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Birdland quite possibly qualifies for entry into the Guinness Book of Records under the "longest ever gap between studio albums" category. After all, when the Yardbirds last released a proper record (1967's Little Games, a mixed affair featuring some up-and-coming guitarist called Jimmy Page), man had yet to visit the moon, Tony Blair was a 14-year-old schoolboy, and the White Stripes were what you saw on the road at zebra crossings. Of course, nothing the Yardbirds could possibly do now will ever attain the dizzy, head-swimming heights of their psychedelic 1960s heyday, but Birdland--with some dignity--is certainly not the sound of washed-up ex-rock stars sucking their stomachs in and combing their hair forward. Reconvening around a nucleus of original members Chris Dreja and Jim McCarty, the latter-day lineup also boasts the pedigree of former Dr Feelgood guitarist and co-writer John "Gypie" Mayo as well as guest appearances aplenty from such ostentatious fretboard manipulators as Brian May, Steve Vai, Joe Satriani, Slash, and even Jeff Beck himself. And while dismissing the production work on their classic 1960s hits as "crap" may well be a poor excuse for offering these buffed-up re-recordings of their greatest moments ("Shapes of Things," "For Your Love," etc.), at least accusations of laurel-resting are convincingly countered by the inclusion of some stimulating new material. For example, "The Mystery of Being"--worryingly described by the band as "Afghan psychedelia"--is just the sort of Arabian rock illusion previously conjured up by Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow. The tribute to Keith Relf on "An Original Man" is worthy of the Byrds at their brotherly prime, and "Crying Out for Love" is mature blues with heart, soul, and sensitivity. Frankly, one could only wish the Rolling Stones' songwriting skills were still as sharp. --Kevin Maidment
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I always chuckle when I hear armchair music historians repeat the erroneous information, "The Yardbirds became Led Zeppelin". I suppose in a left-handed way, this is partially true.... BUT this CD is proof positive that The Yardbirds still exist as such. And I'm VERY pleased that they do.
Just take a listen to this version of "Over, Under, Sideways, Down," and you'll be instantly transported back to the local county fair midway where that unforgettable tune was frequently blasting away amid all the pretty young country girls and the glittering rides and other amusements.
Don't pass this fine recording by -- it's a wonderful rendition of all The Yardbirds' hits and a huge bargain.
Steve Lewis, Glendale AZ