THE YARDBIRDS – IN FOCUS

One of England's finest groups


Here are some of my random thoughts and words about The Yardbirds over the years. All of the original Yardbirds blog posts on my old website have since been deleted so no label scans or picture sleeves are available. Instead, I’ve used images scanned from ’60s music weekly ‘Record Mirror’.

THE YARDBIRDS – ”Glimpses” (Epic BN 26313) July 1967

It’s always been a mystery to me why EMI decided not to release the album ”Little Games” by The Yardbirds. I have read that it was a likely move because recent singles had all flopped and their popularity in Britain was ebbing away. This explanation seems a little harsh and ultimately British fans were oblivious to some quite brilliant and awe inspiring moments like ”Glimpses”. 

With this number The Yardbirds attain some serious third-eye territory with a mesmerizing mind-blower. Listen out for way-out guitar, effects, sitar, other worldly recitation and all meshed together with a psychedelic gregorian chant.

”Energy radiates from the source
The life around us is but a reflection of our own.”

(12/03/18)

THE YARDBIRDS – ”Five Live Yardbirds” (Columbia 33SX 1677) December 1964

the Yardbirds ravin’ R&B set from 1964.
Record nerd information:
First pressing, Blue/Black label, flipback sleeve….Columbia 33SX 1677…£250 in Mint nowadays.

I bought this last year for £50. It’s in EX condition, no crackle, plays great and sounds wild. Top mono copy. This was The Yardbirds debut album, a record of a Marquee gig taped in mid March 1964 while Eric Clapton was still in the group. It contains many R&B standards, played in an atmosphere of raw excitement.

(06/09/17)

THE YARDBIRDS – ’Little Games’/’Puzzles’ (Columbia DB 8165) April 1967

The first fruits of the Mickie Most liaison with The Yardbirds came with this single from 1967 that failed to chart. As a consequence it’s probably their most difficult UK release to find. Also it should be noted that the group had lost Jeff Beck at this point in time and were now a four piece.

’Little Games’ appears to get more acclaim and it does have some interesting swinging London lyrics:

”Parties in Chelsea flats
Mixing with kinky cats.”

I much prefer the psych rock charged flip ’Puzzles’ complete with some killer Page guitar flashes and an excellent vocal performance by Keith Relf.

Despite ’Little Games’ having a commercial pop appeal and the group still having obvious potential to create much more experimental pop music it sadly turned out to be The Yardbirds final UK release.

’Sweet Josephine’/’Think About It’ was scheduled as a single and acetates were manufactured. Columbia even gave it a serial number of DB 8368 but for whatever reason this proposed 45 was shelved in Britain although it did appear in other countries around the world.

(20/07/12)

THE YARDBIRDS – ’Happenings Ten Years Time Ago’/’Psycho Daisies’ (Columbia DB 8024) October 1966

The Yardbirds had gone from a blueswailing R&B outfit to a full blown psychedelic guitar rock band in the space of two years. It helped of course that they were able to draw on the talents of twin lead guitarists Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page, the latter having recently joined the ranks.

This particular line-up of The Yardbirds was short lived and only a handful of recordings exist apart from these two ’66 pearls of psych. ’Happenings Ten Years Time Ago’ didn’t go down too well with the kids and it failed to crack the top 40, which in those days was a disaster.

Underneath the loud duelling guitars listen out for the spoken lines that apparently were said to Beck by a Doctor at a VD clinic in Hammersmith,

”Pop group are yer? Why yer gotta wear long hair?

I’ve read elsewhere that John Paul Jones played bass guitar on this track.

I find the flip ’Psycho Daisies’ just as intense. It’s a fast paced psych rocker with a mention of Hollywood glamour girl Mary Hughes. English psych group Apple covered this one, you’ll find it on their album ’An Apple A Day.’

(20/07/12)

THE YARDBIRDS – ’Over Under Sideways Down’/’Jeff’s Boogie’ (Columbia DB 7928) May 1966

The Yardbirds hit the top 10 once again with the self penned ’Over Under Sideways Down’ which is a bit of a throwback to their earlier R&B movers but of course the Jeff Beck raga tinged guitar sound makes it very much a ’66 swinger.

The flip ’Jeff’s Boogie’ is indeed another blues instro shuffler and somewhat of a calming influence after the psych beat of the other side.

Soon after the release of this 45 original bass player Paul Samwell-Smith left The Yardbirds to concentrate on production and was very successful of course with the early records by Cat Stevens. He was replaced by long time friend of the band Jimmy Page initially on bass guitar but soon after switched with Chris Dreja enabling him to become the second lead guitarist alongside Jeff Beck.

