Yardbirds

The Yardbirds were an English rock band that emerged in London’s R&B–beat boom and released twelve 1964–68 singles. Their sonic innovations include harpsichord riffing (“For Your Love”), sitar-guitar tones (“Heart Full of Soul”), and explosive reverb (“Happenings Ten Years Time Ago”). They launched the careers of three guitar legends: Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, and Jimmy Page, whose late-period leadership presaged Led Zeppelin.

Members: Jim McCarty (drums, vocals), Chris Dreja (rhythm guitar, bass, vocals, 1963-68, 1992-2013), Keith Relf (lead vocals, harmonica, percussion 1963-68), Anthony “Top” Topham (guitar, 1963, 2013-15), Paul Samwell-Smith (bass, vocals, 1963-66), Eric Clapton (lead guitar, 1963-65), Jeff Beck (lead guitar, vocals, 1965-66), Jimmy Page (bass, lead guitar, 1966-68)


Background

The Yardbirds spawned from The Metropolis Blues Quartet, a south-west London band that featured singer/harmonica player Keith Relf and drummer Jim McCarty. In 1963, they teamed with bassist Paul Samwell-Smith, rhythm guitarist Chris Dreja, and guitarist Top Topham. The new band initially gigged that summer as the Blue-Sounds before adopting the name Yardbirds, either from novelist Jack Kerouac (On the Road, 1957) or the alternate nickname of saxophonist Charlie “Bird” Parker.

After one month, Topham cleared way for guitarist Eric Clapton, who’d co-slung in beatsters The Roosters with a pre-Manfred Mann Tom McGuinness. (Topham surfaced later in psychsters The Fox and the Christine Perfect Band.)

The Yarbirds became the house band at blues haunt the Crawdaddy Club in Richmond, Surrey, where they assumed the honors from a now-rising Rolling Stones. They were taken under the managerial wing of the club’s owner, Giorgio Gomelsky, who secured them a backing slot on a UK tour by American bluesman Sonny Boy Williamson II. (Recordings of this union were issued two years later on the Fontana release Sonny Boy Williamson and the Yardbirds.) In light of this exposure, EMI/Columbia signed the band in February 1964.


“I Wish You Would”, “Good Morning Little Schoolgirl”

On May 1, 1964, Columbia issued the Yardbirds’ debut single, “I Wish You Would,” their cover of a 1965 song by Chicago bluesman Billy Boy Arnold. The b-side is a cover of “A Certain Girl,” a 1961 R&B song by New Orleans musician Allen Toussaint.

In August, “I Wish You Would” appeared stateside on Epic. Gomelsky produced the single at Olympic, London, under the appellation ‘R&B Associates.’

On October 30, 1964, the Yardbirds released their second single “Good Morning Little Schoolgirl,” a thirties-era blues number backed with “I Ain’t Got You,” a fifties R&B chestnut.

A. “Good Morning Little Schoolgirl” (2:48) is a Depression-era blues standard first recorded in 1937 by Chicago bluesman Sonny Boy Williamson I.

B. “I Ain’t Got You” (1:59) originated as a 1956 Vee-Jay a-side by Chicago bluesman Billy Boy Arnold; written by label founder Calvin Carter. Mississippi bluesman Jimmy Reed cut an earlier version in 1955 but it went unreleased until his 1960 Vee-Jay album Found Love. The Animals cover “I Ain’t Got You” on their May 1965 second album Animal Tracks.

The Yardbirds’ “Good Morning Little Schoolgirl” reached No. 44 on the UK Singles Chart. Gomelsky, under his real name, produced this and the next four Yardbirds singles.


Five Live Yardbirds

The Yardbirds released their live debut UK album, Five Live Yardbirds, on December 4, 1964, on Columbia. It consists of ten numbers (42:11) taped on March 20, 1964, at London’s Marquee Club and produced by manager Giorgio Gomelsky.

1. “Too Much Monkey Business” (3:51) originated as a 1956 a-side by Chuck Berry. However, its status as a covers staple started with a September 1963 performance by The Beatles on the BBC Light Programme Pop Go the Beatles. Other 1964–65 covers include versions by The Kinks, The Downliners Sect, The Liverbirds, The Hollies, The Applejacks, Wayne Fontana & The Mindbenders, Danish beatsters The Ravers, and Swedish beatsters The Mascots.

