The Yardbirds

Broken Wings and Empty Nests

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Among the myriad Yardbirds compilations/collections/concoctions knocking around the racks, few truly live up to the band's awesome reputation. Beginning with the severely underrated Top Topham, the band was home to a wealth of history's greatest guitarists; beginning with "For Your Love," they created a string of the '60s' most inventive 45s; and beginning the moment the first Yardbirds comp came out, they possessed one of the most brain-boggling discographies in rock. But were they any good? Forget reputations and forget greatest-hits anthologies. A clutch of patchy albums leaves the most forgiving acolyte with serious doubts as to the band's long-term potential, and while the much-lauded BBC sessions album went some way toward vindicating the veneration, there were still too many clumsy covers to truly convince. And then Broken Wings flutters in, and for those who have ever nursed a single doubt about the Yardbirds, this is the album which will change their mind. Generally excellent sound quality is a major plus, so despite the hodgepodge appearance of the content is the sheer range of plundered sources. Rounding up such infuriating strays as the one BBC session omitted from the official set (Page's "Dazed and Confused" -- one wonders why it went AWOL), the better mono mixes from the Roger the Engineer reissue, some great solo Beck and Relf cuts, and the best-sounding live Yardbirds material one is ever likely to meet, Broken Wings is a banquet from start to finish. Indeed, after the savage disappointments meted out by an official release in Stockholm in 1967, and multiple boot copies of the appalling Anderson Theater album, both live sets included here share just one major flaw -- they're too short. Yardbirds compilations are everywhere, and most of them are rotten. This, on the other hand, might well be the best one ever.

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