Skip to Content Skip to Navigation

Yardbirds.US: Press

Album review: Jeff Beck, 'Emotion & Commotion'

3 stars (out of 4)

As one of the guitarists who defined British blues-rock in the ‘60s, Jeff Beck has ventured farther afield in subsequent decades than any of his contemporaries (Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page, Peter Green). He has explored everything from jazz-fusion to rockabilly, Tin Pan Alley standards to techno. What’s more, he releases albums at a leisurely pace, as though utterly unconcerned with the whims of the marketplace or the needs of the music industry. In that time, he has become one of the most distinctive, virtuoso voices ever heard on electric guitar.

And “voice” is the operative word on his first studio album in seven years, “Emotion & Commotion” (ATCO). Though there are a few moments of shredding violence (the dated-sounding riff-rocker “Hammerhead,” the explosive fills on “There’s No Other Me”), Beck mostly focuses on coaxing a languid, liquid, singing expressiveness from his instrument.

New Age Beck? It’s something like that. In emulating great vocalists he has admired, from Jeff Buckley to Judy Garland, the guitarist conjures a serene lyricism. Female vocalists drawn from the worlds of opera (Olivia Safe), swing (Imelda May) and soul (Joss Stone) provide window-dressing, and the symphony orchestra accompaniment is gratuitous. This is mostly a study in melody and melancholy, with Beck’s plaintive tone at its best on the complicated romanticism of “Lilac Wine,” the hymn-like “Corpus Christi Carol” and the sighing “Elegy for Dunkirk.” On these tracks, the guitarist articulates and then savors each note as if it were his last.

From The N.Y. Daily News:

Guitar dreams don't get more dramatic than this.

Eric Clapton and Jeff Beck -- two of the holy trinity of living axe-men -- performed their first-ever full American concert together at Madison Square Garden Thursday night.

(For the record, the third guitar deity is Jimmy Page.)

All three played in the seminal British blues band the Yardbirds back in the '60s, with Beck having replaced Clapton in '65.

In the years since, Beck has wavered through an erratic career, ducking in and out of the limelight, while Clapton has barely left it for a second.

Their divergent careers may account for some of the difference in attitude and effort displayed by the two legends last night.

Beck, who opened with a 45-minute solo set, played as if he still had something to prove, reeling off solos informed by equal parts technical derring-do and emotional resonance.

Clapton more often held back in his set, letting the songs rule while doling out his runs with dutiful care. Only in the concert's final third did the two stars cross axes at last.

Beck's opening mirrored his changeable career, careening from funky blues to fusion jazz to grand balladry.

In Jeff Buckley's "Corpus Christi," he infused his guitar with all the hurt and variety of a human voice.

His instrumental version of the Beatles "A Day In The Life" recreated the song's entire panoply aided by an orchestral backup.

Even a reach into opera -- a run at "Nossom Dorma" -- sounded both edgy and ravishing.

Clapton's set proved far drowsier, opening with four acoustic shuffles.

Although his solos were immaculate and scholarly, they were also distanced, weighed down further by the star's indifferent backing band.

Unfortunately, Clapton's group backed the tandem section, rather than Beck's more feverish players.

The two stars found common ground in the blues but largely kept out of each other's way, rarely goosing each other and therefore establishing only a polite rapport.

Nowhere did Clapton show the intimacy and emotion he enjoyed in his brilliant Garden show with Steve Winwood last year.

Beck put more muscle in his playing, as well more wit, especially in "Shake Your Money Maker" and a lovely take on "Moon River."

Moments like that gave the show value. But as far as fulfilling a generation's life-long fantasy, let's just say it lived better in our minds.

Yardbirds drummer Jim McCarty is hoping his old job is still open.

Talking to Classic Rock, the man who also co-founded folk rock heroes Renaissance with late Yardbirds singer Keith Relf, said:

“When The Yardbirds started in 1962, we only expected it to last a year or so. At the time I worked in an insurance office, and asked my boss if he’d keep the job open for me. I must find out if he kept his word!”

The Yardbirds will celebrate their 50th anniversary in 2012 – clearly a much more major important occasion than the Olympic Games. McCarty hopes the band will mark the occasion in a suitable fashion.

“It would be great to have a special event, and get all the living former members involved – especially those three guitarists [Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page]. But who knows whether they’ll be interested.”

McCarty has just released a solo album called Sitting On The Top Of Time, and hopes to do some low key gigs to promote it.

“That depends on The Yardbirds’ touring schedule. We are still active – in fact, the average age of the band has come down now to about 30. Apart from Chris [Dreja, rhythm guitar] and myself everyone else is really young in this band now.”

The next Yardbirds show is on November 30 at Charlotte Street Blues in Central London.

- Classic Rock Magazine (Oct 22, 2009)

Jeff Beck keeps his tunes tight at MGM Grand show By THOMAS KINTNER | Special to the Hartford Courant

Although the road he has taken since his 18-month stint with the Yardbirds in the mid-1960s has not always been the most mainstream of paths, Jeff Beck has consistently ranked as one of rock music's most influential electric guitarists. His show Saturday night at the MGM Grand Theater at Foxwoods Casino in Mashantucket was a showcase for his still-stunning chops, an array of rock and blues instrumentals that were like high mass for those who worship his instrument of choice. A virtuoso without being a showoff, Beck filled his tunes with substantial pyrotechnics that never turned into mere shredding, using his thumb to pluck out decorative licks across the face of the shifty opener "Beck's Bolero." Dressed entirely in white from boots to vest, Beck rarely wasted a note, powering the blues-leaning "The Pump" with a meticulous combination of sheen and technique. With a method that favors the exact over the exploratory, the 64-year-old Englishman kept his tunes tight, always complemented by a three-piece band that knew his every move. Tal Wilkenfeld played a flexible bass throughout the program, including a jazz-tinged counterpoint to Beck's soulful flow as he worked the vibrato bar of his signature model Stratocaster in a simmering rendition of Stevie Wonder's "'Cause We've Ended as Lovers." Jason Rebello kept several tunes in balance with his nimble keyboard work, and filled out "Angel (Footsteps)" as Beck etched high-tone filigree across the deliberate ballad's face. Beck was as sharp in igniting tunes as he was in maintaining a crisp handle on their details, particularly when he ladled sizzle atop the mesh of Wilkenfeld's chunky bass and Vinnie Colaiuta's stout drumming in "Led Boots." With a lone microphone off to the side of the stage that Beck didn't go near until it was time to say goodnight, there were no vocals in the performance, as Beck did all his talking with his fingers. He joined Wilkenfeld on her bass as the pair split its neck to perform a tune together in memorable fashion, and was tack-sharp when he reclaimed his guitar to work out a tasteful, fluid take on the Beatles' "A Day in the Life." More prone to refinement than bombast, Beck closed his set in typically even-keeled fashion and remained much the same for an encore that included some juicy but always controlled rock. He closed with a bit of the unexpected in the "Peter Gunn Theme," which shared with most of his offerings that it was as appealing for its sharp craftsmanship as for the natural energy of its throbbing chug.