2. “I Got Love If You Want It” (2:40) originated as a 1957 Excello b-side by Louisiana bluesman Slim Harpo, credited under his real name James Moore. The Kinks released their studio cover two months prior to Five Live Yardbirds on their debut album (which also features “Too Much Monkey Business”). German R&B–beatsters The Boots include a rendition on their 1965 debut album.

3. “Smokestack Lightnin’” (5:35) originated as “Crying at Daybreak,” a 1951 song by Chicago bluesman Howlin’ Wolf (aka Chester Burnett), who cut it as “Smokestack Lightnin'” for a 1956 Chess a-side. Manfred Mann open their September 1964 debut album with a short rendition (2:30). The Animals include a cover on their November 1966 US release Animalism.

4. “Good Morning Little Schoolgirl” (2:42) originated as a 1937 Bluebird a-side by Chicago bluesman John Lee “Sonny Boy” Williamson. In 1961, the R&B duo Don & Bob (Don Level and Bob Love) cut a modified version with new chords for Chess-subsidiary Argo. Rod Stewart released a cover on Decca five weeks prior to Five Live Yardbirds as his debut a-side. The Yardbirds’ version credits Level and Love as the songwriters.

5. “Respectable” (5:35) originated as a 1959 a-side by The Isley Brothers, included on their debut album Shout! Recent covers by The Fourmost and The Cheynes contributed to its popularity on the UK beat scene.

1. “Five Long Years” (5:18) originated as a 1952 a-side by Mississippi blues pianist–singer Eddie Boyd. “Five Long Year” gained momentum as a blues staple with 1961–63 versions by John Lee Hooker, Muddy Waters, and Jimmy Reed. It appears as a deep cut on the 1964 debut album by Long John Baldry.

2. “Pretty Girl” (3:04) originated as a deep cut on the January 1963 Bo Diddley album Bo Diddley & Company; credited (like all Diddley originals) under his real name Ellas McDaniel.

3. “Louise” (3:43) originated as the 1936 a-side “Louise Louise Blues” by Mississippi bluesman Johnnie Temple. It reappeared in 1937 as “New Louise Louise Blues” by Blind Boy Fuller and as the 1951 Chess a-side “Louise” by John Lee Hooker, who receives the songwriting credit on the Yardbirds’ version.

4. “I’m a Man” (4:33) originated as a 1955 Checker b-side by Bo Diddley, whose version long preceded the 1964–66 flood of covers by John Hammond, The Who, and Dutch rockers The Bintangs and Q’65. Roger Daltery leads a bluesier version on The Who’s December 1965 debut album My Generation.

5. “Here ‘Tis” (5:10) originated as a deep cut on Bo Diddley’s March 1962 Checker album Bo Diddley’s a Twister.


1965


“For Your Love”

On March 5, 1965, the Yardbirds released their third single “For Your Love,” a Graham Gouldman composition backed with “Got to Hurry,” a song Gomelsky wrote under the pseudonym Oscar Rasputin.

A. “For Your Love” (2:38)

B. “Got to Hurry” (2:26)

The Yardbirds recorded “For Your Love” on February 1, 1965, at IBC Studios. Gouldman wrote the song at age 18 in 1964 after a fruitless search for suitable material for his first band, The Whirlwinds. His publisher pitched “For Your Love” to the Yardbirds after its rejection by executives at Whirlwinds’ label His Master’s Voice. In light of the Yardbirds’ success with his song, Gouldman signed to their label (Columbia) with his new band The Mockingbirds.

In the UK, “For Your Love” reached No. 1 on the NME chart and No. 3 on Record Retailer, the nation’s official single’s chart. The single also charted in Sweden (No. 5), Ireland (No. 10), and Italy (No. 14). In North America, “For Your Love” hit No. 1 in Canada and reached No. 6 on the Cashbox and Billboard charts.

By the time of its March US release, Eric Clapton left the band. Over the next sixteen months, he did two stints in John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers. In July 1966, he formed the power trio Cream with bassist Jack Bruce and drummer Ginger Baker (both ex-Graham Bond Organization). The Yardbirds invited session guitarist Jimmy Page but he wasn’t ready to commit to band membership. He recommended guitarist Jeff Beck, who came from a sequence of short-lived R&B–beat groups (The Nightshift, The Rumbles) and played on the 1964 Parlophone single “I’m Not Running Away” by Fitz & Startz.

