The reality is, alot of newer fans aren't too familiar with that story and over the years there has never appeared in its entirety the complete story of the Yardbirds. I've read hundreds of articles and books and never once saw the Beck/Page era YBs (May-December 1966) fully documented. Don't expect that part to be fully documented here either. I have, however gathered everything I could (regarding the Beck era Yardbirds) articles, taped interviews, books etc. and have plunged headfirst into the confusion. All comments or additions are welcome.
1965 Around February Jeff Beck was playing with his band The Tridents. Usually The Tridents would pack places like the 100 Club (100 Oxford Street, London) or at the Eel Pie Island (located on the Thames River, near Richmond). Although Beck was rocking the house with his guitar playing and echo unit (he had a Klempt Echolette of German origin), he was making very little money. The Yardbirds meanwhile were playing at clubs like The Marquee or the Crawdaddy Club. Eric Clapton had left the Yardbirds over their latest recording "For Your Love". Clapton hated the direction the band was heading in, a more commercial pop sound whereas Clapton preferred Rhythm and Blues. Also "For Your Love" had session musicians playing the harpsichord and upright bass, leaving Clapton's guitar break minimal. He can be heard in the middle of the song. The Yardbirds needed a replacement and their manager/producer (and also one time owner of the Crawdaddy Club), Giorgio Gomelski, asked a young session guitarist (who was starting to learn about producing) named Jimmy Page to join the band. Page declined the offer but recommended his friend, Jeff Beck.
Giorgio Gomelski and his partner, Hamish Grimes (he designed those YBs logos), went to the 100 Club and saw Jeff Beck play a 'sweaty set'. After that performance both men approached Beck asking him to join the YBs. Beck said on KMET radio, Los Angeles, in an 1985 interview with Cynthia Foxx: "The Tridents were much better than the Yardbirds. They were more earthy, more real." The next step was to arrange a rehearsal. The band members at this time were; Keith Relf (vocals/harmonica), Chris Dreja (rhythm guitar), Paul Samwell-Smith (bass) and Jim McCarty (drums). Beck told Andrew Bailey in Rolling Stone magazine, June 24, 1971, about his first meeting with the Yardbirds: "I didn't like them when I first met them. They didn't say 'hi' or anything. They were pissed off that Eric had left, they thought that the whole YBs sound was gone. They said, 'Can you play the blues?' I said, 'Slow blues, Chicago blues?' They said, 'Anything.' So I honked around. They said to get rid of that echo...you don't use an echo in Chicago blues. Yeah. That's just what they said."
Sometime around this period, Beck had jammed with Jimmy Page and Nicky Hopkins for a blues jam session. The session was recorded for themselves, it was sometime after Christmas 1964, because Hopkins had just got out of the hospital (after being there for about a year and a half). As a result of his excellent piano playing, Hopkins was recommended to Shel Talmy (then producer of The Who and The Kinks) who used him on their records and soon others. The songs recorded with Page and Beck together only were "Chuckles" and "Steelin". The first song is basically a boogie type jam and latter one has some fine slide guitar from Beck.
The songs were eventually released in 1968 - against the plea of Jimmy Page. What happened was Page had belonged to Immediate Records under contract, when Page was producing John Mayall and The Bluesbreaker's "I'm Your Witchdoctor"/"Telephone Blues" single, he mentioned to the people at Immediate Records that him and Clapton had also made some tapes of blues standards (the session was done after a JM & TB concert - which Beck and Page went to, at Page's house.) Page was able to persuade Immediate Records to at least have his friends overdub some instruments on the songs. The friends were Mick Jagger(harmonica), Ian Stewart(piano), Chris Winters(drums) and Bill Wyman(bass). The songs were scattered over three different Various Artists "British Blues Volume" Lp's (I-III). Those songs have been reshuffled, reissued or even released in part on many various artists albums. They were released in the US and are available on CD.
Back to the Yardbirds, Beck's first recording session with them turned out to be an instrumental song (with songwriting credit reading 'Beck/Relf') called "Steeled Blues". The song, as the title implies is basically a slide guitar/harmonica duet. The song was released as a B-side of "Heartful Of Soul" released the following June. The Yardbirds did some more sessions for songs, but the one standout song "Heartful Of Soul" has a story of it's own. The songwriter was once again Graham Gouldman (who later went on to be known first solo, then 10cc). Once again, session men were added to the recording session. Two Indian musicians were proceeding to play a tabla and a sitar. Beck arrived late for the session when the musicians were trying to get the timing right. Beck thought that he could probably imitate the sound of the sitar by using his Telecaster guitar through his Tonebender fuzz box. He was right, and after two takes - it was on tape. The tabla player remained on the session and for those of you who are interested, the sitar version was released on the "Shapes Of Things" 7 record box set in England during 1984 (for those living in the US; that song and other important Beck rarities are found on the "Blues, Backtracks and Shapes Of Things" CD. Sony Music Special Products A2K 48658, issued in 1991.)
"Hearful Of Soul" (with Beck playing on it) not only was the first pop song to feature it's Eastern sounding guitar, but also the first noted use of the fuzzbox. Over the years so much has been circulating about the use of fuzz or feedback (which we'll cover soon). Jimmy Page also had a fuzzbox, that's him playing guitar through a fuzzbox on the Who's "Bald Headed Woman" - the B-side of "I Can't Explain" single which was released in January 1965. Beck had used the fuzz box for a while, he claims he had one built for him around 1963 by Roger Mayer, who also designed gadgets and things for the guitar for Jimmy Page (later he would work on Jimi Hendrix's guitars). There were other songs using distortion or fuzz, but they were just album tracks like the "2000 Pound Bee" by The Ventures (which Page cites as his influence for fuzz sound). Another song using distortion was Link Wray and his Ray Men's "Rumble" from 1958. Beck himself played guitar through a fuzzbox for "Come Back Baby" by Screamin Lord Sutch, which was released on a single in England during 1964. Another important song released that year was the Kinks "You Really Got Me" (which to this day is a controversial matter regarding if it was Jimmy Page or Dave Davies playing the guitar on it). At least for this song we know how Dave Davies got the sound - he ripped up the speaker with a knife then played his guitar through it! It can be safely said that it was Jeff Beck who consistently used fuzz - hit single after hit single during his stay with the Yardbirds. Dick Wyzanski told me in a letter, "Actually the fuzz box was imitating a natural by-product of what was happening naturally with some guitarists experiments with distortion."
