Dirty Mind – Jeff Beck
Working on my first record as producer for Jeff, I set out with the idea of creating something that would showcase his mastery of guitar sounds and also sit comfortably alongside the industrial sound of contemporary artists such as The Chemical Brothers.
Jeff was refreshingly open-minded – excited to try his hand at new things and test himself in different directions. So we set out with that spirit between us – eager to see what we could create.
To start the process, I hired programmer Aiden Love, to put together lots of big, industrial-sounding rhythm tracks. My brief to him was to make beats that sounded almost like records without anything else on them. He had a pedal board he liked to use, and he’d record things and re-loop them and generally mess them up till they were really hard-core and industrial-sounding.
In terms of the recording gear, we kept things pretty simple. Jeff had his Strat – modified and developed with Fender – but a new guitar, not some priceless vintage model. His amp was a JCM 800 series feeding a Marshall four by four with an SM57 mic in front of it in a small live room. We took that out into an 1176, and into ProTools and a small Mackie desk. It was really basic. I had a keyboard set up, and I’d run the beats and just get Jeff to jam over them.
For Dirty Mind, we were probably five or six tracks into our process, so we had a bit of a thing going. I took two of Aiden’s programmed beats, blended them together and hit record as Jeff started blowing over them – he’d make insane sounds, play ridiculous stuff using only CryBaby wah-wah pedal to filter the sound through to the amp on some of the takes.
In editing mode I’d put together groups of soundbites like ‘riffs’ or ‘textures’ or ‘solos’ or ‘sequences of chords’. Then I’d go through and find, for example, that the best riff started on bar 135 – so I’d loop that and make it into a chorus. I’d find the second best riff and position it as a verse. Then find some of the textures and loop them and put them underneath the riffs and it quickly started to sound like music – or a kind of a sound that we’d invented.
Dirty Mind also featured vocal samples we recorded with Imogen Heap. I’d worked on Imogen’s first album, and Jeff had met her at a songwriting retreat, and really liked her. We invited her to sing ‘Rolling and Tumbling’ and while she was there I put her on the mic for a blast on Dirty Mind. The resulting samples added just what was needed to complete the picture.
Both Jeff and I were delighted with ‘You had it Coming’ as an album and ‘Dirty Mind’ was awarded ‘Best Rock Instrumental’ at the Grammy’s the following year.