The Hartford Courant (Apr 13, 2009)

From the 'Let It Rock' website:

FROM THE 'BIRDS AND BEASTS There's a new band been bubbling for some time with three Brit rock veterans having a ball. These are THE YARDBIRDS' heavy hitter Jim McCarty, his RENAISSANCE cohort John Hawken, more famous for his work with THE NASHVILLE TEENS and recently THE STRABWS, on keyboards and THE ANIMALS' guitarist Hilton Valentine. They already recorded five songs to be out soon, including Jim's "It All Comes Around" which will be the B-side for the combo's first single, Graham Gouldman's "You Stole My Love". Feels teasin'!

(Mar 28, 2009)
Jane's Renaissance-Jane Relf

(08 November 2008) With all due respect to the band's most well known and prolific vocalist, Annie Haslam, who set the standard for all that were to follow, Jane Relf was actually the first woman of the British progressive band Renaissance. The inexperienced sister of the band's founder Keith Relf was called from Cornwall to sing with the all male band in London. She grew to become an astute and well established professional although the initial Mark I version of the band fell apart.

Jane continued to sing with Illusion, a progressive band built from the ashes of the original Renaissance, who released Out Of The Mist, Illusion, additional singles and finally the long lost recordings on Enchanted Caress. She recorded singles, sang for commercials and provided backing vocals to other projects, including Stairway, by the original Renaissance band members after her brother's untimely death.

Jane Relf Appreciation Society president Brian Williams has lovingly assembled an absolutely-packed, two-CD, 33-track compilation of her recordings, including the best possible production of a number of extremely rare tracks, demos and material from vinyl first time transcribed to compact disc. Entitled Jane's Renaissance 1969-1995 (Renaissance Records (USA) RMED 384, 2008). The album also chronicles origins of "Carpet Of The Sun" with two demo versions revealed first time in this compilation.

The first disc in the collection takes the listener through the very earliest days of Renaissance beginning with "Wanderer," "Island" and "Roads To Freedom." Songs are taken from the 'Mark I' Renaissance albums Renaissance (1969) and Illusion (1971). Three medleys, arranged by Brian Williams, bring further rarities to light. The disc includes tracks by Renaissance, Illusion and Jane Relf's solo work.

For many this first disc will be the first time that Jane Relf's solo tracks have been heard. These include the well arranged and accessible numbers "Gone Fishing," "My My Time Pass By," the medley of "There'll Be No Going Back" and "Carpet of the Sun," and "Without a Song For You." The medley that closes the disc is comprices exerpts from "Golden Thread," "Madonna Blue," "Isadora," "The Revolutionary," and "Candles are Burning."

The second disc begins with many of Jane's backing vocal or vocalise contributions to Louis Cennamo's Stairway album. It then continues to explore her work with Illusion. The final track is a denoised and unedited version of the "Carpet Of The Sun" demo that Jane sang. The six Stairway songs are in an early new age style and therefore contrast the balance of the material distinctly.

Inclusion of the second batch of Illusion material alongside early Renaissance in this collection clearly demonstrates how Illusion moved on from the Mark I and the Mark II band and also continues to demonstrate Jane Relf's vocal prowess. Illusion clearly made music more in line with the Britich sounds of the day. Rock songs, torch ballads and traditional pieces all work together on the disc and have been sequenced to demonstrate the producers' dedication to Jane Relf's work. Listeners will again learn to appreciate the occasional very close similarity of Illusion to Renaissance in the song "Face of Yesterday" (1977) and "Wings Across The Sea."

The compact discs are accompanied by a photo filled booklet and very thorough Jane Relf biography. While the artist has no official website or MySpace, there is a discussion group for appreciation society members. Click on the album cover above for further information. Jane's Renaissance is indeed a fanstastic two CD collection that commemorates the fine vocal work of the stunning Jane Relf. With a wide vocal range, excellent power, crystalline tone and demonstrated ability to sing pop, rock, progressive and new age, she has had an incredible career.
Russell Elliott - (Nov 14, 2008)

Jeff Beck speaks about his induction for the 2nd time into The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: Twenty-one years ago Jeff Beck was involuntary dragged onstage at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame to play “Satisfaction” and “Like A Rolling Stone” alongside the Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Neil Young, George Harrison, the Beach Boys and countless other A-listers. “It was one of the worse cacophonies I’ve ever heard in my entire life,” Beck says on the phone from Western Australia, where he’s rehearing for a tour. “Just horrendous.” On April, 4th Beck will have the stage all to himself when he’s inducted as a solo artist, 17 years after he was honored as part of the Yardbirds. “I couldn’t believe I was even nominated,” Beck says. “I thought the Yardbirds was as close as I’d get to getting in. I’ve gone on long after that and gone through different musical changes. It’s very nice to hear that people have been listening.” He plans to perform at the ceremony with his band, and is currently looking at booking American shows around the event. The induction comes at a busy time for the 64-year-old guitar virtuoso. At the tail end of his Australia/Japan tour he has two shows booked in Saitama-shi, Japan, with the man he replaced in the Yardbirds: Eric Clapton. “It was unthinkable we’d ever play together other than the [1983] Arms charity concert,” Beck says. “He came to play on a couple of numbers I did at Ronnie Scott’s last year and it was really good fun. There was no sort of ‘I’m better than you’ thing going on.” What will the shows be like? “We’ll do two separate sets and we’ll link arms in the end,” says Beck. “Each night will end with a collaboration. How long, I won’t know. We’re working on suitable material, neutral material.” Might they break out some Yardbirds gems?*** “Eric doesn’t like the Yardbirds,” says Beck. “I don’t think he’ll go back that far.”*** Beck is willing to consider more shows with Clapton, but fans of the original Jeff Beck Group shouldn’t hold their breath for a reunion. In 2004 Rod Stewart told Rolling Stone about rehearsal sessions he had with Beck and Ron Wood for a charity concert at the Royal Albert Hall: “Woody was playing bass and I was singing and it sounded fucking brilliant,” Stewart said. “We did ‘Rock My Plimsoul’ and ‘I Ain’t Superstitious,’ and everybody was glued to it. But Jeff phoned me up two days before the show and said he didn’t want to do it. He canceled. I’ve given up trying to reunite the Jeff Beck Group.” When told about Rod’s desire for a Jeff Beck Group reunion, Beck starts laughing. “That’s what Rod said?” he chuckles. “They’re still full of shit after all these years. I saw Rod recently at Kenny Jones’ birthday party. He made a mockery of people asking if we’d reform, though I guess I’m not sure if he was talking about us or the Faces. Reformation of bands is never my idea of a good idea. Leave well enough alone, especially 35 years after it happened. It usually indicates there isn’t anything else happening in someone else’s career, otherwise you wouldn’t entertain it — let’s face it. We weren’t together in the heyday of money. We were playing small clubs and dives and broke up just before Woodstock, so we never had any big money gigs. It would be fun if we did it in private to see if it would sound any good, but leave it well enough alone and remember it for being groundbreaking at the time.”

