Monday, 4 February 2019

Jeff Beck - Truth (1968)


  

Released August 1968

Recorded at Abbey Road Studios

Released in August 1968, this is a ground-breaking album, a superb example of the burgeoning blues rock genre that Cream and Jimi Hendrix were pioneering at the time. It was before Led Zeppelin, and before Free. Beck's guitar is simply wonderful throughout, like a knife through butter and the (comparatively) little known Rod Stewart on lead vocals is a revelation. While Beck's guitar dominates, so too does Stewart's throaty, gravelly vocal and this was, for many, their first introduction to his precocious, earthy talent. The album is simply a must have for Stewart aficionados. Ronnie Wood plays bass throughout as well, so it is sort of a prototype Faces album.

The sound quality is awesome, wonderfully bassy and powerful. It is one of the first heavy rock albums, but is not often acknowledged as such.

TRACK LISTING

1. Shapes Of Things
2. Let Me Love You
3. Morning Dew
4. You Shook Me
5. Ol' Man River
6. Greensleeves
7. Rock My Plimsoul
8. Beck's Bolero
9. Blues Deluxe
10. I Ain't Superstitious

The cover of The Yardbirds' (Beck's previous band) "Shapes Of Things" is blindingly good, giving the song new power and muscle. Stewart's vocal is peerless. The remastered (2005) stereo sound is excellent, considering from whence it dates. Stewart's voice drops in sound at one brief point, but it just seems to be part of what feels like a "live" recording in its raw looseness, even though it was not. Willie Dixon's "Let Me Love You" (credited as a co-write with "Jeffrey Rod" - Beck and Stewart) is a sublime, muscular piece of searing, bluesy rock. It cooks at maximum volume. Just check out the bass/guitar/vocal interplay at about three and a half minutes.

"Morning Dew" is just rumbling, bassy, soulful blues rock heaven. I know Nazareth did a great version of it in 1972-73, but this one is petty definitive. It is simply magnificent. Beck's wah-wah guitar is breathtakingly atmospheric. "You Shook Me" was, of course, later done by Led Zeppelin, but this version is considerably different, featuring some unique drum sounds and guitar feedback before grinding to a premature halt. This was apparently due to Beck vomiting at the end of his feedback piece. The traditional "Ol' Man River" is given a huge, grand, thumping blues rock treatment and then we get Beck on his own playing Henry VIII's favourite, "Greensleeves". It taps into the contemporary folk trend.

"Rock My Plimsoul" is another "Jeffrey Rod" offering, but it sounds like an authentic blues. This really is some of the finest late sixties British blues, without a doubt. They say this is one of the first heavy metal albums. Not for me. It is blues to its very fundament. "Beck's Bolero" is a psychedelic, swirling piece of guitar virtuosity, Led Zeppelin's Jimmy Page plays on it as well as Beck and Page is credited with writing it. Beck has since claimed to have had considerable input into it, which I am sure was the case. Keith Moon of The Who plays drums on this one too. Not half he does. "Blues Deluxe" is an extended slice of majestic blues with a rather bizarre overdubbing of audience applause, admittedly faked to give it a "live" feel. It came from a Beatles concert recording, apparently. There was no real need to fake a live feel, because the whole album had one anyway.

"I Ain't Superstitious" is a great closer, full of wah-wah and yet another copper-bottomed Stewart vocal. The drum sound simply pounds out of your speakers. The deluxe 2005 remastered edition contains several "alternative" versions of the songs, plus a few other unreleased ones. What a pleasure it is. A truly seminal album. Great stuff.

B+

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