Sound — 7
I first discovered the Yardbirds after doing a little research on Jimmy Page; amazon.com, the music sampler. The first song listed was "For Your Love". I knew the title sounded familiar, but I could not place my finger on it, so I clicked the hyperlink and the first chord of the harpsichord gave it away. "For your love, I'll give you everything and more that's for sure" the song continued until thirty seconds was up. Next song, "Train Kept A'Rollin'"; the chunky sounds coming from the bass and low E-string on the guitar were riviting, and I was instantly hooked. I never could find a band after that that had that signature sound, the sound that belonged to the Yardbirds alone. I bought the CD. A few months passed and the Yardbirds found itself in it's case more than in my stereo. And finally it made it's home collecting dust on the CD rack in the corner of our living room. During this down time, I picked up Queens of the Stone Age's "Era Vulgaris" and People In Planes' "As Far As The Eye Can See"; Led Zeppelin always stayed close by, but even with the new sounds, complicated arrangements, intense guitar riffs and loud noises that was amplified only by the strange wiring in my CD player, something was missing. One day, as I was online on Pollstar.com looking for bands that were playing close by, I typed in Yardbirds, knowing in my mind that for them to tour again would be slim to none, and slim just left the building. To my suprise, there they were. Yardbirds, August 9th, Zeiterion Theatre in New Bedford. I practically died because my mind was in such excitement. My mother got me two tickets for that date, and I decided that it was time to reaquaint myself with some of their music. The first song, the song that had brought me in in, played, startling me a bit with the unexpectantcy of the volume being turned up all the way. I lay down on my bed and stare off into space letting the song finish and transistion to "Putty In Your Hands." A strange title indeed, in fact, it's a very playful song. It has a catchy chorus that you find yourself singing every now and then. The guitar is simple, no amazing guitar solos, and the drums and bass lay low. Next song... it was a dirge... "Still I'm Sad" did make me very sad. With a haunting melody accompained by a triangle on the fourth beat of every measure, I was starting to get restless. When are the good songs going to start showing up? My wish was granted! "Heart Full Of Soul," "You're A Better Man Than I", and "Evil Hearted You" all have a powerful simplicity to them, that makes it interesting to keep your attention and yet doesn't turn your brain into mush because of loudness. Skipping around the tracks, I listened to "I'm Not Talking", a fast paced, guitar hammering song that makes you full of envy when you realize that you weren't able to see the original Yardbirds in their prime. The last three tracks are clips from a concert in Britain featuring Eric Clapton on the guitar. These bits show off Keith Relf's ability to make the harp aka harmonica the most fascinating instrument out there. After hearing "Smokestack Lightning" with it's crescendo's and revolutionary distortion, I turned my stereo off and thought to myself, "That was one fricken' amazing CD." If you're a person who is looking for the band that changed rock history, this is the perfect CD of the perfect British pop band. Yardbirds Greatest Hits, Vol.1 from Rhino Records contains the classics that brought rave-ups, elongated guitar solos and Jeff Beck and Eric Clapton into being.
Lyrics — 7
The lyrics are very simple to learn. With a few listenings you can get them down like 'that'! Sometimes, however, they do not make perfect sense, or they would if you could understand them. "Smokestack lightening lalalightnin nener?" But with every one thing that throws you off, there are a hundred others that bring you back. The chorus of "Shapes of Things", for example. "Come tomorrow-will I be older, come tomorrow-may be a soldier, come tomorrow-may I be bolder than today..." absolutely brilliant! Keith Relf, God rest his soul, pours out such emotion and creativity with these lyrics and his range is stunning. There's no wincing at any missed notes, and the tone of his voice is so soothing. You will never ever find a singer that sound the same as he (unless of course you are John Idan, the replacement bassist and lead singer of the Yardbirds. He looks just like Jeff Beck too! But that's another story). Many of the songs on here were not written by the Yardbirds. One, Keith Relf actually gets credit on the album for composing the song, but the rest the voice goes with the instruments, and vice versa. You'll be surprised to know that Keith had asthma.
Overall Impression — 6
Though it may not be the best album out there, it has a certain spark to it. The songs are nicely arranged, but it's hard to tell whether Jeff Beck is playing or Eric Clapton is playing guitar without the inside booklet. The best songs have to be "Train Kept A'Rollin'", "I'm Not Talking", and "Smokestack Lightning". These are the most powerful and ear catching tunes. Stay away from "Still I'm Sad" and "Putty In Your Hands" if you don't want mellow. To this day, this album still pleasantly suprises me with new twists I hear throughout the songs.