The Times Of London (Jan 21, 2009)
In the October issue of Record Collector, one Nick Lambert of Newcastle-On-Tyne wrote:

Five Live Yardbirds

It was great to read the interview with Chris Dreja (RC353) but it's a shame that you only asked Chris to look back, and not tell us some more about the current marvelous incarnation of the legendary Yardbirds. Although I've been a fan of the band since the 1960's, I was never able to see the original band playing live. The nearest I got was seeing the New Yardbirds playing at the Mayfair in Newcastle......but that's the start of another story!

I was fortunate enough to see the latest incarnation of the Yardbirds at the Sage in Gateshead on their recent tour with the Zombies, and they were astonishingly good. Not only did the current line-up storm through all the old favourites with terrific energy and vitality, they also played a brace of newer songs which certainly stood up to their classic numbers, such as Crying Out For Love, Mystery of Being, Mr. Saboteur and Dream Within A Dream.

The current bands looks great too - bass player John Idan remarkably manages to look like Jeff Beck and sound like Keith Relf; young Ben King handles lead guitar duties with great aplomb and harp player Billy Boy Misskimmin rounds out the sound to great effect. Add Chris Dreja's driving rhythm guitar and Jim McCarty's assured drumming - a stunning live band! So next time, ask Chris to bring the story up to date - the current band is a great credit to the famous name.
Nick Lambert - Record Collector Magazine (Oct 22, 2008)
A review of Yardbirds vocalist John Idan's new solo album:

The Folly- (Garden Of Idan)
As well as serving the present-day Yardbirds as singing bass player, Idan, a natural-born heart-throb, is the outfit's principal source of sex appeal. Commensurate with this, it's feasible that this first solo album, if exhaling from a late-night music-centre, might facilitate the winning of maidenly favours by smitten young executives in penthouses the world over.

It's almost the music at any given moment that matters more than individual items. Yet every one of them would stand tall if reduced to the acid test of just voice and piano or guitar. Indeed, if some soppy boy-band or singing Britain's Got Talent finalist was looking for material far above and beyond the usual drivel, they might find it in, say, 'That's You And Me', 'I Began To Realise' or 'No Other' - though the raunchier and more lyrically erudite 'The Kali Yoga's Gettin' Hot' occupies an area between these and compositions that are too autobiographical and peculiar to Idan alone for any attempted syndication.

Finally, John parades his exceptional talents both vocally and in an instinctive command of virtually every instrument heard on a confident and extensive breadth of artistic expression that doesn't need association with a famous group to enhance its intrinsic worth.
Alan Clayson
Alan Clayson - (Aug 3, 2008)
Yardbirds drummer Jim McCarty tells us about life as a music legend... and why he's fitter than David Beckham.

JIM McCarty sounds relaxed and happy when he answers the phone for our interview.

Which isn't surprising really when you consider he's been hanging out at home, a French village in Provence, basking in the 35 degree sunshine, while over in Blighty it's a typically grey cloudy day.

“The lifestyle over here suits me," he says.

“I like the sunshine and it's very inspiring. I still write music and I've got a little set-up here. It's a nice place to write.”

Jim will join the rest of the Yardbirds to headline the International stage at the Great British R&B Festival in Colne on Saturday, August 23 and he's looking forward to it.

“It'll be great actually," he says. "I always like coming back to the UK. We've done the festival before but that was a long time ago now so it'll be nice to come back.”

The Yardbirds had a string of innovative hits in the ’60s, including Shapes Of Things, Heart Full of Soul and For Your Love. And, of course, they are credited with pioneering almost every guitar innovation of the ’60s: fuzztone, feedback, distortion, backwards echo. They were one of the first bands to put emphasis on complex lead guitar parts and launched the careers of three of rock's most famous guitarists: Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page.

“That's the thing people remember us for,” says Jim. “We're like an academy for young guitarists.

“The thing about The Yardbirds is that it was great background for all these guitarists. We were playing the sort of music that guitar players love and thrive on. The rest of us played a very basic role in that.”

But Jim admits he's proud of the fact that almost all modern guitar bands attribute their success to The Yardbirds' influence.

“That's really great actually,” he says.

“We did an album a few years back called Birdland 2003 and we had all these great guitar players guesting on it. We had Slash, Jeff Beck came back for a track, Jeff Baxter, Steve Vai, all these great guitarists who had played Yardbirds covers when they were starting out.”

What Jim is most proud of, though, is when the band were inducted into the Rock ’n’ Roll Hall of Fame in 1991.

“It was great. Really gratifying.

“Over the years we did some great gigs. We played with The Beatles a few times and the Rolling Stones. We had some crazy times. When we started out it was all really mad. We were part of the British Invasion going over to America with our long hair. They didn't quite understand us at first. We had lots of laughs.”

But he's not ready for hanging up his drumsticks just yet.

“Funnily enough, I just read an article about a study they'd done on drummers," he says.

