(Re)discovering the timeless sounds and voice of Keith Relf

Avoiding this album is a rare glimpse you don’t want to miss

(Re)discovering the timeless sounds and voice of Keith Relf

“All The Falling Angels” is a collection of songs by Keith Relf which include not only his solo singles but also several unreleased songs and demos recorded between 1965 and 1976. On this album you will find the true essence of of Relf’s solo career, where he experimented with folk, classical, electronic and psychedelic music, leaving behind the R&B that defined the Yardbirds early years.

The Yardbirds are without a doubt one of the most influential bands in rock music. With their legendary line ups that included icons like Eric Clapton, Jeff beck and Jimmy Page combined with the unique vocals of Keith Relf, their music influenced Rock history. Despite his frail health the blonde singer was a force of nature, that screamed his one lung out on stage singing the blues as loud as he could. By 1965 Relf began to explore his interest in other music styles. At the same time The Yardbirds were releasing a string of memorable, enduring and creative Rock classics such as “Heart Full of Soul”, ”For Your Love”, “Happenings Ten Years Time Ago” , ”Still I’m Sad”, ”Over, Under, Sideways, Down” or ”Evil Hearted You”. That same year Relf released his first solo single, a song originally by folk musician Bob Lind (one of Relf’s favorite music genres), ”Mr Zero”. The single did not prove to be a smash hit, but it is one of the highlights is his solo career and one of the 1960’s most memorable songs. This is the second track on the All The Falling Angels anthology, it’s preceded by the opening track “Knowing”, that was originally the B-Side of the “Mr. Zero” single, a song Keith wrote about his wife April, Both these songs were recorded together with The Yardbirds drummer Jim McCarty, that would become an important figure throughout Relf’s solo career.
”Shapes In My Mind”, released also in 1966, it’s an unfairly forgotten but absolute essential gem of Psychedelic music, as good as ”Heart Full of Soul”. ”Line Of Least Resistance”, co-written with Jim McCarty is a wonderful sample of what became the early sound of Renaissance, the pioneering Progressive Rock project formed by McCarty and Relf after The Yardbirds break up in 1968. The song first appeared in 1969 on a single by the group Reign, in here you can listen to it’s original demo by Keith and Jim. During the late 1960’s Keith relf developed an apprecation for the then groundbreaking musical instrument, the synthesizer, and closing the album, it’s a rare glimpse into his experiments in electronic music with a synthesizer.
Sometimes is seems as though Relf of The Yardbirds, Renaissance and solo artist are different talents. In between full songs you find small gems such as “Echoes I May Find”, a vocal exercise of Keith, a mantra or perhaps an idea for a song. One thing present throughout this album, which features the songs chronologically ordered, is that the listener can sense Relf’s musical directions shifting into more complex or matured compositions such as the title track “All the Falling Angels“, co-written by Jim McCarty and recorded only 10 days before Keith Relf’s untimely death at age 33 in 1976.

Avoiding this album is a rare glimpse you don’t want to miss, even if you’re not a Yardbirds fan, because here, we really feel the separation Keith Relf wanted to stress between his old band and his new career and projects such as Renaissance. Here, Relf offers you an insight of his vocal and songwriting freedom, and which is essential for any serious music fan.

By David Warren for Pop Expresso

Photos: Unknown photographer

Illustration: David Warren for Pop Expresso

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Listen to the title track “All The Falling Angels” by Keith Relf

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