Friday, December 18, 2015

having a rave up with the yardbirds

The Yardbirds had a heart full of soul and reached new heights of innovation with the psychedelic ragas and wild man blues of this transitional tour de force.  After the release of their debut album Five Live Yardbirds  in late 1964, the band saw drastic changes in their lineup.  Legendary lead guitarist Eric Clapton left the band on the very day their single "For Your Love" was released in March of 1965:   "I was with them a year and a half. They weren't too keen to have it known that I'd left. People leaving groups in those days was dirty...The guitar players who play with them don't like them. I was fooled into joining the group, attracted by the pop thing, the big money and traveling around and little chicks. It wasn't until after a year and a half that I started to take music as a serious thing. I just realized I would be doing it for the rest of my life and I'd better be doing it right. I was playing what they wanted me to play...I intended to pack up playing all together. I was kind of screwed up about everything. Playing with a group like that puts you in a very strange frame of mind." 

His replacement Jeff Beck reveals:   "Apart from being a tramp, I was playing on records whenever I could.  I was lucky enough to be known.  Whenever they needed a rock and roll guitar break, I'd play it.  But work was limited because there weren't very many rock and roll records being made at the time.  I met Jimmy Page at these recording sessions and he recommended me to the Yardbirds when Eric left."

Jimmy Page says:   "At that point, I didn't have any wish to go out touring. I appreciated what I was doing in the world of recording, being a studio musician.  There was another issue. Eric and I had become pals, and I didn't feel right [about taking his place]. But I did say to the band: "You should check out Jeff Beck." Because I knew Jeff was playing well...[I changed my mind and joined as a bassist after] I had a Muzak session to do. It was a whole folio of music – all reading, turning the page and carrying on. I thought, "This is it." I was experimenting with all of these ideas at home. I just knew it was time to go. They had a show at the Marquee Club, and Paul was not coming back. So I foolishly said, "Yeah, I'll play bass." [Drummer] Jim McCarty says I was so desperate to get out of the studio that I'd have played drums."

As their debut had not found distribution in the US, their label scrambled to put together material for release across the pond.  Their second album For Your Love  came out in June 1965 and became their first album available in the United States.  Their third album, Having a Rave Up with The Yardbirds was culled together from singles and tracks from Five Live Yardbirds.  Side one features studio material and Jeff Beck on lead guitar, while side two features the live material and Eric Clapton on lead guitar.    The entire album has Keith Relf on vocals, harmonica, acoustic guitar, and percussion;   Chris Dreja on rhythm guitar;  Paul Samwell-Smith on bass and backing vocals;  and  Jim McCarty on drums and backing vocals.   Ron Prentice played bass on "Heart Full of Soul".  Producer Giorgio Gomelsky also did the backing bass vocal on "Still I'm Sad"; while  Samwell-Smith also did production work, credited as  musical director.  The reissue of the album includes eleven bonus tracks from the Beck lineup, one of which "Stroll On" includes Jimmy Page as second lead guitar and  Chris Dreja on bass.   The original Having a Rave Up with The Yardbirds album reached number fifty-three in the US market.  

McCarty muses:   "I don’t know if anyone’s done a rave-up quite the same – I haven’t really heard it played by anybody else. We were just trying to make the music a bit more exciting, and I think it was Paul Samwell-Smith’s idea to pump up the bass and the drums, and build the band up to this crescendo: it was all in order to get the audience going...The four-piece was much tighter, with a much tighter sound than the five-piece, especially with Jimmy Page. It was much more sort of businesslike – I don’t know what the right word would be – it was much more of what was expected, it was steady, but I don’t think we quite had the creativity of the five-piece. The five-piece with Jeff Beck and Paul Samwell-Smith was a very creative line-up that produced lots of things, like “Shapes Of Things,” “Happenings Ten Years Time Ago” and “Over Under Sideways Down.” The four-piece was good, but it was much better live, and it didn’t really work in terms of creating new songs."

Dreja demures:   "A little rave-up doesn’t do your soul any harm at all, you know. It’s all good stuff. You can have sex, or you can have a rave-up, but it’s all good for you...Music takes you to the places that nothing else does. It’s as simple as that. Especially when times are a little bit tough for people...I’m a background boy. I love playing the bass and rhythm guitar, and helping with song ideas. But I’ve never been a virtuoso; I didn’t have that thing about leaping in front, you know. And I was just very happy to work behind some very gifted players, and make them sound good."

