How do you reform a band after a thirty-five year layoff and sound so great? The Yardbirds know how. All you need are two founding members Chris Dreja and Jim McCarty to get the ball rolling and a former member who happens to be one of the greatest guitar players of all time by the name of Jeff Beck, and that is just for starters. You then begin to fill out the rest of your roster with some of best guitar players that rock music has ever produced, and suddenly you have the makings of one kick ass classic rock ‘n’ roll album.
"Birdland," their first studio recording since "Little Games" in 1968, is destined to gather a lot of attention worldwide. Dreja and McCarty reunited in Box Of Frogs with Beck stepping in to play some licks, from 1983-87, then they disbanded. I highly recommend the 1996 release "Box of Frogs/Strangeland" on the Renaissance label. It is excellent material and one of the CD’s I have always treasured. This realigning of their partnership is a welcome return to form.
The question I have is why did they wait so long to get a project like this started! They were one of the best and most influential bands of the golden age of rock, the 60’s. Now here it is 2003 and they are poised to take that position once again, and I have no doubt that they will.
What a great album this is. Their approach is stroke of genius from a marketing standpoint. They remake some of their well known classics like "Shapes of Things," "Over Under Sideways Down," "Train Kept A Rolling," and "Mister You’re a Better Man Than I," to remind you of whence they came. This will surely spark your interest in their back catalog of material.... first good move. With veteran rockers like Steve Vai (Favored Nations is his label), Brian May, Jeff "Skunk" Baxter, Steve Lukather (who seems to be showing up on everybody’s albums lately), Joe Satriani, Slash, and Johnny Rzeznik cutting loose with amazing licks on their six-strings on those classic tracks, how could they possibly not sound revitalized? Are you impressed? You should be. Second good move.
What a lineup of great musicians. Now if that doesn’t rattle your cage and shake loose the cobwebs for the older fans the new lineup will, and they will most certainly garner some new fans as well along the way.
Dreja and McCarty now have new members Gypie Mayo (lead guitar, vocals), John Idan (bass, lead vocals) and Alan Glen (harmonica, vocals) to inject new blood into the Yardbird’s veins. Actually, they are starting anew and creating an entirely new beginning with a vital and impressive sound. Idan’s vocals reminded me of a combination of Greg Lake and John Wetton, a potent and memorable vocal stamp to say the least. Tracks like "Mr. Saboteur," "Crying Out For Love," and "Original Man" maintains their familiar blues-rock feel with pop underpinnings highlighted with the psychedelic eastern influenced sound that they have always had, now with a fresh new twist. It reminds you of what was and what shall always be if they do decide to continue recording after this album. I sure hope so; it was so wonderful to hear such great music from start to finish on an album. There is absolutely no filler here, it’s all prime cut grade ‘A’ rock ‘n’ roll. What more could you ask for from a group that has been gone for so long? The world will welcome back The Yarbirds with open arms and this album will leave no doubt that they are back in a big way.Street Date: April 22, 2002