During March, the Yardbirds "For Your Love" single was in the British pop charts and soon reached #3. The band was invited to 'mime' "For Your Love" on the English TV show "Ready Steady Go!". This was Beck's first TV appearance. What followed after this was photo sessions, more TV, gigs, interviews and more recording sessions. Beck's first gig with the Yardbirds was on March 27 at Fairfield Hall in Croydon. On stage Beck would mess with guitar feedback, play guitar from behind his head, play unbelievable solos and drive audiences wild. Slowly the R&B songs were being dropped in favor of the newer material. A tour of England was booked with the Kinks and Goldie And The Gingerbreads. The tour ran from April 30 to May 23. Following that some Scottish dates which might have been cancelled. The Yardbirds had also played a tour with The Walker Brothers. On that tour Beck purchased John Walker's Fender Esquire guitar for 70 pounds.
In June the YBs next single was released, "Heartful Of Soul"/"Steeled Blues" in both the US and England. It charted in both places - at #9 and #2 repectfully. The YBs had been recording whenever they could from April to this time. An album containing some Clapton recordings and new ones was put together and titled "For Your Love" for a US release only. Beck is shown on the cover - playing a piano! What also is misrepresenting is that he in only featured on three songs; "I'm Not Talking", "I Ain't Done Wrong" and "My Girl Sloopy" (which is actually "Hang On Sloopy"). The album hit the charts at #99.
A tour of the US was booked which ran during August and September. Before leaving for the US, Beck gave Jimmy Page his old Telecaster guitar as a gift. During the US tour, Gomelski arranged to have the YBs record at two popular recording studios; Sun Studios in Memphis, Tennessee (where Elvis Presley among others recorded) and Chess Studios in Chicago, Illinios (where all the blues artists the YBs liked had recorded). Out of five songs recorded, two of them became hit singles, they were "I'm A Man" and "Shapes Of Things" - both recorded at Chess Studios in September ("New York City Blues" was recorded as well in Aug/Sept. "You're A Better Man Than I" and "Train Kept A Rollin" were recorded at Sun Studios.)
The Yardbirds were experimenting with rock music in the meantime. They somehow managed to take and combine rock, blues, gospel, oriental sounds and even chants to create their own sound. It's been said that the YBs invented psychedelia. In October another single was released "Evil Hearted You"/"Still I'm Sad". The A-side charted at #3 in England. The single was not released in the US. In case there is some question as to why British and US singles varied - or why Lps were to be only released in one country, the answer is because in England the YBs singles and albums were distributed by Columbia. In the US it was Epic Records (where Beck remains today in 1997). The YBs after the US tour went on yet another tour of England. The band kept busy (but it seems that they had November free, since there weren't any recording sessions or tour). November the YBs next US single was released "I'm A Man"/"Still I'm Sad", the A-side hit #17 on the charts and was soon to be a show stopper, with Beck's washboard type guitar scratching technique down to the middle of the song in which the band completly raves up.
Epic Records released a US album called "Having A Rave Up" which contained some of the Clapton era songs (from "Five Live Yardbirds" Lp) and some songs from the recent US visit as well as "Heartful Of Soul", "Evil Hearted You" and "Your A Better Man Than I". The late Lester Bangs, a noted music critic for Creem and Rolling Stone Magazines commented: (source unknown, was reprinted in a book "Bowling For Supergroups") "The original primal prototype heavy guitar move. Ten million fret-busters have since heard and tried to replicate the chilling fire and ice power of it and failed."
In December (1965) the YBs were again touring the US until January. Gomelski told the YBs they were going to Italy to participate in the San Remo Song Festival. The YBs had to record an Italian song titled "Questa Volta" and "Paff Bumm" which the lyrics were sung in english. Beck refused to play on "Questa Volta" but did play on "Paff Bumm". It had been said that "Heartful Of Soul" with Italian lyrics was also recorded during this time. Beck had joined the YBs onstage to perform the songs, strangely, the YBs won the contest which Bobby Solo had won a couple of years in a row. "Questa Volta"/"Paff Bumm" was released in Italy only. "Paff Bumm" did appear as the B-side of the German "Shapes Of Things" single release. (Also the song is available on CD see discography.)
The next single the YBs released was "Shapes Of Things". Beck displays some good controlled guitar feedback in the song. The single was released in England during February with the B-side "You're A Better Man Than I" hitting the charts at #3. A month later, "Shapes" was released in the US with the B-side "I'm Not Talking" and it charted at #11. The YBs started recording in March their first studio album (since all the others were either live or compilations of Eps and singles). Quite a few changes would occur with the band. Giorgio Gomelski was sacked, being replaced by Simon Napier-Bell. Bell had previously worked on TV commercials and documentaries. Usually he would write and edit them. And he was closer in age to the other members of the YBs. Simon Napier-Bell told Trouser Press in the October 1981 issue to interviewer Jim Green: "One of them somehow managed to borrow from his parents to get a mortgage on a flat and they'd all been living there for three months without one piece of furniture - sleeping on the floor, eating off cardboard boxes." Napier-Bell got the YBs more money from the record company but as far as producing the band, he didn't have to proper experience. (From the same interview as listed above) Bell explains: "I'd never produced a record in my life, but I was going to produce a hit making group. The YBs previous manager, Giorgio Gomelski, had produced them, so I suppose they thought that's how the music business works. I was nervous though. I said to bassist Paul Samwell-Smith, 'You know, you ought to co-produce with me.' he thought that was a generous offer rather than a cop-out on my part." (Napier-Bell also co-wrote the hit song for Dusty Springfield "You Don't Have To Say You Love Me", that title is also the same as his book which he wrote and released in England around 1988.)
