As for the songs on this album, I don't see how anyone can complain about them at all. Jeff Beck was long gone when this was made, and Jimmy Page had taken over at lead, but needless to say he took up the duty in great form, and showed he had the talent which later gathered acclaim when he was in Led Zeppelin. Chris Dreja had also taken over from Paul Samwell-Smith at bass, and also did a fine job on this album. Keith Relf sings well, and his harmonica playing is as good as ever. In my opinion, this album was where pop music was at in 1967. The Yardbirds were always a pop band; they just had huge talents enough to deliver great versions of the blues, rock like no one else of the era, and had enough versatility to bring off folk music and the experimental pieces for which they became famous. I find Mickey Most did a very good job of recording this; Jimmy Page's acoustic guitar on "Only the Black Rose" sounds like you are actually there with it. Rockers like "Little Games" (featuring an unusual rhythm pulled off nicely by Jim McCarty) "Tinker Tailor Soldier Sailor", "Smile on Me" and "Drinking Muddy Water" show Page doing some outstanding guitar work in the Jeff Beck mode, and featuring one of the first uses of the wah-wah pedal and the e-bow. The wah-wah pedal was also featured on "Glimpses", about which I fully concur with other reviewers of this record, as being very special, as well as being very well recorded, a true musical venture into surrealism that was unique for its time and prescient and influential over many others yet to come from other artists. Perhaps it is the very versatility of this album of which others complain, but to me, that makes it all the more special and valuable, a great addition to the Yardbirds' ouevre, and very worthy of owning, coming from a very special group out of a very special time in pop music history. This album is a transition from the old Yardbirds towards Led Zeppelin. You will not be disappointed.
Don't be put off by the down reviews on this one. It's a complicated story. Ignore the few commercial tracks of dross that were foisted on them by hit fixated producer Mickey Most and what's left is actually pretty good stuff and well worth the price of entry. It's a tantalizing glimpse into what might have been. If they had been allowed to have a few months off after the burn out of continual touring and space to work up more of their own own songs and produce themselves with decent studio time, this would have been a great album. What they got was Mickey Most looking for chart stuff and a week in the studio,so,program out the three or four pieces of crap and what you get is a 'what could have been' and highly enjoyable it is too!
"Little Games" by the Yardbirds was released on vinyl in July 1967. There are 12 tracks on this album, and the total running time is ca. 37 minutes. Now it is available on a CD from the label Sundazed.
The Yardbirds is the name of a band which was active 1963-1968. During those five years the band played several types of music (blues, rock, and pop) and the line-up of the band changed several times. The Yardbirds is a well-known name, because three world class rock guitarists began their career in this band: the first Eric Clapton, the second Jeff Beck, and the third Jimmy Page.
** Eric Clapton (born 1945) played with the Yardbirds from October 1963 to March 1965. Later he was a member of Cream.
** Jeff Beck (born 1944) played with the Yardbirds from March 1965 to October 1966. Later he performed with Rod Stewart.
** Jimmy Page (born 1944) played with the Yardbirds from June 1966 to July 1968. Later he formed Led Zeppelin.
Other members of the band were:
* Keith Relf (1943-1976) - vocals and harmonica (1963-1968) * Chris Dreja (born 1945) - rhythm and bass (1963-1968)
* Jim McCarty (born 1943) - drums (1963-1968) * Paul Samwell-Smith (born 1943) - bass (1963-1966)
In 1992 the Yardbirds were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. In the same year the band was reformed with two of the original members - Chris Dreja and Jim McCarty - plus some new members. They released an album called Birdland in 2003, and they have an official website on the internet where you can find additional information about their activities.
Greg Russo has written a book about the band which has by now appeared in several editions (and several languages). The 5th edition was published in 2012: Yardbirds: The Ultimate Rave-Up.
During the years 1963-1968 the band released five albums and several singles. Here are the titles of the albums:
Since the break-up in 1968 several compilations have been released (studio recordings and live performances).
"Little Games" (recorded March-May 1967) was the last album released before the break-up in 1968, and the only Yardbirds album with Jimmy Page. Here are the titles and the names of the composers:
1. "Little Games" by Harold Spiro and Phil Wainman 2. "Smile on me" by the Yardbirds
3. "White Summer" (instrumental) by Jimmy Page 4. "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Sailor" by Page and McCarty
5. "Glimpses" (almost instrumental) by the Yardbirds 6. "Drinking Muddy Water" by the Yardbirds
7. "No Excess Baggage" Roger Atkins and Carl D'Errico 8. "Stealing Stealing" by the Yardbirds
9. "Only the Black Rose" by Keith Relf 10. "Little Soldier Boy" by Page and Relf
11. "Puzzles" by the Yardbirds 12. "I Remember the Night" by Joseph Pirollo and Robert Finizio
As you can see from the list, most tracks are original compositions by members of the band (9 of 12).
I like the Yardbirds, but this is not their best work. As Bruce Eder puts it on the All Music website: it's not a bad album, "it just lacks the cohesion and polish of the group's preceding album, 'The Yardbirds' (aka 'Over Under Sideways Down' aka 'Roger the Engineer')."
Track # 1 is not a great song and certainly not the best on this album. Words and music do not go well together. It is not even written by the band. Why did they record it? And why did they pick it as the title track of the album? Track # 7 is much better, and in my opinion much more successful. If the album should be named after one of the tracks, this should be the one.
Looking back, it seems there was a conflict between the producer Mickie Most (1938-2003) and the members of the band. Mickie Most wanted the band to play some pop songs, which could become hit singles, which could then lift the whole album. The members of the band wanted to create an album with blues and rock & roll where the songs could come together and form a whole, as they do on "Roger the Engineer."
In addition, it seems there was a conflict within the band itself: Keith Relf and Jim McCarty wanted to play soft rock, perhaps even folk music. Later they pursued this ambition when they created the band Renaissance (with Keith's sister Jane as a singer). The gloomy "Black Rose" is a reflection of this line.
Jimmy Page, on the other hand, wanted to play hard rock, perhaps even heavy metal. He pursued this ambition when he created Led Zeppelin (with John Paul Jones, who plays bass on the title track). The instrumental "White Summer" is a reflection of this line.
Some tracks are different and experimental. This is not necessarily a bad thing. Track # 5 is different and experimental, but the result is fascinating. Tracks # 8 and 12 are also different and experimental, but the result is terrible.
There are some good songs here - # 3, 5, 7, 9 and 11 - but to be frank, this is not the best album from the Yardbirds.
"Little Games" marks the end of an era. It is mostly interesting for historical reasons. Since five of the twelve tracks are good, I think it deserves a rating of three stars.