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Five Live Yardbirds (Bonus Track Version)

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Album Review

This was always a miraculous album, a professionally recorded concert by the original Yardbirds lineup featuring Eric Clapton and near the top of their form. Ever since the original EMI-Columbia LP (which sounded unbelievably good) was deleted in the mid-'70s, however, it's been suspect. The status, condition, and master tape has been an issue, especially after the group's ex-manager, Giorgio Gomelsky, licensed (or sold — the dispute ended up in court for years) the recordings in the mid-'70s; but the recording's importance was beyond dispute. The Fuel 2000/Varese reissue in 2003 takes its place alongside Repertoire Records' 2002 remastering as one of the two choice CD accounts of this 1964 show, mostly by virtue of the sound quality and the added tracks. The producers have assembled the December 1963-vintage live tracks by the group from the Crawdaddy Club and the live-in-the-studio demo of "I Wish You Would," which first got out by accident in the early '70s in England and has since become a highlight of the group's early recorded legacy. It's easy to understand, listening to even three minutes of any part of this CD, why the Yardbirds are so revered by British rock enthusiasts, their musicianship running circles around 99 percent of the competition. This release is comparable to the Repertoire version in quality and has more live bonus material (if that's what one is looking for), but either edition is significantly superior to the Rhino Records edition (apparently still in print as of November 2003), which simply hasn't held up against the advances in technology and access to superior tape sources over the 15 years since its release.

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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