Make your own free website on Tripod.com

 

Special thanks to Mr. Victor Spano for this transcript of a 1974 Keith Relf and Louis Cennamo interview, found on liner notes for the "Trade Mark of Quality" bootleg "More Golden Eggs" - a collection of rare Yardbirds outtakes.

What follows is a conversation between Keith Relf (former vocalist and harmonica player for The Yardbirds and Renaissance), New Yardbirds (or whatever they end up calling themselves) Louis Cennamo (former Renaissance bass player) and Martin Pugh (guitarist on "The Rod Stewart Album"), William Stout (devil may care cover artist for Trademark of Quality Records), Baby Ray (mother may care cover artist for Trademark of Quality Records) and an unidentified female occupant of Mr. Relf's company. It concerns this collection of rare/and or obscure material. But, before you begin your reading, please note the following cold facts. Although "Baby What's Wrong?" is discussed in this conversation, its not on this album (due to contractual reasons). Also, in answer to thousands of cards and letters we've received on the subject, William (known to his close friends as "Bill") Stout is just a "nice guy" who likes to draw album covers. "I would never ever do anything improper or weird. I even love my parents," he was once quoted as saying. Baby Ray however, has been described as a " mad dog", a "savage brute" and other phrases of a less savory nature. "Shut up, man, or I cut off your fingers!" was his vicious response to a simple "...what's happening?" Baby Ray will do anything weird.

Baby Ray: Here it is. The tape starts

Keith Relf: I may have to retire at certain points, you know.

William Stout: Ah, de blooze!

KR: When's this?

WS: Do you know what this is?

KR: No.

WS: "Blue Sands", the flip side of "Shapes in My Mind"

KR: Aw, this wasn't me man - this was a rip-off, man. Let me tell you, this is the one thing you probably have that wasn't me playing at all. It was the manager, Simon Napier-Bell at the time, he wanted to turn me into a pop single singer and there was no time to do a "B" side so he got somebody else to do that.

WS: So this is all studio musicians??

KR: There's been some pretty bad things, you know? Run on, I suppose. ("I Wish You Would" studio version ) What is this, then?

WS: Is this Clapton? This is the long version with your harmonica solo. I suspect that this is the first version and that the version on the "For Your Love" album is the second.

KR: There was only one recorded, actually, of this. Where'd you get this track from? Well, I can't place this one, man, not as a sort of recording period, you know?

WS: Do you remember this version at all? I don't know how you guys worked back then, did you first do a rough studio take and then evolve it into what became the final take?

Louis Cennamo: Sounds like a BBC job.

WS: Maybe.

KR: I just wouldn't know (...laughs) . It sounds so clinical, man. It must have been a studio job, obviously - sort of stripped of any feeling, isn't it? Have you got any live things on there as well?

WS: Yeah....who influenced your harmonica playing?

KR: Huh? Oh, wow, I suppose the first influence really was Jimmy Reed, you know? Ah, Sonny Terry and Jimmy Reed, mainly, sort of got the band going...got The Yardbirds going.

WS: It's been quite difficult for me to trace your influences.

KR: It really didn't influence my harp playing -- just the fact that it started...it's hard to say. I can't place this, man, for the life of me.

BR: Well, could that not have been you --did you play on it?

KR: No, this is me playing. I just can't place which period or when. It's back with Eric, probably done in England.

BR: Did you record a lot over here?

KR: No, we didn't record this over here at all. It sounds like R. G. Jones, actually - a place in Wimbledon.

BR: R.G. Jones?

KR: Yeah.

BR: Who's that?

KR: It's a studio in South London.

WS: It's got that "I'm A Man" ending.

KR: That could be about '64. That sounds like the one before the single version - it's very difficult to place it.

("Baby What's Wrong?")

KR: Where'd you get these from?

WS: Heh-heh-heh-heh -- do you know what song that is?

KR: This is definitely R. G. Jones...where'd you get it from, man?

WS: This is a Gus Vernon tape -- does he have any more? Was there much unreleased stuff of the Yardbirds with Eric? (this question was asked solely out of historic interest)

KR: I guess there was a bit; quite a bit. it's Eric (listening to lead) ...Paul Samwell-Smith was playing through a converted television cabinet with a three-inch speaker, his hi-fi amplifier, a quad hi-fi amp that he pinched off his dad specifically for the recording session.

WS: Were you known around England at the time you did this?

KR: Was I what?

WS: Did you have a following?

KR: Ah, beginning actually at this point, no --there was no real following. It was before....

WS: It was before the Marquee.

KR: Yeah, this was, like, trying to get it. I think Giorgio Gomelsky set this recording to try to get the potential of the band.

WS: What kind of equipment did you use when you started out?

KR: Ah, I think Eric was going through a Watkins dominator. ("Questa Volta") Aaaaaah! (laughs and laughs)

WS: How did this one come about?

BR: Was this one a big hit in Italy?

WS: Yeah, I was curious -- did it sell in Italy?

