Friday, July 10, 2009


The Yardbirds formed in early 60's in London. Originally a blues group, they later ventured into more pop and psychedelic sounds with "For Your Love" and "Shapes of Things." They are famous mostly for the fact that guitar gods Jimmy Page and Eric Clapton both played with the group. I'm not a huge fan of either musician, and I never got into the whole guitar god worship. I do love the Yardbirds though, because they were basically a bunch of white kids hopped up on speed playing really, really fast blues.

Exhibit A: "I'm A Man." You can just hear their teeth grinding.

They also had a scene in Antonioni's Mod classic Blow Up, playing one of my favorite songs, "The Train Kept A'Rolling."

This is their happening, and it freaks them out!

They also did an early version of "Dazed and Confused," which later appeared on Led Zepplin's first album.

There's a little Yardbirds in the White Stripes. Blues being played by a white kid on analogue equipment, I mean. Jack White and Jimmy Page are in a new guitar god documentary coming out August 14 called It Might Get Loud, in which they talk guitar god stuff and rock out with the Edge.

Anyways, the 'Birds got more pop and Clapton left, and then they finally imploded in the late sixties, with a lot of their members going on to be in even more venerated bands. Sort of like the L.A. Guns. They actually got together in the 90s, and tour (without Clapton, Page, or Beck). They played the Bay Area a month or so ago.

For my money, though, their mid-sixties blues on speed can't be beat. It's a similar idea to what the Who and Rolling Stones were doing, but the Yardbirds did it faster and rawer than the other bands. It also, to my mind, gets old after about six songs. I love the Yardbirds, but I've never felt the need to own an actual album by them because after about the fourth song, I'm over it. But then, I feel that way about the blues in general. I guess I'm just uncultured.

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