The Yardbirds mimed “For Your Love” on the March 18, 1965, episode of the BBC music show Top of the Pops, which aired the song amid current hits by Petula Clark (“I Know a Place”), The Pretty Things (“Honey I Need”),The Rolling Stones (“The Last Time”), and Unit 4 + 2 (“Concrete and Clay”).

Fleetwood Mac cover “For Your Love” on their 1973 release Mystery to Me.


“Heart Full of Soul”

On June 4, 1965, the Yardbirds released their fourth single “Heart Full of Soul,” their second of three Gouldman-penned sides, backed with the Beck–Relf original “Steeled Blues.”

A. “Heart Full of Soul” (2:28)

B. “Steeled Blues” (2:36)

The Yardbirds cut both sides in April 1965 at London’s Advision Studios. Gomelsky produced the single in succession with titles by The Ingoes (later the Blossom Toes), The T-Bones (with a young Keith Emerson), Julie Driscoll, and Brian Auger & Trinity.

“Heart Full of Soul” reached No. 2 in the UK and Canada and No. 10 in Norway. The Yardbirds mimed it on the June 24 broadcast of TotP, which re-aired it for the next three weeks amid hits by The Animals (“We’ve Gotta Get Out of This Place”), Dusty Springfield (“In the Middle of Nowhere”), The Hollies (“I’m Alive”), Manfred Mann (“The One in the Middle”), and The Moody Blues (“From the Bottom of My Heart”).

The Yardbirds performed “Heart Full of Soul” for the ITV music show Ready Steady Go!, where they appeared on the June 4 show with fellow guests The Kinks, who performed their current hit “See My Friends.”

In the US, “Heart Full of Soul” appeared on July 2 (three days before their debut American album, which excludes the song) and reached No. 9 on the Billboard Hot 100. This preceded their first US tour, which began on August 30 and included five television appearances, including the Sept. 3 broadcast of the ABC music program Shindig!, which aired performances of “For Your Love” and “Heart Full of Soul” amid numbers by Billy Preston and routines by actress Raquel Welch.


For Your Love

The Yardbirds released their first American album, For Your Love, on July 5, 1965, on Epic. It collects their first three UK a-sides (“I Wish You Would,” “Good Morning Little Schoolgirl,” “For Your Love”) and respective b-sides (“A Certain Girl,” “I Ain’t Got You,” “Got to Hurry”).

For Your Love also unearths two November 1964 Clapton-lineup cuts: “Putty (In Your Hands)” and “Sweet Music.” The three most recent cuts (“I Ain’t Done Wrong,” “I’m Not Talking,” and “Good Morning Little Schoolgirl” — all Beck lineup) appear on a subsequent UK EP.

Putty (In Your Hands)” (2:11) originated as a Shirelles deep cut on their 1962 third album Baby It’s You; written by Kay Rogers and jazz organist John Patton. French yé-yé singer Sylvie Vartan recorded a 1962 translated version titled “Ne le déçois pas.”

Sweet Music” (stereo, take 3, 2:29) originated as a 1964 Okeh b-side by Mississippi soul singer Major Lance, who co-wrote the song with Walter Bowie and singer Otis Leavill.


Five Yardbirds

On August 6, 1965, Columbia issued Five Yardbirds, a three-song EP with their version of “My Girl Sloopy,” a song co-written by American pop composer Bert Berns (“Twist and Shout,” “Piece of My Heart,” “Here Comes the Night”) and record producer Wes Farrell, who also collaborated with Berns on “Baby Let Me Take You Home,” the debut Animals single.

A. “My Girl Sloopy” (5:36) originated as a 1964 Atlantic a-side by the American soul group The Vibrations, whose version caught the ear of Clapton, who introduced it to the Yardbirds’ set but exited before their studio session. They recorded their own version immediately after Beck joined the group. (Meanwhile, a version titled “Hang On Sloopy” by American pop rockers The McCoys appeared the same month as Five Yardbirds and reached No. 1 that fall on the US Billboard Hot 100.)

Five Yardbirds also includes the Relf original “I Ain’t Done Wrong” and a cover of “I’m Not Talking” by American blues and jazz pianist Mose Allison.

B1. “I’m Not Talking” (2:31) originated as a deep cut on the June 1964 Atlantic release The Word From Mose by Mississippi blues-jazz pianist Mose Allison. The Yardbirds’ version inspired 1966 covers by Aussie beatsters The Twilights and American garage rockers The Misunderstood.