“This team from Gloucester University had done tests on the drummer from Blondie and they'd found out that drummers were actually fitter than professional footballers because of the level of work and exercise they do in their act.”

So is he trying to tell us he's fitter than David Beckham?

“I guess I am,” he laughs.

* See The Yardbirds at The Great British R&B Festival, Colne, headlining the International Stage on Saturday, August 23. For tickets to the festival, running over the August Bank Holiday weekend (22 to 25) call ticket hotline on 01282 661234 or visit
ICONIC British rock band The Yardbirds are embarking on their first UK tour since the launch of their last album Birdland four years ago being accompanied by The Zombies.

The Yardbirds laid much of the groundwork for rock guitar as we know it today with legendary members including Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, Jimmy Page and most recently Gypie Mayo. Together with rhythm guitarist Chris Dreja and drummer Jim McCarthy they created driving rock from a blues-based background.

Chris Dreja said: “I think the bill is very interesting with The Zombies and The Yardbirds who are both electric bands, but of different styles. I’d known Rod Argent (of The Zombies) for some years and we talked a couple of years ago about touring, but it just didn’t happen but I’m very happy to be working with them now.”

Having taken a sabbatical during most of the 80’s and 90’s The Yardbirds have reformed with new members and collecting a whole new legion of fans.

Chris said: “Obviously being originally a 60’s band there are a lot of people who were interested in us who are still around and will come, which is very flattering. But we are also getting a lot of newer fans, I guess it’s a real mixed bag - it is very nice gathering new fans at this stage in our careers. After shows we meet the audiences and it’s amazing that we have more people coming now than in the 60’s.”

In recent years the Yardbirds have played a variety of smaller summer festivals but now hope that with their upcoming tour they will be back at the front of people’s minds and will find a new fan base.

Chris said: “Judging by the festivals that we’ve played in recent years we get a fairly equal balance of fans, we played The Wicker Man festival (a large independent music festival in Scotland) and that was a whole new audience for us. We are one of the only large scale bands left and I think that gets across to a new generation of listeners. It is great to have teenagers come up to you after a show saying that you’re the best live band they ever seen.”

Chris added that he was surprised that their legacy had lasted so long because when the band ended in the late 1960’s they thought that the band would only be remembered for a few weeks rather than touring again some 40 years later.

Back when the Yardbirds were touring regularly life on the road was not as luxurious as it is now and bands were forced to do many more shows to make it, all of which were a lot more basic than the shows we see today.

Chris said: “Actually we got burned out in the 60’s with too many shows - it was very primitive then, but maybe more glamorous. Technically, in those days all of the sound came from the stage, the PA system was ineffective, now there are very advances PA desks so you can control sound and now there are much better lighting rigs, so you can put on a better show.”

Unlike other bands, the Yardbirds don’t go for over the top flashy shows and would rather let their legendary sound do the talking for them.

Chris added: “We don’t rely on pyrotechnics of anything like that, we rely on our music and the energy of the show more than others - it’s a very electric show, but there are no explosions - keeping it real is what the Yardbirds are about.”
The Zombies/Yardbirds, Sands Centre, Carlisle, Friday, May 16...
DESPITE the billing this was not a Zombies gig. Rod Argent and Colin Blunstone performed just a few numbers from that band’s back catalogue.

There was She’s Not There and a couple of tracks from the 1967 album Odessey and Oracle, which has been cited by artists from Weller to Slash as their all time favourite. But that was more or less it.

What we got instead, however, was not disappointing. There were Argent’s hits from his eponymous set up of the early Seventies, Blunstone’s solo numbers and another from the Alan Parsons Project. It’s easy to forget just how much they’ve contributed to popular music over the past 40 years.

Blunstone’s distinctive vocals haven’t diminished over time either. Sometimes there’s a sense of lost glory when artists reunite after a gap of decades. Argent and Blunstone were great then and they are now.

As are the Yardbirds. There’s no Clapton, Page or Beck on lead guitar these days, of course, but they do have a magnificent successor in the form of Ben King. Like The Zombies there are just two of the original line up left. Jim McCarty on drums and rhythm guitarist Chris Dreja.

The band’s hit singles led the way yet this is a group that’s still very much on the blues scene – they’ve just released an album of a recent performance at BB King’s in the United States.

Two bands with roots in the Sixties – but still with something to say in their Sixties.

Steve Winwood and former Yardbird Eric Clapton rocked the Garden Monday night.

They didn't actually bill themselves as Blind Faith.

But the band that played the Garden Monday night boasted the two most esteemed players from that sanctified '60s act, and they featured its signature material.

While the classic-rock pair in question - Eric Clapton and Steve Winwood - teased the world with a quickie warmup set at the Crossroads guitar festival in Chicago last July, they had not shared a stage for an entire evening since the dying days of Blind Faith in 1969.

The two appear again tonight and Thursday with their unnamed band at the Garden. No other dates are scheduled.

As such, the Garden shows have as much importance by definition as Cream's reunion concerts from two years ago, if not quite the earth-shattering resonance of the Led Zeppelin reunion from December.

So did the night live up to the epic expectations? In places, definitely.

Especially the Blind Faith songs. The rub is, there aren't many of them. The band produced only six in all (one a jam). Last night, the band offered four, adding a fifth piece left off the original LP (the rote "Sleeping in the Ground," instead of the far more revelatory "Sea of Joy.")

They opened the nearly 2-1/2-hour show with "Had to Cry Today" with both stars taking fierce leads.

Throughout the night, Winwood offered the more trenchant guitar work, hewing closer to the tune, while Clapton spun fancifully around it.

Winwood's voice showed no loss of its choirboy purity. The range of his vocals - the wind he can whip up - still dazzles.

On the Faith material, the players - which also included bassist Willie Weeks, keyboardist Chris Stainton and drummer Ian Thomas - cohered as an organic band. But in much of the rest, it seemed more like stars sitting in on each other's songs.

That quibble didn't hinder a rash of highlights. Winwood's highflying vocals added soul to Clapton's "Tell the Truth." The latter's solos brought Traffic's "Pearly Queen" to fuller fruition. And for Jimi Hendrix's "Little Wing," they both fell utterly into sync.

