Blu-ray Review: Still on the Run: The Jeff Beck Story

By , Contributor
At 73 years young, guitarist extraordinaire Jeff Beck is Still on the Run, as is made perfectly clear in the new Eagle Rock Entertainment feature-length documentary. Now available on Blu-ray (and standard DVD), Still on the Run is a straightforward "rockumentary" piece that glides by as smoothly as a finely-crafted Beck guitar solo. If anything, at 87 minutes the film will leave you craving even more—whether you're a longtime fan or brand new to the musical universe of the still strangely underrated rock legend.

And if more is what you want, Eagle Rock has you covered: as a bonus, there's a blistering 20-minute set from 2007's Montreux Jazz Fest that includes "Eternity's Breath," "Freeway Jam," "Nadia," "Led Boots," and "Blue Wind." Curiously, the concert footage is presented only in LPCM 2.0 stereo, whereas the main feature is in both 2.0 and DTS-HD MA 5.1 (shouldn't that have been the other way around, given that the documentary is mostly talking-head interviews?). No real worries though, the stereo track sounds great.

Still on the Run traces Beck's entire career, from his earliest inspirations to his time with The Yarbirds, his Jeff Beck Group lineup featuring Rod Stewart and Ron Wood to his '70s work with Beatles' producer George Martin—and beyond, right up to present day. Along the way we hear from collaborators and notable admirers, all of whom expound enthusiastically on his virtuosity. These include the likes of Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page, David Gilmour, Slash, and more.

Collaborator interviews include relatively recent comments from the late Sir George Martin, also Stewart and Wood, and more recent band members such as bassists Rhonda Smith and Tal Wilkenfeld. Guitarist Carmen Vandenberg pitches in her reflections as well. Beck rightfully receives props for his frequent employment of female musicians—somewhat of a rarity in the largely "boy's club" of classic rock.

Directed by Matthew Longfellow, veteran editor and director of the Classic Albums series, Still on the Run ultimately presents a thumbnail view of Jeff Beck's career. Much of the film is given over to lavish praise about the groundbreaking, influential, inventive, and unique aspects of Beck's musicianship. And while it's all true, this film doesn't attempt to plumb the depths of Beck's psyche. Still, even in it's rather surface-level approach, the film is a breezy, entertaining, and celebratory look at a long, inspiring career. And the best part of it? Anyone who either didn't really know much more than the reputation accompanying the name "Jeff Beck" (or who only associated him with the Yardbirds) will gain a greater appreciation of Beck's artistry.

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Chaz Lipp writes for The Morton Report.

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