Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Yardbirds - Roger the Engineer

Release Date: July 15, 1966 (UK)

★★★★★ Tracks:

Psycho Daisies (reissue only)

I downloaded Roger the Engineer knowing only that the Yardbirds was the first band Eric Clapton or Jimmy Page was a part of. Being a fan of both (especially Page), not only did I want to hear some examples of their earliest recordings, but I thought it'd be rad to listen to both of them spend the good part of an album dueling it out on guitar. Well, I guess I should have read more about the album before I downloaded it. It turns out Clapton left shortly before its production, and Page, who was recommended by Eric to take his place in the band, didn't join until after the album was already written and recorded. The two of them were never members of the Yardbirds at the same time -- what a bummer. The mastermind of Roger the Engineer turns out to be Jeff Beck, who's catalogue I've never delved in to. My lack of familiarity with Beck, and the lack of Clapton's and Page's presence left me less interested, but I still attempted to listen with an open ear.

The tracks on Roger the Engineer are pleasant enough -- classic rock'n'roll in vain of Chuck Berry with a hard rock edge. No doubt Jeff Beck is an innovator, as the Yardbirds here sound like an early influence to heavy metal. But after listening through Roger the Engineer a few times, the songs just don't seem to stick with me. Still wanting to give it another chance, I decided to download the Roger the Engineer reissue, gave it a go'round, and found a gem. It contains a b-side to the single, "Happenings Ten Years Time Ago," called, "Psycho Daisies." Jimmy Page plays the bass guitar here, and I'm not sure he helped write the track, but it could easily slot in on one of Zeppelin's records. In fact it sounds a lot like "Communication Breakdown." It might also include one of the earliest recorded examples of a heavy metal guitar solo, which is pretty fucking cool.

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