For better or worse, The Yardbirds will always be associated with the trio of guitarists who were members of the band during the 1960s. Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, and Jimmy Page are among the greatest guitarists in rock history and all rose to prominence with the band. Songs such as “For Your Love,” “Heart Full Of Soul,” and “Over Under Sideways Down” explored the limits of rock music. They disbanded in 1968 as the members went on to various projects, most notably Page who formed Led Zeppelin and Clapton with John Mayall, and Cream.
The lights went back on in 1992. They were inducted into The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame and soon after original members Jim McCarty and Chris Dreja reformed the Yardbirds with a cast of new members. A new studio album, Birdland, followed in 2003.
Today drummer McCarty and Guitarist Dreja are joined by lead guitarist Ben King, bassist Dave Smale, and lead singer Andy Mitchell. They have just released a new DVD, Making Tracks, which chronicles their tours from 2010-2012.
The modern day Yardbirds can rock and King is a fine guitarist who can handle their classic material well. The sound is modern and far more polished than the original recordings. At times the 1960s Yardbirds had a tiny quality to their sound due to their recording process, so it’s interesting to hear the music with modern technology.
New material shares the stage with some of their older hits. “Heart Full Of Soul,” “Happenings Ten Years Time Ago,” “For Your Love,” and “Shapes Of Things,” fit in well with “I’m Not Talking,” and “Crying Out For Love,” which were tracks from their 2003 album.
Probably the best tracks are their covers of some old blues classics that the original Yardbirds used as the foundation of their sound. “I’m A Man,” “Smokestack Lightning,” and “Train Kept A Rollin’” are nice modern day slices of a fusion of rock and blues.
The DVD visuals are crisp and clear and the sound is excellent. I always prefer complete concerts but the tracks, recorded at various venues, over a period of two years give a good glimpse into the style of the present day Yardbirds.
There is a second bonus disc that includes interviews with McCarty and Dreja, a documentary of the band on the road, plus two tracks by the Jim McCarty Band.
Making Tracks finds the Yardbirds alive and well in the new millennium. It proves that they are still relevant and shows that the past and present can come together every once in a while.