Truth of Truths Oak Records 1971 CAT# OR1001
This is a pretty extravagant and ambitious rock-opera, double LP put out in 1971 by Oak Records. It seems the main force behind the album is a Texan, Ray Ruff, who founded a couple of labels and had a few 45 releases way back when. What brings it to this blog though is the inclusion of some of Val Stoecklien's last released work. While he wouldn't take his own life until 1993 and was known to be cutting demos up until that time, none of those demos have seen the light of day. The six tracks featured here pretty much conclude his catalog along with his contributions to Ecology's Environment/Evolution as a songwriter (pulled along by Ruff).
The reason for Val's inclusion on this LP is Ruff along with arranger, Dick Hieronymus. Both Ruff and Hieronymus worked on Stoecklein's solo effort, The Grey Life. Apparently, they believed in him enough to take him along on any release he was willing to work on.
As a whole, the rock opera is surprisingly good. Again, the primary forces were the same that worked on The Grey Life, so you had pros working on a release for a small label, perhaps past their prime and a bit too willing go in any direction, it's a varied release that hops from psychedelic soul, to gospel, to some straight psych freak outs and back to commonplace pop sounds of 1971, but it works and has it's highlights. It is of course over the top religious. The album predictably separates it's story into the "Old Testament" and the "New Testament". Like most things Christian, it takes what it wants from the Torah and the Holy Bible and only sounds focused when going into the Gospels. It also features a deep voice over when G-d speaks on the album which is trite and stupid.
|Album comes with a pretty nifty insert lyric sheet.|
Stoecklein's tracks are interesting. His arrangement on "Joseph, Beloved Son of Israel" is jangly and very Blue Things-esque. His adaptation and arrangement of "The Ten Commandments" is bizarre and more of a filler on the LP. However, the following track, "Song of the Children of Israel (Exodus)" is stunning and beautiful, despite that the song should be a party-track (freed from Egypt, here, man) there's a definite sadness that touches on his work as a solo-artist. The following track, "David to Bathsheba" is centered around a pretty odd Biblical story and it's odd to find it somewhere like this album. The tune dripping in sappiness and works in the sense that a Eric Carmen song is kind of enjoyable, but you sense it was a track Val had put away for another purpose but transformed into something he found in the Bible, making it a feel awkward. His track, "The Last Supper," is sparse and continues with the melancholy feel of most his tracks found here, it's also surprisingly true to the Gospels, so good job on the source materiel, Val. His final track featured on the LP is entitled "Resurrection," so you know it's near the end of the album. It's a pretty uplifting jam, arranged by someone and only written by Stoecklein, it features a bunch of horns, bells and strings along with a female lead vocalists, so it's not easy to identify it as something Stoecklien would have done, but it's solid.
Joseph, Beloved Son of Israel