KR: (Laughs Again) We had this mad manager, you know, who was very European in his attitude to music. He thought he'd get the group to be the first R and B group to ever play at the San Remo Song Festival, which is a very straight thing, like tiaras and a sort of black tie thing. So he ..oh, fuck it all...got me to sing this song.

BR: Did you have a hard time learning the words?

KR: I don't know what the fuck it means or anything -- you know?

WS: Who was singing back up on this: do you know?

KR: No idea.

WS: It sounds like these funny little Italian chicks would come in...

BR: Was that recorded in Italy?

KR: It was done in C.B.S., man, on the Strip. We had some pretty weird managers -- you know?

WS: Do you remember if that was Chris Dreja playing whatever that is?

KR: No, it was the guy that wrote the song.

BR: Isn't this all The Yardbirds? Who is this?

KR: No, it's just me and some session guys.

BR: So this could have been a Keith Relf single, too?

KR: No, no way could it have been a Keith Relf single -- it was probably nearer to a Keith Relf nervous breakdown, really.

WS: Did the other guys know what was going on?

KR: Yeah, they knew what was going on.

WS: What was their attitude?

KR: Well, Jeff was like near a nervous breakdown as well, you know. You got some real nightmares there -- the worst of the batch.

BR: We have some good ones, too...

KR: Was this the "B" side of it?

WS: ...or was this the "A" side?

KR: Oh, god!

BR: This is "Paff . . .Bum".

WS: It sounds very European.

KR: You see, this is why we got rid of that manager. It's because he pushed us into playing such...sort of ....

BR: Was this The Yardbirds? Or was this just you again?

KR: This was the "one of" thing that Giorgio got together for the San Remo Song Festival.

BR: So who's playing on this -- the same people as the other side?

KR: Yeah.

BR: Right. Who made you do these two?

KR: The manager.

BR: Which one?

KR: Giorgio Gomelsky.

BR: Oh, this wasn't Mickie Most yet, huh?

KR: No, not yet, man -- it gets worse.

WS: So, I take it that's not Jeff ?

KR: No, yeah, I think Jeff played the solo ... Yeah, under duress.

BR: When was this done?

KR: When? About early '65. It turned the band into a pop band ...

BR: Was that you going "eee...eee...eee"?

KR: No, that was Samwell-Smith. You really have got some awful things there.

BR: ("Psycho-Daisies") You know, this is the most craved Yardbirds' song of any.

KR: It's getting better now.

WS: Is that Beck singing?

KR: Yeah.

WS: This cut's got both Beck and Page doesn't it?

KR: No, just Jeff -- that's where he sings about Mary Hughes.

BR: Who's Mary Hughes?

KR: Well, he fell in love with a starlet over here called Mary -- I better watch what I say.

BR: Mary Somebody, Mary X!

KR: Mary X, it was over Mary X that he left The Yardbirds...

WS: Whew!

KR: ... ' cause we had to go back out on the road and he didn't want to leave Hollywood.

WS: I read where Page claimed to have played on this cut.

KR: He didn't. Page didn't play on it ...(Singing "everything's swinging there with Mary Hughes...").

BR: I take it that is not her real name ...oh, it is her real name!

WS: Would you rather we leave it "Mary X"?

KR: Yes, you better.

LC: It's there for everyone to hear.

KR: Oh, sure, you know ("Shapes in My Mind") There's another manager that tried to turn me into a singles pop-star, you know -- solo singles or something ...

BR: Don't you like this song?

KR: No.

BR: I really like both versions of this. Who's playing on this?

KR: Session guys . . . actually it was Jimmy Page at the time in a bit of a session thing, before he was in the group; with Big Jim Sullivan and Jimmy Page.

WS: Big Jim Sullivan -- what did he play?

KR: Just rhythm guitar.

BR: Which manager forced you into this one?

KR: Simon Napier-Bell.

BR: You had a long run, didn't you -- of managers?

KR: Yes, we had a few.

WS: Who was the best manager that you had?

KR: Giorgio in the early days.

WS: Did Peter Grant ever manage you?

KR: Yeah, at the end, yeah.

WS: At the time this was recorded were you set to become an international pop star?

KR: No.

WS: You and Scott Walker ...

KR: No way! I was really happy only with the group . . . I did the song on some T.V. shows in England - - " Ready Steady Go " and all that kind of thing, you know? . . . Christ!

WS: Version I I - which was the first ?

KR: Um, I couldn't tell you. I don't know where you've got these from, but . . . see, I did one version and the guy sort of edited and mixed the other one and you've got both of these.

WS: It's weird: it's a ballad song yet the bass is going "boom-etty-boometty-boometty".

KR: So ballady, yeah . . . It's not where my feelings are at.

BR: Well, how'd they get you to do these things - - what were you thinking of?

KR: Me? I was just following what people said.

BR: Did you sing this on TV and everything?

KR: Yeah, I was pretty green, then, you know.

WS: How'd it do on the charts in England?

KR: It didn't.

WS: What was the all - time biggest Yardbirds song?

KR: I think "Shapes of Things".

BR: When were all these things recorded?

KR: About '66, late.

BR: Do you like "Mr. Zero" any better?