Peaks that stellar allowed the show's more workmanlike moments to be forgiven, and made one hope we don't have to wait another 40 years to see these two hook up again.
Jim Farber - NY Daily News (Feb 26, 2008)
Live At BB Kings-The Yardbirds

I was lucky enough to attend a Show at the very end of the same Tour that this Recording is from. South Lake Tahoe, is one of the current Band's favorite stops, and I'll be there when this Great Group returns here.

The Yardbirds are BACK, and they meen business. This Combination of Players {Two Seasoned Veterans and Three Exciting New Players} is a Full on Force of: Blues/Rock,Pop Greatness!

With Ben King following in the steps of Clapton/Beck and Page, the Band is at a Peak, not seen in Concert since 1966. And this CD is the Document of just what they now do every night on Stages around the World.
This is NO Tribute Band, it's The Real Deal...The Yardbirds are back, and they DO put on a Great Show!

From the Opener: "Train Kept a Rollin' thro to; "Happenings 10 Years Time Ago", the Great Classics are mixed with New Tunes. And here are 19 reasons of why anyone who has seen the Current Band is Raving about these Guys.

No, this isn't the Full Concert (That would take 2 CD's) but it is more than a Sampler of their Show. And it is the best Blues and Rock played with absolute Fire, that I have heard in years. Rock is Dead they say, Long Live Rock...Great Band, Great CD !!!
Yardbirds, Live at B.B. King's Blues Club (released 3/07): Revived bands are a tricky proposition, especially when, as in The Yardbirds' case, the original members are (with all respect) not the iconic players and singers the band was best known for. The Yardbirds defy the odds by a) boasting a singer who sounds uncannily like the late Keith Relf, only maybe even a bit more versatile; b) continuing to employ hotshot guitarists who, if they don't completely measure up to the standards of Clapton, Beck and Page, certainly don't disgrace it; and c) playing with a solid approximation of the fire and desire of the original band. The old material eclipses the newer stuff, as is nearly inevitable, but there's plenty to enjoy here. (USA Today)
USA Today (Jan 12, 2008)
The Yardbirds Reunion Jam Vol II

When Chris Dreja jumped up on stage with the Jim McCarty Band, at London's 100 Club in 1992, it was just a couple of old bandmates having a blow for Auld Lang Syne. No one, the two musicians least of all, could have imagined that, 14 years later, they would still be playing together, and driving that most sainted of all 60s icons, the Yardbirds, into the hearts of an entire new generation. That decision came later, although listening back to tapes of the show, it's hard to see how they could have arrived at any other conclusion.

The lion's share of this momentous show was released back in 1999, and quickly sold out. Volume Two, as its title might suggest, wraps up the remainder of the concert, the bits that didnt fit on last time around. But before you groan into your British Invasion teacup, there's not a track on here that didnt deserve inclusion last time around Indeed, with Shapes Of Things and Over Under Sideways Down kicking off the disc, and For Your Love and I'm A Man wrapping it up, Volume Two is arguably the stronger of the two discs.

In between times, the album powers through a frenzied snapshot of all that made the Yardbirds slice of the Sixties so memorable , a pounding 10 minute romp through Gloria, a speeding Route 66, an electrifying Talkin Bout You, and a positively spellbinding Hey Joe, caught somewhere between Jimi Hendrix's blueprint and Roy Buchanan's reinvention, and sounding just as fresh as either.

The spirit of the Yardbirds is one of those elusive beasts that almost every past member of the band has tried, at some point, to capture it primarily because, they tried too hard. McCarty and Dreja were not trying this particular night; they were just having fun. And that turned out to be the missing formula. Reunion Jam Volume Two, like the Reunion Jam that preceded it, is fun. And it sounds so much like the Yardbirds that it became them.
Jeff Beck at
Ronnie Scott's

Perhaps the greatest living guitar virtuoso, and certainly one of the most mercurial, Jeff Beck stepped back into the spotlight at the start of a brief residency at Ronnie Scott’s. The first of six shows in five nights found him revisiting the most jazz-influenced areas of his back catalogue in an unusually intimate environment. And while he directed the great majority of his efforts towards the audience seated on the left hand side of the stage, even those of us who were required to contemplate the great man’s backside for most of the evening were left in little doubt of his continuing mastery of his instrument.

With his thatch of implausibly dark hair making him look more than ever like Nigel Tufnel of Spinal Tap (for whom Beck was said to have provided the template), the 63-year-old guitarist began with Beck’s Bolero, his calling card from the 1960s, when it was released as the B-side to his evergreen (but long disowned) hit Hi Ho Silver Lining.

From there he navigated his way round the sinuous riffing of Billy Cobham’s Stratus, followed by a deliciously bluesy reading of Stevie Wonder’s Cause We’ve Ended As Lovers from Blow By Blow, the 1975 album that first sent Beck travelling in this jazz-rock direction. Combining astonishing technique with a blissful feel for nuance, he exercised an almost supernatural control of his fretboard and pickup controls. Playing with the fingers and thumb of his right hand, not a plectrum, he was able to vary tone and texture in the twinkling of an eye while turning the most complex of sequences around on the head of a pin.

During the course of an entirely instrumental set but for two numbers featuring the guest vocalist Imogen Heap, Beck was accompanied by Vinnie Colaiuta on drums, Jason Rebello on keyboards and the bassist Tal Wilkenfeld, who looked as if she should have been at home doing her homework for school the next day, but played like a monster. It proved to be one of the best bands even Beck has assembled. The collective pièce de résistance came when Colaiuta set up the super-fast double bass drum rhythm of Space Boogie and they all piled into the number with such supreme skill and exuberance that even the excruciatingly awkward time signature couldn’t prevent it from swinging. There was a standing ovation as the show ended with a version of the Beatles’ A Day in the Life, which rolled the pleasure dial all the way up to 11.
David Sinclair - The Times On Line (London) (Nov 29, 2007)
Clapton's new autobiography is getting some interesting reviews. Here's one from New York Newsday

"Clapton: The Autobiography" is a shuffling, apologetic book, the kind you'd expect from a 60-ish rock star now faced with telling the story of how his decades-long drug and alcohol dependency helped wreck numerous personal relationships. The book ends on a cheerful, triumphant note: Clapton has finally found domestic contentment with a young woman, Melia McEnery, who has borne him three daughters; for the first time, he's participating in the raising of his own children. He's clearly enjoying it immensely, and you can't begrudge him that kind of happiness. (With other women, Clapton had previously - and somewhat casually - fathered two children, one of whom, Conor, died tragically at age 4.)

