Having a Rave Up with The Yardbirds

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Having a Rave Up with the Yardbirds
Expanded reissue (Sunspots, Italy 2002)
Studio album by the Yardbirds
Released 15 November 1965 (1965-11-15) (US)

London, March 1964, April–August 1965

Memphis, Chicago, New York, September 1965
Genre Blues rock, rock
Length 37:00
Label Epic (no. LN 24177/BN 26177)
Producer Giorgio Gomelsky

Having a Rave Up with the Yardbirds, or simply Having a Rave Up, is the second American album by English rock group the Yardbirds. Released in 1965, it combined recordings representing the group's blues-rock roots and their early experimentations with psychedelia, with guitarists Eric Clapton contributing the former and Jeff Beck the latter.

The album includes the charting singles "Heart Full of Soul", "Evil Hearted You", "I'm a Man", and introduced "The Train Kept A-Rollin'", one of their most copied arrangements. Next to their 1967 Greatest Hits collection, it was the Yardbirds' highest charting album in the US. Rolling Stone magazine ranked Having a Rave Up at number 355 on its list of "The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time".


"Rave up" is a term used to describe a musical arrangement, usually during the middle instrumental section of a song, when the beat shifts into double-time and the instrumental improvisation gradually builds to a climax.[1][2] The rave up has roots in jazz and became the Yardbirds' signature sound.[3] Musicologist Michael Hicks describes it:

Wherever it occurred, the rave-up made a small narrative curve that introduced a basic conflict (backbeat vs. off-beats), drove that conflict to a climax (by getting more and more raucous), then resolved it (by returning it to a 'normal' beat). Through this technique the Yardbirds created a rock mannerism; sometimes the rave-up seemed the whole point of the song.[4]

Several rave up arrangements, with singer/harmonica player Keith Relf and lead guitarist Eric Clapton trading riffs, are included on the Yardbirds' debut album, Five Live Yardbirds.[5] When the album was released in the UK at the end of 1964, it failed to reach the charts and was not issued in the US.[5] After Clapton's departure following their first Top 10 single "For Your Love",[6] the Yardbirds recorded a successful string of forward-looking singles, with Jeff Beck's pioneering hard-rock/psychedelic guitar work.[7] Their first American album, For Your Love, which included Beck's earliest recordings with the group and earlier singles and demos with Clapton, was rush-released in June 1965 as they were preparing for their first American tour.[8] Five months later, Having a Rave Up was released less than a month before the beginning of the Yardbirds' second tour of the US and also combined songs recorded with both Clapton and Beck.[9]

Writing and Composition[edit]

With the exception of "Still I'm Sad", the songs on Having a Rave Up were not composed by the Yardbirds. Two of the album's hits, "Heart Full of Soul" and "Evil Hearted You", were written for the group by Graham Gouldman, who had composed their first big hit "For Your Love". Both songs saw the group continuing to move beyond their blues-rock beginnings with Beck's experimental guitar work.[10] Several demos of "Heart Full of Soul" were attempted with sitar accompaniment, but was soon dropped in favour of Beck's bending the higher notes in an eastern-sounding scale and using a Tone Bender distortion device to produce a sitar-like effect.[11] "Evil Hearted You" also explored different musical scales.[12] Biographer Martin Power describes Beck's steel guitar-like slide solo as a "shimmering two-octave slide solo sounding almost ghostly".[2] "You're a Better Man Than I" was written by Mike Hugg and his brother Brian. In addition to socially conscious lyrics, the song includes a fuzz- and sustain-heavy solo by Beck.[2] "Still I'm Sad" is the album's sole original piece, written by Yardbird's bassist Paul Samwell-Smith and drummer Jim McCarty. Critic Matthew Greenwald calls it an "early example of psychedelic pop"[13] and it is built around a mock-Gregorian chant, with producer Gomelsky adding the droning bass vocal under Relf's melody line.[14]

"Yardbirds records like these were eagerly taken up by the aspiring guitarists and other rock-and-roll obsessives who were forming garage bands at the time ... 'We'd do a lot of gigs where the opening band would play all our songs,' [drummer Jim] McCarty recalls."

—Alan di Perna, Guitar Masters: Intimate Portraits (2012)[15]

The remaining six songs on the album are the Yardbirds' interpretations of older blues and rhythm and blues numbers. Two versions of the Bo Diddley tune "I'm a Man" are included on the album – a live rendering with Clapton and a re-worked studio version with Beck. These two recordings perhaps best illustrate the difference between Clapton's and Beck's styles during their tenures with the Yardbirds.[8] Clapton employs a more traditional sound with chording,[16] whereas Beck takes a more novel approach: "things changed radically at one minute, 28 seconds into the song when Beck's foot smashed into his Tone Bender [and he] and Relf chased after each other in a manic harmonica/guitar interface, notes swooping in and out of the mix", according to Power.[2] Although compacted to just over two and a half minutes in length, critic Cub Koda calls the Beck version "perhaps the most famous Yardbirds rave-up of all"[17] and according to Power, "it was the closest the group had yet come to capturing the sound of the 'rave-up' on tape."[2] Clapton is also featured on Bo Diddley's "Here 'Tis", the Isley Brothers' "Respectable", and the Howlin' Wolf classic "Smokestack Lightning".

