The Yardbirds – “The Yardbirds” aka “Roger The Engineer – 1966

The Yardbirds seem to be unfairly remembered more for the guitarists that have passed through the group and went on to be international superstars.  I’ll skip that and introduce you to the Yardbirds line-up on this album.

Keith Relf on lead vocals and harmonica, Paul Samwell-Smith on bass, Chris Dreja on rhythm guitar, Jeff Beck on lead guitar, and last but certainly not least, Jim McCarty on drums.

This is the first and I believe only album entirely written by the band (all songs are credited to the entire band).  Only their second album in the UK, an abridged version of this album made up their 3rd U.S. LP, “Over, Under, Sideways, Down” after the hit single featured on the album.

“Lost Woman,” a re-write of Snooky Pryor’s “Someone To Love Me,” and “The Nazz Are Blue,” featuring Jeff Beck on lead vocals, are the album’s most  traditionally blusey tracks.

Other songs range from rockabilly (“Jeff’s Boogie”) to psychedelic chants (“Ever Since the World Began”) to fuzzed out rockers (“He’s Always There”).  While this initially seems “uneven” on the surface, I couldn’t disagree any more.

This is an album that begs to be listened from top to bottom.  Every time I put the slab of vinyl on the turntable I find myself listening to the whole album (and no that’s not because I’m too lazy to move the needle!)

The other benefit is that it was the first Yardbirds album to be recorded in Stereo and is relatively well-recorded compared to their early material.  While I love a good mono mix as much as anyone, I find myself enjoying the stereo UK pressing over the mono UK pressing as the sonics are a little more natural and even.  The cymbals on both are unfortunately phasey/swishy sounding.

Both mixes are of interest as there’s numerous differences between the two: rhythmic tapping during the first verse of “Lost Woman,” extended intro to “Turn Into Earth,” scathing guitar solo that’s entirely absent in the stereo mix of “Hot House of Omagarashid,” and an extended outro guitar solo on “He’s Always There,” among other differences.

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