KR: No, this was like still being pushed into a slot that I didn't fit in. I only really got off good with the kind of group thing -- you know; really letting go. But you know, this was a false thing for me. I felt it at the time: that's why it didn't work, I suppose.

BR: Are there any Yardbirds on this?

KR: None at all.

WS: Have you seen any of The Yardbirds since the split-up? Have you seen, say, Paul Samwell-Smith?

KR: Yeah, I've seen Paul, Jeff, you know, Jim -- I'm good friends with Jim - - Chris . . .

WS: Do you know how Jim's group Shoot is doing?

KR: I don't, actually, no. I've heard that he's coming over here with it. That's all - I don't know how he's doing.

WS: I don't know if you've ever heard this. ("She Just Satisfies") This is a single Jimmy Page put out called "She Just Satisfies". He did it right after the Kinks sessions ('65) -- He plays everything but the drums.

KR: I don't know -- run it up. It all sounds very dated, doesn't it?

WS: It sounds like old Kinks.

KR: Yeah . . . well, I couldn't tell you a thing about this one.

BR: That's only fair.

KR: It's before he joined the band -- well before he did, in fact.

BR: Have you ever heard this stuff?

KR: No.

BR: Wait until you hear the next one -- the "B" side . . . what stuff did you record that you did like?

KR: -- with The Yardbirds?

WS: Yeah, your favorite stuff.

KR: To tell you the truth I never really dug anything that we recorded 'cause I always felt that when we got to the recording situation it never really captured anything we ever did live. Somehow, whenever we got to the clinical situation of sitting down and trying to contrive it, it didn't work. I think the band was one of those rare kind of bands that only really got it on in the excitement of the situation, of the environment, and of the audience. If I could put into one word or phrase what the essence of The Yardbirds was - one word to describe The Yardbirds - it would be "electricity". But, somehow, it was probably too raw to put down on tape -- but I don't know, really. Possibly if there was the 16 track facilities and whatever to do it we could have done it. We very often did lots of those things straight down in one mono take...and the balancing was, like, up to whoever . . .

WS: This is the other side ("Keep Moving").

KR: Well, flip it on because I can't tell you anything about this stuff.

BR: Did you record a lot of concerts?

KR: No, just that first one, you know -- the "Five Live Yardbirds" at the Marquee; that one and the last one -- was it the Fillmore East? No, the . . .

WS: Anderson Theater.

BR: Did anyone tell you it was coming out?

KR: No, I didn't even know.

BR: Why didn't you ever think of recording live if you guys didn't like what you were recording in the studio?

KR: Well, it wasn't really up to us. The whole thing was in hands of managers, record companies - - it was a different era, man. One didn't have the control over things like we do now. It was a pop era and being a pop band you were kind of manipulated.

WS: You were on the Dick Clark tour, weren't you?

KR: Oh yeah.

WS: ....which is two shows a day !

KR: Sometimes we did an afternoon show and then a 200 mile trip for an evening show and then through the night for an afternoon show the next day.

BR: Did you make any money?

KR: Not really.

WS: . . . off the Dick Clark tour? Surely you jest, Baby Ray.

KR: Dick Clark never paid any money . . . play some more.

BR: Most of these things are live from "Shindig"

WS: Was recording for "Shindig" similar to recording for "Top of the Pops" or "Ready, Steady, Go"? Were there less restrictions?

KR: "Ready, Steady, Go" was always live. This was . . . ("For Your Love")

WS: This is "Shindig".

KR: It's not live, is it?

WS: Yeah, it is.

KR: Oh, yeah -- Jeff playing his 12 string guitar.

WS: What do you think was Jeff's strongest point as a guitarist?

KR: . . . His unbridled spontaneity; When he got in on, you know -- when he forgot himself and just blew - - when he forgot his problems, you know ?

WS: Yeah ...("Shapes of Things").

BR: This one's terrific -- you remember this show?

KR: Yes, I do.

WS: It's the record except for the drums.

KR: Live drums (laughs).

WS: Did you do a lot of local T.V. shows?

KR: This is the Lloyd Thaxton Show.

BR: You remembered, huh? What did you think of those guys like Lloyd Thaxton?

KR: What did I think of them?

BR: Yeah, like when he came running out there and made a fool of himself . . .

KR: I thought he made a fool of himself . . .

BR: . . . and those questions . . .

KR: There was no way you could answer them, you know. I tell you, at the time I thought the whole thing was bullshit and sham - - I wasn't really happy with it.

BR: It doesn't sound like you were happy with too much, really.

KR: I was only happy performing -- you know, actually being on stage . . . actually being in a playing situation with the audience there . . . (laughs at his response to Thaxton's question on feedback) ("Hang on Sloopy")

WS: Oh, the Richmond Jazz Festival . . .

KR: Richmond Jazz Festival - - where'd you get that from ?

BR: This was broadcast over "Shindig".

KR: Oh really . . .

BR: There was a couple of songs of yours and a couple of songs of The Who.

WS: On the "For Your Love" album, was that Beck playing on "Hang on Sloopy"?

KR: Yeah.

WS: Who did the vocal harmonies when you played live?