The members, Jim McCarty and Chris Dreja have said that Napier-Bell just couldn't relate to the band. According to Jim McCarty, Napier-Bell's only involvement with the YBs was for the song "Over Under Sideways Down" in which it was his idea. Beck came up with the riff and played bass on the song. The guitar intro sounds like violins. The song is based on Bill Haley's "Rock Around The Clock" - but only much better!
The YBs recorded an instrumental song "Jeff's Boogie" which is more a Jeff Beck solo song. Beck was promised to do a solo album. One problem was that Beck would have to sing. One of those songs intended towards his solo project was "The Nazz Are Blue". The song was actually Elmore Jame's "Dust My Broom" rewritten with new lyrics. While on the subject, "Jeff's Boogie" was based on Chuck Berry's "Guitar Boogie". "The Nazz Are Blue" was sung by Beck. On a BBC radio broadcast, where the YBs appeared on May 6, Beck sang "The Sun Is Shining" (which was first made available on bootlegs in the 80's first until it's official release in 1991 in England and later in the US on the 'Beckology' box set).
Keith Relf had released a solo single "Mr. Zero"/"Knowing", which Paul Samwell-Smith produced. The single was released in England during June. The songs the YBs had been recording at Advision Studios from March through June produced a single, "Over Under Sideways Down"/"Jeff's Boogie", released in England during May charting at #10. In the US it charted at #13. Some of the material recorded at this time wouldn't become released until the 70's, more in the later years. Basically those songs were backing tracks of previously released songs. One song of note is "Chris' Number", recorded around May 1966 which wasn't released until November 1984 on an English "Shape Of Things" 7 record box set release. (Again, it was released in the US on the "Blues, Backtracks and Shapes Of Things" double CD, which I mentioned on the second page of this article.) The other songs were released on "The Yardbirds" Lp in England during August where it charted at #20 (The album was re-issued as "Roger The Engineer" stereo and mono. The stereo version has "Happenings Ten Years Time Ago" and "Psycho Daisies" as extra songs. In the US, "The Yardbirds" Lp was retitled to "Over Under Sideways Down" deleting "The Nazz Are Blue" and "Rack My Mind". "Shapes Of Things" is on the US (and Canadian) album, whereas in England "Shapes Of Things" in not on "The Yardbirds" Lp. In the US the album charted at #52. In Canada, the album was released in September and featured on the front cover the current lineup - Jimmy Page (but no Paul Samwell-Smith), Jimmy Page is not playing on the album. Mono versions on "Over Under Sideways Down" Lp have different lead guitar solos on the songs "Lost Woman", "He's Always There" and "Hot House Of Omagarahid". Expect to pay around $30 for mint condition copies of these albums if you can find them!
"The Yardbirds" Lp was recorded in only 5 days. The band without Beck, had the songs worked out in the studio and they called Beck in to add his guitar. Some songs are blues songs rewritten and retitled, "Lost Woman" is actually Jack Daugherty's "Someone To Love". The song features Relf's harmonica and Beck's guitar feedback/solos trading. Other than the BBC radio broadcast on which Beck sang "The Sun Is Shining", "The Nazz Are Blue" sung by Beck marks it's debut on vinyl. The other songs on the album are varied - "I Can't Make Your Way" is more pop/country, "Hot House Of Omagarashis" is more experimental/psychedelic sounding. The mono version of this song is on "Beckology" box set. "Turn Into Earth" and "Ever Since The World Began" don't sound like anything the YBs have ever recorded before. "What Do You Want" is one of the better songs and a chance to hear alot of Beck's guitar work. "He's Always There" is more of a jam. (See discography for more details on the backing tracks that were released. It should be pointed out that "The Nazz Are Blue" as an instrumental track was released as "Jeff's Blues" on the "Shapes Of Things" 7 record box set and on the CD "Blues, Backtracks and Shapes Of Things". "What Do You Want" as an instrumental track is available on those two records also. Out of all the songs on "The Yardbirds" and "Over Under Sideways Down" only 3 of those songs made it into singles! They are "Shapes Of Things" (which again is not on "The Yardbirds" Lp), "Over Under Sideways Down" and "The Nazz Are Blue" which wouldn't become available on a single until November 1966 in the U.S..
To add to the somewhat unpopularity of this album, most of the time the hit singles made it onto compilation albums instead of allowing these songs any inclusion. (It's kind of amusing seeing Jimmy Page with the other YBs pictured a "Greatest Hits" Lp when he's not even on any of the songs!) Thanks to the renewed interest in the YBs and the CD craze, alot of the misrepresentaion has been cleared up. Also, some songs are being released to this very day (1992) for the first time. (Keep releasing those songs record companies - there is a market out here for that material.)
Prior to "The Yardbirds Lp release, the Yardbirds were touring England. On one of those occasions at the May Ball (in May) held at Oxford College it was announced by Paul Samwell-Smith that it was his last appearance with the band. He wanted to start producing other acts. The concert was a disaster with Keith Relf drunk and falling over. The Yardbirds were in need of a bass player and the only possible choice was Jimmy Page, who happened to there that night. Jimmy Page picks up the story, he told Nick Kent (reprinted in CREEM Magazine 197?): "Paul Samwell-Smith just blew up and said 'I can't stand this anymore. I'm going to leave the group - and if I was you Keith I'd do the same thing.' And that was when he left. They were stuck of course so I said ' well, I'll play.' I started out at the Marquee playing bass (the date sometime in June) an instrument I'd never played before, and that was how it came about."
During this period with Jimmy Page, alot of information has circulated either incorrectly or not in it's entirety. Beck said that Page played bass onstage about four times, Page said is was about two months. Page said he played guitar on the "Great Shakes" US commercial (which has been bootlegged since 1986 and released officially this past summer on "Little Games Sessions And More" CD). Beck never said he played on the song, but why did they play "Over Under Sideway Down"? Could it have been recorded in the summer of 1966?
