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29
Five Live Yardbirds
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29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
on September 17, 2004
The makers of 'Five Live Yardbirds' must be pro-choice. There are at least 5 or 6 versions of this CD listed on Amazon, and the particular one I possess, which contains only ten tracks from the March 1964 Marquee show, isn't even here. The disc I'm reviewing is a French import, on the 'Decal' label. There is a comparable 10 track Rhino version, 16 track versions by Prism and JVC Japan, an 18 track Repertoire version, 19 track Verese version, and a 20 track Phantom version. Most of these alternates package the Marquee show with a variety of other Yardbird demos, studio releases, and various live tracks. The Marquee show, however, is always at the core as the 'main attraction'.

While some reviewers disparage the quality of the recording, I find it remarkably good considering the year and the locale... the London Marquee club. In contrast to live recordings by The Beatles of the same era, these tapes are clean and crisp. Comparing these recordings to bootlegs is really a disservice. I once owned a fairly extensive bootleg collection, and this recording puts most of them to shame.

The Yardbirds were clearly at the forefront, along with The Rolling Stones, of the emerging rhythm and blues genre in the UK in the early 1960's. It's rather fascinating to listen to the superb quality of Eric Clapton's lead guitar, although if there is to be disparaging of the recording quality, it would have to be the squelching of Eric's leads in favor of Keith Relf's mouth harp. Never again in his career would another instrument render Clapton to second fiddle.

At times the Yardbirds leaned toward pure rock and roll rather than rhythm and blues, as in their opening cover of Chuck Berry's 'Too Much Monkey Business', and at other times submerged themselves in pure blues, as in Ellas McDaniel's 'Pretty Girl'. Three of the last four songs on the disc, in fact, are McDaniel compositions, including one of his best, 'I'm a Man' ("...spelled M... A... N... man....", what a great lyric!), which I would pick as the best song of the evening. As other reviewers have noted, however, this is bare bones RnB from a band working hard to establish themselves (this recording even pre-dates the release of their first single, 'I Wish You Would'). Every song is infused with maximum voltage, and the crowd is clearly a hard-core bunch eating it up. For a band without a hit to their name, they already possessed a rabid following.