KR: Paul and Jeff.

WS: Have you seen Chris Dreja since the breakup of The Yardbirds?

KR: Yeah.

WS: Is he doing okay as a photographer?

KR: Yeah, I don't know actually. I think he's doing quite well, though.

WS: I always had the feeling when I listened to "Hang on Sloopy" by The Yardbirds that it was done tongue-in-cheek.

KR: It was...

WS:. . . Sort of a send-up on the . . .

KR: . . . McCoys?

WS: . . . commercial bands - - yeah, McCoys. Did the girls ever scream so loud you couldn't hear what you were playing?

KR: You can hear it.

WS: Did it bother you guys or did you just look at it and laugh?

KR: Just part of it, man, you know?

WS: How did you feel when the audience changed from a screaming audience to a listening audience; was it gradual?

KR: Of course it got better. It was a much nicer situation to be in. This ("Hang on Sloopy") was the silly period.

WS: I take it the Richmond Jazz Festival wasn't limited just to jazz . . .

KR: Oh, no -- it turned into a pop fiasco.

WS: Fiasco? Was it mismanaged?

KR: No, it was all right. There's lot to contend with man - - you've got the worst of it. There's no way you could really perform good music under that sort of circumstance.

WS: Was it outdoors?

KR: Yeah, It was sort of like move about and be exciting. That's about all we were doing in Richmond.

WS: Who was the first guitar player in The Yardbirds to use that thing where he blocks the frets and goes '. . . brick-a-brick-a-brick-a . . ."

KR: Eric.

WS: What did you like most about Eric's playing?

KR: The feel, the deftness - - I suppose the feel for the blues - - you know about Eric, man.

WS: Did you write most of the lyrics? When it says on the label "written by The Yardbirds" . . . Did you do most of the lyrics?

KR: On this song, no. ("Heart Full of Soul")

WS: This is. . .

KR: . . . Gouldman - - "For Your Love" and this one, the first two, right - - the hits - - Graham Gouldman wrote them.

WS: Was he a friend of the band?

KR: He was a friend of the manager.

BR & WS: Oh-h-h.

KR: . . . Then we started writing our own stuff after that, like "Shapes of Things", "Over Under Sideways Down" all of the "B" sides.

WS: When the band wrote a song did you usually write the lyrics?

KR: Yeah.

WS: Have you heard 10 C.C. (Graham Gouldman's current band)?

KR: Yeah.

WS: Do you like them?

KR: Very much - - good band.

WS: Who would come up with the material you didn't write? Like "I'm a Man" (the song in play)?

KR: Who chose it?

WS: Yeah.

KR: Just a group thing. . .

WS: Would some guy say "How about this song?" and the band would say "Yeah"?

KR: In a way it was a case of using the numbers that the Stones hadn't used off the Bo Diddley album - - do you know what I mean? (exciting bit in song) This was the kind of thing that really happened live . . .

BR: Wait until you hear what happens to it . . .

KR: It's the sort of thing that makes you feel happier, really (laughs at George Chakiris) ...can we go back over the beginning of that one?

BR: -- The whole song?

KR: You see, for the program we had to cut it short - - they asked us to get straight into the climax part. Normally we'd build to it. . . nothing really about going at that pace now, is there? Is there? -- I don't know!

WS: There are bands still using all those riffs now -- have you heard Foghat's "Honey Hush"? Even though they are still the same riffs they still haven't got what that's got.

KR: (song ends abruptly) ...what's that?

BR: They just cut you off. Did you ever see any of those shows after you did them?

KR: No.

BR: You never heard that before -- them cutting you off like that?

KR: No, No.

WS: When Jimmy and Jeff were both in the band at the same time did they ever have conflicts in playing against each other?

KR: Jimmy came in as the bass player, you know, and then we switched for a bit...hang on (listening) ....Jimmy played...I'I'll tell you after this (listening).

WS: The only recordings I can think of that both Jimmy and Jeff played on were the thing you did for "Blow Up" -- "Stroll On" and "Happenings Ten Years Time Ago" .

KR: No, In "Blow Up"?

WS: "Stroll On" in "Blow Up".

KR: They didn't, actually, on any recordings play together...they tried for a period to play dual lead but it didn't work.

WS: It must have been Jeff and Jimmy playing when you did "Blow Up". I remember in the movie Jimmy's on lead and I swear that on the record it's ...you can hear Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page -- or was it my imagination?

KR: That's your imagination.

WS: Was that Chris playing second lead then?

KR: Yeah.

WS: Phew!

KR: It was probably over-dubbed guitar. There was never any recordings made when Jeff and Jimmy played together. (End of songs on tape)

BR: Well, do you want to hear any of that again? Out of interest?

KR: Is there more?

BR: No, that's it. If there's any song you'd like to hear again . . .

KR: No, not really.

BR: You don't want to hear "Questa Volta" again?

KR: NO.

WS: (laughs)

KR: You've got hold of obviously the worst, you know.

BR: Can you think of anything else that is not really around? Like, how much solo stuff did you record? Did you just record those 3 songs?

KR: Yeah.