B2. “I Ain’t Done Wrong” (3:37) is a Keith Relf original recorded on March 15, 1965, with the Jeff Beck lineup.


“Evil Hearted You”

On October 1, 1965, the Yardbirds released their fifth single “Evil Hearted You,” their third and final Gouldman-penned recording, backed with the McCartney–Samwell-Smith original “Still I’m Sad.”

A. “Evil Hearted You” (2:24)

B. “Still I’m Sad” (2:57)

“Evil Hearted You” reached No. 3 on the UK Record Retailer chart and became a double a-sided hit with “Still I’m Sad.” On the NME chart, the two songs reached respective peaks of No. 10 and No. 9.

The Yardbirds mimed “Evil Hearted You” on the October 21 broadcast of TotP, which aired the song between hits by English MOR singer Mat Monroe (his cover of the Beatles “Yesterday”) and the American duo Dick & Deedee (“Use What You’ve Got”).


Having a Rave Up With the Yardbirds

The Yardbirds released their second American album, Having a Rave Up With the Yardbirds, on November 15, 1965, on Epic. It’s split between a studio half with Jeff Beck and a live half with Eric Clapton.

Side One contains six spring–summer studio cuts recorded with Jeff Beck, including both sides of the recent single (“Evil Hearted You,” “Still I’m Sad”) and the earlier a-side “Heart Full of Soul.”

Rave Up also includes an upcoming UK b-side (“You’re a Better Man Than I”) and a studio version of Bo Diddley’s “I’m a Man,” a staple of the Yardbirds’ live set. Side One closes with “The Train Kept A-Rollin’,” an exclusive R&B–rock shuffle.

Side Two taps the UK-only Five Live Yardbirds with four March 1964 concert numbers: “I’m a Man” and another Diddley song (“Here ‘Tis”) and their takes on Howlin’Wolf (“Smokestack Lightning”) and the Isley Brothers (“Respectable”).

The Train Kept A-Rollin’” (3:26) originated as a 1951 King Records a-side by American R&B pianist–bandleader Tiny Bradshaw. American rockabilly pioneer Johnny Burnette cut an updated 1956 version. Months before the Beck lineup’s recording, early UK rockers Screaming Lord Sutch & The Savages reinvented “The Train Kept A-Rollin'” as a buzzing brassy number.

Epic lifted “I’m a Man” as the Yardbirds fourth US single (b/w “Still I’m Sad”). It reached No. 17 on the Billboard Hot 100. The single also appeared in Italy on Ricordi International with a picture sleeve of the band in hats and overcoats. In Germany, “I’m a Man” appeared on Epic with “The Train Kept A-Rollin” as the b-side.

The Who cut a slower, bluesier version of “I’m a Man” (in A) for their first album: the December 1965 Brunswick release My Generation.


1966


“Shapes of Things”

On February 25, 1966, the Yardbirds released their sixth single “Shapes of Things,” a group original by McCarty, Relf, and Samwell-Smith. The b-side, “You’re a Better Man Than I,” is a song by Brian Hugg and his brother: Manfred Mann drummer Mike Hugg.

A. “Shapes of Things” (2:24)

B. “You’re a Better Man Than I” (3:15)

“Shapes of Things” reached No. 3 on the UK Singles Chart, No. 7 in Canada, and No. 10 on the US Cashbox Top 100 (No. 11 on Billboard). The Yardbirds mimed it on the March 10 broadcast of TotP, which aired it amid numbers by The Kinks (“Dedicated Follower of Fashion”), Lou Christie (“Lightning Strikes”), Small Faces (“Sha La La La Lee”), and The Walker Brothers (“The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore”).

Beck later re-recorded “Shapes of Things” with a radically revised arrangement. David Bowie does a faithful version on his 1973 release Pinups, an album of Beat-era covers. Gary Moore covers the song on his 1984 album Victims of the Future.

The Yardbirds cut both sides during their winter 1965–66 US tour. Sessions first took place at Chicagp;s Chess Studios and resumed in Los Angeles at Columbia and RCA Studios. These were their last sessions with Gomelsky, who launched the soul-psych label Marmalade for releases by Julia Driscoll, Trinity, and the Blossom Toes, who became key players in Swinging London’s psych scene with their 1967 release We Are Ever So Clean.

