The Yardbirds' third album (and their second with guitarist Jeff Beck, who replaced Eric Clapton) is one of the very best rock records of the entire mid-60s, a scintillating collection of tunes that plays like a best-of collection. In its original (vinyl) incarnation, Having a Rave Up was split neatly down the middle: Side 1 consisted of six studio tunes recorded with Beck on guitar, while Side 2 featured four songs recorded live during the group's Clapton days (these recordings, as well as several others, can be found on the group's 1964 U.K. debut, Five Live Yardbirds). This may seem like a messy and unfocused way to organize an album, but it works fantasticaly well- the record effectively showcases the unique talents of each guitarist, as well as the distinctive features of both eras of the band's career. The first half is marked by Beck's effects-laden guitar virtuosity- the band's amazing rendition of "Train Kept A-Rollin'" is a hyperactive rush of fuzz-toned soloing and brutal thunderclouds of feedback. Keith Relf's exuberant, double-tracked vocals are equally inpressive. The cover of Bo Diddley's "I'm A Man" is another freewheeling classic, propelled by a storming, air-tight rhythm section and some swaggering harmonicas from Relf. The instrumental break, in which the tempo switches to a double-time gallop and Beck turns his guitar into a pure rhythm machine, is nothing short of dazzling. "Mister, You're A Better Man Than I" burns with quiet intensity, riding along on Jim McCarty's crackling drums and some bitterly sarcastic vocals. Jeff's searing, distorted guitar solo is, of course, superb. "Heart Full Of Soul" is a slice of minor-key mid 60s cool with a few superb fuzz-toned guitar interjections. The folky, melancholy "Still I'm Sad" and the puzzing paranoia of "Evil Hearted You" are also excellent. Side 2 shows off the Yardbirds when they were still a young and hungry blues-rock band, bashing out out songs with more gritty passion than technical skill. It's every bit as good as the first half, a wonderful showcase of rock 'n' roll in its rawest and purest form. The cover of Howlin' Wolf's classic "Smokestack Lightening" captures all of the original's menace and vicous bite, throwing in a rip-roaring instrumental explosion for good measure. "Respectable" keeps things going with a rip-roaring burst of R&B drenched fury, while another rendition of "I'm a Man" (compare to the one found on the first side) features a searing harmonica solo and a raucous Relf performance. Finally, the take on "Here' Tis" is a rhthmic blood-pumper with some of Clapton's coolest guitar-strangling. All in all, a superb little record. This CD edition features eleven bonus tracks, including the Beck-era non-LP single "Shapes of Things," which foreshadows psychedelia with its bold, trippy lyrics, cavernous instrumental effects, and trembling, off-kilter guitar work. This CD will fit snugly in the collection of any fan of 60s rock n roll. Totally recomended.