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 The Yardbirds - The Yardbirds Story (4 CDs w/booklet)

The Yardbirds - The Yardbirds Story (4 CDs w/booklet) There have been several Yardbirds tributes over the last few years, I would venture to say nothing as comprehensive as this four disc boxed set though. The legend and lore of this once great band continues to grow with each passing year. Three of the greatest ever to strap on a six-string played in this group…Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page, (whom actually played bass) and Jeff Beck. All of these men have been critical in the development of blues based rock music. Their influence both past and present day remain essential to music and its diverse culture.

What I found most interesting is how the group utilized Sonny Boy Williamson’s talents (Disc 1), a blues pioneer in his own right, to help lend credibility to their band. That strategy worked beautifully and it served as a launching pad to their eventual success here in the U.S. Their career took off after that and every guitar player that was a part of the band would blossom and move on to enormously successful careers with other bands and as solo artists.

The 4-disc set along with the accompanying booklet covers four periods of the groups recording history. The first disc is 1963-R & B Roots, disc two is 1964-Early Studio & At the Marquee, disc three covers 1965/66-Big Hits & America Calling, and finally, disc four encapsulates 1966/67-An Eye View of Beat. The very early period is the heavier blues performances featuring Clapton and Sonny Boy Williamson, then from 1965-67 is when Beck took the stage and electrified audiences with his experimental blues-rock runs. I have always loved Clapton and his music but I think the Beck/Page period was the most productive for the band. Listen to disc four and you will hear some of the most innovative and exciting lead guitar playing ever recorded. It is hard to believe that Page played bass and watched Beck play guitar! In 1965-66, some of their biggest hits surfaced, the psychedelic “The Shapes of Things,” “For Your Love,” and “Heart Full of Soul” to name a few. Graham Gouldman was a main contributor to their early successes. Although many connect his name to another successful British band, 10CC, Gouldman was a prolific writer that wrote many hit tunes long before lending his talents to any other band.

I think the instrumentals on disc four are excellent examples of the direction in which Jeff Beck would go. If you have ever listened to “Blow By Blow” and “Wired”, you will understand what I mean. This is why I have always considered Beck to be light years ahead of his contemporaries, including Clapton, his progressive outings, technical expertise with his instrument, and risqué attitude put him on a level all his own. The first three discs are very good as well with many rare live cuts. I certainly do not want to take anything away from the importance of the early configuration of the Yardbirds, oh no, it is intrinsic blues-rock that has been a foundation to so many other things that have happened. Moreover, long after the 60’s were nothing more than a memory for many of us music lovers.

This dynamite four-disc set never lacks for fresh and exciting material. Each period of musical development covered is carefully arranged to give you a periodic track-by-track account in a beautifully designed booklet with great black and white photos highlighting the bands career. With meticulous annotations of each track, this is a complete audiophile experience.

© Keith "MuzikMan" Hannaleck
Posted By: Keith Hannaleck
Genre: Blues-Rock
Record Label: Charly

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