Easy Action deserves an award for perseverance in the face of impossible odds, taking three years to realise the DVD of 2008’s historic MC5/Primal Scream Meltdown double-header, spending two years longer putting together this ultimate collection of aural Yardbirds documentation; they’ve used microsurgery where necessary to graft sections together and spice up ancient recordings.
This inestimably influential group was only active for five years, but gave the world three of its all-time stellar guitarists in Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page, while creating a unique mystique through their string of evocative, groundbreaking singles between 1965’s For Your Love and 1968’s Goodnight Sweet Josephine swansong.
First of all, the packaging is gorgeous: a 45-shaped box accommodating 32-page booklet (boasting remarkably candid photos), gig postcards, 7” single coupling 1963’s Baby, What’s Wrong with I Wish You Would, and five CDs. With the aid of numerous radio interviews conducted in the US or Europe at the time, these effectively tell the band’s story, from the previously-unheard alternate take of 1963’s Honey In Your Hips to March 1968’s landmark Peel session, on which Dazed And Confused pointed to where Page’s creative seeds were soon to blow and change the world.
Disc One presents the bluesy 1963-64 Clapton days, with standards such as Good Morning Little Schoolgirl, Smokestack Lightnin’ and I’m A Man, captured at the Marquee, Crawdaddy or 1964’s National Jazz And Blues Festival (where they indulged in rarely-played Chuck Berry covers as Authentics singer Mick O’Neill stood in for Keith Relf, hospitalised with a punctured lung). That the set also boasts the only remaining previously unheard Yardbirds tracks with Clapton (cut from the acetate of an EMI demo session) perfectly illustrates the seriousness of a project which can also contain 1968’s MacLean‘s toothpaste advert.
By Disc Two and 1965, when Clapton departed for purer blues outlets, to be replaced by Jeff Beck, The Yardbirds are playing the songs which made their name: strikingly-original outings including Evil Hearted You, Heart Full Of Soul, You’re A Better Man Than I, Shapes Of Things and For Your Love, along with their motoring take on Johnny Burnette’s Train Kept A-Rollin’. Tracks are drawn from BBC sessions (some previously though lost), Dutch TV and that year’s Richmond Jazz And Blues Festival.
Disc Three covers the major changes of 1965-66, The Yardbirds’ ongoing rapid progression kicking off with the psych-charged Happenings Ten Years Time Ago, Psycho Daisies and Over Under Sideways Down, plus further versions from the previous disc’s tracklist. This material was culled from assorted London studios, French gigs, the NME Pollwinners Concert and further unearthed radio sessions.
By now, The Yardbirds were possibly the most cutting-edge pop group next to the Stones – and more experimental. Disc Four’s 1967-68 selection roars in with Shapes Of Things and other singles mainly drawn from European gigs, plus an August 1967 US Army broadcast. Disc Five consists entirely of BBC recordings, including March 1967’s overlooked mini-masterpiece Little Games and the aforementioned Peel session, which also included the West Coast-influenced Think About It and Page’s acoustic excursion, White Summer.
This lovingly-compiled, feverishly hyperactive set might include five different versions of some songs, but it’s fascinating to hear the band’s rampant evolution as musical trends catch up with them and they strive for the next phase. It’s to Easy Action’s credit that none of the 150 or so components sound superfluous or barrel-scraping while, even held against that exalted trio of axeman, the late Keith Relf emerges with his enigmatic charisma further boosted.
by Kris Needs
Disc One 1963-64
1. Honey In Your Hips (Alternate Studio Take) - 2:24
2. Baby What's Wrong - 2:41
3. Eric Clapton-Interview - 0:43
4. I Wish You Would - 3:32
5. You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover (Studio Demo) - 2:41
6. Jim McCarty-Interview - 0:26
7. Louise - 2:54
8. Eric Clapton-Interview - 0:23
9. Someone To Love - 2:15
10.Too Much Monkey Monkey Business - 3:07
11.I Got Love If You Want It - 4:16
12.Smokestack Lightning - 5:52
13.Good Morning Little Schoolgirl - 3:37
14.Respectable - 5:30
15.The Sky Is Crying - 6:40
16.Eric Clapton-Interview - 0:40
17.I Wish You Would - 2:52
18.Chris Dreja-Interview - 0:22
19.I'm A Man - 3:26
20.Someone To Love - 1:56
21.Boom Boom - 3:36
22.I'm A Man - 3:12
23.Little Queenie - 3:27
24.Too Much Monkey Monkey Business - 2:53
25.Respectable - 3:46
26.Carol - 2:33
27.Here 'Tis - 3:44
28.Jim McCarty-Interview - 0:26
Tracks 1,2,4,5. Recorded R.G. Jones Studios, Morden, Surrey England, December 1963, January 1964.
Tracks 9-15. Recorded 7th August 1964 at the Marquee London.
Tracks 7 and 17. Recorded 5Th April 1964 UK.
Track 19. Recorded 26 July 1964, Live Crawdaddy, Richmond, Surrey.
Tracks 21-27. Recorded 9th August 1964, Fourth National Jazz & Blues Festival, Richmond.
Track 20. Re-Edit 7th August 1964, Marquee, London.
Disc Two 1965
1. Evil Hearted You, Keith Relf-Introduction (27th Sept.) - 2:26
2. Keith Relf-Interview - 0:25
3. Heart Full Of Soul - Paul Samwell-Smith-Interview (1st June) - 3:15
4. Chris Dreja-Interview - 0:38
5. I Ain't Done Wrong (3rd July) - 2:27
6. Jim McCarty-Interview - 0:36
7. Smokestack Lightning (Full Version) (16th Nov.) - 4:56
8. You're Better Man Than I - Interview (16th Nov.) - 3:56
9. The Train Kept A-Rollin' (16th Nov.) - 2:39
10.Jim McCarty-Interview - 0:44
11.I'm Not Talking (16th March) - 2:33
12.Keith Relf-Interview - 0:15
13.I'm A Man (9th April) - 3:55
14.Keith Relf-Interview - 0:25
15.Jeff's Boogie (9th June) - 2:31
16.Keith Relf-Interview - 0:46
17.Steeled Blues (1st June) - 2:36
18.Louise (4th June) - 2:56
19.Keith Relf-Interview - 0:21
20.I Wish You Would (6th Aug.) - 2:31
21.Love Me Like I Love You (9th Aug.) - 2:46
22.The Stumble (27th Sept.) - 1:53
23.Paul Samwell-Smith-Interview - 1:26
24.You're Better Man Than I - 2:23
25.The Train Kept A-Rollin' - 2:41
26.Chris Dreja-Interview - 0:41
27.I've Been Trying (9th June) - 3:02
28.Shapes Of Things-Interview - 5:02
29.Paul Samwell-Smith-Interview - 2:40
30.For Your Love (Long Version) - 2:07
31.My Girl Sloopy (Long Version) - 5:49
32.I'm A Man (Live) - 3:35
33.I Wish You Would (Live) - 1:02
34."McLeans" Advert - 0:30
Tracks 1,3,5,7,8,9. Recorded at Maida Vale Studios London for the BBC during 1965.
Tracks 11,13,15,17,18,20,21,22,27. Unreleased lost UK Radio sessions from 1965,
Tracks 24, 25 Live England November 1965, Track 28. U.S Broadcast 10th January 1966.
Tracks 30-32. 6th August 1965, Fifth National Jazz & Blues Festival, Richmond Athletic Association Grounds, Richmond.
Track 33. 23rd September 1965, Dutch TV
Disc Three 65-66
1. Happenings Ten Years Time Ago (26th July '66, 20th Sept. '66 - 2nd Oct. '66) - 2:55
2. Keith Relf-Interview - 0:39
3. Psycho Daisies - 1:48
4. Stroll On (With Soundtrack Coda) - 3:31
5. Chris Dreja-Interview - 0:11
6. "Great Shakes" Advert - 1:02
7. I Wish You Would - 3:18
8. I'm A Man - 2:37
9. The Train Kept A-Rollin' (Live) - 2:21
10.Over Under Sideways Down (Live) - 2:13
11.Shapes Of Things (Live) - 2:21
12.He's Always There (Alternate Version) - 2:29
13.Turn Into Earth (Alternate Version) - 3:09
14.I Can't Make Your Way (Alternate Version) - 2:23
15.I'm A Man - 3:12
16.For Your Love - 2:12
17.Heart Full Of Soul 2:23
18.I Wish You Would (Live) - 2:27
19.Jim McCarty-Interview - 0:12
20.Questa Volta (Live) - 4:05
21.Pafff... Bum (Live) - 2:52
22.Chris Dreja-Interview - 0:19
23.The Train Kept A-Rollin' (Live) - 2:30
24.Shapes Of Things (Live) - 2:15
25.Jim McCarty-Interview - 0:15
26.Jimmy Page-Interview - 1:09
27.Jeff's Boogie (6th May '66) - 2:15
28.You're Better Man Than I (Live) - 3:07
29.Keith Relf & Jeff Beck Interview Ravi Shankar (8th June '66) - 0:56
30.Shapes Of Things (Live) - 2:18
31.Jim McCarty-Interview - 0:30
32.Jim McCarty-Interview - 0:27
33.Chris Dreja-Interview - 0:17
34.I'm Not Talking (4th June '65) - 2:26
35.Heart Full Of Soul (9th June '65) - 2:22
36.Spoonful (9th April '65) - 3:10
37.Bottle Up And Go (9th April '65) - 1:57
38.All The Pretty Little Horses (Hushabye) (9th April '65) - 1:56
39.Jeff Beck-Interview - 0:08
Tracks 1 & 3. Recorded at De Lane Lea Studios, London. Track 4. Recorded 3rd -5th October 1966, Sound Techniques Studios, Chelsea, London
Track 5. Radio Commercial (12th July 1966, Marquee Studios, London)
Track 7 & 8. 10-11th August 1965, US Broadcast. Tracks 9-11. 27th June 1966, Music Hall De France. Tracks 12, 13. 31st May – 4th June 1966, Advision Sound Studios, London.
Track 14. 14th June 1966, IBC Studios, London.
Tracks 15 - 17. Recorded 10-11th August 1965, US Broadcast.
Track 18. 20th June 1965, Palais Des Sports, Paris, France. Tracks
20 & 21. Recorded 28th & 29th January 1966, "The 16th Festival of Italian Songs
Tracks 23 & 24. 1st May 1966, "Poll Winners Concert," Empire Pool, Wembley.
Tracks 27, 34-38. Unreleased UK Radio Broadcast.
Track 28 Recorded Live May 1966, England.
Track 30. 1st April 1966, La Locomotive Club, Paris, France
Disc Four 1967-68
1. Shapes Of Things - 2:55
2. Happenings Ten Years Time Ago - 4:25
3. Over Under Sideways Down - 2:14
4. I'm A Man - 6:24
5. Chris Dreja-Interview - 0:39
6. Shapes Of Things - 2:31
7. Heart Full Of Soul - 2:16
8. You're Better Man Than I - 3:52
9. Most Likely You Go Your Way (And I'll Go Mine) - 3:15
10.Over Under Sideways Down - 2:32
11.Little Games - 2:40
12.My Baby - 2:43
13.I'm A Man - 7:07
14.Chris Dreja-Interview - 0:49
15.The Train Kept A-Rollin' - 3:18
16.Dazed And Confused - 5:46
17.Goodnight Sweet Josephine - 2:33
18.Glimpses (Sound Effects) - 1:22
19."The In Sound" - 1:36
20.Chris Dreja-Interview - 0:37
21.Think About It (Work-In-Progress) - 5:33
22.Jimmy Page-Interview - 0:22
23.Dazed And Confused (Live) - 9:09
Track 4. Recorded on 15th March at the Stadthalle Offenbach.
Tracks 6 - 13. Recorded 7th April 1967 Stockholm.
Tracks 15-17. Recorded 9th March in France.
Track 18. Recorded early 1967 in New York.
Track 19. August 1967 US Army Radio Program.
Track 21. Recorded January 1968 London.
Track 23. Unknown Venue in England January 1968
Disc 5 BBC Radio One
1. I Ain't Got You (22nd March '65) - 2:00
2. For Your Love - Keith Relf-Interview (22nd March '65) - 3:17
3. I'm Not Talking (22nd March '65) - 1:46
4. I Wish You Would (1st June '65) - 2:36
5. Too Much Monkey Business (6th August '65) - 2:29
6. Love Me Like I Love You (6th August '65) - 2:50
7. I'm A Man (6th August '65) - 2:27
8. Still I'm Sad - Paul Samwell-Smith-Interview (27th Sept '65) - 3:44
9. My Girl Sloopy (Full Version) (27th Sept '65) - 3:40
10.Keith Relf Interview (28th Feb' 66) - 1:19
11.Shapes Of Things (28th Feb' 66) - 2:17
12.You're A Better Man Than I (28th Feb' 66) - 3:03
13.Dust My Broom (28th Feb' 66) - 2:30
14.Baby, Scratch My Back - Keith Relf-Interview (6th May '66) - 4:01
15.Over Under Sideways Down (6th May '66) - 2:11
16.The Sun Is Shining (Full Version) (6th May '66) - 3:32
17.Shapes Of Things (6th May '66) - 2:24
18.Most Likely You Go Your Way (And I'll Go Mine)(17th March '67) - 2:49
19.Little Games (17th March '67) - 2:21
20.Drinking Muddy Water (17th March '67) - 2:40
21.Think About It (16th March '68) - 3:09
22.Jimmy Page-Interview-Goodnight Sweet Josephine (16th March '68) - 4:19
23.My Baby (16th March '68) - 2:50
24.White Summer (6th March '68) - 4:24
25.Dazed And Confused (6th March '68) - 5:47
26.Think About It (6th March '68) - 3:15
*Keith Relf - Lead Vocals, Harmonica
*Eric Clapton - Lead Guitar
*Chris Dreja - Rhythm Guitar
*Paul Samwell-Smith - Bass, Backing Vocals
*Jim Mccarty - Drums, Backing Vocals
*Jeff Beck - Lead Guitar, Backing Vocals
*Jimmy Page - Bass, Guitar
1964 Five Live Yardbirds (Repertoire remaster and expanded)