August 1966...At IBC Studios in London, the Yardbirds recorded their next single; "Happenings Ten Years Time Ago"/"Psycho Daisies". Page and Relf had worked on the song in the studio, had John Paul Jones play bass and later on Jeff Beck overdubbed his guitar and some spoken words in the song. "Happenings" was yet another landmark single - it featured the dual guitars trading licks and featured explosions, sirens and feedback. The song was considered too far ahead of it's time. When released on a single (the English B-side being "Psycho Daisies") during September, it charted at #43. In the US when released in November (with the B-side "The Nazz Are Blue") it had only charted at #30. "Psycho Daisies" was sung by Jeff Beck, mainly because Napier-Bell added Beck's girlfriend's name Mary Hughes in the song! The song was only issued in England until 1983 on the reissue "Roger The Engineer" Lp. "Happenings" and "Psycho Daisies" are both available on "Beckology" box set CD.
Some trivia here, Jimi Hendrix told Beck he used some of "Happenings" for his song "Stone Free". It was Hendrix who was influenced by Beck, not the other way around. The two became friends and have even jammed at two places in New York during 1968. No one seems to own a tape of this either. Sometime around here, as evidence points out, Beck and Page thought about forming their own group. They wanted Keith Moon and John Entwistle who were the drummer and bass players of The Who to be in it. Apparently, they were unhappy with their band and had even recorded and released songs as B-sides of Who singles. (Those songs were "In The City" and "I've Been Away"). A secret session was arranged by Entwistle didn't arrive so they used John Paul Jones instead. Pianist Nicky Hopkins would play on the session as well. This studio band recorded "Beck's Bolero" and a couple of other things. Over the years there has appeared numerous stories of the songs, producers or composers. Jimmy Page told Trouser Press September 1977 issue (to Dave Schulps): "Wrote it, played on it, produced it...I don't give a damn what he (Beck) says." Page told Guitar World September 1977 (to Steve Rosen): "You see on the 'Beck's Bolero' thing I was working with that, the track was done and then the producer just disappeared. He was never seen again he simply didn't come back. Napier-Bell, he just sort of left me and Jeff to it. Jeff was playing and I was in the box (studio). And even though he says he wrote it (Page's name is credited on the record - DT) I'm playing the electric 12 string on it. Beck's doing the slide bits, and I'm basically playing around the chords. The idea was built around Maurice Ravel's 'Bolero'. It's got alot of drama to it, it came off right." Jeff Beck told Guitar Player October 1980 issue (to Jan Obrecht): "And I don't care what he says (Page) I invented the melody, such as it is."
As far as producer credit goes, Mickie Most's name is credited on both the single, "Truth" album and "Beckology" CD's liner notes - which even that detailed book doesn't list a proper recording date! (It's listed as 'late 1966 or early 1967'.) Since Page confirms that Napier-Bell at first produced the song, this would have to somewhere before November. Simon Napier-Bell told Trouser Press October 1981 issue (to Jim Green): "I produced a track with Jeff called 'Beck's Bolero' which Mickie Most put his name on later. Take your name off Mickie, and give it back to me! He took over producing the Yardbirds and Jeff wanted that track as a B-side for "Hi Ho Silver Lining". I let him have it and he put his name on it. Talk about naive, I just said, 'What the hell, I don't need it.' I didn't really - but that track became a rock milestone."
Everyone except Hopkins was going to join this newly assembled band. When the role of lead singer was discussed, Steve Winwood and Steve Marriot were approached. A message from Marriot's management threatened Page to stay away. After that both the YBs and The Who went on tour and the idea never took off from the ground. The name Led Zeppelin came from an expression Keith Moon made about the band, Moon said "it went over like a lead balloon" and Entwistle added "more like a Zeppelin."
A US tour was booked during August and September. Not that much is known about this except for the fact that Beck had tonsilitis and left the band after a couple of dates. On the tour they played the following locales: Indiana (September), New Mexico (?), Catalina Island, CA, Whiskey A Go Go, Los Angeles, CA and some open air dates. The next date was at the Carousel Ballroom in San Francisco which Beck didn't play at. Instead Page played lead guitar and Chris Dreja played the bass. Those who saw this event say Page stole the show. After the US tour Beck joined the YBs and they filmed a part for the film "Blow Up", this being in September. Beck said in "Guitar Greats" book 1983 (by Stuart Grundy and John Tobler): "(Director) Antonioni wanted the most exciting thing we could do so we played "Smokestack Lightning" but he didn't like that even though we had this incredible build up in the middle which was just pow!" The band then wanted to perform "Train Kept A Rollin'", but because the publishers wanted alot of money for using that song, the YBs quickly rewrote the lyrics and retitled the song as "Stroll On". The YBs spent about 4 days filming their part at Elstree Studios which had a set replicating the Rikki Tick Club. Beck was given a cheap guitar to smash near the end of the act. The song "Stroll On" in the only contribution to the "Blow Up" soundtrack Lp (available on CD in it's entirety, or on several different YBs compilations CDs). The Yardbirds can be seen performing this song near the end of the film. Page is on bass and Beck hits his guitar into the amplifier. One flaw is after the guitar is destroyed - the song restarts over! The song on the soundtrack album features both Page and Beck on guitars, the last recording the two made as YBs. "Blow Up" movie/soundtrack was released in March the following year. The movie caused a slight bit of controversy. In the film two girls are shown bare chested.
