The Yardbirds

Little Games
The Yardbirds
The Yardbirds
The Yardbirds

The Yardbirds issued only three truly distinct albums – Five Live (with Eric Clapton), The Yardbirds (a.k.a. “Roger The Engineer,” with Jeff Beck), and Little Games (featuring their final lineup of Jimmy Page, singer Keith Relf, drummer Jim McCarty, and Chris Dreja moving from rhythm guitar to bass). American releases For Your Love and Having A Rave Up were essentially compilations of singles and live cuts from 1964’s Five Live Yardbirds, not initially issued stateside. 

Following the departure of bassist/ producer Paul Samwell-Smith, their ’67 swan song was produced by Mickie Most, who’d helmed the Animals, Donovan, and Herman’s Hermits – although, according to McCarty, Most was only present for the title track/single (and some other failed, non-LP singles), where he used session players on bass and drums.

The album may be even more eclectic than its Beck-fueled predecessor – ricocheting from lowdown blues (“Drinking Muddy Water”) to jugband (“Stealing, Stealing”) to folk balladry (“Only The Black Rose”). Page excels on “Smile On Me,” which shifts from a swirling, Indian-tinged rhythm to blues shuffle a la Otis Rush’s “All Your Love.” His acoustic DADGAD vehicle, “White Summer,” is actually the traditional “She Moved Through The Fair,” previously recorded by Davey Graham, whose style Page lifts liberally. The psychedelic “Glimpses” and “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Sailor” anticipate Zeppelin, incorporating Page’s violin-bow technique.

This reissue – the first ever taken from the original mono masters (a dedicated, unique mix that, to producer Bob Irwin’s ears, is much more revealing and cohesive than the stereo) – contains two bonus cuts – “Puzzles” and the pub-fueled waltz “I Remember The Night,” which McCarty reveals most nixed because so many groups were including “funny” songs at the time. He says Most didn’t really get the Yardbirds. Fortunately, a legion of fans still do.

This article originally appeared in VG‘s April ’11 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.

<iframe width=”420″ height=”315″ src=”” frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen></iframe>

No posts to display