While none of the songs on this disc proved to be hits for the Yardbirds, the recording provides a unique, high-caliber snapshot of early British pub-rock. Beyond Clapton, Relf's vocals and mouth harp are exquisite, and Paul Samwell-Smith's bass meanders in delightful ways not often experienced. While the Yardbirds lacked the 'innocence' of the early Beatles, they were above the decadence the Stones excreted even in their genesis, opting for a sound not unlike the early, blues-oriented Animals. Despite Beatlemania, it may have been the most excitingly musical place to be as rock and roll evolved full throttle into the mid-1960's. You can sense the band is on the cusp of something special. We're lucky to have this recording, and you should hear it.
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26 of 29 people found the following review helpful
on October 22, 2007
Ignore commentary that this was "the poorest" version of the Yardbirds; it is only "poor" if you prefer artistic nuances like raga stylings and instruments to great raw live shows. Portions of this material were originally available in the US as just one side of the LP "Having a Rave Up With the Yardbirds," our first taste of how hot the band was in concert. Our first real exposure to Eric Clapton's power, so how can you lose? Ultimately "Five Live" arrived at our shores and now we have several versions available to choose from, so be careful which one you buy so you don't feel left short.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on January 14, 2001
I disagree with the reviewer from Amazon. I have had this album on vinyl since about 1988 and it is a rocker. You can hear the next 30 years of rock and roll (this is recorded in 1964) in its infancy at the Marquee club. Clapton is fueled up, and his guitar leads most of the songs with the rhythym section playing catch-to to his speedy guitar.
Now think about it, the reviewer says this sounds like a bunch of art students in 1964, which is self evident because these are a bunch of art students in 1964. But they sound much like the music enjoyed in bars in 1974 (Nick Lowe for example), in 1984 (Jason and the Scorchers for example) and 1994 (The Foo Fighters for example) and in pretty much every third bar in the US, UK and Ireland on a given Saturday Night. The interesting part is that this does NOT sound like the music you would hear in 1954, even though some of the songs could have been written in 1934 (Smokestack Lightnin has been around, and Good Morning Little Schoolgirl is positively perverse sounding in 2001).
The Yardbirds made some tranformation in 1964 that bridged the timeless county-blues to a hyped up electric show. This transformation is what is caputred on this record here and why this album is essential for any rock and roller.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on December 14, 2001
The Yardbirds only lasted five years (1963-68) but even in their embryonic stage they could rock as loud and as hard as any band in the world. This raw, powerful CD of a 1964 performance from the Marquee Club proves this conclusively. Bootleg-level sound and a set list of covers aside, this is maximum R&B with a perspiring punk edge. Hamish Grimes' giddy introduction gets the show off to a gleeful start as the lads rip into "Too Much Monkey Business," a ferocious recasting of the Chuck Berry classic that even non-fan Dave Marsh described as "genius." (Great as it is, Eric Clapton plays the intro in the wrong key -so says Cub Koda - but no matter, it's awesome.). Clapton's spitfire guitar takes up much of the ink, but the dynamics these five generate on "I'm a Man", "Respectable" and "Here Tis" are rock as brutal jazz improvisation, full of impassioned soloing that never quite gets out of hand. Keith Relf dominates the set as much as Clapton with his feral harp and gasping vocals. Keith's adenoidal singing may be an acquired taste (he's no Eric Burdon, let's face it) but I like it because his enthusiasm is so relentless. Check out the intoxicating way Relf plays off of Slowhand on "Louise." Glorious. The rest of the gang are no slouches either. Paul Samwell-Smith lays down a pulsating bass, Chris Dreja raves on sweaty rhythm guitar and Jim McCarty revs the engine with a cattle-stampede beat. The Clash could have learned a thing or two about energy from this record. But allow me to leave the final word with Howlin' Wolf. He called their version of "Smokestack Lighting" the best he'd ever heard. Take that Animals!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on January 4, 2001
I enjoy the music on the CD. It is a recording of a live performance of the band THE YARDBIRDS as they performed at the Marques Club in London, England (March 1964). The notes by Mr Tony Watts provide a brief history of the band along with comments about the singles. I am one of those who has a deep affection for this band -- by far, my favourite band from the British Invasion. Their impact on popular music for the remainder of the twentieth century is undeniable. Not only did they establish the practice of Blues-covers as commercially viable, the group nurtured the seminal careers of three legendary rock guitarists, namely, Mrrs. Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page (cf. AIN'T GOT YOU with WHOLE LOTTA LOVE). THE YARDBIRDS created the Rock Guitarist as cult hero. This CD captures why they were so exciting. I feel the excitement of the young men as they belt out these tunes. The recording process cannot contain them as witnessed by the clipping (e.g. RESPECTABLE). Mr Clapton is perfecting the pentatonic guitar solos that would inspire decades of youngsters on songs like TOO MUCH MONKEY BUSINESS as Mr Jim McCarty provides a cymbal-laden percussive assault. I find this fresh and exciting. The Chicago Blues Numbers, SMOKESTACK LIGHTENING (C. Burnett) and I'M A MAN (M. Morganfield) may not qualify as "Blues", even so, they sound great as the band embraces them with youthful energy. I think recordings like this one capture the sheer joy of playing loud, fast music. This type of uninhibited self-expression would go dormant as rock became big business only to resurface in the late seventies, briefly, with the punk movement. If you are interested in live music performed with energy and honesty, or if you are interested in the roots of the rock guitar as we know it today, this CD will interest you.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on September 2, 2009
This is the Charly Import version released in 2003 that has 10 bonus tracks. It is specially identified by the red box in the top corner of the cover (see stock photo). The case is a thin cardboard gatefold that houses an 8 page insert in one fold and the cd in a protective sleeve in the other fold.

