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Jeff Beck - Truth CD (album) cover

TRUTH

Jeff Beck

 

Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.26 | 60 ratings

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Progosopher
4 stars It is apparent that Jeff Beck found a sound that many had been looking for at the time, a sound that would influence virtually everybody who was ever interested in heavy music. When I use that term though, remember this is 1968, not 1969, 70, or beyond. In an era of ever stretching out the spaceiness or length of a song (otherwise known as psychedelia), Beck goes in several other directions simultaneously here. Foremost is focusing on the blues. This is not the blues of the Rolling Stones (who did not do it well in my opinion) or that of John Mayall (who did do it well), but the smoky greasy blues of the back alleys and juke joints. At the same time, this music ROCKS harder than just about anything else around and in a way that is not just an emulation of the blues. There is an element of psychedelia here, most clearly heard on the opening number, Shapes of Things. Do not think however, that Beck is merely amping up the familiar and playing it sloppier, or even that he had simplified things. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Again, the opening number demonstrates this. He took a familiar song from recent memory and completely rearranged it, including changing the time signature, to the point that it was completely unrecognizable until the vocals come in. The album is surprisingly diverse too. Yeah, a lot of blues and blues-rock, but where else can you hear Willie Dixon's You Shook Me followed by the show tune Ol' Man River, which in turn is followed by a lovely acoustic rendition of Greensleeves? Lest one think that there was any antagonism between Beck and his fellow Yardbird guitar gods, we get Jimmy Page's composition, Beck Bolero, one of my favorite songs on the whole album and a true rock instrumental classic. The album closes with another Willie Dixon great, I Ain't Superstitious. There are a few more songs here, including the great Morning Dew and two Jeffrey Rod numbers, Let Me Love You and Blues De Luxe. Everything mentioned here represents the original album, and I find nothing weak about it. During an era of expanding musical horizons, Jeff Beck delivered a true highlight with Truth. The musicians are worthy of mention as well. There is the band besides Beck himself: Mickey Waller on drums and percussion, Ron Wood surprisingly on bass, and Rod Stewart whose lead vocals sound like a man twice his stage (but then this was a young man who was once deported for vagrancy). Studio musicians include Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones (hmmm), Keith Moon, future Journey co-founder (don't hate him for that) Ansely Dunbar, Nicky Hopkins, whose piano plays a major role in the sound, and an individual only identifies as Mysterious Scottish Bloke who plays bagpipes on Morning Dew. I suspect this might be a case of "use a bagpipe go to jail" kind of thing. The 2006 expanded version gives us a couple of extra tracks not released on the original, a couple of alternate versions (singles and such which I don't really feel the need for), plus three tracks that Mr. Beck said he would just as soon forget ever existed. You see, once he left the Yardbirds, his manager wanted to use his smoldering good looks and turn him into a pop icon. After all, Clapton left the band because he did not want to play that "pop s#!t." Not that I would use such terms to describe the ground-breaking non-straight blues they were exploring, but who am I to argue with God? The disk closes with three numbers thankfully unlike anything else with Jeff Beck's name: the AOR tunes Tallyman and Hi Ho Silver Lining, plus the instrumental Love is Blue which I must admit is played rather nicely. As to Beck's voice, the less said the better. I think that much of what Beck did with Truth was a way to get away from this manager's machinations. All said then, Truth by Jeff Beck has a lot to offer. Historically, it is a very important album. Also, and more importantly, it is inventive in a number of ways even if those may seem subtle to us in the new millennium. That the heavy factor was quickly trumped by the likes of Led Zeppelin and Blue Cheer has nothing to do with the quality and influence of this album. Hardcore Prog fans will not be too interested in this one because of the bluesiness, but anyone who is interested in late 60s rock, or heavy duty down 'n' dirty rock and roll, good guitar playing and good singing would do well to check this one out. Many have argued that it does not quite transcend its era, but I have come to disagree with that. Four stars.
Progosopher | 4/5 |

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