The full title is Cause We’ve Ended as Lovers and for almost everyone it’s that beautiful slow instrumental on Jeff Beck’s fabulous Blow by Blow album, with a dedication to Roy Buchanan, who’s already contributed a Song of the Day. That was my take until I started writing this and found out it was not only written by Stevie Wonder, but was recorded on Stevie Wonder Presents Syreeta, featuring his then-wife. I’m mostly here to talk about Jeff’s version but Stevie and Syreeta do it up very nicely too.
I can remember a snarky wise-ass review of Blow by Blow, in Rolling Stone I think, where they said something like “The late Sixties had way too much guitar wanking, is 1975 too soon to take up the subject again?“ Apparently it was fine, because it sold a million copies. It’s lovely end-to-end and does a magic thing: Yes, it’s a record of nothing but guitar instrumentals, but you don’t find yourself thinking “What hot guitar”, it’s more “Wow, what a great tune.” The other big number from this album is Freeway Jam, which contains some of the tastiest-sounding guitar chords ever recorded by anyone.
Anyhow, Cause We’ve Ended as Lovers is a melancholy piece, full of graceful descending lines, and Jeff doesn’t insert any distracting axe theatrics, he just goes with the flow, applying a whole lot of legato and exquisite guitar tone. Combine that with a great Stevie Wonder melody and yeah, nobody should be surprised that it sounds great.
A word on the Stevie Wonder/Syreeta version. She’s got a soft, sweet voice and either she or Stevie provided nice melancholy lyrics, and Stevie’s backing keyboards are amazing. But Jeff just brings more intensity and feeling to the tune, to my ears at least. Having said that, I’ll throw in links, and recommend you give Syreeta a listen.
Links · Spotify playlist. Jeff Beck on Spotify, iTunes, Amazon. Stevie and Syreeta on Spotify, iTunes, Amazon. As for live video, here’s Jeff in 2007 at Clapton’s Crossroads festival, which is to say 32 years after Blow by Blow, doing a fine mostly-mellow version. Now, at this point, Jeff’s secret weapon on tour was Tal Wilkenfeld, a tiny Australian bass player, then 21 years old, who is just a titanic talent. If you like watching Jeff and Tal tear this one apart (and who wouldn’t?) here they are again, in a little club instead of a huge stadium.