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Roger The Engineer - Over Under Sideways Down CD, Edition spéciale, Import
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Disque : 2
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A l’instar de « l’album blanc » des Beatles ou du Led Zeppelin « IV » aux titres erronés, ce premier album studio anglais des Yardbirds s’est trouvé intitulé ainsi par erreur dans toutes les discographies, à cause d’une mention en petits caractères au recto de la pochette dessinée par le guitariste Chris Dreja. Yardbirds paru en été 1966 est enfin composé d’un répertoire entièrement original, taillé sur mesure pour Jeff Beck. Giorgio Gomelsky n’est plus aux commandes, et c’est le bassiste Paul Samwell-Smith qui co-produit l’ensemble. « Lost Woman » (orthographié par erreur « Lost Women » sur le 30 cm original) est un véhicule pour l’harmonica de Keith Relf, inspiré par le « Someone To Love Me » du bluesman harmoniciste Snooky Pryor (« Someone To Love » était d’ailleurs le titre de travail de « Lost Woman »). « Over Under Sideways Down » et sa guitare en distorsion est l’un des chefs d’œuvre du groupe. Il donne par ailleurs son titre aux éditions française du 30 cm (même pochette que le 45 tours paru sur la sous-marque de Barclay, Riviera, comme les précédents disques), allemande et américaine, toutes trois avec des illustrations de pochettes différentes. Il existe même des petites différentes de mixage suivant les éditions.
C’est avec « The Nazz Are Blue » et surtout « Jeff’s Boogie » que Jeff Beck s’impose comme l’un des grands guitaristes de sa génération, à l’égal de ses concurrents directs de l’époque, Pete Townshend et Eric Clapton. Il chante d’ailleurs sur le premier des deux titres, au riff inspiré par le classique « Dust My Broom » d’Elmore James. Sans être reconnu comme l’un des titres phares du groupe, « Rack My Mind » (une légère copie du « Scratch My Back » de Slim Harpo) contient une partie de guitare sous jacente de Jeff Beck absolument époustouflante. « Turn Into Earth » et son rythme de valse rappelle l’ambiance de « Still I’m Sad » et dans « He’s Always There » Beck expérimente à nouveau le « fuzz tone » qui fait sa renommée.
C’est l’instrumental dévastateur « Jeff’s Boogie » (face B du 45 tours « Over Under Sideways Down ») qui convertit définitivement le public rock à Jeff Beck. Inventif, varié, psychédélique avant la lettre, Yardbirds (ou au choix Roger The Engineer ou Over Under Sideways Down est l’une, si ce n’est la, pièce fondatrice du heavy metal et de ses dérivés.
- Copyright 2015 Music Story
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Ce disque est un original, appelé "Over Under Sideways Down" à sa sortie, il a aussi été dénominé "Roger The Engineer", car le délicieux dessin de Chris Dréja, le guitarisque rythmique, représentait l'ingenieur du son de l'album.
Seul album sorti avec Jeff Beck, ce disque est un classique. La guitare folle de Jeff traverse les titres comme une météorite : The Nazz are Blues, Jeff Boogie...
On retrouve ici la maitrise des Yardbirds qui a l'époque volaient déjà plus haut que tous les autres groupes, Beatles et Who mis à part. Demander à Jimmy Page où a t il été chercher toutes ses idées ?? Oui monsieur il y a 10 fois plus d'originalité et de mise en place dans ce disque que dans "Beetween the buttons" des Stones sorti à la même epoque.
Malheureusement les Yardbirds ne furent jamais un groupe soudé, le superbe chanteur Keith Relf était déjà sur une très mauvaise pente (drogue) et n'apparait aujourd'hui que comme un groupe culte qui a ouvert la voie à tant d'autres groupes : Cream, Led Zep, Hendrix, Jefferson Airplane voire le Pink Floyd des débuts. En fait le découvreur du hard rock naissant et du rock Phychedelique, rien de moins.
A noter en bonus : Happening Ten Years gone et Psycho Daisies les deux seuls titres (fabuleux) enregistrés peu après avec Jeff et Jimmy Page aux lead guitars.
