It was of course inevitable that the reunion bus would at some point reach The Yardbirds. Never mind that singer Keith Relf has been dead since 1976. Or that the band’s trio of legendary guitarists — Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page — have done pretty well for themselves since then, and don’t need to tread the has-been circuit. But, the name “The Yardbirds” has a definite dollar value attached to it, and original members Chris Dreja and Jim McCarty have formed a “new” version of the band, and have recruited a host of musicians to release the first studio album bearing the Yardbirds moniker since 1968’s Little Games.
What is the result? On the remakes of Yardbirds hits, when assisted by the likes of Jeff Beck, Steve Vai or Slash, these guys sound like a rather good Yardbirds tribute band, which in some aspects they are. On the original tunes they are generally faceless, churning out generic pub rock that wouldn’t land them a record deal if they weren’t who they were. Before you think this record isn’t worth getting, there are some rather good moments. “My Blind Life” featuring Jeff Beck is stellar, but purely due to the greasy guitar of Beck. Jeff “Skunk” Baxter’s guitar on “The Nazz are Blue” rocks, so all is not lost. But calling Birdland a new release from The Yardbirds is a lie. A lie that can, by longtime fans of the band, be safely ignored.
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