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Jeff Beck

Jazz Rock/Fusion

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2 stars Truth is Jeff Beck's debut album. It isn't overly progressive - I assume that side of him developed later in his career. It's a good blues/rock album with some ups and downs.

Rush's version of Shapes of Things from the Feedback EP is actually much different, I find. It's a Jeff Beck classic. Or rather - a Blues classic. This album is quite dynamic. Particularly on Let Me Love You, the whole band quiets down. Unfortunately the sound quality (especially on drums) is not fantastic - but of course this is 1968, that is to be expected. Morning Dew has some nice percussion, and is a strong vocal song. I sometimes get annoyed by Rod Stewart's voice (I thought it was Jeff singing for a while), but here it works rather well. Ol' Man River is also an interesting form of blues: it has tympani throughout the song, and it's a bit slower than the other songs. It's also another dynamic song. The majority of the songs on this album are typical bluesy (sometimes rocky) songs with good feel and interesting guitar work. Greensleeves is an exception: it's Jeff's version of the classic English ballad (once again, I made a mistake. I was under the impression this was composed by Mozart, but it clearly is not, as I now know). Jeff's take on it is very beautiful and creates a nice, captivating mood. The album picks up again after the with Rock My Plimsoul, and then the fantastic Beck's Bolero. This is possibly the best track on the album; it's very diverse and has fantastic guitar work.

The seven minute Blues De Luxe has progressive elements, and great solos. The crowd cheering is interesting on a studio song. The album closes with another standard bluesy song, I Ain't Superstitious. Overall, it's a good album, but to those who aren't big blues fans, this will seem somewhat tedious. And, unfortunately, the album isn't very diverse in styles.

Report this review (#118604)
Posted Monday, April 16, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars A good debut album by a group whose format was copied/imitated/stolen (however you want to phrase it) when Jimmy Page chose to form Led Zeppelin shortly after this first Jeff Beck album was released. Although this version of the Jeff Beck Group would quickly fade into memory after the subsequent release ("Beck-Ola"), the idea behind the band would flourish in Jimmy Page's Led Zeppelin.

It is not a progressive album by any means, but still a very interesting and solid release nonetheless.

It should be noted this album features a very young Rod Stewart on lead vocals (not Jeff Beck, as the first reviewer posted).

I thoroughly enjoy this album for its representation of where the British "heavy blues movement" was about to go at the time of this recording. I can't give this album 5 stars because it is not nearly as good as later releases such as 'Blow By Blow' and 'Wired', but it is a very solid 4 stars.

Also as a friendly correction to the first reviewer - the song "Greensleeves" is a traditional English ballad, the author is actually unknown. It was not composed by Mozart.

Report this review (#118685)
Posted Tuesday, April 17, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars In the late 60s most of us fledgling rock and roll guitarists had come to the conclusion that the Holy Trinity of the Fretboards lived in England and had evolved from the Yardbirds. There was God, Eric Clapton (of course); the Son, Jeff Beck; and the Holy Ghost, Jimmy Page. (Despite having experienced Jimi Hendrix we still didn't know what galaxy he was from). We devotedly devoured every riff that we could get our hands on and prayed for more. By the end of 1968 God had seen fit to bestow us with three fantastic albums from Cream, the Ghost was finishing up his stint with the 'Birds (while developing Led Zeppelin) and the Son was unleashing his solo project upon the masses. One thing that all three titans had in common was a deep-seated love for "da blues" and every one of their band's debut LPs were dipped heavily in that genre, moving in a more progressive rock direction later on. Jeff Beck's "Truth" was no exception.

"Shapes of Things" was a great way to start the album because it gave us something we could identify with yet make it clear that that this wasn't pop music. The slower, heavier sound was what we were craving and it was guitars, guitars and more guitars all the way through. The unknown Rod Stewart was nothing short of a revelation because no one else sounded like he did at the time with that unique rasp that made him sound like he'd been singing in smoky bars for the previous 20 years. "Let Me Love You" is a rocking blues number in which Jeff oozes a guttural guitar tone that sounds like it crawled out of a swamp. "Morning Dew" is more in the prog direction but it suffers from a very loosely performed track by the band. However, Beck's wild wah- wah display goes a long way in saving the song from becoming a total disappointment. On the back of the album cover Jeff offered a few choice words for every cut. For the next tune, Willie Dixon's "You Shook Me," he claimed it's "probably the rudest sounds ever recorded." That's debatable but honestly descriptive. It's obvious that Beck wasn't interested in generating clean, precise notes from his instrument and his intense playing on this number made his every admirer's hair stand on end. As Jeff noted, "the last note of the song is my guitar being sick. Well, so would you be if I smashed your guts for 2:28." That's exactly the rebellious attitude we had been hoping for.

