Ultimate!

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Ultimate!
Compilation album by The Yardbirds
Released 31 July 2001 (2001-07-31)
Recorded Various locations and dates, December 1963 – March 1968
Genre Rock
Length 150:16
Label Rhino (R2 79825)
Producer Gary Stewart, Bill Inglot
The Yardbirds chronology
Cumular Limit
(2000)
Ultimate!
(2001)
Birdland
(2003)

Ultimate! is a comprehensive career retrospective album by English rock group the Yardbirds. It was compiled by Rhino Records in 2001 and comprises 52 songs on two compact discs. The songs are arranged chronologically by recording date and span the period from their first demo recordings in 1963 to the last singles in 1968. It includes all 17 of the group's singles (both A- and B-sides) supplemented with more than a dozen album tracks, their performance for the film Blow-Up, and three early solo numbers by singer Keith Relf.

Previous attempts at career compilations were hampered by cross-licensing problems. Yardbirds' recordings from different periods have different owners (corresponding to the tenures of their three main producers), which proved to be an obstacle. Ultimate! is the first official group compilation to feature songs from all four recording lineups of the Yardbirds—Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, Jimmy Page, and Beck/Page.

Background[edit]

Prior to Ultimate!, several Yardbirds compilation albums were issued. In March 1967, Epic Records released the ten-song collection, The Yardbirds Greatest Hits.[1] It was the group's most successful American album on the record charts[1] and was included on Billboard magazine's 100 Top LPs of 1967 chart.[2] Since it preceded the recording of the Little Games album with Jimmy Page, the album does not include any songs by the Page-quartet lineup. In 1970, Epic issued a second compilation album, The Yardbirds Featuring Performances by Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page.[3] The two-LP, 22-song collection includes songs from Little Games, but lacks any of the material recorded by the dual-lead guitar lineup with Beck and Page. Starline Records in the UK, an EMI Records subsidiary, released a compilation titled Remember... The Yardbirds in 1971. It includes twelve songs with Clapton and Beck.[4]

Beyond these early attempts by their official record companies, music critic Richie Unterberger commented that the Yardbirds' catalogue of songs "has been subject to more exploitation than any other group of the '60s; dozens, if not hundreds, of cheesy packages of early material are generated throughout the world on a seemingly monthly basis".[5] With the advent of compact discs, this trend accelerated. When the Yardbirds' were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1992, Sony Music Entertainment, parent of Epic, prepared two compilations. Both sets contained two CDs worth of haphazardly-sequenced songs (with overlap) from the Giorgio Gomelsky-era Yardbirds (material with Eric Clapton and pre-Roger the Engineer Beck).[6] In Europe and the UK, Gomelsky licensed Yardbirds' material to several different record companies, who issued seemingly random tracks on a large number of "best of" albums, often with Clapton's or Beck's names and images prominently displayed. (After Rhino's release of Ultimate!, another package of Gomelsky-era product was issued with the title Ultimate Collection.) However, the early Epic compilations continued to be the only ones to include songs from Roger the Engineer and Little Games, which were not owned by Gomelsky.[7]

In 2001, Rhino Records issued Ultimate! Unterberger commented, "It had to happen sometime, and after about 30 years of piecemeal Yardbirds compilations, here it is: a lengthy best-of anthology that manages to cross-license material from the Clapton, Beck, and Page eras". [8]

Song selection[edit]

The songs selected for Ultimate! represent a significant portion of the material found on their albums released between 1964 and 1967 by Columbia Records in the UK and Epic Records in the US:

The balance are non-album singles and "Stroll On" from Blow-Up.[9]

Since the focus of Ultimate is on officially released songs from 1963 to 1968, it does not include material released elsewhere. Omitted are live recordings (except from Five Live Yardbirds) released by various record companies found on Sonny Boy Williamson and The Yardbirds, Live Yardbirds: Featuring Jimmy Page, Yardbirds ... On Air/BBC Sessions, Live! Blueswailing July '64, and Glimpses. Demos and alternate takes/mixes included on Train Kept A-Rollin': The Complete Giorgio Gomelsky Productions (re-released as The Yardbirds Story), Little Games Sessions and More and Cumular Limit are likewise not included.

