The Yardbirds – Live Blueswailing ’64 (Earmark, 2004)
This album releases a previously unheard live set from the Yardbirds at the beginning of their career and a few months before the seminal Five Live Yardbirds record was released. A record store clerk assured me that this was every bit Five Live’s equal, and even if it doesn’t quite stand up to that hype, it’s still a vigorous live document of a potent band.
Much of the music is similar to the other record, with blues standards like Howlin’ Wolf’s “Smokestack Lightnin’” and Sonny Boy Williamson’s “Good Morning Little Schoolgirl” making up the majority of the setlist. There’s an interesting section of the liner notes that discusses Eric Clapton’s influence in pushing the band in a purely blues direction as opposed to some of the poppier sounds of the other British Invasion bands. The Yardbirds would go on in fact to back up and then eventually record with Chess blues legend Sonny Boy Williamson – the other Sonny Boy, that is – Aleck “Rice” Miller.
The packaging of the record (I bought the vinyl version) is top notch. There are some wonderful photos of the band as well as pictures of vintage handbills, flyers and newspaper articles advertising the band’s gigs. Also, a very well written and researched liner essay is included. On the downside, the music is over in a flash, clocking in at a little over a half an hour.
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