The Yardbirds' adaptation of "The Train Kept A-Rollin'" is based on the 1956 rockabilly/rock and roll arrangement of the song by Johnny Burnette and the Rock and Roll Trio. According to Beck biographer Annette Carson, "The Yardbirds propulsive, power-driven version, however, deviated radically from the original",[18] with new guitar parts and a harmonica solo. Carson adds, "the Yardbirds' recording plucked the old Rock & Roll Trio number from obscurity and turned it into a classic among classics".[18]

Recording and production[edit]

The songs for Having a Rave Up were recorded at various locations on 13 March 1964 and between April and September 1965.[19] Three were recorded when the Yardbirds were on their first American tour with Jeff Beck – "The Train Kept A-Rollin'" and "You're a Better Man than I" were recorded 12 September 1965 by Sam Phillips at his Phillips Recording studio in Memphis, Tennessee, and "I'm a Man" (studio version) at Chess Studios in Chicago by Ron Malo 19 September 1965.[20] Further refinements to the three songs were recorded at Columbia Recording Studio in New York City by Roy Halee 21 and 22 September 1965.[21][a]

Another three songs with Beck were recorded by Roger Cameron at Advision Studios, London – "Heart Full of Soul" 20 April 1965, "Still I'm Sad" 17 August 1965 (also at Olympic Studios by Keith Grant 27 July 1965), and "Evil Hearted You" 23 August 1965.[20] The four remaining songs were recorded live with Eric Clapton in March 1964 at the Crawdaddy Club in London: "Smokestack Lightning", "Respectable", "I'm a Man", and "Here 'Tis".[23] These songs first appeared on the Yardbirds' UK debut album Five Live Yardbirds[16] and were chosen over other album tracks, in keeping with the "rave up" theme.

Bassist Paul Samwell-Smith is listed as "Musical Director" next to producer Giorgio Gomelsky's production credit.[24] Having a Rave Up is the last Yardbirds' album produced by Gomelsky; their next albums featured more consistency in personnel and material.[25]

Release and charts[edit]

1966 Canadian Capitol album cover

Having a Rave Up was released in the US by the Yardbirds' American label Epic Records on 15 November 1965.[20] The album cover shows a photo of the group posing in matching black suits in a mock performance, which to Yardbirds' biographer Adam Clayson appeared to be "more of a tea dance than a rave-up".[26] Clapton, who left the band eight months earlier in March 1965, is not pictured on the album cover.[8] The liner notes read like ad copy, with no mention of the band members or recording information.[24] A 4 December 1965 staff review in Billboard magazine concluded

With their single hits "I'm a Man" and "Heart Full of Soul" for openers, the group should spiral up the LP chart in short order. They perform a variety of material, from blues to country [rockabilly] to rhythm and blues ... all swingers and loaded with excitement and discotheque appeal. The off-beat 'Still I'm Sad' is a stand out".[27][b]

The album entered the Billboard Top LPs chart on 18 December 1965 at number 137 and reached number 53 in February 1966.[29] When it finally exited the chart after 20 August 1966, it had spent thirty-three weeks in the Top LPs.[29][c] Having a Rave Up remained in print until 1972, longer than any other Yardbirds album on Epic.[29]

Having a Rave Up or an equivalent was not released in the UK, where it was the practise at the time not to include singles on albums. The live tracks with Clapton had appeared on Five Live Yardbirds and "Heart Full of Soul", "Evil Hearted You", and "Still I'm Sad" had been released as singles. In February 1966, "You're a Better Man than I" became the UK B-side of "Shapes of Things". "The Train Kept A-Rollin'" and "I'm a Man" (studio version) were not released in the UK until 1976 and 1977, well after the group had disbanded[29] (see discography for singles information). However, in January 1966 the Yardbirds' UK label, Columbia, pressed Having a Rave Up for export to Germany and Sweden.[31] In Canada, the album was issued by Capitol Records in 1966.[32]

Critical reception and influence[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 4.5/5 stars[33]