But what if, despite all the confessional self-revelation here - Clapton sobered up some 20 years ago, and also founded the Crossroads Centre, a treatment center for drug and alcohol addiction - Clapton still comes off as a guy who cares more about music than he does about people? That's the sense his book leaves you with.

Clapton skims through his '50s childhood and early teenage years, explaining the pain he felt upon figuring out, around age 7, that the "parents" who were raising him were actually his grandparents. A Canadian airman had fathered him and then disappeared. His mother, Pat, 15 at the time, left baby Eric in the care of her own parents; her reappearance later in his life, after she'd begun a new family, caused him a great deal of resentment and confusion, even though he admits that his grandparents, Rose and Jack, adored him and did everything they could to make his childhood a happy one.

Clapton concedes that he was a loner as a child and a young teenager. He spent a great deal of time listening to the blues and developing a performing style that honored its tradition, going on to play in bands like The Yardbirds, John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers, Cream, Blind Faith, and Derek and the Dominoes. He describes how he felt when, in the mid-1960s, graffiti proclaiming "Clapton Is God" began to spring up around London. He admits he was mystified and a little bit scared by it. But he also admits that the acclaim boosted his ego - he'd just left The Yardbirds after the band recorded "For Your Love," a song whose irresistible pop hooks offended his blues-purist sensibilities. "There's something about word-of-mouth that you cannot undo. ... After all, you can't muck around with graffiti. It comes from the street."

But "Clapton" suggests that Clapton may have taken the god stuff a bit too seriously, at least in terms of his human relationships. His most famous liaison was with Pattie Boyd, at one time the wife of his best friend, George Harrison. He pined for her for years - and wrote what is perhaps his best-known song, "Layla," about her - although when she finally left Harrison for him, he often treated her, he admits, as a "slave cum partner." (Boyd tells her side of the story in her own recent autobiography, the much more enjoyable, and more modest, "Wonderful Tonight: George Harrison, Eric Clapton, and Me.") Clapton will casually introduce a character - generally a woman - on one page and drop her on the next, leaving us to wonder, for long stretches of the book, what might have happened to her. After he'd first started pursuing Boyd and been rejected, he took up with Alice Ormsby-Gore, a young woman from an aristocratic family; he got her hooked on heroin, and the two were together on-and-off for years. But after a few pages of rather indistinct prose about the relationship, Ormsby-Gore disappears from the book. We learn, much later, that she died of a heroin overdose in 1994, and although Clapton made some efforts to help her, there's still something a little callous about the way he assesses his advantages in the situation. Ormsby-Gore's suffering "only emphasized to me how fortunate I was in that, through all my years of drinking and drugging, I still had music." Nice work if you can get it.

That's characteristic of the backpedaling, dissembling and feeble mea culpas Clapton has to offer. He brushes off a remark he made during a 1976 concert in Birmingham, England in support of Enoch Powell, a Conservative MP whose stance on British immigration policy was clearly racist. Clapton was drunk at the time, natch; he was also, apparently, ticked off because a member of the Saudi royal family had recently tried to grope Boyd - a bit of logic that's both feeble and baffling.

Clapton clearly regrets the remark, but he doesn't completely disown it, either. "Clapton: The Autobiography" is filled with similar explanations, excuses and half-hearted apologies. It reveals Clapton as a gifted, dedicated performer and a preternaturally bummed-out guy who, admittedly, has done some real suffering in his life. But that doesn't mean he's not also a self-absorbed jerk. He can't write his way out of that.
NY Newsday (Oct 7, 2007)
Rockin' riffs

The riffs and melodies of "Heart Full of Soul" and "I'm A Man," among all the other hits The Yardbirds played at Monday night's Moe's Alley concert, dwell in perpetuity in my baby boomer head.

I consider myself lucky to have been listening when this musical revolution was going round the world.

The incredibly tight and intense musical dialogue the Brits were kicking back across the pond to the original American blues masters claimed many impressionable young ears and hearts back then.

To hear the music played live, even though there were only two of the original members (rhythm guitarist Chris Dreja and drummer Jim McCarty), was a very cool and fun experience.

John Idan, a very good bassist and lead singer with the group since it reformed in 1995, is young enough and tough enough looking to resemble Jeff Beck as I remember him from the late '60s.

Even though the Detroit-born frontman does not have the same role in the band as Beck did back in the day, his vocals hit the mark for the bluesy rock band's tunes.

Guitarist Ben King, youthful and strong, could play some of the same riffs as Beck, but I still wasn't convinced that he was the next big guitar guy on the block.

He hesitated a bit when it came time to express his own sound in solos. But one must remember it's a tough slot to fill following the legendary guitar holy trinity of Clapton, Beck and Page in The Yardbirds, much like subsequent guitarists in John Mayall's group after Clapton, Peter Green and Mick Taylor left.

Billy Boy Miskimmon wailed appropriately hard on harmonica while the band, with an additional percussionist, held together well through the hit-filled, one-set rave-up it played.

A couple of encore tunes, including a second Led Zeppelin song snippet following a decent sounding "Dazed and Confused" performed just prior, kept the healthy yet not sold-out crowd happy until it was time to file out into the night.
Beth Peerless - Monterey Herald (Apr 8, 2007)
Having a Rave Up with The Yardbirds

The Red Devil Lounge, San Francisco, California

Sunday April 1, 2007

(Concert Review by Beverly Paterson – TLM Staff Writer)

It's a typical cool and breezy night in San Francisco. Those in the know have congregated at the Red Devil Lounge in San Francisco to hear the most blues wailing Yardbirds do their thing. But before the legendary British band takes the stage, a couple of local acts are schedule to play.

First on the bill is Makes Nice, whose caffeine-induced punk pose lifts the best elements of bands like The Ramones and The Parasites and injects them with a dash of pop happy seasonings along the lines of Cheap Trick and Material Issue. Every so often, a shrieking guitar solo surges forth, lending a whole other dimension to the band's rather lean and angular sound. Those jaunty hooks are arguably quite contagious. Bursting at the seams with passion and intent, Makes Nice certainly has a very promising future.

