The Yardbirds - Live Blues Wailing July 64

Almost forty years after it was recorded this recording of a club gig, at an unidentified venue has surfaced. The Yardbirds inherited The Rolling Stones rhythm and blues residency at the Craw Daddy Club in Richmond, Surrey after the Stones had started their ascent to global stardom. The bands line up was Keith Rolf, singer and harmonics player, bassist Paul Samwell Smith, rhythm guitarist Chris Drega, drummer Jim McCarty, oh and a lead guitarist called Eric Clapton.

The bands debut album, released in December 1964, was a live recording called "Five Live Yardbirds". An unusual step for a large company like EMI in those days. It is thought by members of the bands that this recording pre dates that debut album by some months. The set list, as with all rhythm and blues bands was taken from the songbooks of the great American black music stars. Howlin Wolf was represented by "Smokestack Lightning", Sonny Boy Williams on "Good Morning Little Schoolgirl" a studio version which was soon to be released as a single. Slim Harpo "I Got Love If You Want It" and the ever present Chuck Berry is featured on "Too Much Monkey Business". Obviously the recording of live gigs was unsophisticated way back in the mists of time in 1964, but what this album lacks in sound quality and length (it last just over the 30 minute mark) it makes up for in the sheer enthusiasm of the band and is a rare chance to hear the, even then, considerable guitar skills of the young Eric Clapton.

It's interesting how the audience listens while the band are playing, remember this was the time of frenzied live shows by the Beatles and the previous occupants of the Home Counties R&B Crown, The Rolling Stones were also performing to hordes of screaming girls, so much so that Brian Jones could get away with playing "Popeye The Sailorman" on guitar and nobody noticed.

Eric Clapton didn't stay long with The Yardbirds, being the blues purist he didn't agree with the commercially sounding psychedelic pop the band started recording. In fact the band didn't last that long with replacement guitarist Jimmy Page eventually evolving the band into Led Zeppelin. This album is accompanied by the usual excellent Sanctuary Records fold out booklet annotated by blues expert Neil Sloven.

Derek McCann

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