Saturday, June 20, 2009

Album of the Day #156: YARDBIRDS - The Yardbirds

Artist: The Yardbirds

Title: Yardbirds (officially); Roger The Engineer (unofficially)
Label: Columbia (UK)
Year: 1966
Songs: Lost Woman/Over Under Sideways Down/The Nazz Are Blue/I Can't Make Your Way/Rack My Mind/Farewell /Hot House Of Omagararshid/Jeff's Boogie/He's Always There/Turn Into Earth/What Do You Want/Ever Since The World Began
Written by: Chris Dreja, Jeff Beck, Keith Relf, Jim McCarty and Paul Samwell-Smith
Produced by: Paul Samwell-Smith & Simon Napier-Bell
Thoughts: The Yardbirds were one of those odd groups that had a swinging-door for guitar players, but thankfully for them, the men who walked through that door were Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page.
Yardbirds, or Roger The Engineer, was their first studio album after years of recording singles and releasing a live LP. By the time they got to recording it, Jeff Beck was sitting-in as lead guitarist and his mark is all over the record. From his funky "Jeff's Boogie" to the amount of experimentation, proving just how far you can take the sound of a guitar, Beck is all over and even sings lead vocals on "The Nazz Are Blue". The rest of the songs are sung by Keith Relf, who has this fantastic proto-hard rock vocalist sound. I particularly love his vocal on the opening track, "Lost Woman". Other fantastic tracks include the single, the incredibly catchy "Over Under Sideways Down", "He's Always There" and the rest of the first side. The second side is hampered by starting of with the bizarre chant of "Hot House..." and "Turn Into Earth" is pretty forgettable. "Ever Since The World Began" is one of the strangest endings you'll hear on a rock record as it preaches to us that we 'don't need money' as the first half dissolves into this scat sequence that finally ends the album on a sudden stop.
I really think it's a fun record and it really is an important step in the development of the hard rock bands that would come out of the ashes of the 1960's.
There are many versions of the album out there and the one that I picked up was released by Airline Records. It has the mono and stereo versions of the LP, the fantastic "Happenings Ten Years Ago" b/w "Psycho Daisies" single and the two Keith Relf solo singles all on one disc. I know there is a much more expensive version available on Amazon that has just the mono and stereo version plus the extra single spread over two discs. I wouldn't get that version, but rather get the single disc version that I got. Yes, the liner notes aren't that informative and the artwork isn't exactly the same as it was on the LP, but you still get all the fantastic music that sounds great. The mono and stereo versions are different enough to require listening to, although the differences in each track are much more than I could possibly figure out. I'm sure there's somebody on this world wide web of ours that has written about that extensively.

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