Then came The Bonedrivers, a power trio so electrifying they could light a room of candles. Dripping with self-assurance, they covered all bases, from the blues to funk to standard rock and roll. Try to imagine ZZ Top battling it out with Creedence Clearwater Revival, The Jimi Hendrix Experience and George Thorogood and The Destroyers, and that should clue you in on where The Bonedrivers are at. The band delivered boogie rhythms by the score, the drumming was explosive, the vocals were pleasingly gritty and the guitar and bass work sizzled and slinked with thrilling sensations.

By the time The Yardbirds appeared, the crowd was already dangerously on fire and the mood grew even thicker with excitement once the band began performing. Kicking off their two hour set, which included nary an intermission, to the chugging clutches of "Train Kept A Rollin'," The Yardbirds confirmed to be in flawless form right from the get go. Holding fast to the exact same feel and approach charging their classic records, the band knocked the audience to the floor with brain-bending songs such as "Lost Woman," "Over Under Sideways Down," "The Nazz Are Blue," "Shapes Of Things," "Happenings Ten Years Time Ago" and an extended version of "For Your Love" that revolved around a series of jolting breaks and exotic conga drills. A genuine psychedelic feast it was. Although rhythm guitarist Chris Dreja and drummer Jim McCarty are the only founding members in the band, each musician is absolutely phenomenal as they bring their own talents and identity to the table. They truly duplicate the emotional intensity that originally caused The Yardbirds to be so unique and adventurous.

Not relying solely on the past, the band also played some tunes from their latest and possibly greatest album, "Birdland." Spurred by edgy energy and super taut instrumentation, "Mr. Saboteur" and "Mystery Of Being" are proof in the rice pudding that The Yardbirds are just as brilliant and amazing as they were in the sixties. The vocals were spot on, the guitars swooped, soared and snarled and the frenetic tone of a howling harp was a constant presence as well. From the Box Of Frogs (an early eighties band that starred Yardbirds alumni Chris Dreja, Jim McCarty, Jeff Beck and Paul Samwell-Smith) catalog arrived the eerily bluesy "Back Where I Started," while the paralyzing pounds and stomps of "Drinking Muddy Water" and the dark and terrifying dynamics of "Dazed And Confused" shook the walls and sent chills down the spine. The Yardbirds concluded their spectacular show to the rousing reflexes of "I'm A Man" that simply left us pleading for more. If you think the band's records are remarkable, which they certainly are, seeing them live and in person is a triple revelation. The Yardbirds are a hard and heavy lot that packs a solid punch. An awe-inspiring performance from a band that will be revered for eternity.
Beverly Patterson - Lancer Magazine (Apr 1, 2007)
A Celebration Of The Life Of Arthur Wood.
2007-04-17 14:23:04 -

There can be no doubt that the spirit of Arthur Wood has been exorcising some unfinished business of late. Born in 1937, he was the first child of Arthur Wood senior, a tugboat skipper who led a 24-piece harmonica band. During his lifetime, Art offered a supportive influence on the career of his youngest brother Rolling Stone Ronnie Wood, forming
Quiet Melon, a pre-cursor line-up to the Faces in 1969. Having spent his youth at the well-acclaimed Ealing Art College, Art's keen interest in graphic design and music led him towards his rightful position as a significant protagonist in the British R&B 1960's ‘invasion'. Art was an early alumni of Blues Incorporated featuring Alexis Korner and Cyril Davies, after which time he evolved his own band The Art Wood Combo into the more simply titled 'Artwoods'. Established in 1964, The Artwoods comprised Arthur Wood-vocals, Derek Griffiths-guitar, Malcolm Pool-bass, Jon Lord-organ and Keef Hartley-drums. In the Artwoods was the corpus of a band that were to make a strong and illustrious contribution to the music industry as both individuals and band mates, gaining swiftly a reliable reputation as the hardest working R&B band on the circuit.

Following his untimely death from prostate cancer at the close of 2006, Art's career was brought to a disappointingly abrupt end. A much-anticipated musical tribute to commemorate Art's life was carefully planned early this year and finally staged on 25th March at York House, Twickenham Town Hall by the Eel Pie Club. The tribute night for Art Wood was a very significant event in the musical calendar and was certainly not an understated affair. During the course of the evening, Eel Pie owners Warren Walters and Gina Way treated us to an unusually rich programme of musical spoils, comprising some five hours of educational entertainment in the talents and traditional heirs of some of the most significant players in the early British popular music scene. Kenney Jones and the ‘Jones gang' were billed next door to the Art Wood 'All-Stars' and original Artwoods, featuring Birds vocalist Ali MacKenzie with special guest Ronnie Wood. The 'house band' included an impressive cast of Eel Pie regulars Pete French (Leafhound/ Atomic Rooster), Mick Avory (The Kinks), John Idan (Yardbirds), Ray Majors (Mott The Hoople/Yardbirds), John O'Leary (Savoy Brown), Micky Waller (Jeff Beck Group), Rollin' Stoned drummer Mark Freeman and Joanne Ruocco. The only absent ingredient was a few magical moments contributed by Art himself and on reflection, we were almost certainly not deprived of just that! Art was often credited as being the life and soul of the modern day Eel Pie Island and god knows, he wasn't about the let a small material matter like his passing over separate him from those he had loved..
Stephanie Thorburn - PR Inside.Com (Apr 18, 2007)
Yardbirds-Falls Church, Va. July 28, 2006

It often gets a laugh, news that a 1960s band is touring again. How can geezers still rock?

But with the Yardbirds, you've got to hold the chuckles.

Two of the original members -- rhythm guitarist Chris Dreja and drummer Jim McCarty -- are still with the band, but the three young musicians they've discovered clearly believe the Yardbirds remain relevant. The songs were vintage, but they were as politically current as ever, and they were performed with power and passion.

At Friday's performance at the State Theatre, bassist John Idan more than simply re-created the famous vocals of "Over, Under, Sideways, Down," "For Your Love," "Heart Full of Soul," "Shapes of Things" and "The Train Kept a-Rollin'," and harmonica player Billy Boy Miskimmin added a sonic punch not found in the original recordings.

The Yardbirds are known for discovering lead guitarists who take flight and change music -- Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page and Jeff Beck among them. They may have done it again with Ben King.

Just 22 and Tiger Beat handsome, King cuts a disquietingly similar figure to the young Beck, but even more frightening is his apparent mastery of the Fender Telecaster. On "My Blind Life," "The Nazz Are Blue" and a screaming set-closing version of "Dazed and Confused" (pinched for Led Zeppelin when Page moved on), King demonstrated an uncanny knack for making exciting blues rock.