Multiple acts cut 1966 covers of “You’re a Better Man Than I,” including the American garage-rock bands The Cynics, New Colony Six, The Sons of Adam, and Terry Knight & the Pack. The Cynics single features a revved-up, fuzzed-out version of “Train Kept A-Rollin'” on the b-side. (The Cynics, a Tex-Mex band from Fort Worth, morphed into Musical Training School for the 1967 Kinks cover “Don’t You Fret,” backed with “I’ll Go,” one of the earliest recordings of a T. Bone Burnett composition.)

Manfred Mann didn’t record “You’re a Better Man Than I” but Mike Hugg, (who wrote many of the group’s b-sides) recorded a 1969 version in his subsequent band with keyboardist Mann: Manfred Mann Chapter Three.


Keith Relf – “Mr Zero”

In May 1966, Keith Relf made his solo debut with the Columbia single “Mr. Zero,” a folk cover backed with the self-penned “Knowing.”

A. “Mr Zero” (2:39) is a composition by American folk singer Bob Lind, whose original appears on his 1966 debut album Don’t Be Concerned.

B. “Knowing” (1:47)

Paul Samwell-Smith co-produced the single with Simon Napier-Bell. “Mr. Zero” reached No. 50 on the UK Singles Chart. Abroad, the single appeared on Capitol (Canada), Riviera (France), Ricordi International (Italy), and Epic (Germany, USA).


“Over Under Sideways Down”

On May 27, 1966, the Yardbirds released their seventh single “Over Under Sideways Down,” a contrapuntal fuzz-rocker backed with the instrumental “Jeff’s Boogie,” both group-credited numbers.

A. “Over Under Sideways Down” (2:37) Beck conceived the bassline (based on “Rock Around the Clock” by Bill Haley and His Comets) and added the staccato guitar figure at a subsequent rehearsal. Relf wrote the chorus as “Over under sideways down, That’s the best way I have found,” but changed the suggestive second line to “Backwards forwards square and round” to bypass BBC censors.

B. “Jeff’s Boogie” (2:19)

Sessions took place on April 19–20 at Advision with producer by Simon Napier-Bell, a soundman for Dusty Springfield and John’s Children. Between the recording and release date of this single, Beck cut a solo track, “Beck’s Bolero,” an instrumental based on Maurice Ravel’s Boléro with backing by Jimmy Page, Who drummer Keith Moon, and sessionists John Paul Jones (bass) and Nicky Hopkins (piano).

“Over Under Sideways Down” reached No. 10 on the UK Singles Chart and No. 13 on the Billboard Hot 100. The Yardbirds mimed it on the June 9 broadcast of TotP, which aired it amid current hits by The Animals (“Don’t Bring Me Down”), The Beatles (“Rain,” “Paperback Writer”), and The Kinks (“Sunny Afternoon”). The last three re-aired with “Over Under” on the following week’s broadcast (6/16), along with a new Hollies hit, “Bus Stop,” their second of two Gouldman-penned singles.


Yardbirds [aka Roger the Engineer]

The Yardbirds released their only UK studio album, Yardbirds, on July 15, 1966, on Columbia. It contains abbreviated, re-channeled versions of the two recent singles sides (“Over Under Sideways Down,” “Jeff’s Boogie”) and ten new group-written cuts, including “Lost Woman,” “The Nazz Are Blue,” “Turn Into Earth,” “Hot House of Omagararshid,” and the miniature “Farewell.”

The album gained the colloquial title Roger the Engineer due to the name scrawled next to the line-art character on the cover. This became the official title on later reissues.

1. “Lost Woman” (3:16)
2. “Over Under Sideways Down” (2:24)
3. “The Nazz Are Blue” (3:04)
4. “I Can’t Make Your Way” (2:26)
5. “Rack My Mind” (3:15)
6. “Farewell” (1:29)
7. “Hot House of Omagararshid” (2:39)
8. “Jeff’s Boogie” (2:25)
9. “He’s Always There” (2:15)
10. “Turn into Earth” (3:06)
11. “What Do You Want” (3:22)
12. “Ever Since the World Began” (2:09)

Sessions for the ten deep cuts took place between May 31 and June 4, 1966, at Advision Studios, London, where Paul Samwell-Smith co-produced Yardbirds with Simon Napier-Bell. Once sessions wrapped, the road-weary Samwell-Smith resigned as bassist to enter full-time production work.

