The Yardbirds

The Very Best of the Yardbirds [Metro]

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This is another of the ubiquitous Yardbirds compilations to utilize the band's 1963-1966 output, what are referred to informally as the Giorgio Gomelsky tapes (referring to their ex-manager, though he sold his rights to this material off decades ago). As a compilation, it's mainly distinguished by its relatively good sound -- they've gone to good tape sources -- and their willingness to program the group's early rock & roll and blues sides, including "Pontiac Blues" featuring Sonny Boy Williamson II on vocals and harp, alongside their subsequent pop-oriented hits, including "For Your Love," and the early stirrings of experimentation in "Heart Full of Soul" in its sitar version; it ends with the Jeff Beck/Jimmy Page-dominated number "Stroll On" from Blow Up, as most of the Gomelsky tape compilations do. The track-by-track annotation at least indicates that some serious effort was made to put this collection together. There's nothing new here, however, from the standpoint of anyone who knows the band -- it's an okay place to start out listening to the Yardbirds in 2005, if that's what one is doing (though this reviewer would've found room for "You're a Better Man Than I"), but otherwise unexceptional in a historical context.

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