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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ultimate? Certainly, 16 Jun 2009
By 
L. T. M. Liechti "Len Liechti" (Bath, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Yardbirds Ultimate! (Audio CD)
Words such as "ultimate" and "essential" frequently appear in the titles of single-artist compilations, many of which turn out to offer neither the "ultimate" nor the "essential" canons of their works. In the case of this excellent-as-ever Rhino release, the title is completely justified. A better collection than this of this much-anthologised group's catalogue is unlikely ever to surface.

This two-CD, 52-track set covers all the periods of this truly progressive British sixties group: the orgasmic R&B club years, the unsettling search for pop chart stardom, the blissed-out trip through psychedelia and the early moves towards the thunderous blues-rock which became Led Zep. Indeed, the different periods are all highlighted in the track listing, which discerns the Georgio Gomelsky, Simon Napier-Bell and Peter Grant eras. The ragged and inadvisable partnership with Mickie Most is also well documented.

And documentation is the name of the game: the included 56-page booklet is of the highest order, with numerous well-reproduced photographs, a concise yet entertaining band history from an American perspective and excellent track summaries by the late Cub Koda, who does a job for the Yardbirds comparable to that of Andrew Sandoval for the Monkees. The splendid production quality is continued in the heavy slipcase and twin library cases for the discs.

I won't dwell too long on the contents, as the track list speaks for itself, but to highlight a few items: the live rendition of Smokestack Lightning is surely the best white-boy garage band blues performance ever committed to record; Beck's Jeff's Boogie is the craziest and most accomplished spoof on Les Paul's playing you're ever likely to hear - and no sped-up tape effects required, either; Happenings Ten Years Time Ago is perhaps the best psych single ever, even beating Dantalion's Chariot's wondrous Madman Running Through The Fields. There are even a few turkeys deliberately included, which make for interesting, if less inspiring listening: the turgid single in Italian (why?), Questa Volta, and Relf's unnecessary cover of Ha Ha Said The Clown with Rick Nielsen (yes, that one) on organ (really!).

As for those three guitarists, it's Beck's stellar contributions throughout his tenure with the Yardbirds that strengthen the case for him as the most inventive and gifted guitarist of the era. Clapton's early playing comes across as more diffident and often shaded by the ferocious harp work of Keith Relf, while the offerings of the erstwhile session player Page sometimes come across as rather too tasteful, the full-blown gutsy renditions of the Zep era only occasionally starting to surface.

In my opinion, again, the Yardbirds were probably the second most influential band of the sixties, after those Moptops - and that influence went well beyond the contributions of their three stellar guitarists. Notwithstanding the obvious limitations of the vocalist and the solid, workmanlike qualities of the other three band members, the quality and energy of their records and of their live act were clearly contagious. Cub Koda describes in detail how the Yardbirds inspired, more than any other act, the American garage bands of the mid-sixties; how these lesser souls achieved local status in relation to the quality of their covers of Heart Full Of Soul and Over, Under, Sideways, Down. His summaries of the tracks are social literature in themselves - never have I read descriptions containing so much enthusiasm and sheer love for their subject.

All in all one of the best "best of's" I've ever encountered, and unreservedly recommended.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stupendous double retrospective!, 16 Jan 2009
By 
P. B. Koeb (Aljezur, Portugal) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Yardbirds Ultimate! (Audio CD)
It really does seem appropriate to corroborate what an tremendous Yardbirds anthology this is. It comes in a very appealing package, with an excellent booklet and a generous running time.

It covers the early r&b period with Eric Clapton, through to "For Your Love", before going into orbit with the more psychedelic and experimental Jeff Beck phase. This period supplies about half of the set's contents, and includes virtually all of the brilliant "Roger The Engineer" album. All of the vital stuff is there, it would seem, including both "Train Kept A Rollin'" and the "Stroll On" rework. The brief Beck/Page period features, prior to things moving into the home straight with the Jimmy Page era.

