The New Yardbirds - Jimmy Page In 5 Songs

In 1966, just three short years after the band formed, Jimmy Page took over as lead guitarist of The Yardbirds and Jeff Beck was out. This tumultuous time saw the band disintegrate, rebuild and transform into one of the greatest rock bands of all time: Led Zeppelin.
Of course this transformation is the stuff of legend and inspiration. Yet even for a lot of die hard Zeppelin fans the era of The New Yardbirds and Page's earlier contribution to the band's history and sound is cloudy at best. Page ascendance to guitar leadership of the band nearly happened a year earlier when Eric Clapton quit the band and suggested Page for the job. In fragile health and satisfied with his studio work, Page passed the gig to Jeff Beck. Yet Page's influence is felt through friendship with Beck and the ideas they shared. Page also contributed tracks to the band's recordings well before he took over.
Here I offer 5 songs as a snapshot of Jimmy Page's influence on the Yardbirds and the congealing of the sounds formed the seeds of what would become classic Zeppelin albums. In these songs one gets the equivalent of modern rock music's yearbook photos.
Choker (Eric Clapton & Jimmy Page)
A great instrumental number recorded in 1965 as part of The All-stars recordings. It's a kind of faster, smoother take on the 'Stroll On'/'Train Kept a Rollin' riff. As the gents trade licks you can hear shades of Clapton's Yardbirds and even a tinges of signature Page riffs. Yet it's all still boiled down to the skiffley blues magic.
Steelin (The All-stars & Jeff Beck)
Beck is featured on this one, but the swing of the all stars of which Jimmy was a member has the feel of a rougher edged 'I Can't Quit You Baby'. This is gritty, smokey blues number is a real gem and chock full of great soloing by Jeff Beck.
Dazed And Confused (Yardbirds and Jake Holmes)
Jimmy Page started doing "Dazed" with The Yardbirds after seeing it performed by Jake Homes - who actually wrote the song. There has been a bit of ongoing controversy over the fact that Jake Homes was never given writing credit on 'Led Zeppelin' or the earlier Yardbirds recording titled "I'm Confused". Page began his signature use of a violin bow on his guitar while playing with The Yardbirds.
Stroll On (The Yardbirds with Jimmy Page and Jeff Beck)
This is a solid revision of the old blues standard "Train Kept a Rollin". The song was featured in the film 'Blow Up' and in the scene Beck smashes up his guitar and throws it into the crowd. This is a great preface to the harder edge Led Zeppelin would give to many great blues riffs.
White Summer (Jimmy Page with The Yardbirds)
Based on an old Irish melody, this song is also an example of Jimmy's use of alternate guitar tunings. The song appears on several Yardbirds recordings and was captured live during the Led Zeppelin BBC recordings. In the latter, Page seques directly into Black Mountain Side. White Summer is a cool, interesting song that showcases yet again Jimmy Page's early experiments, built with The Yardbirds, and pulled into focus as they morphed into The New Yardbirds, and blossoming over the span of Led Zeppelin.
The sound of The New Yardbirds and of course Led Zeppelin spun off whole new rock genres. One new band that invokes the fire of The Yardbirds and early Zeppelin is a cookin' 3 piece called The Lovely Savages. Yet, they do it in their own way with a unique sonic authority. I'm really excited about these guys. You should really check them out.

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