(19/07/12)

THE YARDBIRDS – ’Shapes Of Things’/’You’re A Better Man Than I’ (Columbia DB 7848) March 1966

According to Record Collector both sides of this incredible single were recorded at Studios in USA whilst the band were on tour there in late 1965. Sun and Chess studios were mentioned. At the same time they cut versions of ’The Train Kept A Rollin’ and ’I’m A Man’

’Shapes of Things’ became The Yardbirds fourth Top 3 single in a row. Listen out for an amazing Jeff Beck psychedelic guitar break. Remember that this song was recorded in late 1965 – The Yardbirds were so far ahead of the game it’s mind boggling really.

The flip ’You’re A Better Man Than I’ is commercial enough to have been the top side. Indeed this Mike Hugg song was covered by many American garage and psych groups in the mid 60s.

(18/07/12)

THE YARDBIRDS – ’Evil Hearted You’/’Still I’m Sad’ (Columbia DB 7706) October 1965

’Still I’m Sad’ has always been a firm favourite. With it’s introspective lyrics and dark moodiness over a constant and rather mysterious gregorian chant, The Yardbirds created a piece of work ahead of it’s time.

The eastern rhythms and chants are very experimental so say the least which gives ’Still I’m Sad’ a wondrous psychedelic feel. It’s astonishing to think that the song was recorded in mid ’65.

The top side and superlative ’Evil Hearted You’ was a big hit in England, reaching #3 but it’s the overlooked minor key greatness of the flip that finds it’s rightful place on my site.

(18/07/12)

THE YARDBIRDS – ’Heart Full Of Soul’/’Steeled Blues’ (Columbia DB 7594) June 1965

Another example proving that The Yardbirds were somewhat ahead of their time was their next single release, the Graham Gouldman penned classic ’Heart Full Of Soul’ in June 1965. It’s one of the earliest examples of Eastern music being mixed with the rock format.

The Yardbirds recorded a version of this using a sitar but the results were deemed not good enough for commercial release. Instead, Jeff Beck used a fuzz box with his guitar to recreate the exotic sounds. It still sounds psychedelic to me though.

The flip ’Steeled Blues’ is a blues instro by Jeff Beck with Keith Relf’s harmonica bursts.

(18/07/12)

THE YARDBIRDS – ’For Your Love’/’Got To Hurry’ (Columbia DB 7499) March 1965

This was the breakthrough hit that The Yardbirds needed but it came at a cost with Eric Clapton leaving the group soon afterwards. He wanted to play R&B but the rest of The Yardbirds wanted to experiment with different sounds.

’For Your Love’ is certainly different and experimental. The use of harpsichord, played by Brian Auger was a perfect choice as it transforms the song into a genre that over time would be known as baroque pop. The bongos were played by session man Denny Piercey.

Jim McCarty’s drum beats lifts the band into a rock groove.

’For Your Love’ was written by Graham Gouldman who would become famous as a member of 10cc in the 70s. Curiously, the label states Gould. Could have been a spelling error I suppose.

The flip ’Got To Hurry’ was a group original and a vehicle for Eric Clapton’s blues guitar skills. It is believed that it was his performance on this instrumental that got him the job as new lead guitarist with John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers.

(17/07/12)

THE YARDBIRDS – ’Good Morning Little Schoolgirl’/’I Ain’t Got You’ (Columbia DB 7391) October 1964

The second single by The Yardbirds stalled just outside the top 40 and like their debut is quite difficult to find. Both songs have got the English R&B template that was very popular at the time but without a hit The Yardbirds would struggle to expand their horizons outside of the London area.

’Good Morning Little Schoolgirl’ is notable for a killer Eric Clapton guitar break that elevates the song above average. The flip ’I Ain’t Got You’ is a bluesy shuffle with another classy guitar break and harmonica by (presumably) Keith Relf.

I have scanned the pictures of The Yardbirds from my Teenbeat annual. I’ve never seen these pics anywhere else before. The old fashioned road lights being a relic of history. It’s funny seeing someone as serious as Eric Clapton holding one up with a smirk on his face.

(17/07/12)

THE YARDBIRDS – ’A Certain Girl’/’I Wish You Would’ (Columbia DB 7283) May 1964

The debut Yardbirds single was released six months before I was born. Both sides are choice R&B covers. Note that the label simply lists the group as Yardbirds…

Incidentally, the group got their name from some beat poetry by Jack Kerouac. Keith Relf liked the word ’yardbird’ Kerouac used to describe hobo’s who bummed lifts on trains across the States from old rail yards. Both songs were recorded during the first time The Yardbirds were inside a professional recording studio at Olympic Studios, near Baker Street in London.

(16/07/12)

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