7 Songs To Summarize The Career Of The Yardbirds
The Yardbirds at the Boutom Rouge Show, 1968 - JimMcCartyandCo / Youtube
The Yardbirds is considered to be one of rock music’s greatest gifts to mankind, heralding the rise of blues rock and the guitar legends that came with it. Comprised of members Kieth Relf, Chris Dreja, Jim McCarty, and Paul Smith, The Yardbirds featured three of the best guitarists in rock as well: Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page, and Jeff Beck. Though the band’s career was brief, they kickstarted a whole new revolution of music that became a template for the gritty rock sound. Here are some of the Yardbirds’ monumental tracks that marked their career.
“Smokestack Lightning” – First live performances
The Yardbirds started their career by adapting the growing British rhythm n’ blues popularity, eventually landing them a place as the house band of the Crawdaddy Club in Richmond, taking the place of the Rolling Stones. The band played hits by Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Bo Diddley, and many other prominent rhythm n’ blues artists of the era.
“Good Morning, Little Schoolgirl” – First album of the Yardbirds
After being hired by blues legend Sonny Boy Williamson II as his backing band for the tour, the Yardbirds slowly gained recognition from the public, prompting them to record their first live album, Five Live Yardbirds. While it failed to chart, the album is considered as one of the few high quality live recordings of the time.
“For Your Love” – First Major Hit, Eric Clapton Era
Eric Clapton was in charge of the lead guitar this time, and after recording two singles, the band gained their first hit single “For Your Love”, which was composed by Graham Gouldman. Clapton couldn’t approve of it, however, as the guitarist was a blues purist and didn’t like the commercialization of their brand. He decided to leave the group the day the single was released, but recommended session guitarist Jimmy Page before doing so. Page declined, however, and recommended his friend Jeff Beck instead.
“Heart Full of Soul” – Jeff Beck (psychedelic) Era
Jeff Beck had his own way of doing things, and was fond of guitar effect experimentation such as fuzz and reverb, among others. The band followed suit, taking from Gregorian chants, while Beck work on middle Eastern influences. This era was a major musical overhaul for the band, playing with non-conventional arrangements, primarily led by Beck’s unusual guitar work.
“Happenings Ten Years Time Ago” – Jimmy Page / Jeff Beck Era
Paul Samwell-Smith left the band after a drunken gig at Queen’s College in Oxford. Jimmy Page, who was present at the gig, volunteered to play on the bass until Chris Dreja could master the instrument. As the band was touring, Beck fell ill and had to take the time out, prompting Page to do lead guitars and Dreja on the bass. As the full lineup reunited, Dreja remained on the bass, marking the start of the double lead guitar ensemble of the band by Page and Beck.
“Dazed And Confused” – Final Days of the Band
Jeff Beck eventually left The Yardbirds due to internal conflicts personal reasons, leaving Page as the sole lead guitarist on the band. Their further material failed to take off, leading to various compilation records from their previous albums. Since then, their live performances evolved to experimental jams, but their version of “Dazed and Confused” was so well-received it became the first track for Led Zeppelin to adopt.
“Train Kept A Rollin'” – The New Yardbirds
With various members of the band taking other interests, Jimmy Page sought to continue his passion for the music by bringing new members on board, notably Robert Plant, John Bonham, and John Paul Jones, which became the backbone for Led Zeppelin. The band played Yardbirds hits during their earlier days, before returning from a Scandinavian tour and officially changing their name to Led Zeppelin.