From September 23 to October 9 the YBs joined the Rolling Stones and Ike and Tina Turner's Revue for a British tour which ran for 12 dates (two shows a night). This time Chris Dreja was playing bass because Beck and Page wanted to do the dual lead guitars. Chris Welch said in his "Led Zeppelin - The Book" 1984: "One problem was that Jeff couldn't handle the competition and would try to blow Jimmy off the stage. Page was always on the ball, but Jeff's returning fire in guitar exchanges would be unpredictable and relied on volume when accuracy failed." Jeff Beck told Kris Nicholson in Blast Celebrity Magazine October 1976 issue: "All I've got is a sout taste in my mouth from the last time I got stung. It had alot to do with my four years silence to the press. Like for example, in 1966 when the YBs blew the Stones off the stage at Albert Hall (This was the first night of the tour - DT) and all we got was a terse mention. I was so bitter." Simon Napier-Bell told Jim Green in Trouser Press - October 1981 issue: "Jimmy deliberately upstaged Jeff, Jeff got moody and walked out towards the end, fortunately we finished it."
After the English tour, the YBs went back to the US for a Dick Clark Caravan of Stars tour. The bands drove 600 miles in a bus with no air conditioning. Sometimes they played two performances a night. Some TV appearances, like the Milton Berle Show was filmed (to be aired on November 11) performing "Happenings Ten Years Time Ago". Page and Beck were both on guitars. Beck couldn't stand the touring and left. When he returned apologetically, he was voted out by the other members. At the same time Napier-Bell sold his interest of the YBs to Mickie Most and his partner Peter Grant. In the press at the time (Zig Zag Back Pager December 17) Beck said this about leaving the YBs: "I can't think why I didn't do it sooner." In Trouser Press November 1980 he told John Tobler: "When I heard 'Goodnight Sweet Josephine' I thought 'Boy, have you made a good move to get out of that.' But at the same time I would have liked to see them develope a bit more. That's the regret I had, but physically I couldn't wait to get out of that band."
Here ends the Beck era chapter, the YBs remained a four piece until their break up in July 1968. During that time they released a studio album, "Little Games" produced by Mickie Most which was released in the US and had some songs with strings on it. Some singles with non-Lp B-sides were released also and later on (in 1971) a live album. The Page era YBs never matched the success of the Beck era YBs either. Page did though experiment with the violin bow across the guitar strings and used acoustic guitar as well.
Early in 1967 Beck was being produced by Mickie Most (both solo and his new band The Jeff Beck Group) - but that's another story! Although Beck has said some negative things about the YBs, there were some good times with the band and his time was the most creative. The YBs contribution to rock was an important one indeed - there were so many styles (and guitarists) within them. On January 15, 1992 the YBs were inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame (full report in last issue - by the way Beck did not jam on stage with them which I wrongly said). Between all that time alot of compilation albums, articles and spin off bands existed. In short, the YBs were appreciated much more after their time than during. (For a quick recap of the YBs story pick up "The Yardbirds" video cassette which is reviewed in this issue.)
LATE ADDITIONS...Sometime in the spring of 1966 the YBs did a jingle for Yardleys which is a girls trendy lipstick - never released. In the summer of 1966 Beck and Jimmy Page rehearsed the song "I'm Going Down" (Freddie King) - never released. Regarding the 1965 All Stars sessions; it seems there were some outtakes recorded but never released which a German radio station broadcast back in the sixties. The songs included an untitled blues song and and early rendition of "Jeff's Boogie".
The following TV appearances are included in "The Yardbirds" video cassette (exact TV program is not always credited):
The focus of Beck's subtle guitar art in this short essay will be on the classic Beck rendition of "Goodbye Pork Pie Hat" (studio version). However, to warm up our senses to be able to readily catch some of those quick subtleties, let's start with this 'Beckercise' warm up: Get out the JBG - "Rough And Ready" Lp and let the song "Situation" play. Halfway through Max Middleton's piano solo at the 4:12 - 4:28 marks listen carefully for the playful Beck to start scratching his guitar strings - sounding like a cat in heat! Although many people have never noticed that before I'm sure now it will jump out at everybody on all future playings of "Situation". Next, "Goodbye Pork Pie Hat" from either the "Wired" Lp or my favorite, "Beckology" CD. Listen to it once to get the general feel. Next I'll then discuss some things in particular as we go back through certain passages. Beck draws up on a myriad of tonal shades - more so I think than on any one particular track in his recorded career. Although admittedly he used several guitars on this track it seems that every passage has a different model of guitar on it. Beck accomplishes this by using the full spectrum of the guitar neck to get similar notes to sound different. As one listens to the song again at the :44 mark, Beck utilizes a technique of introducing an accented note by imitating a ripping sound like the ripping of paper. This is accomplished by hitting 3 or 4 muted strings right before the main accented note. Anybody that one can find it again at the 1:42 mark. Beck also introduces notes and passages in "Goodbye Pork Pie Hat" by utilizing a technique he developed based on old Roy Buchanan technique that uses the guitar volume knobs to sharpen and fade a note. (Reference Roy Buchanan's "Messiah Will Come Again" and Jeff Beck's tribute to Buchanan "Cause We've Ended As Lovers" (S. Wonder) from the "Blow By Blow" Lp.) Although not as overstated as he used it on "Cause We've Ended As Lovers", it never the less leads an interesting sound twist at the 3:36, 3:59 and 4:43 marks on the track. To visually enhance the volume knob effect, watch Beck at mid solo on "The Pump" or at the intro to "Goodbye Pork Pie Hat/Led Boots" both from the A.R.M.S. London show (September 1983) both available on videocassette (Rhino RNVD 1446). All of the techniques and effects don't add up to much themselves but when blended together by Beck on a classic like "Goodbye Pork Pie Hat" made for a once in a lifetime performance. By the way, what's that about the excruciating howl towards the end of the track? With that amount of momentary spontaneous emotion I think that Beck himself would be hard pressed to duplicate that exactly and with the same feel. That's emotion. That's art. That's Jeff Beck.
