BBC Sessions

BBC Sessions

by The Yardbirds


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Over the years, the Yardbirds' performances for the BBC have been the focus of various bootlegs. But BBC Sessions is no bootleg. Assembled by Warner Bros. in 1997, this rewarding CD is a very legal collection of BBC material that spans 1965-1968. When the Yardbirds performed for various BBC radio programs, they did not have the luxury of stretching out as much as they could on stage -- they had to be succinct, and that meant that they couldn't get into extended blues-rock jams. Nonetheless, their creativity flowed; if they only had two or three minutes to perform, they would squeeze a lot of energy into those two or three minutes. Most of the material on this 75-minute CD falls into two main categories: tough, gutsy blues-rock and hauntingly melodic, quasi-Gregorian hits like "Heart Full of Soul," "For Your Love," "You're a Better Man Than I," and "Evil Hearted You." The Chess Records school of Chicago blues was a major influence on the Yardbirds, who put their uniquely British spin on "The Train Kept A Rollin'," "Dust My Broom," Howlin' Wolf's "Smokestack Lightning," and other blues standards. When the Yardbirds played the blues, they were far from a carbon copy of Chicago bluesmen -- and that made for some very fresh-sounding blues-rock. Never let it be said that the Yardbirds were not versatile; they could be quasi-Gregorian one minute and unapologetically gritty the next. But one thing they weren't great at was '60s garage rock, and their performance of the McCoys' "Hang on Sloopy" falls short of the excellence that characterizes 90 percent of BBC Sessions. Most of the time, however, this collection is an exciting document of the Yardbirds' BBC appearances of the '60s.

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