The Yardbirds — Live and Rare
(Repertoire REPUK 1364, 1968/2019, 4CD+1DVD)
by Peter Thelen, Published 2019-05-28
The 60s were turbulent times, the decade where rock music grew up, going through a number of phases and reaching new extremes as time went forward. Within the span of just two years, from 1963 to 1964, The Beatles suddenly owned the radio airwaves, and a whole new crop of British bands followed in their wake, some very clean, poppy, and polished like Herman’s Hermits, Gerry and The Pacemakers, and Peter & Gordon, while others were bluesy and gritty like The Kinks, The Animals, and the most famous of them all, The Rolling Stones. In America, for a couple of years. all these new British acts were taking over the airwaves and the charts and pushing much of the older styles aside and into the dustbin of history. Among all these bands, one of the most exciting was The Yardbirds, starting their engines in mid-1963, and releasing their first single in early 1964, they were of the bluesy style but innovative and quite eclectic, and through the five year period from ’64 to ’68 they left an indelible imprint on rock music that remains influential to this day.
This five disc boxed set (four CDs and one DVD) focuses squarely on their many radio sessions and TV appearances, as well as live recordings from those years, many previously unissued, 70 cuts total, all remastered for the best possible sound. The DVD presents six different clips, the first starting in July ’64, the last from March 1968, all black and white and in glorious mono, and as one goes through these one will hear different versions of many of the same cuts played by different lineups throughout the band’s history – “Over Under Sideways Down,” “Train Kept A-Rollin’,” and “Shapes of Things” are heard at least three times each on the DVD, each version featuring different lineups from different periods (of course, fans want to hear the hits), but there are a lot of great lesser known cuts interspersed between these. The DVD also stresses the importance of the contributions of all of the band members. The four CDs are grouped chronologically, the earliest being 1964-1966 Live at the BBC and Other Broadcasts, which starts in the early Clapton era but after track 9 it’s the classic five-piece lineup of Keith Relf, Jim McCarty, Chris Dreja, Jeff Beck, and Paul Samwell-Smith for the remainder of the disc's 25 tracks, and for much of the next disc, 1966 Live and Rare, which also contains some rare studio tracks, a couple commercials, and the A & B sides of two Keith Relf solo singles, which feature session players. The next disc chronologically focuses on three great live sets by the four-piece with Chris Dreja on bass (replacing Samwell-Smith), and Jimmy Page on guitar: 1967 Live in Stockholm, Offenbach and Paris, each of which contains several superb performances of the band’s best known material. The final disc, featuring the same four-piece version of the band, is 1968 Dazed and Confused, which features two classic radio sets from March of that year, as well as an on-air interview with Jimmy Page.
Finally, there is the 36 page booklet with an essay by Mike Stax of Ugly Things magazine, which focuses on the contribution of five key band members through the years, avoiding their better known mercurial and sometimes controversial lead guitarists who came and went over the years (which is a story everyone knows already), as well as many rare photos, quotes, concert posters and exhaustive documentation as to who played what on each of the tracks. In addition, each of the discs (including the DVD) contains its own booklet which focuses on that particular period of the band’s work. Finally — this really needs to be said — Live and Rare is a set that serves as a package for completists, and if you don’t know the band’s work yet, one might be better advised to first fully absorb their original albums, or any of the excellent compilations that have been made available over the years, then move on to this outstanding collection.
Alex's Hand Seeks Spa Treatment – American / European band Alex's Hand has a new album in the works called Hungarian Spa, which looks to be their biggest and best yet, featuring a large roster of guest musicians. They're seeking funding to take the project on the road, and are looking for help from the crowd of wisdom. » Read more
Legendary Co-Founder of The 13th Floor Elevators Passes Away at Age 71 – Sadly, Roky Erickson passed away on May 31, 2019. Known as the father of psychedelic music and co-founder of the ground breaking 13th Floor Elevators, Roky had a profound influence on music from the 60s to today. Plagued by his own personal demons, Roky had a difficult life and is now free of these burdens. » Read more
Help MoonJune Bring Great Music to Life – Like many music lovers around the world, we’ve been thrilled and amazed to hear the recordings that have been released by MoonJune from sessions at La Casa Murada in Spain. Such label stalwarts as Mark Wingfield, Markus Reuter, Asaf Sirkis, Tony Levin, Dusan Jevtovic, Vasil Hadzimanov, and many more have gathered in various combinations at the studio to produce some of the most creative music in recent years. Now, label head Leonardo Pavkovic is offering a compilation, La Casa Murada - MoonJune Sessions, Volume One, as a fundraiser for upcoming sessions. » Read more
The Pineapple Thief to Tour North America – November and December of 2019 will see The Pineapple Thief bringing their music to Canada, Mexico, and the US, and famed drummer Gavin Harrison will be on board. The band has been touring extensively in Europe, but North America will be new territory for them. » Read more
Scott Walker RIP – Noel Scott Engel, better known as Scott Walker, was one of the most intriguing and enigmatic musical figures in the second half of the 20th Century. His strange career started with The Walker Brothers, an American pop group that featured no one named Walker and no brothers. After moving to England in 1965, they had a series of hit singles. Scott's solo work started with Scott in 1967. Starting in the 80s, his work took an increasingly avant-garde turn. » Read more
Electrelane - Rock It to the Moon, The Power Out, & Axes – Contortions for dirigible apoplexy flex muscular curvatures in modern sound passing raiment unto itself, ballooning into monsoon walls with torque and cresting on a fine knacker. Galloping seesaw... (2007) » Read more