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The music itself is great, of course. As it would turn out, this would be the only real album legendary guitarist Jeff Beck would record with the Yardbirds. Shortly after this released, the Yardbirds lost Paul Samwell Smith, gained Jimmy Page, and then lost Jeff Beck. For a short time, Beck and Page led a two pronged guitar attack, which two of the best songs on this collection, "Happenings Ten Years Time Ago" and "Psycho Daisies," capture. It always leaves me to wonder what could have been if only the Beck/Page era had lasted longer.
The Yardbirds had started their singles parade with the release of I Wish You Would (didn't chart, w/ Eric Clapton),in August 1964, re-working a song written and recorded by Chicago bluesman, Billy Boy Arnold, in 1955. The Yardbirds were first and foremost a "blues band," the earliest to succeed at the genre, although most fans would insist they were far more successful at restyling those blues riffs in a psychedelic or early heavy metal manner, more than into anything that resembled the "blues." Their take on Bo Diddley's I'm A Man set the bar for everyone to follow, transforming Bo's chugga-chugga beat into a rhythmic masterpiece that roars off to a rousing climax.
It was a time of experimentation, of stretching the boundaries of pop music, and the Yardbirds had as much as anyone, in revising the structure and shape of pop songs. Each of their successive singles brought new ideas, new techniques to the table. Jeff Beck had experimented with a sitar, for the sound of Heart Full of Soul, them duplicated the sound he wanted with his Telecaster, instead. Shapes of Things used full-on feedback, in the bridge, as a musical technique. I'm A Man used feedback, and Relf's harmonica, with Beck strumming above the bridge to create the chaotic sound, impersonating a train slowing down, at the rousing close. Considering the analog taping systems used then, to capture the recording, the Yardbirds managed to work wonders with the marginal stereo recording process available to them. Everywhere, groups were doing the same, exploring the definitions of popular music and creating new, unique sounds, and song structures. The Beatles went from She's A Woman to Sgt Pepper's in the same span, the Rolling Stones from re-recording old R&B songs to Between the Buttons. In the final analysis, the Yardbirds' recordings are among the finest from the period, setting standards for others to match, and reaching for new heights with each new release.
This was heady stuff for AM radio of the time, even given the changes inspired by the Beatles, the Stones and others. The Yardbirds inspired musicians everywhere to expand their horizons; blues purists dusted off their library of old songs by wandering bluesmen, in hopes of replicating the Yardbirds success. For a brief while, in late 1966, the Yardbirds contained two of the premier guitarists of the period, Jeff Beck, whose pyrotechnics had dazzled countless imitators, and Jimmy Page, who, as a studio musician, had graced dozens of singles by nearly everyone, from Van Morrison's Them, to the Kinks early efforts (regardless of what Dave Davies might say now); veritably, a roster of artists never heard from again, whose singles shined because Page, the Guitarslinger, laid down a rippling, shimmering guitar solo, transforming what might have been merely interesting, into something that had a chance on the charts.
The first Yardbirds album was produced by Giorgio Gomelsky, featuring US-only tracks and previously UK-released singles. The title-track single selected to break the band in the US was written by Graham Gouldman, who would go on to make his mark as part of 10CC. The band had included Eric Clapton, until he decided the group was headed in much too commercial a direction for his tastes; he left, to be replaced by Jeff Beck, from the Tridents. Jeff plays on three tracks from FYL, the other seven feature EC. The Yardbirds' next album, Having A Rave-Up, was half studio material, half live in concert, a format that hadn't been tried before. The studio material included the powerful Mr You're A Better Man Than I, as well as Heart Full of Soul, I'm A Man, and the Yardbirds' defining version of Train Kept A'Rollin', 3 minutes, 26 seconds of musical mayhem, the likes of which hadn't been heard by American audiences, anywhere, anytime. Countless bands have tried to improve on the Yardbirds take, but it still stands in a class by itself. Side Two of the album contained four live versions of songs the band routinely performed, including a take of I'm A Man.
