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    The Yardbirds

    Five Live Yardbirds 6 ( 1964 )
    Too Much Monkey Business / Got Love If You Want It / Smokestack Lightning / Good Morning Little Schoolgirl / Respectable / Five Long Years / Pretty Girl / Louise / I'm a Man / Here 'Tis

    The early Yardbirds played improvisational blues licks with creativity and speed, called 'rave-ups', a rush of rhythm that largely stuck to tried and tested blues motifs. Their lineup constantly changed and they struggled to impact upon the world as a genuine albums act because of this - that they eventually mutated into Led Zeppelin has ensured the name 'Yardbirds' has become something of a periphery name amongst music fans, unless you are a particular scholer of musical history, lead guitar players in particular. This album featured Eric Clapton, his first appearance on vinyl, no less. Recorded in 1964, this set offers a surprisingly clear sounding and punchy representation of British rock at the time, a stroke of fortune for The Yardbirds ultimately longevity as far as that old thing the 'rock canon' is concerned. Add in the debut recorded appearance of Eric Clapton and you can see why this set of blues covers has obvious appeal. True, the singer only has about two sounds his mouth emits, but his energy matches that of the band. True, the second set is far weaker than the first, but approach this with a drink in hand, and much enjoyment is to be found.

    Even in 1964 they were introducing Eric as 'slowhand'? He sounds fairly generic throughout this set, outshone by the bass player for me who is the real key to the band ticking over and having an element of punch. Listen to the opening track 'Too Much Monkey Business' and it's the bass that shines, pounds simply and primitively. Eric shines too momentarily with a fiery guitar solo and there you have it as the song fades away, slides into 'Got Love If You Want It', a song that even if by some chance you haven't heard it before sounds like you have - set building I think they used to call it. 'Smokestack Lightning' follows, slightly less enjoyably than the first couple of songs, the distinctice guitar riff of the song being drowned by the bass guitars sheer volume. I adore the charmingly ramshackle backing vocals throughout 'Respectable' and the slowed down sections of the tune. That's side one, side two opens with the best number on side two 'Five Long Years', decent harmonica and a slow, more purist version of the blues than the rave ups elsewhere.

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    Michel LeGrisbi Regina, SK, Canada
    I have a version of this album only it's entitled "Clapton Special Early Works" complete with a somewhat misleading cover pic from his "Cocaine" days. Not much here hints towards Clapton's success or those other behemoths (I'm pretty sure Beck and Page weren't members yet) but it is as enjoyable as any Nuggets/Pebbles collection. Just don't look for anything overly adventurous. It is as was stated, more purist and I find it a sincere homage to American blues.

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    For Your Love 7 ( 1965 )
    For Your Love / I'm Not Talking / Putty (In Your Hands) / I Ain't Got You / Got to Hurry / I Ain't Done Wrong / I Wish You Would / A Certain Girl / Sweet Music / Good Morning Little Schoolgirl / My Girl Sloopy

    This album was put together by their American label and comprised US singles, big hit 'For Your Love' and three tracks with Eric Clapton replacement, guitarist Jeff Beck. In terms of history, this album barely exists. It's not often written about, naturally so, as it's no more an album than 'The Beatles Second Album' - American labels often put albums together quickly from singles and stray material, usually to capitalise on a hit single. 'For Your Love', the song, saw The Yardbirds truly join the 'British Invasion' hitting number six on Billboard and, as the bands biggest hit, is also stylistically utterly atypical of the band. Eric Clapton quit, not wanting a part of what he perceived as 'the pop scene'. He could have turned his hand to it, of course. The title track of this album is very British Invasion pop, with a striking guitar refrain, a tempo change, chanted vocals - all topped off by memorable 'verse' sections in this case rather than the more usual memorable choruses most songs may be suggested to be based around. 'My Girl Sloppy', 'I'm Not Talking' and 'I Ain't Done Wrong' are the three tracks where Jeff Beck takes lead guitar duties. 'I'm Not Talking' is particularly impressive and one gets the sense that Beck could be a more driving, rhythmic guitar player than Clapton, who could be laid-back and classy and occasionally fiery - but very rarely so driving as Beck is on his brief appearences here.

    'For Your Love' contains but one or two Yardbirds 'originals' - so they are still sticking to playing blues covers for the most part - yet, 'Putty' comes across well, a good number in which the rhythm section ride effortlessly the catchy guitar lead that Eric makes sure goes round and round. 'I Ain't Done Wrong' and 'Got To Hurry' are the rather derivative original compositions, 'Got To Hurry' at least impresses as a genuine blues inspired number. The mixing desk faders are clearly all turned up to the red, distortion settings for 'A Certain Gir', which strikes me as something of a merseybeat piss-take, or probably more accurately, a lazy studio jam based around the then popularisms of the time. Still, Eric comes up with a great, blastingly fuzzy and enjoyable guitar solo - so all is well. 'Sweet Music' and the closing 'My Girl Sloopy' both reveal some strange doo-wop feeling, these are the kind of numbers Frank Zappa could have had great fun with, and The Yardbirds probably should have done more often - more daftness equals more fun.

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    this page last updated 08/02/14

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