Jeff Beck - guitar, vocals; Rod Stewart - vocals; Ron Wood - bass; Mickey Waller - drums
After exiting the Yardbirds in 1967, Jeff Beck recruited Rod Stewart, Ron Wood and Mickey Waller to help him pursue his own musical direction. Although the group lasted a relatively short time, the two albums they released, Truth and Beck-Ola, remain musical touchstones of hard rock that influenced countless musicians that followed. The first of these, 1968's Truth LP, remains one of the most groundbreaking rock albums of the era, featuring explosive soaring guitar lines over a pummeling rhythm section. Hendrix and Cream were pursuing similar directions within their own power trio formats, but the addition of Rod Stewart's passionate and distinctive vocals, in addition to Beck's innovative guitar playing, gave the group an intensity few could match. This set, recorded at Fillmore West during the summer of 1968, when the band was opening a bill featuring Moby Grape, captures the group shortly after the release of Truth - and performing at a level that is simply staggering.
They begin the set with a take of Willie Dixon's "You Shook Me," which soars directly into "Let Me Love You," both featured on the Truth LP. Within seconds, the band is blazing with energy. Stewart's passionately raspy vocals and Beck's searing guitar lines cannot be ignored. The biting guitar tone and use of sustain and a compelling call and response section between Beck and Stewart are so effectively realized that it is no wonder so many tried to copy the formula. None of this was lost on Jimmy Page, as this sound and approach virtually served as a blueprint for Led Zeppelin's live sound the following year.
A cover of Bonnie Dobson's apocalyptic vision, "Morning Dew," follows. Beginning sparse and foreboding, the song gradually builds momentum, the first verse highlighting Stewart's vocals before the band comes in hard for the second verse. The song vacillates back and forth, but after the return to sparseness in the third verse, they fly off into a furious musical rage. Ron Wood approaches the bass like a guitarist, adding fills and counterpoint, in addition to a fluid bottom end. Beck utilizes the wah-wah to add squawking sounds of death before they ease back down, tagging the song with a sad introspective little guitar coda at the end.
Following "Morning Dew," Stewart announces that Jeff is going to liven things up a bit with the showcase song from his Yardbirds days, "Jeff's Boogie." Incredible as that original Yardbirds recording was, it is tame in comparison to this. The song alternates between hard swinging rhythm and absolutely scorching solos, gaining in excitement and creativity with every pass. At one point, Beck interjects some humor by whipping into the immediately recognizable theme song from The Beverly Hillbillies! This explosive soloing continues until they suddenly stop, take a brief gasp of air, then continue the staggering barrage in double time! Truly breathtaking. "The Sun is Shining," composed by Elmore James, is a delicious slow blues number, featuring Beck and company playing in a more traditional manner. It's another winning performance where one can truly appreciate the nuances of Beck's tone, touch and technique.
Possibly as homage to the hippiedom of San Francisco, Beck closes the set with the rarely performed single, "Hi Ho Silver Lining," taking on the lead vocal himself. This obscure single was as close as Beck ever went toward pure pop psychedelia. With Stewart helping out on the sing-a-long chorus, and demented guitar solos galore, this performance smokes the original single in every possible way. Beck thanks the Fillmore audience, announces that Moby Grape is up next and the band exits the stage to a well deserved ovation.
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