"Old Man River" is a curious inclusion but it serves well as a respite from the blues parade. Most likely a showcase for Stewart's expressive vocal, the booming timpani gives it a feeling of grandeur instead of Broadway camp. Just in case we thought Beck could only play hard and loud, a very short acoustic rendition of "Greensleeves" is injected for sensitivity purposes. "Rock My Plimsoul" is another traditional blues progression but drummer Mick Waller does play around with the beat, adding some interesting accents. Jeff shows that he's not necessarily a stickler for authentic blues guitar techniques because what he does here is definitely a portent of unorthodox things to come. The call and answer segment between him and Rod near the end is excellent. "Beck's Bolero," with Jimmy Page credited as ghostwriter (sorry, I couldn't resist the pun) is as far from the blues as you can get as Beck puts on a virtual guitar clinic. Guest Keith Moon's drums fit the bombastic mood perfectly. The live "Blues De Luxe" follows and it is nothing more than slow blues but that doesn't keep it from being spectacular. Nicky Hopkins' piano ride (especially when he tickles the upper ivories) is one of the best you'll ever hear and Ron Wood's bass work rivals Jack Bruce as far as expertly filling in the holes. They saved the best for last, though, with a seminal version of Dixon's "I Ain't Superstitious" that provided a lot of clues as to where Jeff's music was headed. While Clapton and Hendrix had mostly used the wah-wah to accent the beat, Beck treats it as a tone modifier, allowing him to express feeling and emotions much like a vocalist. As he commented candidly, the song is "more or less an excuse for being flash on guitar." (Hey, if you walk the walk you can talk the talk.) The group was able to capture a very "live" atmosphere in the studio for this one, complete with a big, noisy concert ending from Waller. Play this tune at high volume for best results.

I've often wondered why this band didn't become as wildly popular as Led Zeppelin would just a year or so later when they were both playing basically the same bluesy style. Part of the answer lies in the fact that Mickie Most's production left a lot to be desired and, therefore, the album isn't as consistent as it should have been sound- wise. (Listen to the out-of-proportion guitar lines that barge in and out of "Old Man River" for proof.) Also, Led Zep would incorporate more of a rock feel to their music and that appealed to a broader spectrum of listeners. Nevertheless, "Truth" still stands tall as a landmark in the evolution of progressive electric guitar stylings. It was here that Jeff Beck showed us all that the sky was the limit when it came right down to it. 3.4 stars and a must have for guitar historians.

Report this review (#119369)
Posted Sunday, April 22, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars A magnificent blues rock album.

There's Jeff Beck, one of the best guitarists ever. Accompanied by Rod Stewart and his great voice. Bass played by later to be Rolling Stone Ron Wood. Rounded out by drummer Micky Waller. With guest appearances from Nicky Hopkins, The Who's Keith Moon and (soon to be) LedZep greats Jimmy Page & John Paul Jones.

Looks good, eh? It is too.

The opener, a version of the Yardbirds 'Shapes Of Things' is said to have set the template for heavy blues. It blows the original out of the water. Other re-workings include classics 'Morning Dew', 'You Shook Me', 'Ol' Man River', 'Greensleeves' and 'I Ain't Superstitious' which are all great songs. The originals which cover the rest of the album show quite a bit of diversity and are all excellent tracks in their own rights. Some consider 'Truth' to be one of the very first heavy metal albums and even early Led Zeppelin borrowed quite heavily from this record.

My version (2005) also includes these bonus tracks:

I've Been Drinking (stereo mix) Originally a mono B-side to "Love Is Blue", this is a great blues ballad sung by Rod. A heart-broken man and his bottle, the classic setup. Actually a re-working of Dinah Washington's "Drinking Again". Very good song and a strong performance from Stewart.

You Shook Me (take 1) This is without piano (overdubbed on the final version) but it doesn't take anything away from the song.

Rock My Plimsoul (stereo mix) A faster version and as so, about 30 seconds shorter. Still a great song.

(Beck's) Bolero (mono single version with backwards guitar) Some seconds longer than the original. Pretty cool, though I haven't explored the differences very thoroughly.

Blues De Luxe (take 1) The main difference here is the lack of the live feel (created originally with 3 sets of sound effects). Still the same song, still great.

Tallyman Originally released as a single, the Graham Gouldman song "Tallyman" is a more traditional 60's pop tune. Different from the other material but works.

Love Is Blue This song should sound atleast vaguely familiar to most. The second of Beck's singles here is originally known as "L'Amour Est Bleu".

Hi Ho Silver Lining (stereo mix) And another one you should all know. Third of the bonus singles featured here and a pop classic.


Highly recommended to fans of blues rock and just plain damn good guitar playing. Not an essential piece of prog I guess but five stars, no less.

Report this review (#135342)
Posted Wednesday, August 29, 2007 | Review Permalink
Sean Trane
Prog Folk
3 stars After his leaving the Yardbirds, Jeff Beck (easily the best of the three legendary guitarists to have played in the group) formed his own unit that appeared as a supergroup, with Smallfaces' Ron Wood on bass, Steampacket's Rod Stewart, Mayall's Aynsley Dunbar on drums and of course himself on guitar. Although the awesome Dunbar would depart soon, replaced by Micky Waller, the group achieved incredible success with a stupendous blues-rock album that is still a reference nowadays. NB: the original plan was for Beck to get together with Vanilla Fudge's bassist Tim Bogert and drummer Carmine Appice, but although they talked of it many times and Beck's bad traffic accident, it wouldn't happen until 74.