Sometime in the spring, Jeff Beck recorded a version of The Troggs' "Wild Thing" in which he sang the vocal with his voice altered electronically. Alan Shacklock produced the song (he had done the Roger Daltry "Under A Raging Moon" Lp the previous year) and it was released in England on both 7" and 12" singles. In 1991 the song was released on the "Beckology" 3 CD set. Beck assembled a band for a short tour of Japan running 7 dates from June 1 to 11. The band was once again people he had worked with in the past; Jan Hammer, Doug Wimbish, Simon Phillips and Jimmy Hall. "Wild Thing" was performed as well as other songs like "Star Cycle", "People Get Ready" and "Freeway Jam". (The Karvizwa gig was aired in Japan on TV - which became the "Guitar Hero" bootleg Lp.) Jan Hammer told Percussion International Magazine November 1987 issue: "It was wonderful. Jeff and I haven't been on stage for three years so it was great to get back out there and do it."
Although details are unclear on this following project, Beck had at least started to work on a Rockabilly album druing 1986. The bass player and drummer of the band The Stray Cats had helped out with about 3 or 4 songs and Dave Edmunds was going to produce it. The project was aborted however read on! In October Beck helped out Mick Jagger in New York City playing sessions for Jagger's second solo album. Beck later recalled this as 'annoying' to Steve Rosen. (The album scheduled for a Spring of 1987 release did not see release until the following September.) Between the Jagger sessions and the release of the LP, Beck kept a very low profile - however he was reported at being at two parties at the Hard Rock Cafe. One was for the reopening of the Beacon Theater in New York City (which the Kinks attended) and the other party was for Les Paul's birthday party - at which Beck didn't jam at on stage. Jagger's Lp was titled "Primitive Cool" and released on September 13 in the US (also released in England). Although Beck is not credited on any particular song, his guitar sound stands out on songs like "Let's Work" and "Throwaway", the last song being the best on the album. Beck plays rhythm and lead guitar on maybe 6 songs, the other guitarist is G E Smith (who played in the Saturday Night Live band and with Hall and Oates, an excellent player I might add). For the second video from the album ("Let's Work" had been a top forty hit in both the US and England), Jagger assembled a band with Phil Ashley, Jeff Beck, Doug Wimbish and Terry Bozzio (drums) performing the song "Throwaway". The video shoot was at The Country Club in Los Angeles, CA (they also played some cover songs too, see Issue #2). After this jam, Beck asked Bozzio to join him for a project, but Bozzio was waiting to hear from the record companies which he had sent his demos to so he couldn't really give him a definate answer. Jagger too wanted Beck to join him for a project - a tour. Beck rehearsed with Jagger for three weeks until he decided to quit (sound familiar?) the tour. The reasons vary as to why Beck left; one them he didn't like the idea he would be replacing Keith Richards playing Stones songs. The other reason was he didn't like the idea that Jagger had added singers and dancers to the touring band 'turning it into a circus' (as one Beck associate was uncredited as telling Musician Magazine November 1987 issue). Beck wouldn't have been able to do the Jagger tour anyway because he broke his thumb in his garage shortly after (November). A plank came down and landed on it keeping him from guitar playing for 5 months. A session with Malcolm McLaren was scheduled and also had to be postponed. Jagger meanwhile took Joe Satriani on a tour of Japan. Beck appeared on Phillip Bailey's "Inside Out" Lp on the song "Back It Up". (One reader told me that he, "remembers reading an article, I don't know where that said Beck's part was taken out and the covers for the Lp and CD were printed up already with Beck's name credited." Maybe not all of his guitar work was used?)
In January 1988 Beck inducted Les Paul into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in New York City. Beck said: "He's given me 33 years of inspiration and good vibes." Beck's thumb had healed around March, before the year was over he assembled two different lineups for work on the "Twins" movie soundtrack. One of those lineups was Andrew Roachford, Tony Hymas and Peter Richardson. They recorded a heavier version of the Yardbirds' "Train Kept A Rollin'". The other band included Nicolette Larson, Terry Bozzio and Hymas who performed "I'd Die For This Dance" which is a country song with some outstanding guitar solos from Beck. (Both songs are on the soundtrack Lp and the CD contains the extra song "The Stumble" - which in 1991 made it onto the "Beckology" box set.) The last band lineup even made an appearance in the film as a bar band performing "I'd Die For This Dance" - slightly different than that of the soundtrack version and part of "Green Onions" and "Train Kept A Rollin'". In the film Danny DeVito grabs Beck's acoustic guitar and smacks the gangster with it apologizing to Beck. Both the movie and soundtrack were released in December 1988.
Before Christmas, Beck jammed with Brian May (of Queen) and the band 'Bad News' on stage at the Marquee in London. No details are known but certainly welcome. Another jam resulted in the form of Beck, Clapton, Noel Redding, Mitch Mitchell and Jim McCarty at the London Hard Rock Cafe around this time. (A picture had appeared in Rolling Stone January 12, 1989 issue.) The gig was for the Celia Hammond Animal Trust benefit. Celia Hammond was a one time girlfriend of Beck's, Donovan wrote the song "Celia Of The Seals" about her in 1971.
Sometime during the year (1989) Beck joined comedian Lenny Henry on stage (somewhere) in London and they did a song, "Blue Y'All". The song is a blues song - actually Henry is doing a spoof on John Lee Hooker. The song is hilarious and Beck performs some outstanding solos throughout. The song is available on and Lp and CD in England only. (Why do Beck's sessions have to be so hard to find?!) The song in on "Lenny, Live And Unleashed" (Lp# Island Records 1LPS 9937) and (CD# Island Records CID 9937) released in 1989. A video cassette with the same title is also available in England (Palace Video PVC 4031A).
