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The Ultimate Collection (Disc 2)

The Yardbirds featuring Eric Clapton & Jeff Beck

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This second half of the 36-track “Ultimate” collection turns away from the band’s hits and focuses on the band’s blues tracks. Their way with Chuck Berry (“Too Much Monkey Business,” “Let It Rock”) was second to none and their approach to Howlin’ Wolf’s “Smokestack Lightning” showed this was a group who could handle the American blues masters without losing a step. It helped that Eric Clapton led the band’s bluesy days and the recordings here from Five Live Yardbirds make the case for his preeminence so early in his career and for singer/harp player Keith Relf who drives the band’s urgency throughout. The addition of Jeff Beck to the group would lead them into psychedelic pastures but not before he issued a few classic blues of his own, the most famous of which is the appropriately titled “Jeff’s Blues” (presented here in an alternate take).


Born: March 30, 1945 in Ripley, Surrey, England

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

By the time Eric Clapton launched his solo career with the release of his self-titled debut album in mid-1970, he was long established as one of the world's major rock stars due to his group affiliations — the Yardbirds, John Mayall's Bluesbreakers, Cream, and Blind Faith — which had demonstrated his claim to being the best rock guitarist of his generation. That it took Clapton so long to go out on his own, however, was evidence of a degree of reticence unusual for one of his stature....
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