With Jeff Beck’s brand new collaborative album, 18 recorded with actor/musician Johnny Depp, arriving on streaming services this week (order, here), the British guitar legend has offered some reflections on his musical partnership with Depp and the recording of 18.
From his musings in ensembles and stylistic forays into jazz fusion to high-profile collaborations with Kate Bush, Roger Waters and many more, Jeff Beck’s legendary career has carved a surprising path for the better part of six decades now. But his latest collaboration with actor/Hollywood Vampires all-star, Johnny Depp might just be one of his most unexpected entries yet!
The duo’s 13-track LP tackles a wide range of artists, touching on everything from Celtic and Motown to the Velvet Underground, the Beach Boys and Killing Joke. 18 also features a pair of Depp originals: The first single, This Is a Song for Miss Hedy Lamarr, which they debuted live on stage in London, and Sad M*********n’ Parade.
Jeff Beck & Johnny Depp | 'Sad M*********n' Parade'
The first track to preview the collection was a Depp-penned title, This is a Song for Miss Hedy Lamarr. The single arrived with the album announcement in June and was a poignant choice for first single because, as Beck explains, the song was the catalyst for he and Johnny’s collaborative work. “He sent me a track to play on, which was Hedy Lamar and I was blown away by it,” he recalled. “His songwriting is up there.”
Jeff Beck & Johnny Depp | 'This is a Song for Miss Hedy Lamarr'
The album heavily is weighted with a diverse choice of covers, spanning generations and genres. According to Beck, the song selection in itself was a big part of the pair’s creative process. Reflecting on their cover of Velvet Underground’s Venus In Furs, Beck highlights the inspirational force of Depp’s enthusiasm. ‘I wasn’t so sure about Venus In Furs at first,” the guitarist recalls, “But when I started with the reverb and all that, he [Depp] was freaking out.” It was that kind of reaction that Beck describes as a “major force on this record. I haven’t had another partner [like Depp] in ages.’
Jeff Beck and Johnny Depp | 'Venus In Furs'
Another of the covers that appears on the record, the Everly Brothers’ Let It Be Me wasn’t a favourite of Beck’s, having been tarnished by his sister playing it “non-stop” when they were teenagers. But at Depp’s suggestion, revisiting the track made him realize that “the lyrics are great, and the way Johnny delivers makes it ok in my book.”
Jeff Beck and Johnny Depp | 'Let It Be Me'
Beck previously explained the album title, saying, “When Johnny and I started playing together, it really ignited our youthful spirit and creativity. We would joke about how we felt 18 again, so that just became the album title too.”
18 is out now digitally, with a CD and 180-gram black vinyl version coming on September 30. The cover features an illustration of Beck and Depp as 18-year-olds that was drawn and designed by Beck’s wife Sandra. All formats are available, here.
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