What can be said about this most definitive power blues-rock album, that hasn't been said 1000 times before? Everyone knows this album was the very reason why Page created Zeppelin and even covered the Willie Dixon tune You Shook Me (prefer the present version). Although beck was a gifted musician, character-wise the man was difficult and probably driven by a solid ego, as can be seen with the good but overdone Beck's Bolero. . Elsewhere the old Yardbirds tune Shapes Of Things is excellent (one might even say that the Yardbirds under Beck's tenure were proto-progressive) and Greensleeves is simply delightful. Morning Dew and Blues Deluxe being my highlights of this album.

While this kind of album is easily recommendable to almost anybody that likes quality music; it really isn't addressed to those that look at the progressive side of music, even if the album was a bit of a groundbreaker back then.

Report this review (#142958)
Posted Tuesday, October 9, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars I listened to this album for the first time in late 1992 in a EMI British CD which also included the "Beck- ola" album. Jeff Beck`s first album is really not very Progressive. I think that at the time the "British Blues Boom" was still very popular, and this album has a mixture of that British Blues style and some Rock Pop influences. The first track, "Shapes of Things", is a song originally recorded by THE YARDBIRDS years before, here arranged again by Jeff Beck and his band collaborators. The most closer to Prog Rock tracks, in my opinion, are "Beck`s Bolero", recorded with a star line-up which included Keith Moon, Jimi Page and John Paul Jones, and a version of "Greenslevees". Among the Blues-Pop songs there are "Morning Dew", "You Shook Me", "Old Man River" and "I Ain't Superstitious" . I think that the producer of this album and Beck himself were still trying to find the right style for him, so this first album and the second are still in this search. He became more Prog influenced in his albums which he recorded in the mid-seventies.

From the Bonus Tracks, I only have listened to "Love is Blue", a song which I have in an old LP (made in my country) which is a compilation of Hit Parade songs from the sixties called "Las que Llegaron al Hit Parade" which I think it was specially released by Capitol /EMI in 1969 as ordered by an old (and still in existence!) AM Radio station in my city. "Love is Blue" is a cover from a successful song originally recorded in the same year (1968) by French Easy-Listening musician Paul Mauriat and by other musicians in different countries (in Mexico it was recorded by a "duet on pianos plus orchestra" called "Los Pianos Barrocos", if I remember well). Despite being a British Hit for Beck, he didn`t like the song. Well, I think that the song is very Easy Listening in style and in arrangements, but the simple melody of the song was played by Beck in a very good Rock style, with him using different sounds from his guitar. He maybe hated the choral arrangements and the "sugar" orchestral arrangements (which include a harpsichord), but the song doesn`t sound bad thanks to Beck`s guitar, in my opinion.

Report this review (#159973)
Posted Sunday, January 27, 2008 | Review Permalink
Prog Metal Team
2 stars I've had this album ever since I can remember listening to music and although it's a definite classic Truth is by no means a great album. It's weird realizing this after having this album in my collection for so long but it's a realization that I'm sticking to from now on.

I've never really been a fan of straight-forward blues compositions and Rod Stewart's voice can get somewhat irritating after the first few tracks. This criticism is only strengthened by the fact that the album has some really great material on it. Shapes Of Things and Let Me Love You are two nice opening tracks that work well but that doesn't really say much because most of these compositions would probably have worked no matter of the performing artist. Still it's the artist's responsibility to polish the material and make it shine, but that's where Truth is missing the mark for me.

A good example of this is You Shook Me. Although this album was released five months before Led Zeppelin released their version of the track on their debut album there isn't any comparison between the two versions. It's almost as if these takes were polar opposites of each other where Led Zeppelin were pushing for a new over-the-top approach while Jeff Beck's album had the more straight forward and really uninspired take.

Having said that this album does have some rare instances where the material really shines. Beck's take on Greensleeves is the most emotionally charged piece on this entire album and together with Beck's Bolero they make me wish for an entirely instrumental set for this release. This was of course not to be and what we are left with is a mixed bag that will most probably be more appreciated by rock/blues enthusiast than fans of progressive music.

Still I wouldn't call Truth a completionists only release because I believe this album could appeal to enthusiast of the early rock music and its development. Although one definitely would have to be a huge genre fan to truly appreciate this material.

***** star songs: Greensleeves (1:51)

**** star songs: Shapes Of Things (3:21) Let Me Love You (4:45) Ol' Man River (4:02) Beck's Bolero (2:55)

*** star songs: Morning Dew (4:43) You Shook Me (2:33) Rock My Plimsoul (4:15) Blues Deluxe (7:34) I Ain't Superstitious (4:57)

Report this review (#266081)
Posted Sunday, February 14, 2010 | Review Permalink
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.
Report this review (#519325)
Posted Saturday, September 10, 2011 | Review Permalink

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