I've Been Drinking - Jeff Beck Group
One of the more dubious accolades that can be accorded Jeff Beck is that he, effectively, gave us Rod Stewart. In 1969 the great Stevie Marriot, lead singer and guitarist with the high flying pop/rock outfit the Small Faces, left them, and Ronnie Wood became the guitar bit of his replacement to be followed by Stewart as lead singer, both on the back of the reputation of the "Truth" and "Beckola" albums plus the mercurial live performances of the Jeff Beck Group. With the Small Faces' original members Ian McLagan, Kenney Jones and Ronnie Lane, they became the Faces and by the end of 1971, both the Faces and Rod Stewart as a solo recording artist were surfing a wave of success which, for Stewart at least, hasn't stopped rolling in since.
"I've Been Drinking" is a Beck / Stewart composition, a rewrite of a tune by the legendary Johnny Mercer (lyrics by Doris Tauber) first released in 1962 by Gloria Lynne and the Earl Ray Trio, a wonderful tune, but no more wonderful than this Beck/Stewart makeover. Nicky Hopkins is perfect on piano, Beck's guitar solo's as icy and tasty as a deep fried Mars Bar while Stewart manages the balance between soul and control as well as he's ever done, before or since.
"I've Been Drinking" was originally the B-side of "Love is Blue", the Jeff Beck Group's follow-up to their 1967 hit "Hi Ho Silver Lining", and only reached number 23 in the charts. When "Silver Lining" was successfully rereleased five years later, they issued the same follow-up but flipped it, making "I've Been Drinking" the A-side this time. They figured that on the back of the incredible success that Stewart had had with the likes of "Maggie May" in the meantime, it would be a sure-fire hit. They were wrong again; it fared even worse, only making number 27. But unlike most of Stewart's more famous tracks of the 70's, "I've Been Drinking" still sounds as fresh as the day it came out.,
One of the things about the Jeff Beck Group is, when you hear them, you realise how easy it is to forget what a great singer Stewart actually was. He was pretty accomplished on those Faces albums and his early solo discs, but for my money, he's never been as good as he was when he was with Beck. I say "for my money", which is practically non-existent, at a time when Mr Stewart is reportedly worth over £200 million, so what do I know?