The star rating system takes into account that these are "Acquisitions Of The Year". Therefore * represents 50-60%, ** is 60-70%, *** is 70-80%, **** is 80-90% and ***** is 90-99.9% (we're talking Pet Sounds or Forever Changes here). The retail price, actual price paid, packaging etc. are not relevant to the rating
Roger The Engineer (79.35)***P 1966, P 1998
Officially called simply The Yardbirds, this album came to be known as Roger The Engineer as that was the name of the front-cover caricature of their engineer Roger Cameron by Chris Dreja, written on the sleeve. It was their first studio album although an earlier incarnation of the band with Eric Clapton had released a live blues album, Five Live Yardbirds, and in America Epic had capitalized on the success of their final single with Clapton, For Your Love, by collecting all their UK Columbia singles to date and an EP in the pipeline, and added a couple of unreleased items for an album also named For Your Love.
Jeff Beck was not a blues purist and steered the band into fresh and exciting musical areas over the next few hit singles, incorporating Gregorian chants, sitar-like psychedelic guitar, backward tapes and controlled feedback.
Only the most recent of these, Over Under Sideways Down, which was created in the studios out of a spontaneous jam around Rock Around The Clock, and its instrumental flip, the self-explanatory instrumental Jeff's Boogie, were included on the album, the rest of which was largely concocted from scratch at Advision in one brief week of recording.
Some of the ideas used on their singles are reworked here, with Keith Relf leading all the vocals with the exception of The Nazz Are Blue which features a rare early vocal from Jeff Beck and bursts into a well-known Elmore James riff in the middle. Todd Rundgren named his band The Nazz in 1967 as a tribute to this song.
Mono was the norm in those days, when few record-buyers had stereo hi-fi systems, so must of the time spent mixing the album was devoted to the mono version, with the stereo mix left to the end and recreated independently but with reference to the mono master. Inevitably, there would be subtle, and sometimes glaringly obvious differences. A guitar overdubbed directly onto the mastertape during mixdown is necessarily absent from the stereo version of Hot House Of Omagararshid, and there are similar anomalies on He's Always There, Turn To Stone and others. Nevertheless, the benefits of the wide stereo sound are clear, and this edition presents both mixes in full using the Yardbirds' own mastertapes.
Bonus tracks include the magnificent psychedelic single released three months later, Happenings Ten Years Time Ago/Psycho Daisies, by which time Paul Samwell-Smith had left and Jimmy Page had joined the band as second guitarist and occasional bass player, and two solo singles released by Keith Relf as a side project
(review filed 30 September 2005)
Everybody Knows This is Nowhere (40.29)**** P 1969
An album I had had on vinyl since it came out, and so knew very well. Neil Young's classic second solo album gives full reign to his guitar explorations, while retaining some good tunes
(indexed 10 January 2003)