The Yardbirds

Where the Action Is [Cleopatra]

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An astonishingly fine, generally high-quality live-in-the-studio anthology, covering the Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page periods in the band's history. Buying it should be a no-brainer for any real Yardbirds fan, as it matches any of the hours of Beatles outtakes and BBC sessions issued in the '90s in both importance and vitality. The double-CD set consists of 35 live BBC and Stockholm radio performances that are more than sufficiently different from the group's studio sides to justify the purchase, all in superb sound with a healthy, robust volume and presence, except for the typical anemic bass of the period. Disc One is the BBC material, 27 songs performed with Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page on guitars, covering "I Ain't Got You" through to "Little Games," "Goodnight Sweet Josephine," "My Baby," and "Think About It": no Eric Clapton-era tapes have survived. These raw, single-take renditions showcase the sheer dexterity and power of this band better than any studio sides. The Jimmy Page material shows the fissures in the band, with less sense of a tightly knit group and more of four guys who just happen to be together, rather like the Beatles' White Album sessions. The Stockholm tracks on Disc Two have more hiss, but also better-recorded bass and drums, and feature a nicely raw cover of Dylan's "Most Likely You'll Go Your Way," one of many outside songs (Velvet Underground tracks included) that the group did in concert but never put on their records. The notes feature an in-depth interview with Jim McCarty and Chris Dreja in which they recall the early and mid-'60s, the recording procedure at the BBC, the stresses within the group, and, curiously, the virtues of the bootleg Last Rave-Up in L.A.

Track Listing - Disc 1

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1 1:51
2 2:19
3 1:47
4 2:36
5 2:20
6 2:29
7 2:15
8 2:51
9 2:22
10 2:17
11 2:54
12 3:19
13 3:32
14 3:11
15 2:41
16 2:18
17 2:32
18 3:12
19 2:12
20 2:44
21 2:20
feat: Jimmy Page
feat: Jimmy Page
feat: Jimmy Page
feat: Jimmy Page
feat: Jimmy Page
feat: Jimmy Page
blue highlight denotes track pick