ARTIST: The Yardbirds
TITLE: Yardbirds (a/k/a Roger the Engineer) (UK); Over Under Sideways Down (US)
YEAR RELEASED: 1966
CHART ACTION: #52 US, #20 UK
SINGLES: Over Under Sideways Down (#13 US, #10 UK)
OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Lost Woman, Jeff’s Boogie
LINEUP: Keith Relf, Jeff Beck, Chris Dreja, Paul Samwell-Smith, Jim McCarty
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Only full album with Jeff Beck is a masterpiece of British blues rock, with explorations abounding and not much filler.
SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: The blues is the basis of this, the 1966 classic album does have some almost straight blues cuts. Yet the guitar work of Jeff Beck, and the experimentation by the entire group, moves the band away from a straight blues band to one of the first acts outside the Beatles to mix the East and West.
Even the straight blues songs have a raga tint to them. Beck’s guitar also is punishing the songs, as you hear how overdriven the sound is on many tracks. A track like “Hot House of Omargarashid” may sound like psychedelic gibberish, but as the song builds the chants become a mantra, and Beck just shines over it.
The star of the album, and the star of the Yardbirds as a band, is the US title cut. “Over Under Sideways Down” sinewy guitar lines inspired countless other riffs, and the dramatic breaks of the song add to the tension. It was a shame that by the end of the next year the Yardbirds were disintegrating.
NOTES & MINUTIAE: The US version cut two tracks – seemingly at random. Also, in the UK it was a self titled album, officially, but known as Roger the Engineer after Chris Dreja’s cover drawing of the records engineer, Roger Cameron.
IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, and the key track is “Happenings Ten Years Times Ago” (#30 US, #43 UK), a single almost on par with “Over Under Sideways Down” – the only track with both Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page on guitar for the Yardbirds.
GRADE: A+: The creativity on this album is staggering. The Yardbirds weren’t afraid to try anything.