Almost nine month later, the Yardbirds released their first full album, a vital and engaging collection of original material written by the band, featuring their latest single, OverUnderSidewaysDown. Every song had been polished to a fine edge, the running order carefully thought out, and sequenced. Released in the UK as Yardbirds (later renamed Roger the Engineer), and in the US, a month later, as OverUnderSidewaysDown, although missing two tracks (included on later pressings), a common practice by American record companies when dealing with British Invasion product. The Beatles had experienced the same treatment at the hands of Capitol Records, who stripped tracks from each new Beatles LP, re-sequencing the running order at times and re-naming the albums, so they could release compilation albums, and stretch the product out. Albums such as Something New and Beatles '65 did not exist in the British catalog; now the US releases have been discontinued, the original releases, songs and running order were as the Beatles had conceived them, with George Martin's assistance.
Collectors have long sought out the various issues of this album, in stereo and mono, for the subtle differences in finished mixes. At long last, these have been brought together on this one two-CD issue, so we can enjoy the songs the way they were originally released, that summer of 1966. The songs have lost none of their luster in the intervening 44 years, still as engaging as then. Lost Woman kicks off the album, a rocker with a rolling bass line that propels the song along, with intervals for Beck to flash on guitar, accompanied by Keith Relf's harmonica. The song reaches a crescendo as Jeff's double-tracked guitar howls in feedback, Samwell Smith's bass pulses, and McCarty keeps time madly, until everything comes to a stop, then returns to the chorus for the close. OUSD opens with Beck's screechy guitar line following the lyric line, the band in it's usual top-of-the-Top 40 form, wailing about the vicissitudes of modern life. The song stops periodically for the line "When will they learn..." then returns to the guitar figure and chant of OverUnderSidewaysDown. The song hit the charts on June 25, 1966, entering at #82, reaching it's highest chart position at #13 after seven weeks, remaining at that position for two weeks, and leaving the charts two weeks later, eleven weeks on the Top 100, a very respectable showing for the times.
The Nazz Are Blue, featuring Jeff Beck's first vocal performance, bows in next, a 12-bar blues workout, that features Jeff showing off, as he was wont to do, at any opportunity, from the sheer fun of it. The solo shows his growing ability to master feedback and his stellar skills tweaking his Telecaster, as he wanders up and down the neck, choking it on the verses. The next song, I Can't Make Your Way, I recall being described at the time as a "Gregorian chant dressed up in pop clothing." It certainly offers Jeff numerous opportunities to ply his guitar strings against the massed voices of the band, channeled in one side, with a tambourine atop a high-hat being rhythmically struck on the opposite channel. Next, one of the songs dropped on the initial Epic release, Rack My Mind, returns to typical Yardbirds fare, with a vocal sung against Beck's noodling on the fretboard, as he creates feedback and ringing sounds, before taking off in the middle eight on another solo. Relf comes back in to tone Beck down, and the bass figure walks up and down in the background. Beck's not to be contained though, and soon returns to wail away, until the song fades on a strummed note.
Farewell begins on a piano melody, sounding like another chant, similar to Cream's Pressed Rat and Warthog, or Blue Condition, for that matter, except it lasts for only a minute and a half, where those other worthies went on for several minutes. The second-side opener, when it was on vinyl, Hot House of Omagarashid, starts with a bit of acid-inspired lunacy, with someone screaming the name Jeremy, then bubbles merrily along for two minutes, 39 seconds. Jeff comes in with a screeching solo that explores the song's major figure until it fades away.
Next up, Jeff's Boogie does just what the title implies, offering the ace guitarist two minutes, 44 seconds in which he can riff up and down, or, if you will, over, under sideways AND down, all around a boogie figure, probably lifted from Guitar Boogie, that never strays but pleases just the same, still a pleasure to listen to, particularly the final extro. He's Always There explores Jeff's use of the fuzz tone, at that time a new toy for guitarists. He actually restrains himself, never overdoing it. Keith uses a hollow fish for a percussion piece, sounding like a squishy shoe, while Jeff solos off into the fade. Turn Into Earth actually does sound like a Gregorian chant, with the voices and instruments crammed onto one channel, and the singer on the other, offering a claustrophobic feel that enhances the sense of monks in some old chapel scurrying from prayers to chores, never stopping or slowing. Jeff's guitar is squelched, distant, limited to feedback and the occasional discordant noise, as the song marches off.