Chris Dreja designed the album’s cover art: a cartoon depiction of engineer Roger Cameron as a haggard, big-eared hunchback. The back cover features liner notes by Jim McCarty, who claims that Dreja was “nearly slain with a wobble board” during “Omagararshid.”

In the US, the album appeared on Epic as a ten-song set titled Over Under Sideways Down. This version omits two tracks (“The Nazz Are Blue,” “Rack My Mind”) and contains different mixes of “I Can’t Make Your Way,” “Hot House of Omagararshid,” “He’s Always There,” and “Turn into Earth.” The American cover shows the band against a white background in cut-and-paste poses, including the now-departed Samwell-Smith, who appears (far right) in a back-turned seated posture.

Yardbirds reached No. 20 on the UK Albums Chart while Over Under Sideways Down peaked at No. 50 on the US Billboard 200. German and French copies combine the UK tracklist and US album title.

In Canada, the album appeared in September 1966 with the European format and a new cover photo that welcomes longtime Yardbirds friend Jimmy Page, who joined mid-year as the band’s new bassist. Page, a longtime sessionist, recently played on the Samwell-Smith-produced debut b-side (“Turn Into Earth”) by Scottish folkster Al Stewart.


“Happenings Ten Years Time Ago”

On October 7, 1966, the Yardbirds released their eighth single “Happenings Ten Years Time Ago,” a psychedelic rocker backed with “Psycho Daisies.” Napier-Bell produced the two group-credited originals between July and October at IBC and De Lane Lea studios. This, their first release with Jimmy Page in the lineup, is the only Beck–Page Yardbirds studio recording.

A. “Happenings Ten Years Time Ago” (2:55)

B. “Psycho Daisies” (1:45)

The Yardbirds mimed “Happenings Ten Years Time Ago” on the November 17 broadcast of TotP, which slotted them between numbers by Ike & Tina Turner (“A Love Like Yours”) and the Spencer Davis Group (“Gimme Some Loving”).

That month, Epic issued “Happenings Ten Years Time Ago” as the Yardbirds’ seventh US single, backed with “The Nazz Are Blue,” one of two Roger songs withheld from Over Under Sideways Down. The title inspired Nazz, a Philly psych-rock band headed by Todd Rundgren.


Blow-Up

The Yardbirds appear in the 1966 mystery thriller Blow-Up by director Michelangelo Antonioni. The film stars David Hemmings as Thomas, a London fashion photographer who wanders through Maryon Park and photographs an unsuspecting couple; to the ire of the lady, Jane (Vanessa Redgrave). Upon close examination of the pictures, he realizes that the roll of film documents a love triangle murder in-progress.

Later in the film, his pursuit of Jane leads him to a nightclub where The Yardbirds perform before a silent, motionless audience of mods and proto-hippies. As the band plows through “Stroll On” (a modified “Train Kept A-Rollin”’), a short circuit in Jeff Beck’s amp reduces his guitar sound to faint, sputtering fuzz. After the interventions of Keith Relf (satin purple shirt) and their concert soundman fail to remedy the situation, an enraged Jeff rams his guitar into the amp stack and smashes the instrument on the ground. He then throws the severed guitar neck into the audience, where mayhem ensues.

The Beck–Page Yardbirds filmed the Blow-Up scene between October 12 and 14, 1966, at Elstree Studios. Antonioni secured the Yardbirds late in the film’s production. He initially tapped mod rockers The In Crowd, who wrote an unused song titled “Blow-Up” with lyrics that outline the plot. For the guitar-smashing scene, the producers made replicas of the Gibson 175, the favored model of In Crown guitarist Steve Howe; hence Beck’s use of a Gibson in the scene. (In his Yardbirds days, Beck favored the Fender Esquire.)

“Stroll On” appears on the MGM Records Blow-Up soundtrack along with a film score by jazz pianist Herbie Hancock.

On October 21, the Yardbirds embarked on a two-month tour as part of the Dick Clark Package show. Midway through, Jeff Beck left under acrimonious circumstances. He used “Beck’s Bolero” as the b-side of his debut single: the March 1967 Columbia release “Hi Ho Silver Lining,” a cover of a recent single by The Attack. It reached No. 14 on the UK Singles Chart. He then formed the Jeff Beck Group with Bluesbreakers drummer Aynsley Dunbar, Birds bassist Ron Wood, and Steampacket singer Rod Stewart. They released the 1968–69 Columbia–Epic albums Truth and Beck-Ola.


