Review Summary: Decent album from Jeff Beck and co. but the Yardbirds just aren't the same without ol' Slowhand.2 of 3 thought this review was well written
The Yardbirds were a band that could have been so much more if it weren't torn apart by drugs, egos and musical directions and even due to this, they still managed to be one of the most famous bands of the day. Perhaps their best known effort, 'Roger The Engineer' (The unofficial title of the album, the official one simply being 'The Yardbirds'.) contained a mixture of Protopunk, Psychadelica, Blues-rock and various World music styles. It also featured Jeff Becks creative use of distortion and feedback and is considered one of the precursors to Heavy Metal. One of the final albums by the band before it's transformation into Led Zeppelin, the album in which Jeff Beck features as lead guitarist was recorded on the road and during the transition of band leader from Beck to Jimmy Page (Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page played in the band together on the road, but never recorded more than a few studio jams together. Beck soon quit the band, leaving them as a four peice due to Paul Samwell-Smith's departure to persue music in another way. Chris Dreja then made the switch from Rhythm guitar to Bass, and Jimmy Page took control of guitar duties.)
The albums opens with three blues tracks, the highlight of them all being 'The Nazz Are Blue'. The opener 'Lost Woman' features an intricate bass intro from Samwell-Smith, before the band kicking into the full with a shredding guitar riff. With the song along the same lines as Led Zeppelin's 'Black Dog', it's steady drum section and harmonica fills add an extra, slightly pyschadelic shade to the song, which is topped off by Beck's fiery use of Feedback taking the place of an initial Guitar solo. A good opener to any album. The next song leans more upon psychadelica, a catchy rhythm and Chorus cement this song as an excellent album filler. The third song, 'The Nazz Are Blue' is blues-rock in it's most stripped, naked form. Yet more feedback abuse from Beck which eventually whines into a clever, if short solo and screechy lyrics from Relf make this song one of the highlights of the album.
The album settles here, with a nicy, roomy 'I can't make your way' features very little instrumentation. The chorus/bridge section fits nicely with the albums psychadelic undertones and a quick time signature shift here adds more to the variety of the song and the album as a whole. The next song 'Rack My Mind' harks back to the albums opener and is heavily dominated by the bass. Again, the song features guitar parts only on the chorus sections, and is nothing more than an album filler, however, the song features the albums first 'real' guitar solo. The next song, 'Farewell' is the shortest on the album, clocking in at only 1:30. conjures up images of a very basic rendition of The Beatles 'Lady Madonna' and of Cream's 'Mother's Lament'. The only instrumentation comes from the Piano and occaisional raps upon Keith Relf's Tambourine. Again, the song is only in the album to fill out the tracklist.
The next song is raw psychadelic rock. The introduction consists of a sitar-reminiscent guitar tuning and memorable verse riff. Power chords slamming in during the vocal breaks and the sitar tuning reappearing between verses. Another highlight of the album 'Hot House of Omagarashid' would quickly become a fan favourite. Jeff Beck's own 'Jeff's Boogie' follows. The short song features a call-and-response with Jeff Beck's screaming guitar lines and a muddy, possibly downtuned powerchord driven riff follows. Good song, nice and enjoyable. Yet more Psychadelica follows, with another catchy Samwell Smith bassline features on 'He's always there'. Tape effects feature here, rather Pink Floyd-esque. Nice song, too.
The Yardbirds then revisit the Blues with their next track 'Turn into Earth' a nice instrumental number features good strong guitar melodies and is a song that could have easily become a guitar classic. More Psychadelic rock comes next as the album begins to draw to a close, lyrics about a man and a woman, a strange fuzzy tone features here from the guitarists that sounds horrendous in my opinion, the track 'What Do You Want' really lets the album down. The only good part to the song in all honesties is the clever rythmic drumming from Jim McCarty.
The next song is a strange Almost a cappella arrangement, using heavy reverb on the vocal parts and a raga style drum pattern, faint piano notes can be heard throughout, intresting music and doubtless this song and songs like it would have affect upon the direction of progressive music in the coming decade. The album winds up here, with 'Psycho Daisies' another catchy pop single, guitar provided this time from James Patrick Page, (ala Jimmy Page) the drum fills between verses are a nice touch. The final song 'Happenings Ten Years Time Ago' is another strongly psychadelic song with another a capella introduction that bleeds into a jazz influenced instrumental section. It's a rather cheesy end to an album that could have been better, but still offers originality and a few good songs here and there.
The musicians were all on top form but decent material was significantly lacking, compared with The Yardbirds earlier efforts. Less blues influenced, while overall a nice pop rock album of the day, The Yardbirds could have done better. The highlights of the album include: 'The Nazz Are Blue' and 'Hot House Of Omagarashid'. The Rhythm section, particularly Jim McCarty on the drums is a nice relief from standard 4/4 rock songs and Jeff Beck's use of Feedback on the album was landmark, never the less the album fails to deliver. while this may be true the album is probably one of the most important albums in rock music and would shape the sound of bands to come.