Saturday, February 14, 2009

The Yardbirds - Birdland (2003)

Mp3\122Mb
****
When this came out in 2003, it marked the first studio release by the Yardbirds in 35 years. In that time, of course, the personnel had changed quite a bit. Even those inclined to get excited by reunions of great bands should know right off that it includes just two original members, drummer Jim McCarty and rhythm guitarist Chris Dreja (though Jeff Beck plays guest guitar on one number, "My Blind Life"). Rounded out by three "new" members (including bassist John Idan, whose lead singing sounds fairly close to original Yardbirds vocalist Keith Relf in style and tone), the record also features guest lead guitar cameos by Jeff Baxter, Joe Satriani, Steve Vai, and Brian May, with Johnny Rzeznik of the Goo Goo Dolls singing lead on "For Your Love." The instinct is to make cruel, sardonic jokes about how the absence of Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page, and (for the most part) Jeff Beck doesn't matter, as guitarists were always the weak links in the Yardbirds anyway. Yes, the non-presence of these fabled guitar heroes, as well as Relf (who died in 1976), does mean that this can't be compared in any way to the group's classic 1960s output, even if it's billed to the Yardbirds' name. For all that, however, this is a lot better than you'd expect, and certainly far more respectable than most reunion/comeback efforts by decimated lineups of classic outfits. The production is straight-ahead without the usual sellouts to modern technology, putting the sleek guitar work to the fore. Half the record has remakes of old Yardbirds staples like "For Your Love," "Shapes of Things," and "Happenings Ten Years Time Ago," but they're not done badly, though you feel as though you're listening to a really good Yardbirds tribute band rather than the real deal. The original material, though not as good as those old Yardbirds tunes, actually sounds — whether as a result of conscious or unconscious effort — in the Yardbirds style, with plenty of irregular tempos, minor-keyed melodies, metaphysically questing lyrics, and Gregorian vocals (as on the Relf tribute "An Original Man (A Song for Keith)"). ~ by Richie Unterberger
*****
Artistlist:
Jim McCarty - drums
Chris Dreja - rhythm guitar
Gypie Mayo - lead guitar
John Idan - vocal/bass
Man Glen - harmonica
***
Jeff Baxter - Guest Appearance (track 3)
Jeff Beck - Mixing, Guest Appearance (9)
Steve Lukather - Guest Appearance (14)
Johnny Rzeznik - Guest Appearance (4)
Joe Satriani - Guest Appearance (6)
Steve Vai - Guest Appearance (8)
Brian May - Guest Appearance (11)
Slash - Guest Appearance (10)
Martin Ditchhum - plays percussion on tracks 1, 2, 4, 5, 7, 10, 12, 13, and 15
Simon McCarty - plays percussion on track 9
*****
Tracks:
01. I'm Not Talking (2:45)02. Crying Out For Love (4:37)03. The Nazz Are Blue (3:12)04. For Your Love (3:21)05. Please Don't Tell Me 'bout The News (3:59)06. Train Kept A Rollin' (3:38)07. Mr Sabotuer (4:55)08. Shapes Of Things (2:38)09. My Blind Life (3:33)10. Over Under Sideways Down (3:16)11. Mr You're A Better Man Than I (3:24)12. Mystery Of Being (4:07)13. Dream Within A Dream (4:44)14. Happenings Ten Years Time Ago (3:23)15. An Original Man (A Song For Keith) (5:20)
*****
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