BR: That's all? You never recorded a fourth or anything?

KR: No, no, no --That one ballad thing was an attempt to make me a solo singer, but . . .

WS: Yeah.

BR: Which ballad, the "Shapes in My Mind"?

KR: Yeah.

WS: You'd have been a regular Paul Jones.

KR: No way!

BR: You didn't like anything of that stuff? I think I like those solo songs as well as anything on there...well, except for the live stuff.

KR: You do?

BR: I like "Psycho Daisies" and your two solo songs -- "Shapes In My Mind" , especially; that version with the horns in it.

KR: God, no, man. I was never happy unless I was with the band, just playing full out on the stage.

BR: Would you have liked those songs better if the band had played on them?

KR: I don't think so, no. It was out of character, really, if I speak the truth. It was totally out of character.

WS: Jimmy said you recorded "Tangerine" -- The Yardbirds recorded "Tangerine", that's a song that was later on a Led Zeppelin album.

KR: No.

WS: Was there much stuff that the last band recorded together that never got released?

KR: Not really -- about four tracks we did in New York just before the band folded. I don't think they got released anywhere.

WS: You don't have any of those tapes, do you (laughing)?

KR: No, I don't have access to any of it, man.

WS: Did the record companies ever cheat you out of royalties?

BR: Are you getting any royalties?

KR: Oh, yeah...getting some, a bit, now and again.

BR You know, none of your stuff's available anymore except "Greatest Hits" and "...Rave - Up".

KR: I don't really know what's happened to any of it, man. I don't really keep tabs on it.

WS: It's all behind you, right?

KR: Yeah, right; what's happened is in the past.

WS: I heard there was a 2nd Renaissance album with the original band.

KR: Yes, there was.

WS: Did it get released anywhere?

KR: It got released in Germany and did very well there. Yeah...but that was another funny little story. -- over to Louis for that one 'cause Louis was in that band.

LC: It was mostly us. There's one track that was the second band. It came out in Germany but Island wouldn't release it because the band had broken up. The same is true in other places. They wouldn't release it because they felt hurt the band had broken up just as it was about to make it.

KR: Record companies tend to do that sometimes when a band folds up.

WS: Yet the same record company will turn right around and release albums and singles by studio musicians under a fictitious group name.

KR: Yeah, weird. They did themselves out of a lot of money because the band was still selling pretty well at the time they broke up.

WS: Did you guys have anything to do with that second Renaissance together?

KR: No.

WS: I was quite amazed when I bought that album and it turned out to be similar type music, but different personnel entirely.

KR:...No, nothing at all. The story behind that was -- where's the fags? Like, we packed the band in and gave the pianist the name. He then kept it going for a couple of weeks and got his mates to join him. Then, he left the band and left his mates with it -- then they left (laughs) -- classic, isn't it? They left and somebody else took it over -- a third band.

WS: They're still going aren't they?

KR: Yeah, right.

BR: Does that bother you? I bet a lot of people buy that looking for Keith Relf on it.

WS: That's why I bought the second album. I thought "Hot damn, another Keith Relf album!"

KR: I guess it's a failing of mine; I walk out of things -- maybe its the Aries in me.

WS: Was the Renaissance album at all representative of the sound you wanted?

KR: Not really, I suppose.

WS: Was it like The Yardbirds where it was more of a live thing?

KR: No, Renaissance evolved under its own power which kind of got out of control. I meant it to be more of . . . how can I describe it. . . more of a picturesque thing -- more of building pictures and stuff. I was going to get into electronics and stuff but there was never quite the wherewithal to do it; never quite the bread available to do quite what I wanted and so it ended up the way it ended up.

WS: What direction is the new Yardbirds going?

KR: The New Yardbirds -- well, I can't say it's going to be called the "New Yardbirds"--is going to be far beyond. . . I guess the energy that you heard there on the "Im A Man" and the "I Wish You Would" it'll be that sort of energy channeled into a much better kind of musicianship and a much more controlled direction rather than the way it was. There's going to be a lot of spontaneity and ... I don't know ...(to Louis and Martin) How would you describe what we're doing now?

LC: Ahh...

KR: There's a lot more thought . . .

LC: it's very 'eavy but not very 'umble.

BR: You're going to be playing the synthesizer?

KR: Yes.

BR: Did you ever do that before?

KR: No.

BR: Is that what you've been doing since you have left Renaissance?

KR: I've been experimenting a bit with sound, yeah.

WS: You'll still be playing harmonica, too?

KR: Oh, yeah.

WS: Ah, great!

KR: I should be singing and playing harp, you know, but painting more . . . like pictures in sound is what The Yardbirds were really getting into in a way -- things like "Still Im Sad" . Did you ever hear "Turn Into Earth"?

WS: Oh, yeah.

KR: Well, getting into describing moods which is what we're going to get into now, plus the sort of high energy release thing.

BR: Didn't you kind of get away from that at the end, though doing "Little Games" , "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Sailor" ?

KR: Well, this was the Mickie Most influence.

BR: Could you really call that an influence, or a ...

WS: . . . a domination.

