TBT – Jeff Beck’s “Truth” Is Golden
Editor’s Note: This week, Throwback Thursday looks at the pivotal 1968 Jeff Beck album, Truth.
Jeff Beck has enjoyed a career resurgence that began gaining momentum with his appearance at Eric Clapton’s 2007 Crossroads Guitar Festival, where he showcased the talents of band members Vinnie Colaiuta, Jason Rebello, and young bassist virtuoso, Tal Wilkenfeld. In 2009, he was inducted by childhood friend Jimmy Page into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, as a solo artist. In June of 2010, Beck performed a series of Les Paul tribute shows at New York City’s famed Iridium club with Imeda May and her band. The show as recorded for DVD features guest appearances by Brian Setzer, Joss Stone, Gary U.S. Bonds, Imogen Heap, and others. In 2010, Beck released Emmotion & Commotion. Along the way, he has earned numerous Grammy Awards as well.
Throughout his career, Beck has never been afraid to push the envelope, whether he’s in the mood for rock, rock infused blues, fusion, rockabilly, or rock oriented interpretations of classical compositions. Of course, no one multitasks with their right hand the way he does, playing notes, and coaxing beauty from his whammy bar.
One of his brilliant outings on vinyl was 1968’s release on Epic Records, Truth. The album was recorded over four days in May, ultimately yielding nine selections. In addition to playing guitar, Beck plays bass, acoustic and pedal steel guitar, and even performs vocals. A young Rod Stewart provides the lead vocals, Ronnie Wood plays most of the bass, and Micky Waller played most of the drums. Other musicians performing on the album include John Paul Jones, Jimmy Page, Nicky Hopkins, Keith Moon, who was credited as “You Know Who,” and Aynsley Dunbar.
What makes this album exceptional, above all else, is its unbridled power. This is not the power of an AC/DC chord though. Truth’s power is more akin to “Riding the Dragon;” one must have the strength to contain the power, and the finesse to direct it.
The nine songs run just over 40 minutes, and when they have run their course, one will politely, and carefully collect themselves, picking their jaw up off the floor. Rod Stewart’s performance of “Ol’ Man River” is a revelation, reminding us why he is remembered as one of rock’s great vocalists, with John Paul Jones aetting the mood on the Hammond organ. Again, on “Rock My Plimsoul,” Stewart delivers another tantalizing vocal, with the band raising the temperature behind him. On the Willie Dixon song “You Shook Me,” the reigned in strength, and the raw, fierce articulation are palpable. Although there exists to this day controversy as to who wrote it, “Beck’s Bolero” is a masterful juggernaut, here with Jimmy Page on 12 string guitar, Keith Moon on drums, Nickey Hopkins on piano, and John Paul Jones on bass. Arguably one of the best performances here is a brawling, rambunctious rendering of another Willie Dixon composition, “I Ain’t Superstitious.” It is utterly exquisite.
If this album resides in your collection, take it for a spin again. It will still capture and hold you, enthralled, and leave you deeply satisfied. If this is not yet part of your collection, what are you waiting for?