During 1989, Beck, Bozzio and Hymas recorded and rehearsed and album at Jimmy Page's Sol Studios in Cookham, England. The title was later known as "Jeff Beck's Guitar Shop With Terry Bozzio And Tony Hymas". Beck told Steve Rosen in Bam Magazine September 22, 1989: "It's just an abstract, whatever you will type of record. The track itself in a gungho, funk, disjointed type of Prince groove with some abstract screaming in it. It's kind of an idea I had about the sounds that come out of a music shop on a Saturday morning with people screaming and people playing 8000 different styles. But to make it palatable, I gave Tony (Hymas) some screaming samples and he just jabbed them out. They were originally guitar but we turned them into samples just for effect, you understand. We had fun with it." The album was available overseas first (it had made the #1 position on the charts in Japan - where they played 8 dates in August). The album is all instrumental with the exception of "Day In The House" which contains those constant spoken words, 'nothing's being done'. Basically the album is a return to basics for Beck who also explores some new sounds. There is a variety of music on the Lp; Reggae - "Behind The Veil", Blues - "Big Block", Hard Driven Rock - "Slingshot". The song "Where Were You" was originally titled "Chirping Norton". There weren't any US singles released - but the Lp managed to make it to the #49 position on the US Billboard charts. Beck, Bozzio and Hymas won a Grammy Award for the album (Beck did not show up to recieve it - probably due to his other commitments).
Prior to the release of "Guitar Shop", was the release of yet another Beck session, "Malcolm McLaren And The Bootzilla Orchestra" - "Waltz Darling" Lp. Beck appears on two songs; "House Of The Blue Danube" (which was a 12" and 7" single in both the US and England repectively) and "Call A Wave". The first song can be classified as an orchestral type dance/rock number. Beck's solo was used for promotion of the "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" movie, (that's right - on the video cassette of the cartoons from Burger King one can hear Beck's solo for the advertising of the movie). "Call A Wave" has some good solos from Beck (unfortunately I won't comment on the song itself).
Beck, Bozzio and Hymas began a tour of the US on October 25th that lasted til December 3rd. Stevie Ray Vaughn and Double Trouble toured with them. In this case one couldn't call them the opening act because at random either band went on stage first. The tour was called 'The Fire Meets The Fury Tour'. Usually, Stevie Ray Vaughn joined Beck for the encore of "Goin' Down". Vaughn was definately a Beck fan! (He went as far as recording the Stevie Wonder song "Superstitous" which most Beck fans already know the story on that song.) One night when both bands were in Chicago, Beck and Vaughn joined Buddy Guy on stage at Guy's club. On December 16th, Beck, Bozzio and Hymas went on the Arsenio Hall Show performing "Slingshot". The next year Billboard Magazine had a writeup that Beck was recording a song "In The House" with dance producer Junior Vasquez (so far, at the time of this writing November 1992, nothing's ever been released nor has Beck's management been able to confirm this one.)
Very little has been documented from January to April 1990. A European tour was booked where Beck, Bozzio and Hymas performed in several countries. The only info I was able to collect are these dates: Italy - April 23, Edinburgh Playhouse - May 9, Birmingham NEC - May 10 and the Manchester Apollo - May 11. At that last date Beck pulled some ligaments in his back thus cancelling the next two concert dates at the Hammersmith Odeon, London however Beck would play two dates there on July 28 and 29. Other gigs include Paris, France and Uredenburg, Utrecht Holland, Stuttgart, Rome and Milan (videoed)(dates not available). Stevie Ray Vaughn and Double Trouble were not touring with Beck as they had other US dates at the time. In the middle of August Stevie Ray Vaughn was killed in a helicopter accident. A great loss to everyone.
Beck had played on two songs on Tony Hymas' "Oyate" CD (Nato Records B6662669) released in France (not in England as someone reported to me last issue). The two songs were "Crazy Horse" and "Tashunta Witko". Beck went to California to play on a Jon Bon Jovi - "Blaze Of Glory Young Guns II" Lp (which is considered a soundtrack album by some people however only two songs appear in the actual film). Beck's contribution was playing on six songs (see discography) and appearing briefly in the video "Miracle". In fact a video has surfaced that shows Beck recording overdubs to "Miracle" from a control room camera. Jeff is shown doing several takes changing his 'Rat' distortion levels from take to take. After the sessions were over, Jon Bon Jovi introduced Beck to Little Richard.
Around this time Beck went to Ft. Lauderdale, Florida to record some soundtrack music for the film "Days Of Thunder". Four songs were recorded however only some of the music was used in the film and unfortunately not available on the soundtrack Lp/CD. Jeff can be heard in the final race scene and throughout the film repeating a lick in various tonal and octave forms that sounds like a variation of the main lick from 'Escape' which got him a Grammy a few years earlier. On a recent network airing of the film, they chose to use that lick for it's bump in's and out's to and from commercials. Earlier in 1991, Beck recorded some more music for a film - "The Pope Must Die". The recording took place at Angel Recording Studios, London. Beck actually provided the 'featured guitar' to Anne Dudley's score. Again, like most of the soundtrack music Beck does this one isn't available on vinyl or CD (except for a single by Robbie Coltrane - "Speedy Gonzales"/"The Pope Must Die Theme" (PMD Records POPE 2002) 7" single and (POPE 2001) 12" single and (POPE 2003) CD single. Contrary to my request locating a soundtrack album, there isn't one, fans have to settle for the movie soundtrack (which is available in the US under the title "The Pope Must Diet"). The movie was shown in a few theaters across the US around September 1991. Beck plays no less than six different styles of music during the film; classic rock, new age, rockabilly, modern classical, instrumental soft rock ballad and delta blues. The songs credited at the end of the film are not detailed, "The Pope Must Die Theme" is heard several times, although not credited, other songs are heard in the film ("Sleepwalk" and uncredited others). The version of "Speedy Gonzales" in the film is different than the single version (there isn't any backing vocals or spoken Spanish during the song). Also, Anne Dudley and Jeff Beck composed "The Pope Must Die Theme". Beck makes a cameo appearance in the film - as a postman! (I didn't see him the first time, look for the scene when Pope Dave writes a letter to the children at the orphanage.)
Around this time Beck recorded with Buddy Guy for a session on his "Damn Right I've Got The Blues" Lp. Buddy Guy had the engineers keep the tapes running during the rehearsals he explained to Robert Santelli in CD Review - August 1992 issue: "It was that good. In fact, it turned out to be one of the greatest recording sessions I was ever involved in." "Damn Right I've Got The Blues" was released in England on vinyl (no serial # available at this time) and CD and in the US on CD (Silvertone Records 1962-2J). Beck plays on the song "Mustang Sally" (also a single in England) and a video shown in the US and England. The liner notes of the CD state that Beck plays on "Early In The Morning". This is incorrect because Beck's solo was not used at the last minute (when covers were already printed up).