KR: Yeah, it was a domination, man; it was a total domination. It was like the feeling the band had lost direction toward the end and Mickie took it over, I suppose much the way he took over Donovan. Mickie Most was a pop single producer.

BR: But he did pretty well with Donovan.

KR: Yeah, but...

WS: That was more along his lines, someone like Herman's Hermits..

KR: Not really.

BR: He did some of Donovan's big albums.

KR: No, he didn't.

BR: Didn't he do "Mellow Yellow" and "Sunshine Superman" ?

KR: No. (post - conversation perusal of the above albums revealed Mickie Most production credit.)

BR: I thought he did -- I'm not sure.

KR: No, I think the collaboration with Donovan and Mickie Most came towards the end -- things like . . . what was that thing he did with Jeff?

BR: "Barabajagal".

KR: Yeah, that . . . and . . .

BR: "Trudi"

KR: (singing) "first there was a mountain, then there was a mountain, then there wasn't..."

BR: Did you guys start to lose direction after Beck left and Page came in?

KR: I guess we did.

BR: That's where the trouble started.

KR: Yeah.

BR: What do you think of all the new stuff that Beck's putting out -- like Beck, Bogert and Appice?

KR: Um, it's where Jeff is at -- it's great!

BR: Was he always like that -- really heavy?

KR: Yeah.

BR: As opposed to lots of their stuff which comes across a little finer. It has more finesse to it rather than "Boom-boom".

KR: Which ones -- those singles? Those sort of baritone things?

BR: No, I'm not sure who is playing on those live songs but there seems to be . . .

KR: That was Jeff.

BR: They're all Beck?

KR: Mmmm, yeah.

BR: They seem to be a finer sound . . . like a little . . .

KR: What -- "I'm A Man" and . . .

BR: Yeah, there was something different there as opposed to being just "boom-boom-boom" like that big one he did - - that Stevie Wonder song . . .

Unidentified Female Occupant: "Superstition"

BR: "Superstition" - that was like a wall of sound . . .

KR: That's where Jeff is at . . . .

BR: Was he always like that -- I mean it didn't come through before.

WS: (to Baby Ray) Did you ever listen to Jeff's albums before that, like . . .

KR: "Beck-Ola"

BR: . . . but it didn't come through.

KR: Yeah, Jeff's always had a very very heavy guitar sort of sound -- his thing's been a wall of sound, literally, every time.

BR: It must have been the people behind him, obviously.

KR: I just love Jeff -- whatever he does -- quite honestly.

BR: Yeah, what Jeff does, it's the people with him.

KR: I love what Eric does and whatever Eric did.

BR: Yeah, but he'll do anything.

KR: Not now . . .

BR: God knows how long it's been -- two years?

WS: I don't know if you saw the Free Press interview of Jimmy Page talking about Eric Clapton, but he said that the decline of Eric's playing came when he started playing with American musicians.

KR: Mm, I guess that could be true; maybe it just the playing with them -- maybe it was just the meeting of them.

BR: Do you like his solo album?

KR: Which?

BR: "Eric Clapton" -- the one with Delaney and Bonnie and all those people. Apart from the guitar playing, do you like that kind of stuff -- do you like Delaney and Bonnie? That's another way to put it.

KR: No, not particularly, no. No, I don't, not particularly.

BR: Did you like "Layla" ?

KR: Yes, I don't know. I don't like to talk about it too much--whatever anyone does is up to them. It's not up to me to say I like it or not.

BR: Do you have a pretty good memory for those old things. . . can you still remember the recording session for . . . "Baby What's Wrong" which was a long time ago. . . ?

KR: Yeah, well that was about '64.

BR: You can still remember. . .. .

KR: Just about, yeah.

BR: How about "Shapes in My Mind" -- do you remember those . . . ?

KR: Yes, I do. That was done in New York, just me on my own. The manager had together a complete backing track and said, "Come in and sing on it" -- simply that.

BR: Did you have to sing that twice?

KR: Yeah.

BR: So there's two different . . .

KR: Right - - just two takes and he edited.

BR: Well there's both of 'em. You don't know which one was legitimately released?

KR: No, I think the first one you played was the one that went out.

BR: . . . without the horns . . .

KR: Yeah. it's a pretty long time ago. To try to date it and talk about it is quite hard because one has done a lot of things.

BR: Yeah, I imagine it just turns into a blur.

KR: And actually, the things you've got here are all the cast-offs and things that were hidden away. . .

WS: "people's cast-offs on the ground. . . "

KR: . . . and the hardest to talk about, really -- things that were cast out and forgotten. . . filed away. . .

BR: Did you like the way some of your stuff came out, like "Still I'm Sad" ? Did you do "Still I'm Sad" live in concert?

KR: Oh, yeah.

BR: Did you like it better in concert, or in the studio? That had such a bizarre studio effect.

KR: Yes, it did, but you see, performing it live had a feel to it as well even though you needed the studio sound to get that mood. But . . . man, you make a single like that but then when it's a hit or whatever you go out and play it. The audience responds to the memory of the single and then to seeing you doing it live -- which is something else. You don't really play it the way you did on the single -- you can't remember the whole recorded sound. But, they first of all remember that single, then they see you doing it, and that's enough!