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 5/5 stars[8]
The Austin Chronicle 3/5 stars[10]
Vintage Guitar Recommended[11]

Reviews for Ultimate! are generally favorable and usually note that the compilation covers the group's entire career. Dan Forte of Vintage Guitar magazine called it "the closest-to-definitive collection of a band that’s been woefully under-represented on CD".[11] The Austin Chronicle's Raoul Hernandez described the album as "lend[ing] ample credence to the supposition that the Yardbirds are the not-so-missing musical link between Sixties pop and Seventies rock".[10] However, he points out that the Mickie Most-produced tracks with Page "flounder", making the collection less of a concise statement.[10] Similarly, while Richie Unterberger gave it AllMusic's five star rating, he questioned the inclusion of some of the more obscure material.[8] He felt that the early demos, the Italian-language single, and the Keith Relf solo numbers detract from "the overall tone of a set largely selected on the basis of quality, rather than collectability".[8] Forte notes that more songs from Five Live Yardbirds and two strong Page-era songs, "Glimpses" and "Smile on Me", were not included.[11]

Track listing[edit]

The songwriter's names, dates recorded, and track running times are taken from the Ultimate! CD booklet and may differ from other releases. For discographical information (release dates, chart positions, catalogue numbers, etc.), see The Yardbirds discography.

Disc One
No. Title Writer(s) Date(s) recorded Length
1. "Boom Boom"   John Lee Hooker 10 December 1963 2:26
2. "Honey in Your Hips"   Keith Relf 10 December 1963 2:20
3. "A Certain Girl"   Allen Toussaint March 1964 2:19
4. "I Wish You Would"   William Arnold March 1964 2:20
5. "Too Much Monkey Business"   Chuck Berry March–April 1964 3:53
6. "Got Love If You Want It"   James Moore March–April 1964 2:40
7. "Smokestack Lightning"   Chester Burnett March–April 1964 5:42
8. "Here 'Tis"   Ellas McDaniel March–April 1964 5:15
9. "Good Morning Little Schoolgirl"   Sonny Boy Williamson August–September 1964 2:46
10. "Got to Hurry"   Giorgio Gomelsky 6 August 1964 2:29
11. "I Ain't Got You"   Calvin Carter 19 September 1964 2:01
12. "For Your Love"   Graham Gouldman 1 February 1965 2:31
13. "I'm Not Talking"   Mose Allison 13 April 1965 2:35
14. "Steeled Blues"   Jeff Beck, Relf 15 March 1965 2:40
15. "Heart Full of Soul"   Gouldman 20 April 1965 2:30
16. "I Ain't Done Wrong"   Relf 15 March 1965 3:42
17. "You're A Better Man Than I"   Michael Hugg, Brian Hugg September 1965 3:59
18. "Shapes of Things"   Paul Samwell-Smith, Relf, Jim McCarty December 1965 – January 1966 2:27
19. "The Train Kept A-Rollin'"   Tiny Bradshaw, Sydney Nathan, Howie Kay September 1965 3:26
20. "New York City Blues"   Relf, Dreja 21–22 September 1965 4:21
21. "Evil Hearted You"   Gouldman 23 August 1965 2:26
22. "I'm A Man"   McDaniel September 1965 2:39
23. "Still I'm Sad"   Samwell-Smith, McCarty August–September 1965 3:04
24. "Questa Volta"   Roberto Satti, Gianni Marchetti, Giulio Rapetti January 1966 2:35
25. "Pafff...Bum"   Gianfranco Reverberi, Sergio Bardotti, Samwell-Smith January 1966 2:38
Total length:
75:56
Disc Two
No. Title Writer(s) Date(s) recorded Length
1. "Lost Woman"   Dreja, McCarty, Beck, Relf, Samwell-Smith May–June 1966 3:14
2. "Over Under Sideways Down"   Dreja, McCarty, Beck, Relf, Samwell-Smith April 1966 2:24
3. "The Nazz Are Blue"   Beck May–June 1966 3:03
4. "I Can't Make Your Way"   Dreja, McCarty, Relf, Samwell-Smith June 1966 2:27
5. "Rack My Mind"   Dreja, McCarty, Beck, Relf, Samwell-Smith May–June 1966 3:14
6. "Hot House of Omagararshid"   Dreja, McCarty, Beck, Relf, Samwell-Smith May–June 1966 2:44
7. "Jeff's Boogie"   Beck April 1966 2:25
8. "He's Always There"   McCarty, Samwell-Smith May–June 1966 2:29
9. "Turn into Earth"   Samwell-Smith, Rosemary Simon May–June 1966 3:12
10. "What Do You Want"   Dreja, McCarty, Beck, Relf, Samwell-Smith May–June 1966 3:22
11. "Happenings Ten Years Time Ago"   Relf, Beck, Jimmy Page, McCarty July, September–October 1966 2:57
12. "Psycho Daisies"   Dreja, McCarty, Beck, Relf, Page September–October 1966 1:50
13. "Stroll On"   Relf, Page, Beck, Dreja, McCarty 3–5 October 1966 2:46
14. "Little Games"   Phil Wainman, Harold Spiro 5 March 1967 2:25
15. "Puzzles"   Dreja, Page, McCarty, Relf 5 March 1967 2:03
16. "White Summer"   Page 28–29 April 1967 3:51
17. "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Sailor"   Page, McCarty 28–29 April 1967 2:54
18. "No Excess Baggage"   Roger Atkins, Carl D'Errico 28–29 April 1967 2:39
19. "Drinking Muddy Water"   Dreja, Page, McCarty, Relf 28–29 April 1967 2:54
20. "Only the Black Rose"   Relf 1 May 1967 2:52
21. "Ten Little Indians"   Harry Nilsson 25 September 1967 2:17
22. "Ha Ha Said the Clown"   Tony Hazzard 13–19 June 1967 2:29
23. "Goodnight Sweet Josephine"   Hazzard March 1968 2:46
24. "Think About It"   Relf, McCarty, Page November 1968 3:50
25. "Knowing"   Relf 16 April 1966 1:55
26. "Mr. Zero"   Bob Lind 16 April 1966 2:47
27. "Shapes in My Mind"   Simon Napier-Bell August–September 1966 2:19
Total length:
74:20

