By “Tampa” Earl Burton, Rock At Night
There is something that is a constant occurrence in the world of entertainment. Rock stars always want to try their hand at acting (see Jagger, Mick, for one example), while actors always want to show off that they are closet rock stars (see Willis, Bruce AKA “Bruno”). Often, they come up short in these endeavors. Actor Johnny Depp is one of those who has been able to straddle the divide, although it does not show on his latest album with guitar legend Jeff Beck.
Depp has previously teamed up with none other than Alice Cooper and Aerosmith’s Joe Perry for a rebirth of Hollywood Vampires (quick history: Hollywood Vampires was a drinking group formed by Cooper in the 70s that consisted of himself, John Lennon, Ringo Starr, Harry Nilsson, and Micky Dolenz, among others), issuing two albums of decent material. What is not known is just how much Depp was doing in the studios on guitar, however; with Perry and Cooper there, he probably did not have to do much performance wise. In his new collaboration with Beck, entitled 18, Depp must carry a bit more of the weight and comes up a bit short.
The 13-track album is replete with cover songs from many of the greats of rock history. The Beach Boys figure prominently on the song list, while Marvin Gaye, The Everly Brothers, and Janis Ian also show up. Arguably the best cover on the list is Depp and Beck taking on The Velvet Underground’s “Venus in Furs,” which works well with Depp’s vocals and Beck still-incendiary guitar work.
The problems arise in the two tracks written by Depp himself. “Sad Motherfuckin’ Parade” was a tune that probably could have been left off as it is a mumbling, lethargic piece. The other tune, “This is A Song for Hedy Lamarr” is actually worthy of a listen, however. Depp seems to draw from his own history with the paparazzi in relating the tale of the famous actor. It is a satisfying song that does show that Depp has some songwriting chops of his own.
And what can you say about Beck? Even after 60 years in the game, the legendary guitarist shows up for every track on the album, often laying down the solo work on such songs as “What’s Going On?” and “Ooh, Baby, Baby” that replace any lyrics that would normally be sung. His playing, even at the advanced age of 78, shows no decay nor loss of virtuosity.
Overall, however, you would hope that Beck would have gotten on a better record (the track with Ozzy Osbourne, “Patient Number 9,” is a fiery explosion from the former Black Sabbath vocalist and Beck). 18 lacks a consistency that you would prefer to have in your music. While Depp shows that he is not out of his element in the world of music, 18 also shows that he is not quite ready to take over as the “main man” yet, either.
JEFF BECK AND JOHNNY DEPP18 Track Listing
- “Midnight Walker” (Davy Spillane cover)
- “Death And Resurrection Show” (Killing Joke cover)
- “Time” (Dennis Wilson cover)
- “Sad Motherfuckin’ Parade” (Johnny Depp original)
- “Don’t Talk (Put Your Head On My Shoulder)” (Beach Boys cover)
- “This Is A Song For Miss Hedy Lamarr” (Johnny Depp original)
- “Caroline, No” (Beach Boys cover)
- “Ooo Baby Baby” (The Miracles cover)
- “What’s Going On” (Marvin Gaye cover)
- “Venus In Furs” (The Velvet Underground cover)
- “Let It Be Me” (The Everly Brothers cover)
- “Stars” (Janis Ian cover)
- “Isolation” (John Lennon cover)*
*Available on digital and CD version only
Website Johnny Depp
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