WS: I think a lot of audiences come to hear it different, too.

KR: It's a recognition thing, but . . . it's changed a lot, man. Now people would rather hear it closer to the way it was recorded. All you had to do back then was walk out on stage and give some semblance of the recording. The screams would obliterate the rest...that's the way it was.

BR: Yeah, like "Hang On Sloopy" there.

KR: Yeah.

BR: Are there any songs that you're particularly interested in that you'd like to say something about?

KR: At this point, no.

BR: What do you mean -- "at this point" ? Why, because you've heard all this stuff?

KR: It's a mindblower to hear all that stuff again.

BR: Which stuff do you dislike most . . .

KR: I guess those Italian ones (laughs)

BR: . . . 'cause most of that stuff isn't like "Psycho-Daisies" Do you really dislike "Psycho Daisies"

KR: That was Jeff's man -- that was his baby.

BR: Did Jeff write that one?

KR: Yeah.

BR: You didn't do anything on that one at all?

KR: No.

BR: Was the rest of the group on it?

KR: Yeah.

BR: Did you like that?

KR: Yeah, sure.

BR: Some of that isn't too bad . . .

KR: Some of it's fine. I dug the stuff like "I'm a Man" and "I Wish You Would" and the stuff off the Lloyd Thaxton or "Shindig" . That was toward the end of it but the early stuff that you played there -- like the Italian stuff and "Shapes in My Mind" -- I didn't like that at all. It was terrible.

BR: When you recorded those Italian songs did you know the Stones had recorded an Italian song?

KR: No, did they?

BR: Yeah, they recorded "As Tears Go By" in Italian.

KR: Oh, I didn't know that.

BR: it's really bizarre; they added a harpsichord on to it.

KR: Oh, no ...

BR: How close were you guys to other groups? I mean, did you listen to a Stones single when it came out and think, "that's good," or "that's bad," or ". . . now we can't record that one", or . . . was there any connection or did you just go off in different paths?

KR: No, it was on a different path completely. We were always aware of what the Stones were doing -- everyone had to be.

BR: Not necessarily the Stones . . .

KR: Well, we were following our own path.

BR: Well, I guess you were because lots of those people were moving together, but you guys were always . . . like you said. Feedback was something you guys were just developing.

KR: Well, that is a lot of bullshit, really, I suppose. I mean, everybody got feedback...it's just that people started saying, "You're the band that got feedback!"...there was no big thing about The Yardbirds using feedback. I suppose that Jeff just got a bit too near his amp (laughs) and he learned how to control it.

WS: Did Clapton use it at all?

KR: No, Jeff was the guy for developing sounds. He used to get into motorbike sounds on a guitar and de-tuning, playing with the strings over the top of the know, and de-tuning the thing while he was playing. He used to go out on stage without tuning up...he hardly ever tuned up properly. He'd get a semblance of tuning up and then he'd go on the stage and just play -- he'd bend to the notes. He never really played chords or anything. If the thing was out of tune he'd just bend to it. You could never get him to tune up. He'd go out on stage with the guitar totally out of tune -- but whatever he'd play would be in tune.

WS: Was Page a more disciplined player than Beck?

KR: Yeah, yeah.

BR: What do you think happened when Page came in and Beck left? Is that when Mickie Most came in?

KR: Just about, yeah. "Happenings Ten Years Time Ago" was the first thing that Mickie Most was on, and that was the last recording with Jeff.

BR: Did that have anything to do with Beck leaving?

KR: No.

BR: It was all that girl.

KR: . . . Beck recorded his own group with Most. . . It was being on the road that got to Jeff. He didn't want to go out anymore. We stayed in Hollywood for a bit -- it's a bit of a painful period to go over. It was during a Dick Clark tour, all right? -- which is heavy enough anyway. We had a few days off and Jeff fell in love with Hollywood. Jimmy was the bass player at the time. We went out on the road and by the second day Jeff had had enough. So, he flew back to Hollywood. We made a switch on the road; Chris became the bass player and Jimmy became the lead guitarist -- and henceforth, the final stage of The Yardbirds.

BR: Up to that point you were doing such good stuff.

WS: Well I liked the stuff with Page.

BR: No, no! Yeah -- but it's just . . . it's not . . .

WS:...it's different.

BR: Yeah, it's completely different. Do you see that as being completely different or do you see that as an honest transition?

KR: No, it continued developing with Jimmy; but I don't know. Quite honestly for me the real feeling, the kind of guts of The Yardbirds came to an end when it became a commercial band with "For Your Love". My happiest days were with Eric. Up until Jeff joined, I suppose -- I mean from that point on it became a commercial band. We started touring the States, doing Dick Clark tours, playing one-nighters and that kind of thing.

BR: . . . and didn't make much money.

KR: Oh, there was some bread being made but where it went to I don't know. The happiest times were playing London clubs like the Marquee and the Crawdaddy Club. With Eric it was a blues band.

BR: What happened at the Crawdaddy Club? Did you come in right after the Stones?

