Remember, there was THE ANIMALS' album titled "Greatest Hits Live"? Now we have the opportunity to hear the legendary YARDBIRDS' BBC sessions of 1965-1967, the real greatest hits. Yes, it's not the real live situation but... Not much of Clapton on these recordings yet that band's show's document was "Five Live Yardbirds" with the definitive "Too Much Monkey Business" rendition. Eric stormed off after "For Your Love", non-bluesy in his eyes. Let it be so yet what's an enjoyable is the version present here, stripped off Brian Auger's lush organ to demonstrate Jim McCarty's innovative drumming and a different vocal approach, less aggressive and, thus, more suitable for lyrics. Note, the band's studio output was quite spare so there's a chance to hear obscure material like "I'm Not Talking" in top-notch quality.
THE YARDBIRDS were ahead of their time, combining short pop songs with more bluesiness than THE STONES and showing the signs of progressive rock as early as 1965 - just compare Keith Relf's harp solo in "I Wish You Would" to his work with ARMAGEDDON, dig psycho-folk of "Over Under Sideways Down" or stick to use of sitar in "Heart Full Of Soul" (here the track is in guitar version). The latter trick was, surely, down to Jeff Beck, who was no blues purist like Clapton and let himself use bottleneck and even riffage for the YARDBIRDS' own "I've Been Wrong". It's only Eric's absence made possible such a sharp "I'm A Man" delivery letting Paul Samwell-Smith's bass go solo. How this bass pumps its way through "Evil Hearted You"! And only a few artists were able accumulate a sheer energy in a seemimgly simple song like "Still I'm Sad" - seek for the RAINBOW live take on this one to see how it could unfurl.
All the similarities - and differences - between THE YARDBIRDS' and THE STONES manners are on the surface with "Hang On Sloopy" and "Smokestage Lightning". Two sides of one medal, ain't 'em? What, then, about "Better Man Than I" that AEROSMITH quoted in "Eat The Rich"? You missed the point? You can liken Tyler to Jagger while never deny the fact 'SMITH digged "Train Kept A Rollin'" from the YARDBIRDS' canon. And yes, that was a beginning for ZEPS. Jimmy Page was already there to record the blues. This band lead the British blues until they were upstaged by FLEETWOOD MAC, another five-piece unit hooked on Elmore James - both bands played "Dust My Broom" (or "Dust My Blues", as Relf preferred to refer to it) and "The Sun Is Shining", both are here.
THE YARDBIRDS playing Dylan? Yes, the English group covered "Most Likely You'll Go Your Way" no less convincing than THE BYRDS' did with many songs by His Bobness. "Think About It", co-written with Page, was almost pure hard rock and almost the end of the band. THE YARDBIRDS' last battle is well documented on the "Cumular Limit" album released by NMC as well. But if you're eager to hear what they were like on-stage in 1967, you're treated now with something very special - the second CD of this set is occupied by recording of the Stockholm gig with Page-coloured deliverings of "Heart Full Of Soul" and "Mr. You're A Better Man". That's where the action is!