194

Jeff Beck: Truth & Beck-Ola

David Adler By

Sign in to view read count
Next to Hendrix, Clapton, and Jimmy Page, Jeff Beck stands as something of an underdog in the pantheon of guitar gods. But these early solo efforts, now reissued by Epic, remain classics of the quirkiest kind. On 1968’s Truth we hear a 23-year-old Rod Stewart wailing the blues, giving Robert Plant a run for his money. And we hear Beck displaying some of the most sonically radical guitar work of the era. The affinity with Jimmy Page is quite striking. In particular, the vocal/guitar call-and-response episodes on "Let Me Love You" and "Rock My Plimsoul" predate Led Zeppelin’s "The Lemon Song" by more than a year. Beck’s solo acoustic rendition of "Greensleeves" also portends folkish excursions by Page that would soon crop up on nearly every Zep record. Overall, however, the emphasis is on hard-driving blues-rock, with enough curiosities thrown in to make it totally unique. The psychedelic instrumental "Beck’s Bolero" (by Jimmy Page, as a matter of fact) remains a delight, as does "Ol’ Man River," with an uncredited Keith Moon on timpani.

Beck-Ola followed a year later. Only half an hour long, the record is less substantial but also features the strong interplay of Beck and Stewart, with Ron Wood again on bass, Tony Newman replacing Mick Waller on drums, and Nicky Hopkins remaining on piano. The record begins with — what else? — an Elvis tune, "All Shook Up," and goes on to include yet another, "Jailhouse Rock," taken at an in-your-face, half-time tempo. The group’s trademark blues-rock returns on "Plynth (Water Down the Drain)" and "The Hangman’s Knee," while "Spanish Boots" and "Rice Pudding" are based on crushing riffs that surely qualify as some of the earliest heavy metal on record. In the middle of it all appears Hopkins’s quaint, piano-based folk melody, "Girl from Mill Valley."

These post-Yardbirds, pre-Faces outings are vital documents in the history of British hard rock, and they also stand up as essential examples of Beck’s guitar style. There’s little here that would seem to predict Beck’s turn to jazz-rock fusion a mere six or seven years later. But in terms of how Beck uses the guitar to lead a band, there’s a lot of continuity between these and future efforts. Curious as to what the elusive six-string hero sounds like lately? If you’re in New York, catch him at Roseland on March 22.


Track Listing: Truth: 1. Shapes of Things 2. Let Me Love You 3. Morning Dew 4. You Shook Me 5. Ol

Personnel: Truth: Jeff Beck, guitar (bass, 5); Rod Stewart, vocals; Ron Wood, bass; Mick Waller, drums; John Paul Jones, Hammond organ (5); Nicky Hopkins, piano (3, 9)

Beck-Ola: Jeff Beck, guitar; Rod Stewart, vocals; Ron Wood, bass; Nicky Hopkins, piano; Tony Newman, drums

| Record Label: Epic Records | Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


Shop

More Articles

Read June CD/LP/Track Review June
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 19, 2017
Read The Final Concert CD/LP/Track Review The Final Concert
by John Sharpe
Published: February 19, 2017
Read Desire & Freedom CD/LP/Track Review Desire & Freedom
by Glenn Astarita
Published: February 19, 2017
Read On Hollywood Boulevard CD/LP/Track Review On Hollywood Boulevard
by Budd Kopman
Published: February 19, 2017
Read The Motorman's Son CD/LP/Track Review The Motorman's Son
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 18, 2017
Read "The Motorman's Son" CD/LP/Track Review The Motorman's Son
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 18, 2017
Read "Rodeo" CD/LP/Track Review Rodeo
by Geannine Reid
Published: May 7, 2016
Read "Metamorphosis" CD/LP/Track Review Metamorphosis
by Jack Bowers
Published: April 26, 2016
Read "Steelonious" CD/LP/Track Review Steelonious
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: December 6, 2016
Read "A Kenton Celebration" CD/LP/Track Review A Kenton Celebration
by Jack Bowers
Published: October 28, 2016
Read "Live At The Open Gate" CD/LP/Track Review Live At The Open Gate
by John Sharpe
Published: August 29, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!