This collection kicks of with "For Your Love," the Yardbirds' highest charting U.S. single (No. 6) and the song that led to the resignation of lead guitarist Eric Clapton. Despite Clapton's early exit from the band (March 1965), he appears on nine of the eighteen tracks. He especially shines on the final three tracks taken from Five Live Yardbirds. Listen especially to Clapton's guitar and Keith Relf's harmonica interplay on the nearly six-minute version of Smokestack Lightning!
Clapton's replacement wasn't too shabby either. Listen to Jeff Beck on their rave-up of Bo Diddley's "I'm a Man" where Beck and Relf do a guitar and harmonica call-and-response.
For a time the Yarbirds boasted the twin-guitar attack of Beck and Jimmy Page (although Page is not featured on this collection). All told, this is amazing music. My only complaint is that it doesn't include "Over, Under, Sideways, Down"--one of only six singles the band had in the U.S. [For that matter, this set also omits the Yardbirds' last top 40 hit, "Happenings Ten Years Time Ago." To get these two songs, buy the equally amazing Yardbirds' album Roger the Engineer.] ESSENTIAL
on April 25, 2008
In 1966, Michelangelo Antonioni released a highly controversial movie called Blow Up. Set in London, the film starred David Hemmings, Sarah Miles, and a young, and exquisitely beautiful, Vanessa Redgrave. Thomas, (Hemmings), lives a fast, ultra-hip existence and at one point finds himself in a wild, psychedelic nightclub. It's loud, it's cookin', and on the bandstand Jeff Beck, Jimmy Page, and the other birds are rippin' up a version of The Train Kept A Rollin' which had been slightly altered for copyright reasons. The live energy is absolutely explosive; high voltage, raw electric blues like that was simply unknown back then.
This CD chronicles the most important years in the short, but sparkling, career of a hugely exciting and influential band. When you consider that this music was recorded over 40 years ago it's easy to understand that, at the time, it was as revolutionary as the arrival of Hendrix. More remarkable still, the music sounds as great today as when it was released, full of edge, authority, and bite. Sure, there are clunkers that probably sounded dated even when they were released, You're A Better Man Than I finds the Yardbirds adopting a pious, and highly inappropriate, idealism while Still I'm Sad would have been better left to the Moody Blues or some other clinically depressed outfit. Putty (In Your Hands) is cute - a word that damns it - just too close to early Beatles for comfort.
Pretty much everything else is fast out of the gate and hot as Georgia asphalt in August. I'm Not Talking is a perennial favorite of mine, as are The Train Kept A Rollin', Smokestack Lightning, Evil Hearted You, Heart Full Of Soul, I Ain't Done Wrong. The Yardbirds definitely had their limitations, Keith Reif is a mediocre vocalist - compare him with what the Beck/Stewart match up on Truth sounds like. And this whole "guitar academy" factor everybody likes to cite - Clapton, Beck, Page - actually stood in the way of The Yardbirds ever coalescing as a group. However, they did manage to keep it together for a while, and in doing so, accomplished something artists rarely achieve, they produced music that was genuinely new and good enough to stand the test of time.
on August 13, 2003
I thought I was taking a bit of chance buying this cd, as I was only familiar with the classics "For Your Love" and "Heart Full of Soul", but I was on a British Invasion kick. Wow! This cd like, blew me away, man. For only one surprise, I was delighted to discover "Shapes of Things" - a great tune I certainly remembered, but never knew its name or its YB origin. The only other piece I sort of recall was "The Train Kept A-Rollin" which was featured in re-worked form in the Antonioni film "Blow Up". This, and the rest that was completely new to me, I just love: "Evil Hearted You" and "Mr. You're a Better Man Than I" are two others I find buzzing through my head throughout the day. Even if I'm a tad less patient with live stuff, which can veer into show-offy, formless indulgence, these guys can pull it off, as I find myself digging that fuzz-guitar/feedback rave-up (plus they know enough not to go on forever). I'll most definitely look into this band further - their music and their story. Enthusiastically recommended to anyone with any curiousity about this band!
on January 10, 2004
Anyone with an inkling of guitar knowledge is well aware that The Yardbirds redefined the blues. Not only that, but they also spawned the careers of three true guitar gods (Clapton, Beck and Page).
This compilation is great, but there aren't enough Clapton songs, if you ask me. The majority of it is Jeff Beck, although I don't have a problem with that (I'm enamored with Jeff's playing). But there were some Clapton songs that weren't included (like some of the tunes from the RARITIES album, i.e. - "West Coast Idea"). We've all heard "For Your Love" way too much, and it isn't even that great of a song, just another example of how most radio hits are ridiculously overrated. "Putty In Your Hands" is alright, but who needs it when we have such better songs, like "I Ain't Got You" for instance? Easily the best Clapton song on here, it's two minutes of blues Heaven. And listen to 19 year-old Clapton's stinging solo in the middle. Feel Hendrix crapping his pants from across the pond!
