Thursday, 2 May 2019

The Yardbirds - Roger The Engineer (1966)

Over, under, sideways, down....

  

Released July 1966

Eric Clapton had now left The Yardbirds, a group who never seemed to be completely as one with themselves. Guitar virtuoso Jeff Beck had joined for what would prove to be a short stay. Despite Clapton leaving because he perceived the group to be drifting away from blues rock and towards poppier output, this album still has considerable blues influence in parts of it. It also embraces "psychedelia" and "freakbeat" too, where weird rock mixes with the more traditional blues rhythm.

TRACK LISTING

1. Lost Woman
2. Over, Under, Sideways, Down
3. The Nazz Are Blue
4. I Can't Make Your Way
5. Rack My Mind
6. Farewell
7. Hot House Of Omagararshid
8. Jeff's Boogie
9. He's Always There
10. Turn Into Earth
11. What Do You Want
12. Ever Since The World Began                  

It is a good album, make no mistake, particularly in its first half, particularly on the bluesy, upbeat Lost Women, the quirky Over, Under, Sideways, Down and the rousing blues rock of The Nazz Are Blue. It gets a tad indulgent on numbers like Farewell and the chanting of Hot House Of Omagararshid, however. Jeff's Boogie, a guitar instrumental and the catchy He's Always There restore the quality, though. The freakbeat of the non-album bonus track Psycho Daisies is excellent too.

The album is now available in both mono and stereo versions on the same release. Both sound excellent - the mono pounding out bassily from the centre of your speakers and the stereo has excellent separation and crystal clear percussion sounds. I enjoy listening to both incarnations.

This is the essence of the way British blues rock was progressing in 1966, through freakbeat to psychedelia. Weirdness was definitely more than just creeping in and on this album blues rock meets psychedelia most powerfully. It was a real turning point, though. The album is sometimes hailed as a work of genius. It is not. It is a good, ground-breaking album that explores unchartered territory but one that, for me, remains slightly inconsistent.

B-

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