The Yardbirds

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It had to happen sometime, and after about 30 years of piecemeal Yardbirds compilations, here it is: a lengthy best-of anthology that manages to cross-license material from the Clapton, Beck, and Page eras. The result is a two-CD, 52-song anthology that includes all of their big hits, most of their outstanding albums tracks and non-hit singles, and a few rarities. If you're looking for one Yardbirds compilation, either as a starter or a summary, this is it. Previous anthologies almost always had to be divided in early 1966 after the "Shapes of Things" single for licensing reasons, but finally you can hear early blues-derived Clapton sides, 1965 initial British Invasion hit singles, "Shapes of Things," "Over Under Sideways Down," "Happenings Ten Years Time Ago," and the (comparatively slight) highlights of the 1967-1968 Page lineup all in one place. As quite minor quibbles, one could argue that some of the album tracks that were passed over -- like "Respectable," "Ever Since the World Began," and "Glimpses" -- would have been better choices than some of the cuts that did make it. A few relatively obscure items are included -- the late 1963 recording "Boom Boom"/"Honey in Your Hips," the 1965 B-side "Steeled Blues," the 1966 B-side "Psycho Daises," the Blow-Up soundtrack item "Stroll On," the weird Italian pop single "Questa Volta"/"Pafff...Bum," and particularly the three pop-folky 1966 songs from Keith Relf's solo singles. Some of those lesser rarities are at cross-purposes with the overall tone of a set largely selected on the basis of quality, rather than collectability. Still, with fine liner notes and packaging, overall it gives the music of one of the greatest rock bands the respectful, high-class presentation it deserves.

Track Listing - Disc 1

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1 2:26
2 2:20
3 2:19
4 2:20
5 3:53
6 2:40
7 5:42
8 5:15
9 2:46
10 2:29
11 2:01
12 2:31
13 2:35
14 2:40
15 2:30
16 3:42
17 3:59
18 2:27
19 3:26
20 4:21
21 2:26
22 2:39
23 3:04
24 2:35
25 2:38

Track Listing - Disc 2

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1 3:14
2 2:24
3 3:03
4 2:27
5 3:14
6 2:44
7 2:25
8 2:29
9 3:12
10 3:22
11 2:57
12 1:50
13 2:46
14 2:25
15 2:03
16 3:51
17 2:54
18 2:39
19 2:54
20 2:52
21 2:17
22 2:29
23 2:46
24 3:50
25
feat: Keith Relf
1:55
26
feat: Keith Relf
2:47
27
feat: Keith Relf
2:19
blue highlight denotes track pick