This double also contains a few oddity tracks, like the"Questa...Volta"/"Paff Bum" single and some less-than-vital solo Keith Relf tracks. The latter could have been replaced with more "superior" selections, but this remains a thoroughly worthwhile compilation of this seminal sixties group.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ultimately...A Brilliant Compilation., 3 Jan 2011
By 
S. Muzyka (Rugby,Warwickshire,England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Yardbirds Ultimate! (Audio CD)
This superb compilation of one of the most influential bands of all time-(certainly in America)- has everything a fan could wish for and also serves as a perfect introduction to a new listener who is curious as to why The Yardbirds are revered so highly nowadays. Lets face it, any band that has Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page pass through its ranks must be worth a listen and they certainly are. Encompassing Blues, Hard Rock, Psychedelica, Heavy Metal, Folk and even Gregorian Chants (Still I'm Sad), this was a band that could turn their hand to anything. Sensibly compiled in chronological order, this collection gathers together almost everything the band ever did and the highlights are many. The handful of tracks from the blistering debut album 'Five Live Yardbirds'--recorded in front of a wildly appreciative crowd at the Marquee Club in London-- will floor a first-time listener (they certainly did with me) as the band rip through a selection of covers that they easily make their own. The famous Yardbirds 'Rave Up' (where the band pounded on a single chord at breakneck speed) is much in evidence on these live cuts and led to some people accusing the band and their larger-than-life manager Giorgio Gomelsky of speeding up the tapes. They didn't. Other standout moments to listen out for--Clapton's stunning fuzz-tone lead break on 'A Certain Girl', the compression-drenched 'Got To Hurry' (the song that convinced John Mayall to entice Clapton to his Bluesbreakers), the faultless run of Jeff Beck period singles culminating in the astonishing 'Happenings Ten Years Time Ago'-One of only two tracks to feature the twin lead guitar assault of Beck and Jimmy Page, and some real underrated gems such as 'Turn Into Earth'--a truly haunting number-- 'Lost Woman' and 'Think About It', which is from the Jimmy Page era and as well as boasting a killer riff contains a rather familiar guitar solo to Led Zeppelin fans (Page recycled it almost note-for-note in 'Dazed And Confused'). Let's also take the time here to tip our hats to the other members. The faultless rhythm section of Chris Dreja, Paul Samwell-Smith and Jim McCarty and the vocals and Harmonica playing of Keith Relf (all the more impressive considering he only had one lung) are often forgotten amid the constant plaudits doled out to the guitarists (Which they richly deserve of course). The only (slight) criticism I have of this compilation is in the sound. It's extremely 'toppy', so don't have your treble up too much unless you want your ears to bleed. It's also very loud, but I'm not complaining about that!! Simply the best Yardbirds compilation there is, so buy it and when you've done that make sure you purchase the complete 'Five Live Yardbirds' and 'Roger The Engineer' albums as well (the Repertoire releases are the best ones to go for). Then sit back and enjoy.
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27 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fitting tribute to a seminal band, 15 Aug 2001
This review is from: The Yardbirds Ultimate! (Audio CD)
Emerging from the early '60's Crawdaddy scene, The Yardbirds quickly established themselves as an R&B outfit to be reckoned with. Fronted by Keith Relf and featuring ol'Slowhand himself, they simply stormed through classics like "Honey in your Hips", "I ain't got you" & "Good morning little schoolgirl" before scoring a top three hit with "For your love" After this, Clapton left & the young Jeff Beck was recruited as the band entered a new phase as psychedelic adventurers. A succession of classic singles, "Still I'm sad","Evil hearted you", "Shapes of things" and, at last on CD,"Over,under,sideways,down" plus underrated winners like "Mr.you're a better man than I" or "Paff-boum" kept them in the charts as Jeff now joined by Jimmy Page,flew the flag for guitar pyrotechnics.They were simply wonderful and surviving live clips display a fierce live outfit. Just about everything you could wish for from one of Rock's seminal bands. "
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning!, 4 Jan 2011
By 
This review is from: The Yardbirds Ultimate! (Audio CD)
A truly stunning collection of Yardbirds recordings. I have read the reviews on this site and whole heartedly agree with them. I want to add that the quality of the sound is so good. I have some other Yardbirds compilations and this one beats them hands down for the sharpness of the sound - I don't have the techie knowledge to explain fully what I mean - the tracks on the CDs are crystal clear not the muddy waters of some others.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A great introduction to a great band, 31 Aug 2014
This review is from: The Yardbirds Ultimate! (Audio CD)
Considering how complicated Yardbirds compilations can be what with the band having been managed and produced by so many people in such a short space of time, this one is definitely the best I've come across since it covers so many bases. From the early rhythm and blues with Clapton, the hard blues rock with Beck and then the incursions into Psychedelia with JImmy Page, all the best stuff is here. I'd probably get this over the Yardbird's studio albums other than "Five Live Yardbirds" unless you're a completionist.
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5.0 out of 5 stars a must!!!!, 28 Nov 2012
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This review is from: The Yardbirds Ultimate! (Audio CD)
finally something that has most of the yardbirds..musts and info on each song..
A true must for any Yardbird collection..or fan...
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