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London 1963: The First Recordings!

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Editors’ Notes

These earliest recordings of the Yardbirds are demos and live takes of material that would figure greatly in the band’s catalog. They became known for their ferocious take on Howlin’ Wolf’s “Smokestack Lightnin’” and Bo Diddley’s “You Can’t Judge a Book By Looking At the Cover.” The playing here features a very young Eric Clapton handling the lead guitar and giving the group an added edge. His take on Chuck Berry’s “Let It Rock” gives the Rolling Stones a good run for the best British group to tackle the immortal Berry. Singer Keith Relf has always been an underrated singer and his blues harp work is integral to the band’s early success, as he honks in perfect response during “I Wish You Would.” If some of the tracks are more mannered than the band’s best work — the handclaps for “Talkin’ ‘Bout You” and “Honey In Your Hips” are a tad stilted — it provides an important look into the evolution of one of the ‘60s most important bands.

Biography

Formed: 1963 in Surrey, England

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '60s, '10s

The Yardbirds are mostly known to the casual rock fan as the starting point for three of the greatest British rock guitarists: Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, and Jimmy Page. Undoubtedly, these three figures did much to shape the group's sound, but throughout their career, the Yardbirds were very much a unit, albeit a rather unstable one. And they were truly one of the great rock bands; one whose contributions went far beyond the scope of their half dozen or so mid-'60s hits ("For Your Love," "Heart Full...
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