Sound — 10
The Jeff Beck Group was an English rock band formed in London in January 1967 by former Yardbirds guitarist Jeff Beck and his renowned innovative approach to heavy-sounding blues and rhythm proving to be a strong influence on popular music in the years to come. The group had bassists and drummers changed regularly, until they settled on Aynsley Dunbar on drums, and Wood switched over to bass. "Truth" (released in 1968) is the debut and one of the only four albums released by the short lived rock group Jeff Beck Group whose key member is the legendary virtuoso guitarist Jeff Beck who was the real founder and main driving force in the group although performing collaboratively written tracks and covers he still was the key in creating this variable approach the group would be known for with his innovative and revolutionary style and unique playing. Other members in this group are also important of course as guitarist Ronnie Wood appears in the group who as of latter Rolling Stones fame but playing bass here in Jeff Beck Group having been in the UK band The Creation and The Small Faces, also a number of other noteworthy groups and of course Rod Stewart's Faces. Wood would only appear on the first two albums of Jeff Group ("Truth" and "Beck-Ola") and the only official studio albums released by the group in the '60s. Vocalist Rod Stewart also later of widespread fame as a solo artist was in Jeff Beck Group also for the first two albums.
The first two albums "Beck-Ola" and "Truth" both contain different lineups themselves so there really is no consistence as far as a solid lineup goes. The original group lineup (Aynsley Dunbar, Rod Stewart, Ron Wood, and Jeff Beck) would never record any official album as Aynsley was replaced by drummer Tony Newman on "Truth," in honesty the whole group lineup is a real mess with various famous musicians playing on tracks as additional musicians and Ronnie Wood, Rod Stewart and Jeff Beck are the only remaining members of the first main incarnation of the group really being the center-point in style and musical direction for the first two albums. The band as a whole as the name itself suggests is really an outlet for Jeff Beck as a young creative artist with so much raw energy that would be fully harnessed on later albums like "Blow by Blow" and "Wired." So on the debut here we have Beck as always on guitar Jeff Beck, Rod Steward (lead vocals), Ronnie Wood (bass guitar) and Micky Waller on drums. There are so many other musicians that are additional personnel on this album, ones that really stand out are Jimmy Page, Keith Moon, John Paul Jones, Nicky Hopkins and Aynsley Dunbar of the original lineup appearing on "Tallyman" and the single version of "Plimsoul." Though the album did not receive nearly as much accolade as it should have it has been praised and highly influential over the years in music and considered possibly one of the first heavy metal albums due to it's blues in a hard rock approach.
Lyrics — 10
Jeff would provide us with more of his creative songwriting and composing skills he would be known for later on Jeff Beck would wright more material on Jeff Beck Group's "Rough and Ready" but still is significant in the band's songwriting and cover performances by adding his own flair and composing the songs and adding his own soloing and complex progressions to almost every song if not his one of a kind distinct sound and underrated talent. Though most of the tracks on here are cover versions they are strong and excellent representations of blues drawing from blues legends like Willie Dixon and Muddy Waters. Interestingly enough, tracks on here that are originals composed by Stewart and Beck are credited to Jeffrey Rod for example the opening track "Shapes of Things" from The Yardbirds and excellent psychedelic soloing and wailing effects used that has a slight psychedelic pizazz to it but still maintains itself as a highly respectable and impressive virtuoso that could rival Jimmy Page and blow Clapton away any day. "Let Me Love You" is Rod Stewart at his finest as far as well persona being articulated with a Ritchie Blackmore bluesy edge to the guitar that has a distant relation and yet of course sounds of its own and it's easily distinguished by Beck's moods and emotions channeled in some great and unheard virtuoso guitar and Ron's brilliant and complex blues bass riffs are just running casually along in the background.
"Morning Dew" opens with a faint bagpipe intro and has a smooth and minute psychedelia throughout with Beck's mellow guitar work that ingeniously masters the heavy wah-wah techniques and bursts forth with more amazing lone guitarist work surprisingly a more traditional song cover. A great highlight is the impressive cover of Wilie Dixon's "You Shook Me" right before Led Zeppelin would release it on their eponymous debut album much later and Beck's low drone and demonic, dark guitar on here is so astonishing once again rivaling Page's playing for example on "Dazed and Confused," it's possible that Page drew influence from Beck because the whole tone and dark low drone wah technique is far more meticulous and skillfully done; Page is a legend and people would hate me for saying it but Page has nothing on Beck's composure and overall techniques although coming close he never can deliver such stunning solos in a clean and unearthly form.
"Rock My Plimsoul" has clever and great analogically rendered lyrics of great songwriting and originality along with such fast and killer solos that just make their way around the fretboard seemingly in a heartbeat with great wailing chords and perfect note combinations reached. "Beck's Bolero" is a track of epic proportions reaching a theatrical sound in rock becoming an anthem of hard rock that goes into some quite excellent dirty riffs which actually was composed by Jimmy Page who plays 12 string guitar on this track along with Paul Jones on bass, Keith Moon's fecund drumming and Nicky Hopkins working his magic on the piano yet again (appearing on countless albums). "Blues Deluxe" remains my favorite track off the album, emulating a really elegiacal sound of some soulful blues and Hopkins doing frills and Beck accompanying those with more of his superb talent breaking out here in the long jam sections Hopkins also giving you a taste of his skills, but as I was saying this is really Beck's piece and he really stands his ground on that with some just effulgent and heavy guitar playing.
Overall Impression — 10
Very exciting, a heavy blues-rock fusion that was entirely new at the time. Driven by Beck's experimental, blues-styled guitar riffs and solos, it effectively paved the way for the hard rock that was to come, and is often credited as being the first glimpse of what would later emerge as heavy metal. Rod Stewart's gritty, soulful vocals were the perfect foil for Beck's guitar, and Wood and Waller provided a solid rhythm section. Keyboards were provided by session men Nicky Hopkins and John Paul Jones. The songs included two Willie Dixon classics ("You Shook Me" and "I Ain't Superstitious"), a reworking of The Yardbirds hit "Shapes of Things," Bonnie Dobson's folk classic "Morning Dew," and a couple of originals which were obviously "inspired by" a couple of other classic blues numbers. More surprisingly, there were versions of the traditional English tune "Greensleeves" and "Ol' Man River" (from the musical "Show Boat").
The most interesting song of the album was the stunning instrumental "Beck's Bolero," which wasn't actually recorded by the Jeff Beck Group. On this song Beck was backed by Jimmy Page on rhythm guitar, John Paul Jones on bass, Nicky Hopkins on piano and The Who's Keith Moon on drums. It was actually recorded back in '66 when Beck was still in The Yardbirds, and had been the b-side of "Hi Ho Silver Lining." "Truth" was a success, and reached #15 on the album charts. Alongside Cream, The Jimi Hendrix Experience and Led Zeppelin, The Jeff Beck Group were pivotal in taking rock into heavier territories and paved the way for heavy metal. There is incredibly heavy thundering bass from Ron Wood and is excellently complemented by Micky Waller's percussion along with Jeff's brave and unchallenged guitar playing. This impressively precedes Led Zeppelin's debut along with Free's "Tons of Sobs" and demonstrates blues in a raw and unique form along with other bands like Free and Cream that were heading in the same direction. I think it's superb and it shows the same characteristics of hard rock and metal bands that would come later.