Review by: Charly Saenz
Assigned by: Victor Guimarães
The Yardbirds is a great band with a messy discography. You might be able to identify some highlight album (“Roger The Engineer” is the usual winner) but in general they’re great anthropologist material (as in “every song recorded is a stone worth turning”).
This album is such hodge-podge; quite interesting. I’d first assumed it was a live album but this is not the case, you get studio stuff and also live tracks. Among the latter, “Smokestack lightning” from their early days, is their best testament.
The selection for the studio tracks is top notch in a casual collector’s terms: we’re talking mostly Clapton stuff, mind you. The exception is an interesting studio take on “The Train Kept A Rollin'” with Beck & Page – you might know it from that classic Antonioni movie and that funny scene with the fight for the broken guitar neck: Beck had a temper – he didn’t need to improvise a lot, I bet.
You get the “mainstream” hit for Clapton’s Yardbirds: “For Your Love”. A pretty song by Godley & Creme. Not much to say; Clapton hated it (“you’re selling out!” And out he runs to Mayall) but it’s a good pop song, not a lot of Slowhand here in fact. On the other hand (pun not intended), “I Ain’t Got You”, it’s one of their most appreciated efforts (Clapton does it good: but it’s not God level anyway). “A Certain Girl” is another of those few Clapton tracks, good for completists – AND my favourite Clapton studio work with the band. The other live highlight might be the trademark “Rave up” in “I Wish You Would”. Great harmonica playing. And man, I’ve always liked Keith Relf’s vanilla voice. Sometimes I even dreamed he did make it to Zeppelin and change history with a band called “Led Renaissance”.
All in all a nice compilation; this is not The Yardbirds’ finest hour, but this is some endearing material anyway. It’s clear to see that the band didn’t come to its full potential with Clapton; they fared much better with Beck (“Train Kept a Rolling” is good proof) but history is history, go for it!