KR: Yeah, there were about two or three weeks where people wondered where the Stones had gone, but after a month we were in as the resident band -- the Sunday night band.

BR: Oh, just once a week. How long did that last?

KR: It was a raving time had by all -- very high period, that was . . . See, when "For Your Love" came out it became a pop thing totally. Before that it was simply a fun thing.

WS: You were doing the stuff without anyone telling you what to do.

KR: That's right, that's right.

BR: Do you like the stuff on that "Roger The Engineer" ("Over, Under, Sideways, Down") album?

KR: Yeah, it was done very quickly. You know, it was done in a week, that album.

WS: (gasp!) That album was done in a week?

KR: Yeah, every track was done like on the spot. While the guys were putting down the backing track, I was writing the lyrics in the vocal booth.

WS: "Lost Woman" ?

KR: "Lost Woman", yeah.

BR: That's why all five of you guys wrote every song?

KR: Yeah, it was done in about five days, actually, that album -- four track, a number of the tracks were done in mono -- one take. There was no mixing, really. The mixing was done like, "We got a balance, boys -- now play"

BR: How much recording was done in that period in straight mono?

KR: Most of it was. Most of it was spread over four tracks, so if there's been any rechanneling it's been done recently. Most of the singles and stuff were one take.

WS: I heard that Brian Auger played harpsichord on "For Your Love"?

KR: Yes, he did.

WS: Was Clapton on "For Your Love"?

KR: Yeah, he hated it, he just hated it. In fact, it was right after that that he left.

WS: Was he on "Good Morning Little Schoolgirl" on that album?

KR: Yes -- he was singing on that, too

BR: How'd it come that Manfred Mann produced that one track, "Sweet Music"?

KR: Well, Giorgio thought that Manfred had the sort of producer's approach for singles, so he just called Manfred to do it.

BR: Was that a single?

KR: It was an attempt at a single.

BR: But it never came out as a single -- ?

KR: No.

BR: That wasn't even released in England, was it?

KR: No.

BR: How'd that happen? All that stuff on the "Little Games" album -- that never came out in England. Weren't you guys big then? "Little Games" was a big single -- at least it was here. I don't know about England.

KR: Was it?

BR: Here? Oh yeah, it was on the radio every twenty minutes.

KR: Really?

BR: Oh, yeah -- all the time. It was "Little Games" -- I always liked that song.

KR: Was that true, luv?

UFO: Not that I remember . . . I remember that they never played it enough.

WS: Maybe that's because you wanted them to play it more. I mean, they never played enough Yardbirds stuff for me on the radio.

KR: Well, I'm glad they didn't play it, actually because it wasn't representative.

BR: That's what I mean; that's what I'm saying.

KR: You see, like towards the end in '67 or '68 we were playing at the Fillmores. We were more into the psychedelics. That was the thing that was happening for us...whatever happened in the studios was the producer's idea of what the band should be. What we were actually doing was getting off on sound and feedback -- just letting go.

BR: Well, it seems like that's where you always have been. It seems like "Shapes of Things" could go twenty minutes live . . .

KR: Oh, yes.

BR: . .. . but "Little Games" couldn't.

KR: No, no way . . .

BR: ...that's what I'm saying

KR: . . . it's rubbish.

BR: The early songs could have gone on for twenty minutes, but the later stuff, like, how could you do "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Sailor" for twenty minutes?

KR: No way.

BR: . . . or any of that stuff -- that's what I'm trying to say. It seemed to be a completely different kind of thing.

KR: Well, it was. You see, the band was pretty schizoid through the changes of personnel. So, you got a pretty schizoid kind of sound. I mean the band can't undergo those changes without bearing some kind of shock -- without the direction being sort of blurred.

BR: It's too bad you couldn't get a good producer then. How'd you happen in with Mickie Most?

KR: Through being introduced to Peter Grant; that was the management side of Most's production company. Peter Grant was beginning to get into management at that time. The Yardbirds were first.

BR: Is Peter Grant still connected with Most?

KR: I don't think so, no. I'm not sure. I couldn't tell you -- I couldn't swear to it.

WS: Did you guys ever play "Think About It" (The Yardbirds' last single --"B" side) live?

KR: No, I suppose that was the other side of The Yardbirds still trying -- "Think About It".

WS: Yeah, that sounds more like what you'd call the "old" Yardbirds.

KR: Yeah...the other element of the band, the essential element of the band, was surviving on the "B" sides at that time.

The conversation ended and Keith cheerfully consented to a few more pictures for the Trademark of Quality scrapbook.

It has been months now since their meeting, but Baby Ray and William Stout can still hear Keith's final words on their parting: "You guys have given me the roughest night of my life."

"Apart from the aforementioned heinous package, Page has not been as dogged as some with vultures vamping old work of his. 'Well, maybe they don't know what I've done and maybe it's as well that they don't. I didn't really do anything of great importance that they could package anything out of. Only a fool would reissue "She Just Satisfies" Jimmy Page in the May 1974 issue of Creem Magazine

Return to page 1 of keithrelf.com