music to a wide audience. Furthermore, he was simply too idiosyncratic, moving from heavy metal to jazz-fusion within a blink of an eye. All the while, Beck retained the respect of fellow guitarists, who found his reclusiveness all the more alluring.
Jeff Beck began his musical career as the Yardbirds' lead guitarist, following the departure of Eric Clapton. He stayed with the band for nearly two years, then formed the Jeff Beck Group in 1967 with a lineup including vocalist Rod Stewart and bassist Ron Wood. With their crushingly loud reworkings of blues songs and vocal/guitar interplay, 1968's Truth and 1969's Beck-Ola became early templates for heavy metal. After Stewart and Wood left to join the Faces in 1970, Beck recorded two more albums with a new version of the group before releasing a lone LP as the head of a power trio including former Vanilla Fudge members Tim Bogert (bass) and Carmine Appice (drums). He moved from hard rock to jazz-rock with 1975's Blow by Blow and 1976's Wired, but recorded only three studio albums during the next 15 years. (One of which, the slick 1985 LP Flash, featured Beck's only hit single, "People Get Ready.") In 1993, he recorded the Gene Vincent tribute Crazy Legs, but then remained quiet for over five years before resurfacing in 1999 with Who Else! ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine