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The Yardbirds: The legendary supergroup that boasted of Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page & Jeff Beck
08.26.2016
03:10 pm

Topics:
Music

Tags:
Jimmy Page
Eric Clapton
Jeff Beck
Yardbirds


 
The Yardbirds are one of those groups who didn’t quite make the jump when the drawbridge goes up between the R&B and “English invasion” beat group era and what came after, i.e the psychedelia and beyond. Very few groups of their vintage did, just a small handful when you think of it—the Beatles, Stones, Who and Kinks obviously come readily to mind—but not the Yardbirds who are often thought of as a mere footnote in the later careers of Jimmy Page, Eric Clapton, and Jeff Beck. The Yardbirds go somewhat a little too far back for many music fans who might otherwise love what’s on offer from them. They are seen ultimately as a B&W era rock act, if you take my point. Unlike one group of their peers—the Pretty Things—they didn’t really last long enough to bloom in that same way, although surely the promise of the Yardbirds flowered within Led Zeppelin, Cream and the Jeff Beck Group (not to mention Renaissance).

But the Yardbirds were an absolutely amazing, astonishing and astounding group. To some, who know “of” them, but not much of the actual music they produced, they have the reputation of being merely a really good English blues band when that’s not even remotely accurate, although this still might be the impression one is left with if you end up introduced to them via a crappy CD compilation (and there are dozens of crappy Yardbirds comps). These guys were insanely great musicians, way ahead of their time, adding exotic instrumentation (sitar, tabla), Gregorian chant, shifting tempos, and screaming and distorted lead guitar solos (and feedback) to the three-minute pop song before any of that stuff was routinely done. Their exemplary mid-60s hit singles are amongst the most innovative and furthest-reaching pop music of its day. Even put up against the measure of what the Beatles were getting up to at the same time, the Yardbirds’ output demonstrated that they could more than hold their own with the toppermost of the poppermost. (Worth noting that the Yardbirds opened for the Beatles at at least one concert in Paris.)
 

 
The Yardbirds (their name a nod to jazz great Charlie Parker) were originally formed in 1963 by lead singer Keith Relf and bassist Paul Samwell-Smith who’d already been in a band together. They were joined by guitarist Chris Dreja, drummer Jim McCarty and the original lead guitarist “Top” Topham, who was then just fifteen and much younger than the rest of them. Top was pressured by his parents to take his education more seriously and he recommended his school chum Eric Clapton to take his place. Within a matter of months of forming, the group was approached by rock impresario Giorgio Gomelsky—who ran the Crawdaddy rhythm and blues club in Richmond—to replace the ascent Rolling Stones as the house band at his hip nightspot. He also became their manager and record producer getting them signed to EMI for Five Live Yardbirds, a recording of one of their sets, featuring blues standards stretched to 5 or 6 minutes with wailing guitar solos and feedback, something they called having a “rave-up.”

Below “Louise” with Eric Clapton on guitar:

 
But when the Yardbirds wanted to do something a little more experimental—like their first hit single “For Your Love”—Eric Clapton got all “blues purist” on them and quit on the very day the single was released, not even agreeing to appear in the promotional film made for the record. Clapton soon joined John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers. Jimmy Page by that point a session musician boy wonder of some notoriety was approached to replace Clapton. Page turned them down and instead recommended that they hire Jeff Beck (who can be seen below miming Clapton’s guitar parts in the promo for “For Your Love” filmed soon after he joined the group).
 

 
With Beck in the line-up, the Yardbirds were on fire, turning out several classic hit singles and touring America many times, where they had several hit records. When Paul Samwell-Smith decided he wanted to go off and become a record producer, again the group approached Jimmy Page about joining and this time he agreed to help out, filling in on bass until Chris Dreja could learn the instrument, whereupon Page would switch to guitar. But as fate would have it, there was very little actually recorded with the dual guitar Page-Beck pairing.

The legendary guitar-smashing scene in Michelangelo Antonioni’s 60s classic Blow-Up used the Yardbirds to represent the violent energy of “mod” London. Originally—and for obvious reasons—Antonioni wanted The Who to do this, but they weren’t available. Eric Burdon turned him down, too. He thought about having the Velvet Underground in the scene but they couldn’t get a working visa in time and it would have been expensive to fly their entire entourage to London. The director thought about using a band called The In-Crowd (later Tomorrow) a group that featured future Yes-guitarist Steve Howe, but they were jettisoned in favor of the Yardbirds at the last minute. Since they’d already made prop guitars to be smashed, you’ll note that Beck is destroying a Gibson 175, the guitar Howe famously uses.

The song they’re seen performing here, one of the rare instances of a dual lead from Jimmy Page and Jeff Beck is called “Stroll On,” a rewrite of their earlier “Train Kept A-Rollin” hit with the lyrics changed by Keith Relf to avoid any legal problems with the original songwriters.
 

 
Plenty more Yardbirds after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
David Bowie and Jeff Beck together as NOT seen in the ‘Ziggy Stardust’ movie
05.16.2016
11:19 am

Topics:
Movies
Music

Tags:
David Bowie
D.A. Pennebaker
Jeff Beck


 

“I know what kind of welcome you’re gonna give to JEFF BECK!”

Although it’s widely known—or at least widely known among David Bowie fanatics, MOJO subscribers and guitar otakus—that Jeff Beck was the “special guest” at Ziggy and the Spiders’ send-off show at the Hammersmith Odeon on July 3rd, 1973, Beck’s cameo appearance was cut from D.A Pennebaker’s documentary film of the event, Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars. Beck joined Bowie onstage for a blistering two song encore consisting of “The Jean Genie” and a cover of the Chuck Berry number “Around and Around.” There have been several home video releases of the film over the decades and yet none of them have ever restored the Beck footage or even had it as a DVD extra.

It’s not 100% clear why Beck insisted that his footage be edited out of the film, but it’s most likely to do with him not liking what he was wearing onstage that night. Apparently no one had informed the guitarist that the show was being filmed. Even Mick Ronson, no slouch at the time in the goofy clothes department said of Beck’s outfit:

“I was too busy looking at his flares. Even by our standards, those trousers were excessive!”

By the guitar god’s own admission, though, it might’ve been his shoes. In a 2009 interview with The Sunday Times, Beck revealed that it wasn’t his massive flares, but rather his footwear (“the most disgusting pair of dirty-white stack-heeled shoes you’ve ever seen”) that was the reason. He wouldn’t relent:

“Bowie rang me about 10 times and said, “Look, man, I understand about the shoes, ‘cos I didn’t like what I was wearing either.”

Keep reading after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Dangerous Minds Radio Hour Episode 18

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Another solo DJ excursion from Richard Metzger, spinning tunes from the Monkees, Lydia Lunch, Hawkwind, Mick Farren, Ru Paul, Liam Lynch, Big Daddy Kane, Del Tha Funkee Homosapien, Lene Lovich, Blur vs. The Pet Shop Boys, Eels, Jeff Beck, the Dandy Warhols, Super Furry Animals, obscure 70s glam rocker Brett Smiley and more.

01. Monkees: Tema Di Monkees
02. Monkees: PO Box 9847 (alt stereo mix)
03. Malvina Reynolds: Little Boxes
04. Lene Lovich: Lucky Number
05. Lydia Lunch: Carnival Fatman
06. Hawkwind: Silver Machine
07. Mick Farren: Aztec Calendar
08. The Tomorrow People: Delia Derbyshire, Dudley Simpson, Brian Hodgson & David Vorhaus
09. PJ Proby: You Can’t Come Home Again If You Leave Me Now
10. Blur vs Pet Shop Boys: Boys & Girls
11. Ru Paul: Ping Ting Ting
12. Liam Lynch: My United States of Whatever
13. Monkees: Zilch
14. Del Tha Funkee Homosapien: Mister Bobalina
15. Big Daddy Kane: Warm It Up Kane
16. Jeff Beck: Hi Ho Silver Lining
17. Brett Smiley: Va Va Va Voom
18. Eels: That’s Not Really Funny
19. The Dandy Warhols: Bohemian Like You
20. Super Furry Animals: The Man Don’t Give A Fuck
 

 
Download this week’s episode
 
Subscribe to the Dangerous Minds Radio Hour podcast at iTunes

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment