Monday, January 9, 2012


It's crazy to think that Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page were all once members of the same band, The Yardbirds. Not at the same time, of course!

Clapton actually replaced original lead guitarist Anthony "Top" Topham early on in the band's career. The material they did with Clapton is among the best rock/blues/R&B you'll hear ever, their covers are up there with what the Stones were doing at the time. For my money, it's some of the best stuff Clapton has ever done. Clapton split after the band's big hit "For Your Love" (which he claims not to have played on) because it was too commercial (ironic, when you consider some of the things he's done in his solo career!).

He was replaced by Jeff Beck, ushering in a much more creative era for the band. This is when the band began moving in more jazzy and psychedelic directions.  It's my favorite era of the band.  Soon, Jimmy Page joined - as the bass player - but soon moved to guitar.  And then, Jeff was canned. Page's version of the band was pretty cool, but pretty much overshadowed by what he turned the band into - The New Yardbirds, later known as Led Zeppelin.

For years, The Yardbirds' legacy wasn't well tended, it was hard to figure out what albums to get, and even which guitarists were on which album.   But in 2001, Rhino combined all the eras of the band's career into one very well annotated collection, The Yardbirds Ultimate! I recommend this so highly.   I just listened to the whole thing, and was amazed, once again, by how great this band was.  What a tragedy that frontman Keith Relf is no longer with us - a Yardbirds reunion with Beck and Page, with Relf singing, that would have been amazing.

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