Opening Statement



Saturday, 5 April 2014

Review: Why You Need To Listen To The Yardbirds Explained!

Kulture Kult Ink Presents:



The band logo!

Why you need to listen to the British invasion blues rock, psychedelic and garage etc. etc.etc. band the Yardbirds is explained @ Essential! and @ Very Essential!

The Yardbirds launched the careers of 3 of rock's guitar greats; Eric Clapton [Cream/ Derek + the Dominos, solo]  Jeff Beck [Jeff Beck Group, solo etc] + Jimmy Page [Led Zeppelin]. They are arguably comparable in importance + influence to the Beatles, Rolling Stones + the Who though never near as popular.The Yardbirds had a good following in Canada, perhaps to a lesser degree in the US, but oddly enough, not at least for every long, in homeland England. The Canadian Yardbirds story is The Capitol Canada Yardbird Records



Eric Clapton left the Yardbirds after he decided they had strayed too far from their early blues roots

The Yardbirds first big international hit, with Eric Clapton on guitar, was written by 70's 10cc front man Graham Gouldman. See and hear it @ For Your Love Video and @ Another For Your Love video!

Their followup hits "Heart Full of Soul" + "Evil Hearted You" were also written by Gouldman. By the way that's guitarist Jeff Beck you see in the video @ Heart Full of Soul

This 1968 film clip from "Blow Up" features a rare appearance of the Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page line up playing the bluesy "Stroll On", aka "Train Kept a Rolling", in which they smash up a guitar to the shock of their teenage audience @ Very 60's!




"Rave Up" was a chop up job album made for the North American market!

The rather convoluted Yardbirds discography originally consisted of a lot of live recordings, 45 rpm singles and EP's in the UK. Basically chop shop job albums were thrown together especially for the North American releases until their final UK effort  "Roger the Engineer" and the Canada/ US "Little Games" albums. You can find a good discography with the artwork here @ allmusic.com



"Roger the Engineer" was basically the band's only official band approved UK album.

You can hear 10 of the Yardbirds greatest hits @ Listen hear!

The Yardbirds "hat trick" was that they introduced to the public 3 rock guitar legends Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck and finally Jimmy Page. The Yardbirds originally played the later Led Zeppelin classic "Dazed + Confused" first, which you can see + hear Youtube 

Tho Page was hardly all that the Yardbirds were about [I'm partial to a lot of the the Jeff Beck lineup myself ...] [IMHO, Clapton has always been vastly overrated as a blues guitarist, take that as you may ...]. He had some outstanding moments with the band, many of which passed virtually unnoticed at the time. Throughout his later career with Led Zeppelin Page continued to play the Yardbird trax "Train Kept A Rolling" + "White Summer" + to a lesser degree "For Your Love" live in concert. Here's Guitar Magazines list of Jimmy Page's 5 best guitar solos while with the Yardbirds, as heard onYoutube



Jimmy Page joined the Yadrbirds for their classic US Psychedelic album "Little Games".

When "New Yardbirds" guitarist Jimmy Page was left with the band name after everybody else got fed up with commercial failure and decided to move on, the group ironically morphed into the immensely popular Led Zeppelin @ Page

The Yardbirds reformed briefly in 1983, then again in 1992 sans the guitar legends but with original drummer Jim McCarthy, and rhythm guitarist Chris Drega. They continue to play concerts and record live albums to rave underground reviews through to today. Original 1963 guitarist Anthony "Top" Topham replaced Drega in 2013 when he had to leave for health reasons. Other up and coming guitarists are often showcased and Jeff Beck is not too big for his britches to still drop by sometimes to wield his mighty axe. Their official website is @ The Yardbirds Now!




Visit the bands website [above] for info on the band today.

Some recommended cds:

A's B's + EP's [Repertoire label] is a super compilation of both sides of the Yardbirds 45 rpm singles +EPs. Since the group was basically a singles [as opposed to an album] band there's very few clunkers here, and this comp is about as thorough as you will get. On the other hand The Yardbirds Greatest Hits Vol 1 [Rhino label] is one nice tight hard hitting single cd collection. Regretfully it only goes up to 1966 and so misses out on the Page hits. A Part 2 has never been released but see box sets below.



The Yardbirds were basically a hit singles band for most of their short career.

At the BBC: Any number of releases of these trax exist, some with more songs, others less. The cover version of Bob Dylan's Most Likely You'll Go Your Way [And I'll Go Mine] is a kool score.

Where the Action Is!: This 2 cd set contains 27 BBC trax and a live Yardbirds Jimmy Page show from Stockholm Sweden in 1967!

Live Blues Wailing 1964 comes from a 1964 gig at the Marquis Club in London England with the young Eric Clapton on lead guitar. The original 5 Live Yardbirds release, despite the kool cover, has a very thin and tinny sound in comparison, though both are great shows.
Although it's available on cd, look for the Sundazed label's vinyl mono release for a real retro treat. Great focused sound! Nice big gate fold cover, with large, readable linear notes and good sized pictures, not like those dumb little thumbnail sized ones on the cds.



"Live Blueswailing" is a great sounding Clapton era live blues disc

For Your Love: This album is basically a dogs breakfast of trax randomly thrown together by the Yardbirds US Epic label to cash in on the title song after it became a top ten hit stateside. Most of the songs feature Clapton, who was not mentioned in the linear notes. Jeff Beck had also replaced him on the US tour by then. Later cd releases drown the sparse album in bonus trax. Get an box set collection for all of these instead.

Having A Rave With the Yardbirds: A chop shop job of previous single + live trax prepared for the US teen market with the first side featuring Jeff Beck on guitar, the second with Eric ClaptonThe Yardbirds helped popularize the sixties "rave" style where the instrumentalists would improvise and jam on the songs riffs in the middle of the song. This was quite sensational at the time though it is pretty much par for the course nowadays, thanks in large part to the Yardbirds. Rolling Stone magazine has included Having a Rave on their Top 500 All Time Rock Albums list.

Roger the Engineer: The Yardbirds finally got a chance to conceive and recordcohesive long playing [LP] album themselves as opposed to the previous record company concoctions! It features the Jeff Beck guitar lineup. Look for any number of re-releases, many of which now include both the mono and stereo versions back to back or on two separate discs. Albums were still basically being recorded in mono which sounds a lot more punchier than the often fake or rechanneled stereo versions. The Canadian version of this album is called Over Under Sideways Down. It's basically the same album minus Jeff's Boogie, a serious omission, but it has been recently been made available again on cd release. Once again, I would recommend checking out the mono vinyl release. A decent copy is nowadays available on the Demon label. Stylistically Roger the Engineer it is an engaging mix + match of blues and early psychedelic styles. Quite far out for the time and still sounding excellent today, it also made the Rolling Stone magazine album list.



Over Under Sideways Down is the Canuck version of Roger the Engineer.

Little Games: This psychedelic opus is a sadly overlooked classic with a pure "you are back in the sixties very stoned at a groovy party with go go dancers" type ambiance. Mono and stereo versions now abound. Once again the mono version might be considered best. Later cd releases come with any number of kool outtakes, remixes and alternate song versions which are non essential but a lot of fun and often featuring an improved stereo sound. As mentioned, Jimmy Page would continue to play the psychedelic guitar solo classic "White Summer" from this album live in concert with Led Zeppelin for many years to come.

Note: The recent Sundaze mono vinyl re-release of Little Games uses the original masters. The sound is very crisp, clear and punchy. Also has a solid full bass. Pages guitar solos literally jump out at you. I had an original stereo version for years. Despite being a collectible I was never really fond of the sound. Echoey with an awkward separation, it just didn't have a very good sound field to it. I recently got a decent offer and sold it. Now have this one instead. It comes highly recommended.



Cumular Limit: Turn on the strobe lights, lava lamp + play!

Cumular Limit is an odd little 2 cd set of live trax, outtakes and contemporary remixes of the Jimmy Page era Yardbirds. The second disc is in the rather dated video disc format so you need to play it via your computer. However it features a great Page line up in a live Yardbirds show from German TV. Wow! Now long deleted but well worth the search! Bonus tip: there's a super hidden psychedelic track at the very end after the band's live version of Daze + Confused on disc one!



Just a live album cash grab but an exciting, excellent show!

Live Yardbirds Featuring Jimmy Page is a 1968 US concert later released to cash in on Page's Led Zeppelin fame. The raw sound is very rough and ready with all the to be expected blemishes, the audience quite raucous. Page got pretty pissed, so the record was quickly discontinued. You can now find it kicking around remastered on cd. The fake crowd cheers from a bull fight [?!] have been removed. An exciting, high powered, excellent show despite the technical imperfections!



Box Sets: Never a dull moment! Lots extras + audio fun!

Box Sets: The Charley + Easy Action labels from the UK keep knocking out re-release packages of the bands repertoire with plenty of rarities, demos, alts, live tracks, remixes and so on. They are usually well organized chronologically and with detailed recording notes. The sound quality varies. The quality of the masters used is not great but the original production values weren't very good to start with. 

Glimpses is a recent set of tres kool curios for the hardcore fan.  Note that it often has an official bootleg type sound quality about it. Still, had it been released as a bootleg it probably would've been hailed as a classic! Yardbirds Story is also an excellent find. It's a 4 cd set of their recordings prior to Jimmy Page, and features very through, detailed linear notes. Charley/ Rhino's 2 cd Ultimate! set organizes the best of their trax by guitarist and producer into a very cohesive package. Fans are often critical of the overtly bright sound mix though. 

The recent Repertoire label reissues of the individual US/ Canadian albums are said to be a significant audio upgrade. Unfortunately the track listings are either scrambled +/or quite a hodge podge of bonus tracks that might best fit and make sense on a box set. So far none. This is a band who's complete catalogue is in the serious need of a make over. Let's hope some better first generation master tapes turn up soon! Meanwhile, if you shop around, you might find these box sets for a good price, and they certainly are very enjoyable all the same!




Birdland [2003] was the Yardbirds first new album in over 32 years. It included 8 new songs from original members Jim McCarty + Chris Dreja plus some very decent improved sound quality versions of their greatest hits. Guest guitarists included Jeff Beck, Joe Satriani, Slash, + Brian May. Since then they have released a number of live albums from their ongoing shows.



Lotsa fun: search the used record stores for Yardbird vinyl nuggets! Sound wise I'd highly recommend the mono releases over the stereo ones most any day due to them being vintage records.


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