Jimmy Page and the Yardbirds went out with a bang on Little Games

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Little Games marked the end of the Yardbirds as we knew them, as a year after its July 24, 1967 release, the wildly inventive and influential London band was laid to rest. Lead guitarist Jimmy Page formed a new band called Led Zeppelin, while bassist Chris Dreja changed careers altogether by pursuing his love of photography, and lead singer Keith Relf and drummer Jim McCarty established Renaissance, a progressive folk rock outfit.

Despite that looming fate, Little Games features a flurry of great tunes. First off, the title track of the album is a marvel, with its hard-driving temper, twitching breaks, ferocious drumming, tumbling bass drills and supernatural six-string gymnastics. Keith Relf’s uniquely lonesome vocals are in tip top shape, and the bands kicks and pummels with might and muscle.

A stark and spooky instrumental, complete with the acid scented aroma of tablas, the Yardbirds’ “White Summer” eventually sowed the seeds for “Black Mountain Side,” which appeared on Led Zeppelin’s debut effort. Streaked with exotic psychedelic decor, “Glimpses” charts the Yardbirds doing what they do best, and that of course, is expanding sonic horizons and adding peculiar hues to the scenery.

The blues-wailing Yardbirds of yore rises to the fore on the pounding rhythms of “Drinking Muddy Water,” where the galloping spunk of “No Excess Baggage” sneaks strands of fetching pop hooks into the program. “Only the Black Rose” is a beautiful acoustic number, and “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Sailor” is set to a quirky, herky-jerky beat that’s impossible to shake.

A bit heavy, a bit soft, and with a whole lot of imagination, Little Games — probably best heard via a mono reissue from a few years ago via the Sundazed label — is an excellent album and really reflects the tone and mood of the era which it was recorded in.

Beverly Paterson

Beverly Paterson

Beverly Paterson was born the day Ben E. King hit No. 4 with "Stand By Me" -- which is actually one of her favorite songs, especially John Lennon's version. She's contributed to Lance Monthly and Amplifier, and served as Rock Beat International's associate editor. Paterson has also published Inside Out, and Twist & Shake. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.
Beverly Paterson
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