Truth by Jeff Beck


Jeff Beck was born in 1944 and after leaving school, he attended Wimbledon College of Art. He had a number of jobs (painter and decorator, a groundsman on a golf course and a car paint-sprayer) before joining Screaming Lord Sutch and The Savages, The Rumbles and The Tridents. In March 1965, Eric Clapton left The Yardbirds and when Jimmy Page turned down the opportunity to replace him, he suggested Jeff Beck. During the 20 months that he was a member of The Yardbirds, they achieved chart success with “For Your Love” (#3 in the UK Charts), “Heart Full Of Soul”, (#2) “Evil Hearted You” (#3), “Shapes Of Things” (#3) and “Over Under Sideways Down” (#10).

During a tour of the USA in 1966, Jeff Beck’s perfectionism, explosive temper and occasional no-show at gigs led to him being fired from The Yardbirds. He recorded a couple of singles, including “Hi-Ho Silver Lining” which reached Number 14 in the U.K. Charts. This success led to Mickie Most attempting to further his career by producing similar pop singles. He recalled “When I was ousted from The Yardbirds, there was a proposal for a contract with Mickie Most who said ‘All that wangy-yangy Hendrix stuff is history’. I said ‘No it ain’t, pal. Not as far as I’m concerned.’ So I’ve got, on the one hand, the prospect of unlimited exposure via Mickie Most, or get thrown out of the office to pursue my blues band with Rod Stewart.” Jeff beck’s view of the success of “Hi Ho Silver Lining” was “like having a pink toilet seat hanging round my neck for the rest of my fucking life.”

In 1960, club owner John Aspinall won a court case that legalised gambling in private members’ clubs. Four years later, he sold his club to Tony Mitchell, who renamed it, “The Cromwellian“, hoping to attract high society. His plans went awry when well known wrestlers, such as Doctor Death (Paul Lincoln), The Rebel (Ray Hunter) and The Wrestling Beatle (Bob Archer) started frequenting the club. Paul Lincoln and Ray Hunter already owned the 2i’s Coffee Bar, the birthplace of British rock’n’roll, in Soho. Gradually, The Cromwellian turned into a fashionable haunt for the hip element of Sixties London. Brian Epstein could often be found at the casino on the first floor, “Harry’s Bar” on the ground floor was run by a legendary vivacious bartender called Harry Heart and the basement became a zeitgest-setting venue for up and coming artists. Jimi Hendrix’s first London gig was at The Cromwellian, joining a set by Brian Augur. Other musicians who regularly played at The Cromwellian were Eric Burden, Chris Farlowe, Georgie Fame, Chris Barber, Eric Clapton, Sonny Boy Williamson and Reg Dwight. At the height of its success, The Cromwellian became so successful that Tony Mitchell’s original vision was realised. Margot Fonteyn, Clint Walker, Lee Marvin, Ryan O’Neal, Jayne Mansfield and Sean Connery were regular visitors. In this environment, it is no surprise to learn that Jeff Beck and Rod Stewart met at The Cromwellian and the kernel of the band that played on “Truth” was formed.

Rod Stewart started busking in London, Brighton and Paris in 1962, often with singer Wizz Jones. After they were deported from France for vagrancy, he joined The Dimensions as a harmonica player and part time singer. Having left the band, he was spotted by Long John Baldry playing harmonica at Twickenham railway station which led to him playing in Steampacket with Long John Baldry, Brian Augur, Julie Driscoll, Micky Waller (see later), Vic Briggs (later to join The Animals) and Ricky Fenson (who had played in an early incarnation of The Rolling Stones). Having quit (or possibly, been sacked from) Steampacket in March 1966, Rod Stewart joined The Jeff Beck Group in April 1967.

Drummer Micky Waller had played in a number of bands including Joe Brown & The Bruvvers, Cyril Davies’ R&B Stars, Marty Wilde & The Wildecats, Georgie Fame & The Blue Flames, Brian Augur & The Trinity, Long John Baldry & Steampacket and John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers.

The fourth member of the band was Ronnie Wood, who had been in The Birds, whose manager, Leo de Clerck, unsuccessfully attempted to sue The Byrds when they arrived in the U.K. in 1965. Jeff Beck unsuccessfully attempted to find a bass player, but rejected Jet Harris of The Shadows and Dave Ambrose (who went on to join Brian Augur & The Trinity), solving the problem by switching Ronnie Wood to bass.

Rod Stewart loved “Shapes Of Things” by The Yardbirds and Jeff Beck was pleased to be able to “heavy it up a bit, moving it out of march-time into heavy funk“, as he explains on the sleevenotes to the 2005 re-issue of “Truth”.

The lyrics to “Let Me Love You” are very similar to a Buddy Guy song called, er, “Let Me Love You” although the song is credited to Rod Stewart. Jeff Beck says “there was a lot of conniving going on back then: change the rhythm, change the angle and it’s yours. We got peanuts for what we were doing and I couldn’t give a shit about anybody else.” As on the rest of the album, Jeff Beck’s guitar playing is sublime.

Morning Dew” is a remarkable song, written in 1962 by Canadian singer, Bonnie Dobson, who was inspired to write the song after seeing the film “On The Beach”. The song is set in a post-apocalyptical world and takes the form of a conversation between two survivors. Fred Neil adapted the song and Tim Rose used Fred Neil’s arrangements to record the most well known version of the song. The Jeff Beck Group played at one of Brian Epstein’s promoted gigs at The Saville Theatre along with Tim Rose and they were inspired to record their own version of the song. Rod Stewart’s vocals and Jeff Beck’s guitar merge perfectly to create a really exciting five minutes which makes excellent use of changing dynamics to generate tension.

Jeff Beck said this about “You Shook Me“: “Two guitar solos, two and a half minutes. Done. If you’re talking about bare-bones, 12 bars, please don’t bore us for 20 minutes”. This is a Muddy Waters song which Led Zeppelin extended to nearly seven minutes on their first album.

Ol’ Man River” is a show tune from the 1927 musical, “Showboat”. The most well known version is probably by Paul Robeson but Rod Stewart’s vocals make this song his own, along with dramatic timpani playing by Micky Waller.

Side Two starts with a version of “Greensleeves” which lasts for less than two minutes. Jeff Beck explains its inclusion by saying “we were starved of material”.

Rock My Plimsoul” is another ripoff of a blues song – this time the original was by BB King, called “Rock Me Baby” but the song is credited to Rod Stewart.

Beck’s Bolero” was recorded two years before the rest of the album and the musicians on it include Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones, Nicky Hopkins and a completely manic Keith Moon on drums. At the time, Jeff Beck was still a member of The Yardbirds. A writer called Alan di Perna described this song “as one of the great rock instrumentals, epic in scope, harmonically and rhythmically ambitious yet infused with primal energy“.

Blues De Luxe” is a slow blues song, “written” by Jeff beck and Rod Stewart, bearing an uncanny resemblance to “Gamblers Blues” by BB King.

Like a small boy with his dinner, the best is saved until last. “I Ain’t Superstitious” was written by Willie Dixon and recorded by Howlin’ Wolf in 1961. The Jeff Beck Group recorded an outstanding version of the song, with a stop-start rhythm, impassioned vocals and phenomenal guitar playing. Jeff Beck said that “what Micky Waller is playing is really tough. I don’t want to praise him too much in case he rings me up and says ‘let’s put a band together'”

Published by wilfulsprinter

Music lover

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