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Chris Dreja Describes the Songs

"I’m Not Talking": "That’s just the band — no guests involved. The track encompasses what great energy the band has. It’s got all those little unexpected timing changes and loads of energy. It’s just a cracking track, really—I love to play it. It’s dead honest — the perfect opener. It’s not going to scare people that the Yardbirds have gone all weird. And it says what we are live."

"Crying Out for Love": "When I heard the mix down with Gypie in my studio, we said to each other, ‘It’s giving me chills, making my spine tingle." It’s the guitar playing. This man is original — he doesn’t go the obvious route. That guitar playing on that track for my money is brilliant, so unique. We had a bit of trouble with that track to start with. It was a bit of a lame duck, so we went back and worked on the backing track and it’s wonderful now. It’s very Yardbirds, with beautiful, unique guitar playing; strong track."

"The Nazz Are Blue": "It’s the only 12-bar blues on the album. We are sometimes known as a blues band, but I don’t know if that’s quite the right label for us. Of course, it’s all our roots. I think this song has such a sense of energy to it. It’s sort of vintage Yardbirds in a way. It’s got that great huge rhythm section, then Skunk Baxter flies with us on it."

"For Your Love": "This was a danger zone. I was a bit skeptical about doing it again. We owe a lot to that song because it sort of pulled us out from national to international and set the template for us — that time change in the middle, the weirdness of it. Thank God for Johnny Rzeznik. He has put such a personal interpretation on it that it’s as though you’re sitting in the chair and he’s singing it to you. And Alan put that great harmonica tag on the end, which lifts us up."

"Please Don’t Tell Me ’Bout The News": "That song is 21st century vintage Yardbirds: the drumbeat and the guitar crescendos in the center of it with the breaks. It’s strong lyrically, and it’s got that wonderful 12-bar time change. We’ve just started to road-test this one live, and it’s an instant hit. It gets as good an ovation as ‘Train Kept a Rolling.’ It’s got all those identifying stamps." Adds McCarty: "The rave-up is still a major part of our sound on stage, and it makes an appearance on this song."

"Train Kept a Rolling": "Satriani’s solo is so interesting — he sounds like a wasp in a bottle. It’s got so much energy you think it’s gonna break the glass, but eventually it gets out. That’s what you need for that song."

"Mr. Saboteur": "This is a song about depression, but even I don’t really get that too much because we’ve Yardbirdized it to such an extent. It’s just kind of a boogie-down, funk thing—a nice song to play for a live audience. I like the spatial quality of it."

"Shapes Of Things": "I think ‘Shapes of Things’ is one of the finest things the band ever did. It was the first recording done at Chess in Chicago. They just nailed our sound. It’s a great song to play live. When you hit that chord for the solo part, then a little pause, then you get that BANG where the solo comes in. It’s just a magic moment. Steve has brought something very different to that solo. It’s very Steve Vai — quite pretty in places. Although we recorded the song very similar to the original, he’s done things with it that were not on the original at all—a brilliant job."

"My Blind Life": "This is the one song that was recorded more in the traditional manner, with all of us playing live. Jeff’s playing is unmistakable — you just can’t miss it. He takes notes to places where nobody else takes notes. Don’t know how he does it on the slide. And this song shows John’s amazing vocal range as well. It’s just a rocky blues, really — a good honest song with humorous lyrics."

"Over, Under, Sideways, Down": "We had an inkling that Slash was going to play on this, so we designed an elongated rock ending to it, to let it breathe and give Slash the opportunity to crawl all over it in his inimitable manner. Unlike some of the other players, Slash plays pretty classic rock guitar, so this was a perfect vehicle for him."

"Mr. You're A Better Man Than I": "We invited Brian May to the last gig on our tour at the Royal Albert Hall. He’s a very sweet man and had always dug the band, this track in particular. His contribution is a bit like this sort of majestic beast in the jungle revving up before he stretches and goes for it. And boy does he go for it — it’s the rumbling at the start of the solo that’s so interesting, before this dynamo is unleashed — which, of course, is exactly what that song requires. He’s done that track very sympathetically; he’s played it like a Yardbird, I would say."

"Mystery Of Being": "Rhythmically very exciting. Jim wrote the song, and in his mind it was not meant to be treated like that, but we pumped the song up an awful lot. It’s also got what I’d describe as Afghan psychedelia in there — so very different. My stepdaughter heard it, and I rarely play stuff for her because she’s so ‘cool,’ but she really dug it. Out of all the new material, it’s probably the most trippy, with the chanting and wonderful playing by Gypie."

"Dream Within A Dream": "Words by Edgar Allan Poe, music by Jim, arrangement by the Yardbirds. A perfect example of the three-chord song, a little bit like ‘For Your Love’ in some respects. There’s something deep and melancholic about the Yardbirds too. We’ve not repressed it. I think this song falls into that category. There’s a stunning guitar solo by Gypie with that middle break, which is very unexpected."

"Happenings Ten Years Time Ago": "Steve Lukather does a great job. It’s psychedelic disco for me, this song. ‘Happenings’ is a bit like a miniature rock opera. You get that great riff, explosions, the Cockney voice, all sorts of little influences. It’s immensely powerful as well. We dropped a voice in there like the original, which says, ‘Pop group, are you? You should get your haircut.’ I really wish now we’d put in, ‘Pop group, are you? It’s about time you got a day job.’ I thought it would’ve been much funnier."

"An Original Man (A Song For Keith)": "I remember writing the lyrics. I was at home and there was this book about the band on the table, and there was a photograph of Keith. I remember thinking how much he influenced these rock guys of today, their look and their attitude — I see little Relf copies all over the place. Relfy was the original man in that sense. I just wanted to write some lyrics encompassing what he was. He died young; he was immensely talented, a lot of it unrecognized. He was the real thing. So that’s what really inspired me. The Gregorian chants on the fade very much fitted the reflectiveness of that song."


  • Greg Russo, Yardbirds: The Ultimate Rave-up (Crossfire Publications, 2001)
  • John Platt, Chris Dreja & Jim McCarty, Yardbirds (Sidgwick & Jackson Ltd., U.K., 1983)
  • Alan Clayson, Yardbirds: The Band That Launched Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, Jimmy Page (Backbeat, U.K, 2002)

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