How ‘Truth’ Became Jeff Beck’s Definitive Studio Effort
The Jeff Beck Group helped set the course for hard rock's future with the release of their seminal debut album.
From its inception, Truth depended on the considerable star power earned by leader Jeff Beck during his brief but historic 18-month tenure with the Yardbirds, in which he replaced Eric Clapton with a style all his own, before sharing six-string duties with friend Jimmy Page.
By the time Beck decided to quit (or, depending on whom you ask, got fired for his increasingly frequent no-shows), he had earned a reputation as a difficult, unpredictable and taciturn perfectionist – and a rather reticent star, to boot. But none of this could dissuade record-industry execs from handing him money to do his thing. Around the same time that he released three well-received singles in the U.K., Beck was painstakingly assembling a new group to create what would be released in August 1968 as Truth.
And what a group it was, featuring former Bluesbreaker and Cyril Davies Allstar drummer Micky Waller, future Faces and Rolling Stones great Ron Wood on bass and a highly rated young singer (recently of Brian Auger's Steampacked) named Rod Stewart. Together with Beck, they assembled an album that, though conspicuously short on original material, rewrote the blues lexicon for the next generation of music fans and up-and-coming musicians.
Truth kicked off with a surprising (and now arguably definitive) remake of the Yardbirds' "Shapes of Things," serving as a bridge to Beck's past. But it was heavy treatments of Willie Dixon's "You Shook Me" and "I Ain't Superstitious," plus expertly re-imagined blues frameworks like "Let Me Love You" and "Rock My Plimsoul" (attributed to the Beck/Stewart songwriting pseudonym of Jeffrey Rod), that really shook the Brit-blues scene to its foundations.
More adventurous fare like the previously released "Beck's Bolero," instrumental "Greensleaves" and the spruced-up folk of Bonnie Dobson's "Morning Dew" gave notice that Beck's boundless versatility would continue to defy expectations and easy categorization for the rest of his career, often to his commercial detriment but artistic greatness.
His career would take a distinctly meandering path, filled with oftentimes erratic and even perplexing twists and turns in years to come – the likes of which none of rock's other universally renowned guitar gods (Clapton, Page, Jimi Hendrix, Eddie Van Halen, etc.) ever dared undertake. Maybe this, among other factors, is why the era-defining Truth arguably remains Beck's definitive work.