McBoozo's Mp3 Flashback...
and we'll get started with some Yardbirds!
Smokestack Lightning - The Yardbirds
The Yardbirds are mostly known to the casual rock fan as the starting point for three of the greatest British rock guitarists: Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, and Jimmy Page. Undoubtedly, these three figures did much to shape the group's sound, but throughout their career, the Yardbirds were very much a unit, albeit a rather unstable one. And they were truly one of the great rock bands; one whose contributions went far beyond the scope of their half dozen or so mid-'60s hits.
In the beginning (1963) they were simply the best versed and the most faithful disciples of Chicago blues. They were the ones to replace the Rolling Stones in the blues clubs in the London neighborhood of Richmond when Jagger and Co. became stars. But the Yardbirds, unlike the Stones, had a clean sound and a more serious attitude, both professionally and personally. Nor were they like the the Animals, whose sound centered around the singer and the organ.The Yardbirds' focus on the the guitar was an exquisitely technical contribution to the evolution of rock style.
Prodigy Eric Clapton was at the guitar, and around his sound the rhythm guitar of Chris Dreja, the drums of Jim McCarty and the harmonica of the singer Keith Relf served as able collaborators. The structure of the band and their choice of repertoire got them close to black musicians. They secured a friendship with American bluesman Sonny Boy Williamson (Rice Miller), with whom they toured. After booking a long engagement at George Gomelsky's Crawdaddy Club, the band made their first recordings there, as Williamson's backup band, although those tracks were released some years later.
Their first record on their own was Five Live Yardbirds (1964), full of hyper-kinetic blues, which yielded them a discreet following in the United States. Most memorable are the skillful jams graced by Clapton's solos, in particular the one in Smokestack Lightning, with a spectacular call-and-response between guitar and harmonica.
When Steve Marriott left the Small Faces in 1969, the three remaining members brought in guitarist Ron Wood and lead singer Rod Stewart to complete the lineup and changed their name to the Faces, which was only appropriate since the group now only slightly resembled the mod-pop group of the past. Instead, the Faces were a rough, sloppy rock & roll band, able to pound out a rocker like "Had Me a Real Good Time," a blues ballad like "Tell Everyone," or a folk number like "Richmond" all in one album. Stewart, already becoming a star in his own right, let himself go wild with the Faces, tearing through covers and originals with abandon. While his voice didn't have the power of Stewart , bassist Ronnie Lane's songs were equally as impressive and eclectic. Wood's rhythm guitar had a warm, fat tone that was as influential and driving as Keith Richards' style. Notorious for their hard-partying, boozy tours and ragged concerts, the Faces lived the rock & roll lifestyle to the extreme.
The shambolic "Stay With Me" reflects the trashy rock & roll lifestyle it celebrates: Making a deal for a one-night stand with a woman with "red lips, hair and fingernails," who the singer has "found...down on the floor." After imploring her to spend the night, she is warned to be out of the bed by morning. Following a breakneck introduction (which also serves as the outro), a distorted Ian McLagen Wurlitzer electric piano transitions into a chugging Chuck Berry via Keith Richards guitar rhythm, played by Ron Wood followed by heavy-handed 2/4 Kenny Jones drums, a slide guitar lead, and ravaged vocals by a young Rod Stewart -- it has all the elements of a classic, raucous rock & roll number. It was well-received, hitting number 17 in America and number six in the U.K. "You won't need too much persuading/I don't mean to sound degrading/but with a face like that, you've got nothing to laugh about" -- the song is rave-up rock & roll as burlesque. The song is pure and simple fun. It is filled with short solo instrument breaks and stops before the band re-enters. Released at a time when rock & roll was becoming more complicated, it reflects another era when the music was supposed to make you dance, not think.
Willie Dixon's life and work was virtually an embodiment of the progress of the blues, from an accidental creation of the descendants of freed slaves to a recognized and vital part of America's musical heritage. That Dixon was one of the first professional blues songwriters to benefit in a serious, material way -- and that he had to fight to do it -- from his work also made him an important symbol of the injustice that still informs the music industry, even at the end of the 20th century. A producer, songwriter, bassist, and singer, he helped Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf, Little Walter, and others find their most commercially successful voices.
A postwar Chicago blues scene without the magnificent contributions of Muddy Waters is absolutely unimaginable. From the late '40s on, he eloquently defined the city's aggressive, swaggering, Delta-rooted sound with his declamatory vocals and piercing slide-guitar attack. When he passed away in 1983, the Windy City would never quite recover.
Like many of his contemporaries on the Chicago circuit, Waters was a product of the fertile Mississippi Delta. Born McKinley Morganfield in Rolling Fork, he grew up in nearby Clarksdale on Stovall's Plantation. His idol was the powerful Son House, a Delta patriarch whose flailing slide work and intimidating intensity Waters would emulate in his own fashion.
Musicologist Alan Lomax traveled through Stovall's in August of 1941 under the auspices of the Library of Congress, in search of new talent for purposes of field recording. With the discovery of Morganfield, Lomax must have immediately known he'd stumbled across someone very special.