Sunday, April 11, 2004

The Yardbirds- Five Live Yardbirds (Columbia, 1964)

The Yardbirds were one of the finest of the British invasion groups when it came to melding blues with rock and roll. They took equal parts of the electric blues they worshipped and the rock and roll they were inventing and concocted a ferocious brew. As good as their records were, live they take things to another level. This is an early incarnation of the band with Eric Clapton holding the guitar chair and featuring some of the finest playing of his entire career.

It's fascinating how comfortable this group of young Englishmen were with the music that make up this record. Mixing the early rock and roll of Chuck Berry's "Too Much Monkey Business" and Bo Diddley's "I'm a Man" (the latter featuring a killer harp solo from Keith Relf over a pounding bass and drums backdrop) with the electric blues covers of Sonny Boy Williamson's "Good Morning Little Schoolgirl" and Eddie Boyd's "Five Long Years" the band nails everything at an unrelenting tempo.

The Yardbirds would go on to make more excellent music including the great psychedelic album Roger the Engineer, but none would capture the frenetic energy of this one. This is one of the first great live albums to come out of the rock and roll era and can be cherished by both blues and rock fans.

Rating: 10

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