Who cares if only two of the original remain? The band is terrific, and the songs are still great.

-- Buzz McClain
Washington Post (Jul 31, 2006)
Family Tree: Birds of a Feather
(Mooreland Street MSG 1969)

There’s the Yardbirds’ family tree, and then there’s the Yardbirds’ family tree, and in terms of having something fresh to listen to, one is a lot more enjoyable than the other. John Mayall, Cream, the Jeff Beck Group, Led Zeppelin – whatever is left to be said about the monsters that once took flight from the Yardbirds’ nest? But step away from the antics of a few smart guitar slingers, and there’s an underground swirling around the band’s other members that rarely sees the daylight it deserves.

In fairness, this is less a Family Tree collection, than an anthology of Jim McCarty’s more recent, extra-curricular activities. The British Invasion All-Stars, the Yardbirds Experience and, of course, the Jim McCarty Band are the dominant names here, together with a clutch of McCarty-less highlights from the Ambulators’ tribute to ‘birds mentor Sonny Boy Williamson. Likewise, the 19 tracks turn up a mere handful of established Yardbirds classics (“Shapes Of Things,” of course, kicks it all off), preferring to mine the entire British beat repertoire of bluesy classics, R&B stompers and proto-rock howlers.

The line-up across the four acts is phenomenal – Don Craine, Phil May, Dick Taylor, Eddie Phillips, Mick Green, Matthew Fisher, Ray Majors, Mick Avory, Dave Walker … and that’s just the names that your pet goldfish would recognize. Noel Redding leads one aggregation across a dynamic “Jimi Hendrix Trilogy”; Pete French (ex-Cactus) fronts another through an incendiary “Wang Dang Doodle” and a Cream-stopping “Sitting On Top Of The World.” (Both tracks, incidentally, are previously unreleased.)

There’s no weak moments, no awkward segues, no annoying lapses. From start to finish, Birds of a Feather blazes as brightly as the blues should burn, and rocks with all the passion that the Yardbirds themselves made their own. Others among the band’s hatchlings may grab all the headlines, and make all the noise. But when it comes to actually playing the music, and making it matter, this is Year Zero.
Dave Thompson - Goldmine Magazine (Aug 3, 2006)
The current lineup of The Yardbirds, which consists of only two original members, played the Stearns Square Block Party on Thursday night and no one seemed to mind the absence of the members that made the band famous.

Thousands roamed Worthington Street and squeezed into Stearns Square to witness the 90-minute set of classic rock. It may have been the largest crowd ever at the long-running concert series.

The band that helped create psychedelic rock and launch the careers of guitar legends Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page and Jeff Beck may be short on star power these days but they make up for it with a relatively fresh approach to the classic catalog.

Riding the searing guitar work of prodigy Ben King and the reverential vocals of bassist John Idan, original members Chris Dreja (rhythm guitar) and Jimmy McCarty (drums) paid homage to an era and its signature sound.

The group opened with "Train Kept A Rollin'" and received an immediate ovation from the throng, with much of the accolades directed toward the work of harmonica player Billy-Boy Miskimmin.

Idan was the focus for much of the night as he plowed through songs like "Please Don't Tell Me 'Bout the News," and "My Blind Life."

The band brought out original Animal's guitarist Hilton Valentine for a run through the Chuck Berry hit "Little Queenie" and drummer McCarty took a turn on vocals as well.

Through the heart of the set, which featured songs like "Shapes of Things, "Heart Full of Soul," and "Mister You're a Better Man Than I," guitarist King was monstrous, showcasing the talent that had Dreja comparing him to a young Eric Clapton.

Dreja pulled the crowd into the mix, leading chant of "hey ... hey" as the band worked into "Over, Under, Sideways, Down."

McCarty introduced the closing medley which included a satisfying romp through "For Your Love," and the pounding, jam-fused "Dazed and Confused."

The group was called back for an encore and Idan paid tribute to McCarty and Dreja for their contributions to psychedelic rock as an introduction to "Happenings Ten Years Time Ago," which earned the distinction as the top psychedelic rock song of all time (beating out the Beatles' "Strawberry Fields") in a U.K. poll.

The Stearns Square Block Party Concerts are held on Thursday nights in Stearns Square (between Worthington and Bridge) in downtown Springfield. The concerts are free and begin at 7:30 p.m. Next week's performance features James Cotton.
The Republican Newspaper (Springfield, Mass) (Jul 22, 2006)
When Chris Dreja jumped up on stage with the Jim McCarty Band, at London's 100 Club in 1992, it was just a couple of old bandmates having a blow for Auld Lang Syne. No one, the two musicians least of all, could have imagined that, 14 years later, they would still be playing together, and driving that most sainted of all 60s icons, the Yardbirds, into the hearts of an entire new generation. That decision came later, although listening back to tapes of the show, it's hard to see how they could have arrived at any other conclusion.

Thelion's share of this momentous show was released back in 1999, and quickly sold out. Volume Two, as its title might suggest, wraps up the remainder of the concert, the bits that didnt fit on last time around. But before you groan into your British Invasion teacup, there's not a track on here that didnt deserve inclusion last time around Indeed, with Shapes Of Things and Over Under Sideways Down kicking off the disc, and For Your Love and I'm A Man wrapping it up, Volume Two is arguably the stronger of the two discs.

In between times, the album powers through a frenzied snapshot of all that made the Yardbirds slice of the Sixties so memorable , a pounding 10 minute romp through Gloria, a speeding Route 66, an electrifying Talkin Bout You, and a positively spellbinding Hey Joe, caught somewhere between Jimi Hendrix's blueprint and Roy Buchanan's reinvention, and sounding just as fresh as either.

The spirit of the Yardbirds is one of those elusive beasts that almost every past member of the band has tried, at some point, to capture it primarily because, they tried too hard. McCarty and Dreja were not trying this particular night; they were just having fun. And that turned out to be the missing formula. Reunion Jam Volume Two, like the Reunion Jam that preceded it, is fun. And it sounds so much like the Yardbirds that it became them.
(Available only here at See Music Shoppe to buy or listen to tracks on the Juke Box- R.G.)
Dave Thompson - Goldmine Magazine (Mar 17, 2006)
<< Previous Page    Next Page >>