The Yardbirds Ultimate!

Leave it to Rhino Records to assemble a pretty darned good two-disc compilation of one of the most influential Brit rock bands of the ‘60s. Originating during the early-'60s blues boom in London, The Yardbirds rose to prominence on the scene with its “raved up,” accelerated takes on old blues standards. When a 17-year-old Eric Clapton brought his talents to the fold, the group’s fame exploded. Two more gifted guitarists followed—specifically, Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page—basically ushering in the era of the “guitar hero” (for better and worse).

This collection brings together the early Clapton stuff ("I Ain’t Got You,” “I Wish You Would,” and the fabulous live “rave up"-spin on Howling Wolf’s “Smokestack Lightning"), the progressive Jeff Beck material ("Heart Full of Soul,” “I’m a Man,” “Over, Under, Sideways, Down"), some rare Beck and Page bits ("Happenings Ten Years Time Ago” and the quite rare “Stroll On” from Michelangelo Antonioni’s film Blow Up), and the last-gasp psychedelic efforts of Jimmy Page ("Little Games," "White Summer," and the very Zeppelin-predicting "Think About It"). And it all sounds terrific. Plus there’s a great booklet with text written by the late Cub Koda.