Personnel[edit]

Additional personnel[edit]

Technical personnel[edit]

  • Gary Stewart – compilation producer
  • Bill Inglot – sound producer, remastering enigineer
  • Dan Hersch – remastering engineer
  • Sevie Bates – art director, designer

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b Eder, Bruce. "The Yardbirds' Greatest Hits — Album Review". AllMusic. Rovi Corp. Retrieved 19 June 2014. 
  2. ^ "Top LP's—1967". Billboard (Nielsen Business Media, Inc) 79 (52): 42. 30 December 1967. ISSN 0006-2510. 
  3. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "The Yardbirds/Featuring Performances by Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page". AllMusic. Rovi Corp. Retrieved 19 June 2014. 
  4. ^ Russo 1998, p. 97.
  5. ^ Unterberger, Richie. "The Yardbirds — Artist Biography". AllMusic. Rovi Corp. Retrieved 19 June 2014. 
  6. ^ Russo 1998, p. 106.
  7. ^ Russo 1998, pp. 117-120.
  8. ^ a b c d Unterberger, Richie. "The Yardbirds: Ultimate! — Album Review". AllMusic. Rovi Corp. Retrieved 18 June 2014. 
  9. ^ Many of the non-album singles and "Stroll On" were included on the 1975 bootlegs Golden Eggs and More Golden Eggs.
  10. ^ a b c Hernandez, Raoul (21 September 2001). "The Yardbirds: Ultimate! (Rhino)". AustinChronicle.com. Austin Chronicle Corp. Retrieved 20 June 2014. 
  11. ^ a b c Forte, Dan. "The Yardbirds — The Yardbirds: Ultimate". VintageGuitar.com. Vintage Guitar, Inc. Retrieved 20 June 2014. 

References[edit]