Relf reveals:  "To tell you the truth I never really dug anything that we recorded 'cause I always felt that when we got to the recording situation it never really captured anything we ever did live. Somehow, whenever we got to the clinical situation of sitting down and trying to contrive it, it didn't work. I think the band was one of those rare kind of bands that only really got it on in the excitement of the situation, of the environment, and of the audience. If I could put into one word or phrase what the essence of The Yardbirds was - one word to describe The Yardbirds - it would be "electricity". But, somehow, it was probably too raw to put down on tape -- but I don't know, really. Possibly if there was the 16 track facilities and whatever to do it we could have done it. We very often did lots of those things straight down in one mono take...and the balancing was, like, up to whoever ... Well, it wasn't really up to us...The whole thing was in hands of managers, record companies - - it was a different era, man. One didn't have the control over things like we do now. It was a pop era and being a pop band you were kind of manipulated...In a way it was a case of using the numbers that the Stones hadn't used off the Bo Diddley album - - do you know what I mean? was on a different path completely. We were always aware of what the Stones were doing -- everyone had to be...we were following our own path...Jeff was the guy for developing sounds. He used to get into motorbike sounds on a guitar and de-tuning, playing with the strings over the top of the know, and de-tuning the thing while he was playing. He used to go out on stage without tuning up...he hardly ever tuned up properly. He'd get a semblance of tuning up and then he'd go on the stage and just play -- he'd bend to the notes. He never really played chords or anything. If the thing was out of tune he'd just bend to it. You could never get him to tune up. He'd go out on stage with the guitar totally out of tune -- but whatever he'd play would be in tune...[Jeff's strongest point was] his unbridled spontaneity; When he got in on, you know -- when he forgot himself and just blew - - when he forgot his problems, you know ?"

Beck would explain:   "I've got dozens of amplifiers.  The more the merrier.  You can't say any one is better than the other.  The effects I get are done by the sue of fuzzboxes and echoes...We started experimenting with sounds a long time ago ... [My style of playing]...It’s like a tantrum. Those things are outbursts, like exactly what I wanted to do to the teachers at school. It’s a bottled-up frustration that manifests itself in those outbursts, as well as a reflection of my life and my reaction to the difficulties of it. Singers are like that when they start screaming, like Screaming Jay Hawkins: One minute he’s singing perfectly normally, and then all of a sudden he bursts into rage. Love it.   I like an element of chaos in music. That feeling is the best thing ever, as long as you don’t have too much of it. It’s got to be in balance. I just saw Cirque du Soleil, and it struck me as complete organized chaos. And then there was this simple movement in the middle of the show, which was a comedy, and I thought, What a great parallel between the way that I think and the way this circus is happening.  It had a special meaning for me, aside from the spectacle of it all. When I came away from it, I thought, If I could turn that into music, it’s not far away from what my ultimate goal would be, which is to delight people with chaos and beauty at the same time."

Heart Full of Soul became their second consecutive top ten hit on both sides of the pond.  

I'm A Man

Still I'm Sad

Having a Rave Up with The Yardbirds
full album:

side one
You're a Better Man Than I-00:00 (Mike Hugg, Brian Hugg)
Evil Hearted You-03:19 (Graham Gouldman)
I'm a Man -05:45 (Ellas McDaniel aka Bo Diddley)
Still I'm Sad-08:24 (Paul Samwell-Smith, Jim McCarty)
Heart Full of Soul-11.24 (Gouldman)
The Train Kept A-Rollin-13:53 (Tiny Bradshaw, Howard Kay, Lois Mann)
side two
Smokestack Lightning-17:20 (Chester Burnett aka Howlin' Wolf)
Respectable -23:01 (O'Kelly Isley, Ronald Isley, Rudolph Isley)
I'm a Man-28:37 (Ellas McDaniel aka Bo Diddley)
Here 'Tis-33:09 (Ellas McDaniel aka Bo Diddley)

Shapes of Things-38:20 (Paul Samwell-Smith, Keith Relf, Jim McCarty)
New York City Blues-40:47 (Relf, Chris Dreja)
Jeff's Blues -45:07(The Nazz Are Blue" demo) (Jeff Beck)
Someone to Love-48:12 (Lost Woman demo, Part 1, Take 15) (Beck, Relf, Samwell-Smith, Dreja, McCarty)
Someone to Love-50:37 (Lost Woman demo, Part 2) (Beck, Relf, Samwell-Smith, Dreja, McCarty)
Like Jimmy Reed Again-54:56 (demo) (Beck, Relf, Samwell-Smith, Dreja, McCarty)
Chris' Number-58:01 (demo) (Beck, Relf, Samwell-Smith, Dreja, McCarty)
What Do You Want-1:05:27 (demo, Take 4) (Beck, Relf, Samwell-Smith, Dreja, McCarty)
Here 'Tis -1:08:39 (demo) (Ellas McDaniel aka Bo Diddley)
Here 'Tis-1:12:30 (aka "For RSG", track for Ready Steady Go! TV broadcast) (Diddley)
Stroll On-1:16:36 (Relf, Beck, Jimmy Page, Dreja, McCarty)

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