What Do You Want sounds as if the band had worked this song up as a future single release, with ringing guitars, and tramping figures ala Shapes of Things, while Keith Relf shouts out the verses, joined by the others on "What Do You Want?" in between. The verses deal with the madness of the modern world, as in the case of OUSD, and Shapes of Things, which may be why they didn't release it on 45. It's a tight piece of pop perfection, very similar to the Rolling Stones Miss Amanda Jones, from Between The Buttons, another aborted single. Ever Since the World Began completes the tetrad of chanting songs, however it does so most successfully, as Keith Relf bemoans the lack of foresight by Man, against a growing background of piano notes, chanted voices stating "you don't need money," while he tells the Biblical tale, until the song emerges as the repeated refrain with Jeff strumming along, "you don't need money," like a grand backwoods revival, closing the album offering the band's philosophical take on the music business. Certainly, the Yardbirds had been taken advantage of as badly as any rock band of the time, their manager absconding with funds, the record company withholding payments, and for a time, a band of imposters touring as The Yardbirds, ripping off fans and doing immeasurable damage to the band`s reputation.
After this record was released in the US, the 'birds set off on yet another tour of America. This one included their new guitarist, Jimmy Page, on bass guitar, replacing Paul Samwell-Smith, who had decided to concentrate on working in the studio as a producer and engineer. The tour was legendary by any standards, erupting in fistfights at times, and end resulted in Jeff Beck walking off stage and out of the band (some insist he was fired) in Texas, for good. He had quit several times previously, but this was to be it. The lasting legacy of his time with the Yardbirds would stand the test of time quite well
Beck and Page had only collaborated on a few tracks, among them Ten Years Time Ago, Psycho Daisies, and Stroll On, their version of Train Kept A'Rollin', recorded for the film Blow-Up. The owner of the song's rights wouldn't come to terms over the band performing it for the movie, so they made up their own words, playing a similar musical structure, one that allowed both guitarists to show their stuff. In the film, a scuffle breaks out, one guitarist (presumably Beck) slams his instrument into an amp, then tosses the fragments of the broken instrument into the audience and storms off the small stage.
It would be a perfect metaphor for the crumbling Yardbirds, as Keith Relf and Jim McCarty left, Relf initially to pursue a solo careet, then with McCarty to create a new band that would eventually become Renaissance. Paul Samwell-Smith had already resigned from the touring portion of the band, and Jeff Beck had had his fill of the strain of touring. He was beginning to respond to the siren call of those who flocked to pop stars, telling him how great he was. Before long, he would announce his own group, introducing a young Rod Stewart. Chris Dreja and Jimmy Page kept the band going, for a while, but Chris left, in early 1968, Page rehearsed a band he called the NEW Yardbirds, including Robert Plant, his friend John Bonham, and Page's partner from his days as a studio musician, John Paul Jones, but he soon switched the name to Led Zeppelin. The Yardbirds time was over, before the '60s were done, and the partners were on to new and better things. In the '80's, Samwell-Smith and Dreja would try to resurrect the band, as would McCarty and Dreja a decade later, but the era had passed. Jeff Beck is still touring and recording, although Jimmy Page hasn't been heard from for several years now. The reformed Yardbirds, McCarty and Dreja, have released several albums/CD's of workmanlike rock 'n' roll, but the best representation of what the Yardbirds were is collected on this CD, and on the Ultimate Yardbirds, a career-spanning collection released several years ago to much acclaim.
Repertoire has really mastered the packaging and the sound on this reissue of really their first studio album in Mono and Stereo.
If you are a Yardbirds fan would highly recommend buying this version by Repertoire.