Then there's "A Certain Girl", a very poppy song with another fiery solo from Clapton (and like I said, he was only 19!).
The Jeff Beck songs are totally magnificent. The highlight of the album is definitely "Still I'm Sad", a dreary, sepulchral psychedelic song that practically sounds like a funeral lament. Undoubtedly one of the darkest songs of the 60's, it's doomy, chiming bells, haunting chants and suicidal lyrics make it a masterpiece of eerie psychedelia.
"I Ain't Done Wrong" is a shattering blues tune. Recorded in 1965, it features one of the first uses of distortion in guitar history, as Beck lays down some monstrous, Earth-shaking chords. "Evil Hearted You" is an overlooked gem, resplendent with a beautifully concise slide solo in the middle (Beck was the master of expressing so much emotion in so little time). "Shapes Of Things" and "Train Kept A-Rollin'" are known by everyone, but they're nothing to write home about, although the vocal refrain in the former is particularly glorious. And "I'm Not Talkin'" is probably my favorite song on the album. That guitar riff just does it for me every time. Jeff uses fuzztone on this one, and the groove is just irresistible.
This album is integral for any true blues/rock freak.
The Yardbirds were one of those great 'first British Invasion' groups whose primary claim to later fame is the fact that they provided the breeding ground for the stars of the 'second British invasion' lead by Cream, Traffic, and others. The thing which is so easy to forget is that groups like the Yardbirds, the Spenser Davis Group, Manfred Mann, Them, and the Graham Bond Organization were such fertile breeding grounds because their stuff was darn good itself.
I love it when I see contemporary commercials come up with songs from these great early bands, and listening to this album shows us just how important the Yardbirds were in their own right, not just as the launching pad for the careers of Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, and Jimmy Paige.
This is an essential album for any survey of rock roots!
on July 25, 2003
The Yardbirds were one of the top bands of the British Invasion, best known for their lead guitar players. The were a blues based rock band, but most of their hits leaned more towards "pop" rock. This collection does a nice job of balancing the group's "blues" and "pop" sides. Lots of classic stuff here, like "For Your Love", "Evil Hearted You", "Shapes of Things", "Heart Full of Soul" and "The Train Kept A-Rollin'". I would recommend this CD for British Invasion fans.
on December 27, 2003
As I stated in my review of the "Live Blueswailing" CD, I prefer the Clapton-era Yardbirds, and was hoping to find "Five Live" at the mall or something after Christmas. Unfortunately I couldn't find it, but I did pick up this eighteen-track compilation yesterday and am quite pleased. Ranging from the time just before Eric Clapton left to the earliest Jeff Beck material, this CD is a nice mix of the two threads in the Yardbirds' music: a reverence for the R&B standards they perfected with a desire to branch out commercially. While not every song is an absolute winner, there's more than enough to make this a great purchase for any Yardbirds fan.
Total of eighteen tracks here, most fans should recognize these cuts, like "For Your Love", "Evil Hearted You", "Shapes Of Things", the boot stompin' "I'm A Man", "I Ain't Got You", "Got Love If You Want It" and so on. With all the Yardbirds compilation CD releases out there, this one is a pretty good pick, I thought. I realize there are certain tunes you likely remember that don't appear on this CD, but keep in mind, this is Vol. 1. Semi-recommended.
on July 28, 2012
First, read the extended Amazon dot com review of the band - it's accurate and insightful, and the writer knows more about music per se than I do. The most favorable reviews of the Yardbirds note the guitar virtuosity, the blend of psychedlia and early metal, as well as the spiritual, even angst-filled qualities to the music - that's all true, too. But too few appreciate Ketih Relf, the lead singer and energetic harmonica player. He was one singer who was better live than in studio, and better when he wailed - where others started to lose it he found it. It's Keith's voice that adds so much of the seemingly heartfelt and undeniably hurting kind of angst to the best tracks. Sadly, the band's early R&B covers are mediocre at best - they're just another white boy blues band at that point. As others have noted, their move away from blues (while keeping some of the flavoring and feeling) really made the group. This may be heresy, but leaving Clapton behind actually helped the group quite a bit. I think what killed the group in the end was their lack of quality material - Shapes of Things and Over, Under, Sideways, Down are distinctive classics - the singing, the music, the guitars (of course), even the somewhat ironic lyrics are great, but not evident in all their songs. Still, Heartful of Soul and For Your Love are excellent pop tunes. Train Kept a-Rollin' is their one great cover here - full of energy, "letting it all hang out," to resurrect that cliche. I'm just sorry they broke up too soon before they locked in their evolutionary style and took it even further.
on October 17, 1999
The first Yardbirds CD I bought was The BBC Sessions which I thought was incredible. So I went out to buy another CD knowing that the versions would be a little different so I bought this one... I was a little dissapointed because The BBC sessions, I thought, were so good. But that doesn't mean that I don't like this CD. It's the Yardbirds and it's great so if you've never heard them before and you want to get a feel for the music... this is a great CD for you.