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The Yardbirds 

Birdland (Favored Nations)

Original Yardbirds Chris Dreja (rhythm guitar) and Jim McCarty (drums) believe it's time to give their old band its due as one of the flagships of the British Invasion. They're right. The Yardbirds were probably the most underappreciated of the '60s U.K. bands. They were the British act most faithful to 1950s urban blues and R&B, and were in the vanguard of psychedelic blues rock. Too bad personnel switches, forays into pure pop, managerial shakeups, and a lack of Rolling Stones-like charisma kept them a secondary act.

Birdland can do much to lift the band's reputation. Dreja and McCarty's brave new Yardbirds include ex-Dr. Feelgood guitarist John "Gypie" Mayo, Alan Glen on harmonica, and American John Idan on bass and vocals. Eight classics were reworked, each with a guest guitarist (including former Yardbird Jeff Beck on "My Blind Life"). Seven songs are new, although an uninitiated listener could never imagine that these hadn't been recorded in 1968. Props to Chris and Jim for keeping this train a-rollin'.

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More by Steve Byrne

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