In the summer Beck joined Roger Waters for sessions on his "Amused To Death" Lp. The Lp was scheduled to be released in the spring of the following year, then a June 16 release, but it wasn't released until September 1 (at least in the US - no English release date is known as yet). The making of the animated video pushed the release back. Beck can be seen briefly in that one - which was shown on MTV on August 17, a performance video in black and white is included on Water's "What God Wants, God Gets Part I" video cassette (Sony Music Video 9V49148). Arguably, this is the best session work Beck has ever done for another artist or band. Beck plays on six songs; "The Ballad Of Bill Hubbard", "What God Wants, God Gets Part I", "What God Wants, God Gets Part III", "Watching TV", "It's A Miracle" and "Amused To Death". The CD charted at #21 in the US and the single "What God Wants, God Gets Part I" made the charts as well.
After this session Beck composed and played on a jingle for the C&A Clothing store. The jinlge was recorded at Rodeo Advertising Agency on July 4, 1991 and used only for German TV (50 seconds of music actually recorded). The other musicians involved in this project include; Pino Pallidino on bass and Jim Copley on drums. Beck played guitar and keyboards. With the busy schedule of recordings and session appearances, Beck was heard from in the press four times in 1991. One of the interviews was used in the "Beckology" CD booklet. Beck had the final say in the song selection on that 3 CD set. Released on November 19 (US date - English release date unknown) "Beckology" surprisingly didn't make it onto the US Billboard charts - but then again neither did any of the other important box sets released during the Christmas shopping time (in the recession). "Beckology" received some mixed reviews. Beck's first recordings with The Tridents were included as well as all his other bands ans solo work up until 1989. (See Issue #3 for the complete story of "Beckology" set as well as alot of the other 1991/92 activities.)
On January 15, 1992 the Yardbirds were inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in New York City. All of the surviving members of the Yardbirds were present except Eric Clapton (who was in England filming "MTV Unplugged". Contrary to what I said about Beck jamming on stage with all the stars, that is incorrect. (One fan caught him in the hall of the hotel and Beck said he "had to catch a bus".) Beck told Lisa Robinson that he had tinnitus which is an ear condition - a musicians worst nightmare. Between this time and September, Beck had been to around twenty different specialists regarding his tinnitus. Let's all hope Jeff Beck can recover from this.
Beck had some more projects in the making, he appeared on Spinal Tap's "Break Like The Wind" CD (MCA Records MCAD 10514) on the title song (for about 8 bars). He also composed the music to "Frankie's House", an Austrailian Vietman war film. Jed Leiber (son of Jerry Leiber of the famous Leiber/Stoller songwriting/production team) played keyboards, bass and drums on it. This time it will be available on Lp/CD. In Austrailia it was released on October 8, in England it will be available on November 24 and February in the US, when it will also air on the Arts and Entertainment channel (A&E). In England "Frankie's House" was shown in May on the ITV National Commercial Channel. The soundtrack was finished in April. Dick Wyzanski a noted Beck fan points out: "The first three notes spewing from Beck's guitar during the terrorist attack in Saigon scene makes the last note of "You Shook Me" (from the "Truth" LP) sound like a Brahm's lullabye."
Beck surprised (or didn't surprise) his most loyal fans by finally recording a rockabilly album during the year. The album "Crazy Legs", named after the song by Gene Vincent And The Blue Caps, is a tribute to Cliff Gallup, the Blue Caps original guitarist. The final day the album was mixed was on October 21 and is due in February 1993. You read about it here first! Also, The Big Town Playboys helped out with the album (they can be heard on "The Pope Must Die" soundtrack), they are big in England and perform between 200 and 300 dates a year. Between the recording of the "Crazy Legs" Lp and present, Beck also did a few other sessions and rehearsed with Guns And Roses. Also, some sessions that were recorded as far back as two years were released.
A couple of invitations came and others were cancelled due to his busy schedule. Firstly, contrary to what one of those guitar magazines said about Beck recording with Buddy Guy in Los Angeles last May, that never happened. The producer of the session needed Beck on a day on which he was already busy. The Les Paul session that was to feature Beck on one song never happened due to the producer (Phil Ramone) having difficulties with the project. Another offer came up for Beck to record one song for a Jimi Hendrix tribute album which turned out to be called "Stone Free". Beck recorded the song "Manic Depression" with Seal on vocals. On June 6th Beck was going to play live with Guns And Roses at the Hippodrome deVincennes in Paris, France. He only rehearsed with the band (MTV showed brief clips of them performing "Locomotive"). Beck's ears were hurting so bad that he had to back out. The event was broadcast on pay per view. Beck did however play on Duff McKagen's (Guns And Roses' bass player) "Believe In Me" CD (Geffen Records) which was released in February.
The first new recording in awhile from Beck came out in the form of an instrumental version of "Hound Dog" he recorded with Jed Leiber for the soundtrack CD to the film "Honeymoon In Vegas" (Epic EK 52845) released on August 11 in the US. The CD hit the charts at #29 in the US. On August 25th, the Mood Swings' "Mood-food By The Mood Swings" CD (Arista Records 18619-2) was released. Beck plays on the song "Skin Theives" which was recorded back in 1990. A US promo single was released around March 1992 before it was pulled off potential airplay. Of course, the Roger Waters Lp was released on September 1 (which has already been covered earlier). The latest word (late 1992) on Jeff Beck is if he tours, one can expect to see him play smaller venues. There will be special accomadations as far as stage monitoring so that he can play at a volume level where can feel ambient feedback, harmonics and distortion without subjecting his ears to the punishment of a Marshall (amplifier) flat out. (The author wishes to thank both Ralph Baker and Dick Wyzanski who have provided much of the 1990 to present information.)