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What a Surprise!,
This review is from: Birdland (Audio CD)
It has been more than 30 years since the previous studio-album from the Yardbirds. Now original members Jim McCarty and Chris Dreja have reformed the Yardbirds with lead-singer and bass-player John Idan as their new front man. Since the release of this 2003 album, guitarist Gypie Mayo and harmonica-player Alan Glen have been replaced by equally qualified musicians Ben King and Billy Boy.
I was fortunate to see this terrific new line-up here in Denmark in April 2006. What a concert! It surpassed my wildest expectations. Young guitarist King is capeable of playing all the original Yardbirds guitar-parts with inspiration and conviction. The same thing can be said about the harmonica-playing of Billy Boy. Lead singer John Idan has a very sympathetic stage appearance and sounds very much like Keith Relf. Original drummer Jim McCarty is a terrific musician, he more or less appears to be the leader of the band. McCarty joins in on most choruses and takes an occasional lead vocal now and then. Guitarist Chris Dreja is reliable as solid rock.
I had to buy their new album, which I honestly was not aware had been released. And I was not disappointed; on the contrary. Often re-unions are pale extracts of what once was. This is not the case with the Yardbirds. Half of the songs on the album are re-recordings of old Yarbirds favourites; the other half new songs - most of them written by McCarty.
The re-recordings are very true to the originals - better sounding without losing their sixties feel. Some of them actually surpasses the originals; especially the opening track "I?m not Talking".
The new songs reveal McCarty as a fine songwriter ( actually he wrote a lot with the original Yardbirds, too ). His new writing has the same "feel" as the originals, and new and old material blends perfectly on the album. Among the fine new songs the at least three of them deserves a mention. McCarty?s "Crying Out for Love" is a very catchy tune. Sounds like a 1960?s song; could easily have been a hit in those days.
The bluesy "Mr Saboteur" has a slightly more modern approach; lyrically dealing with the fear of terrorism that people in the modern world apparently has to live with. Great recording with both guitar and harmonica solos. Another McCarty song.
The closing track "An Original Man" is a fine group composition written for original singer Keith Relf. Another melodic song with a beat not unlike the Who?s "Disguises".
Interesting guest appearances from people like Jeff Beck, Jeff Baxter, Brian May, Joe Satriani and Slash add to the appeal of the album.
Fine booklet with lyrics, photos and great artwork from Dreja, who was also the man behind the legendary "Roger the Engineer" cover.
Highly recommended listening!
And a must-have for fans the Yardbirds.