Keith Relf – “Shapes In My Mind”

On November 28, 1966,Keith Relf released his second solo single “Shapes In My Mind,” a song by Yardbirds producer Simon Napier-Bell; backed with “Blue Sands,” a blues instrumental credited to one F. Groin.

A. “Shapes In My Mind” (2:20)

B. “Blue Sands” (2:15)

Relf performed “Shapes In My Mind” on the December 16 broadcast of the ITV music program Ready Steady Go! The episode also featured numbers by The Merseys (“Rhythm of Love”), The Troggs (“5-4-3-2-1,” “Anyway That You Want Me”), Marc Bolan (“Hippy Gumbo”), and the UK television debut of the Jimi Hendrix Experience, who performed their bluesy take of the recent Leaves rocker “Hey Joe.”


1967


“Little Games”

On April 21, 1967, the Yardbirds released their ninth single “Little Games,” a song by writer–producers Phil Wainman (once of beatsters The Hi-Grades) and Harold Spiro. The b-side, “Puzzles,” is group-credited to the current four-piece lineup (Relf, Dreja, McCarty, Page).

A. “Little Games” (2:33)

B. “Puzzles” (2:01)

The Yardbirds recorded “Little Games” on March 5, 1967, at Olympic Studios with soundman Mickie Most, the producer of early Animals hits. This was their final UK release. Epic issued the single three weeks earlier in the US, where it reached the middle Hot 100.


Little Games

The Yardbirds released their second proper studio album, Little Games, in July 1967 on Epic.

Little Games contains the namesake a-side and songs by Page (“White Summer”) and Relf (“Only the Black Rose”), who joint-wrote “Little Soldier Boy” with McCarty, who co-wrote “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Sailor” with Page. Three tracks (“Smile on Me,” “Glimpses,” “Stealing Stealing”) are group-written songs.

Side Two contains outside compositions: an old blues number (“Drinking Muddy Water”) and a Brill Building song (“No Excess Baggage”).

Little Games is their fourth American album. It did not appear in the UK.

1. “Little Games” (2:25)
2. “Smile on Me” (3:16)
3. “White Summer” (3:56)
4. “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Sailor” (2:49)
5. “Glimpses” (4:24)

1. “Drinking Muddy Water” (2:53) is an adaptation of the blues standard “Rollin’ and Tumblin’,” first recorded in 1929 by Delta bluesman Hambone Willie Newbern. The Yardbirds retitled the song to honor the popular 1950 version by Chicago bluesman Muddy Waters.

2. “No Excess Baggage” (2:32) is a song by Roger Atkins and Carl D’Errico, the team behind The Animals 1965 hit “It’s My Life.” It also appeared as a 1967 Columbia a-side by the Fabulous Fakes.

3. “Stealing Stealing” (2:42)
4. “Only the Black Rose” (2:52)
5. “Little Soldier Boy” (2:39)

Apart from the pre-released title track, sessions took place between April 29 and May 1, 1967, at De Lane Lea Studios, London, with Mickie Most.


“Ha Ha Said the Clown”

On July 17, 1967, Epic issued the ninth US Yardbirds single: “Ha Ha Said the Clown” a Manfred Mann cover backed with the Little Games track “Tinker Tailor Soldier Sailor.”

“Ha Ha Said the Clown” is the first of two songs that Manfred Mann recorded by Liverpudlian singer–songwriter Tony Hazzard. They released their version as a single four month before the Yardbirds’ near-identical rendition.


“Ten Little Indians”

On October 16, 1967, Epic issued the tenth US Yardbirds single: “Ten Little Indians,” a Harry Nilsson cover backed with the Little Games track “Drinking Muddy Water.”

Nilsson recorded his version of “Ten Little Indians” for his second album Pandemonium Shadow Show, which appeared weeks after the Yardbirds cover version.


“Goodnight Sweet Josephine”

On April 1, 1968, Epic issued the eleventh US Yardbirds single: “Goodnight Sweet Josephine,” another Hazzard composition, backed with the Page original “Think About It.”

A UK release of the single was slated for March 1 (cat. #DB 8368) but Columbia nixed this plan. “Goodnight Sweet Josephine” became the final Yardbirds release.


Discography:

  • Five Live Yardbirds (1964)
  • For Your Love (1965)
  • Having a Rave Up With the Yardbirds (1965)
  • Yardbirds [aka Roger the Engineer] (1966)
  • Little Games (1967)

Sources:

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