It’s not only a live album, it’s a historical testimony of a group of talented musicians giving their best all together on stage, not merely playing music, but also creating it
“Live! Blueswailing July ’64”: The Yardbirds Energetic Live Experience
Between 1963 and 1968, The Yardbirds were one of the hardest working bands in Rock music, touring extensively to exhaustion for five years, which contributed to bringing the band to an early end just when the Psychedelic Rock sound that they helped to shape, was the biggest thing in Pop and Rock music. On this new release “Live! Blueswailing July ’64”, you will find The Yardbirds at their full potential and energy, playing the blues sound from their roots and extended jams during their period with Eric Clapton live at the legendary Marquee in London.
The first thing to note is the amazing sound quality of this recording, that offers the listener a real live music experience, Consisting mostly of Blues and Rock N’ Roll staples, the album starts with the blazing version of a Snooky Pryor original, “Someone To Love Me”, and throughout the highlights of this set you will find The Yardbirds doing their version of Chuck Berry’s “Too Much Monkey Business”, a popular choice back then between the British R&B bands, despite the band usually avoided to cover Chuck Berry’s songs, usually Rolling Stones territory. The Yardbirds rendition is specially marked by the powerful and fast drumming of Jim McCarty which you can now enjoy at it’s maximum sound quality. The energy keeps increasing, and the band plays their live staple and signature rave-up number “Smokestack Lightin’” followed by the controversial Sonny Boy Williamson’s “Good Morning Little Schoolgirl”, with Eric Clapton and Paul Samwell-Smith taking on the vocals together. Another one of the highlights of the concert is “Respectable / Humpty Dumpty”, that extends into a classic Yardbirds live jam. The Elmore James “The Sky Is Crying” it’s the final track and also the deepest, with an emotional vocal and harp performance by Keith Relf, blending together with the band perfect atmospheric slow blues number.
As explained on the liner notes of the album by Mike Stax from Ugly Things Magazine “It’s likely that the group’s first set that night did not end there, but rather the tape ran out after this number.” There was no second set that night, and that is due to Keith Relf suffering a severe asthma attack and rushed to the hospital by ambulance where it was discovered that he had a collapsed lung. Despite his frail health, Relf was a force of nature and for several more years after that night, he would return on stage with The Yardbirds to deliver energetic performances and push it all way up. “Live! Blueswailing July ’64”, it’s not only a live album, it’s a historical testimony of a time, a period in music, of a singer that delivered amazing performances despite a fragile health condition remaining one of Rock’s vocal heroes to this day, and of a group of talented musicians giving their best all together on stage, not merely playing music, but also creating it.
By David Warren for Pop Expresso
Photos: Val Wilmer, Jeremy Fletcher, Getty
Illustration: David Warren for Pop Expresso
Listen to the “Smokestack Lightnin'” live by The Yardbirds featuring Eric Clapton on lead guitar
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