Tracl Listing:

1. Too Much Monkey Business
2. Got Love If You Want It
3. Smokestack Lightning
4. Good Morning, Little Schoolgirl
5. Respectable
6. Five Long Years
7. Pretty Girl
8. Louise
9. Im a Man
10. Here 'Tis

Bonus Tracks:

11. You Can't Judge a Book by Looking at the Cover
12. Let It Rock
13. I Wish You Would
14. Who Do You Love
15. Honey in Your Hips
16. A Certain Girl
17. Got to Hurry
18. Boom Boom
19. I Ain't Got You
20. Good Morning Little Schoolgirl (studio version)
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on October 15, 1999
I have worn out 2 vinyl editions and have now got the CD. Such energy on this album, never really captured on their studio performances. We would pack into the Marquee most fridays to see this band and be stunned by their rave-ups and their cool guitarist with the forty quid suit and red telecaster. As Frank Zappa once said "the Yardbirds started it all". Get this CD.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on December 6, 2010
Although I grew up during the golden age and had always heard about the Yardbirds,I only bought this - my first Yardbirds album - a week ago. I never thought that anyone at that time could have been better than the Stones, and dare I say it, I think the Yardbirds were. This version of 'Smokestack Lightning' was regarded Howlin' Wolf as better than his own! What an accolade. And the vocalist is better than Jagger in those early days. On top of all of this, Five Live Yardbirds was their unusual debut (unusual in that it was a wild, raucous live album; most groups then followed up a series of studio albums with a live one)- what a wonderful place for me to start! And I unreservedly recommend it to you.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on July 22, 2002
Despite being only the start of his long and illustrious career, Eric Clapton never played more convincing (or
more enjoyable) blues than with the Yardbirds. The youthful energy and enthusiasm, the absence of guitar-god
posturing, and the tightness of the band combine to produce a magical recording. The sound quality is sub-par,
but that only adds to its charm. If you like John Mayall or the early Stones, don't miss this album - it's even
better.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on September 22, 2011
Though never as "big" in the United States as The Beatles and The Rolling Stones (but then, neither were The Kinks or The Who, for quite some time, we Yanks preferring the pleasant pop of those Liverpudlian Lads, along with Dave Clark's quintet, and a pack of Hermits Headed by Herman), The Yardbirds were, nonetheless, a seminal band both in the evolution of blues and blues-rock, and the history of rock & roll.

Along with the Stones, powered by the Holy Trinity of Brit rock guitarists (Clapton, Beck & Page all did stints in The Y'Birds), and backed by manager Giorgio Gomelski, in residencies at London's Marquee Club (the recording source of the original tracks on this disc), The Yardbirds helped electrify the blues, and, let's face it, reintroduce the genre to the youth of the country from whence it came.

Together with the spot-on proficiency of a take-your-pick trio of the great lead guitarists of the era, Paul Samwell-Smith's pumping basslines, and Keith Relf's energetic vocals (which would evolve into haunting stylizations, a cross-between Eric Burdon and Mick Jagger, on future recordings), along with some amazing mouth-harp work (all the more challenging for Relf's having had only one lung), these factors should have propelled this British-based blues-rock group into the outer stratosphere. Yet how things evolved were that certain band members achieved greater acclaim in solo ventures and/or with other bands (Cream and Led Zeppelin, most noteworthy of them all).

Although the best incarnation of The Y'Birds is, unquestionably, with Jeff Beck (along with Jagger & Keith Richards, the prototypical Brit rocker, who inspired Christoper Guest's "Nigel Tufnel" in the mock rocumentary "This is Spinal Tap"), this recording nonetheless shows an important group in its genesis, having a terrific time inventing and lifting riffs, in performance at a gritty London club, on some true classics--Chuck Berry's "Too Much Monkey Business," Bo Diddley's "I'm A Man," and the killer numbers "Here 'Tis" and "Smokestack Lightnin'."

I'm also partial to the lecherous rave-up "Good Morning, Little Schoolgirl," which could just as easily be changed to "schoolboy," for those "filthy buggers" (just jesting) so inclined.

This CD includes several bonus cuts not on the original, vinyl recording, also worth a listen, albeit out-of-context. None are really inappropriate for the setlist of this era at the Marquee venue, except perhaps the psychedelic-influenced "Shape of Things," a great tune in its own right.

I'm not typically a fan of live recordings. But this one's an exception that really cooks! This CD (or the original vinyl, if you can find it) is essential for anyone wishing to build or maintain a definitive collection of important rock & roll recordings.

"Here they are--five, live Yard-birds!"
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