quite possibly qualifies for entry into the Guinness Book of Records
under the "longest ever gap between studio albums" category. After all, when blues/pop legends the Yardbirds last released a proper record (Little Games
, a variable quality affair featuring some up-and-coming guitar chancer called Jimmy Page), man had yet to visit the moon, Tony Blair was a 14-year-old schoolboy and the White Stripes
(huge Yardbirds devotees if their recent live bash with Jeff Beck
was anything to go by) were what you saw on the road at zebra crossings. Of course, nothing the Yardbirds could possibly do now will ever attain the dizzy, head-swimming heights of their psychedelic 1960s heyday, but Birdland
--with some dignity--is certainly not the sound of washed-up, pensionable ex-rock stars sucking their stomachs in and combing their hair forwards.
Reconvening around a nucleus of original members Chris Dreja and Jim McCarty, the latterday line-up also boasts the pedigree of former Dr Feelgood guitarist and co-writer John "Gypie" Mayo as well as guest appearances aplenty from such ostentatious fretboard manipulators as Brian May, Steve Vai, Joe Satriani, Slash and even Jeff Beck himself. And while dismissing the production work on their classic 1960s hits as "crap" may well be a poor excuse for offering these newly buffed-up re-recordings of their greatest moments ("Shapes of Things", "For Your Love", etc), at least accusations of laurel-resting are convincingly countered by the inclusion of some stimulating new material. For example, "The Mystery of Being"--worryingly described by the band as "Afghan psychedelia"--is just the sort of Arabian rock illusion previously conjured up by Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow, the tribute to Keith Relf on "An Original Man" is worthy of the Byrds at their notoriously brotherly prime and "Crying Out for Love" is mature blues with heart, soul and sensitivity. Frankly, one could only wish the Rolling Stones' songwriting skills were still as sharp. --Kevin Maidment
Limited special offer. 2003 album & their first in 35 years! Cameos from Slash, Brian May (Queen) , Jeff Beck, Joe Satriani, Steve Lukather & Jeff Baxter.