Having a Rave Up was released before the advent of critical rock music journalism. AllMusic's Bruce Eder gave the album four and a half out of five stars and describes it as "one of the best LPs of the entire British invasion, on a par with the greatest mid-1960s work of the Beatles and the Rolling Stones".[33] Author Denise Sullivan noted "Among British blues-rock albums, this Giorgio Gomelsky production is the pick for its wealth of hits and its influence on garage rock and hard rock lead guitar."[34]

According to Clapton biographer David Bowling, the album is "early and important rock 'n' roll ... It remains an important step in the evolution of rock music."[8] A review in Guitar Player magazine included

Today [circa 1989], the Yardbirds' second American album sounds something like the ultimate garage band meets an end-of-the-world guitarist. For a while in '65, though, Having a Rave Up with the Yardbirds (Epic, LN 24177) contained rock's freshest, most vital guitar playing.[16]

In 2010, Rolling Stone magazine ranked the album at number 355 on its list of "The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time", which noted "Freed from Eric Clapton's blues purism and spurred by Jeff Beck's reckless exhibitionism, the Yardbirds launched a noisy rock & roll avant-garde. This is the bridge between beat groups and psychedelia."[10]

Track listing[edit]

Original album[edit]

Side 1 (1965 studio with Beck)
No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "You're a Better Man Than I"   Mike Hugg, Brian Hugg 3:17
2. "Evil Hearted You"   Graham Gouldman 2:24
3. "I'm a Man"   Ellas McDaniel aka Bo Diddley 2:37
4. "Still I'm Sad"   Paul Samwell-Smith, Jim McCarty 2:57
5. "Heart Full of Soul"   Gouldman 2:28
6. "The Train Kept A-Rollin'"   Tiny Bradshaw, Howard Kay, Lois Mann 3:26
Side 2 (1964 live with Clapton)
No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "Smokestack Lightning"   Chester Burnett aka Howlin' Wolf 5:35
2. "Respectable"   O'Kelly Isley, Ronald Isley, Rudolph Isley 5:28
3. "I'm a Man"   McDaniel 4:24
4. "Here 'Tis"   McDaniel 5:04

Album reissues[edit]

The Yardbirds' 2001 compilation album Ultimate! contains eight of the ten tracks from the original album. Having a Rave Up has been reissued by several record labels, including Repertoire (1999, 2007), Get Back (1999), JVC (2000, 2009), and Sunspots (2002).[33] In addition to the ten tracks from the original album, the Repertoire reissue includes the Yardbirds' next US single (tracks 11–12), demos recorded March–April 1966 for their upcoming Yardbirds/Over Under Sideways Down (aka Roger the Engineer) album (tracks 13–20), and "Stroll On", an updated remake of "The Train Kept A-Rollin'", from the Blow-Up film soundtrack (track 21).[35]

Repertoire reissue additional material
No. Title Writer(s) Length
11. "Shapes of Things"   Paul Samwell-Smith, Keith Relf, Jim McCarty 2:26
12. "New York City Blues"   Relf, Chris Dreja 4:19
13. "Jeff's Blues" ("The Nazz Are Blue" demo) Jeff Beck 3:04
14. "Someone to Love" ("Lost Woman" demo, Part 1, Take 15) Beck, Relf, Samwell-Smith, Dreja, McCarty 2:24
15. "Someone to Love" ("Lost Woman" demo, Part 2) Beck, Relf, Samwell-Smith, Dreja, McCarty 4:18
16. "Like Jimmy Reed Again" (demo) Beck, Relf, Samwell-Smith, Dreja, McCarty 3:04
17. "Chris' Number" (demo) Beck, Relf, Samwell-Smith, Dreja, McCarty 2:23
18. "What Do You Want" (demo, Take 4) Beck, Relf, Samwell-Smith, Dreja, McCarty 3:11
19. "Here 'Tis" (demo) Ellas McDaniel aka Bo Diddley 3:49
20. "Here 'Tis" (aka "For RSG", track for Ready Steady Go! TV broadcast) Mc Daniel 4:06
21. "Stroll On"   Relf, Beck, Jimmy Page, Dreja, McCarty 2:44




  1. ^ A fourth song, "New York City Blues", based on "Five Long Years", was also recorded in New York and included as the B-side to the "Shapes of Things" US single and on several compilations.[20][22]
  2. ^ To put Having a Rave Up into context, also reviewed in the same Billboard issue were the Rolling Stones' December's Children (And Everybody's), the Dave Clark Five's I Like It Like That, and The Beau Brummels, Volume 2. Also announced was the Beatles' new album, Rubber Soul.[28]
  3. ^ Having a Rave Up outlasted the Rolling Stones' December's Children (And Everybody's), the Kinks' Kinkdom, and the Animals' Animal Tracks, which were released around the same time (The Who Sings My Generation failed to chart in the US).[30]


  1. ^ Schumacher 2003, pp. 29–30.
  2. ^ a b c d e Power 2011, eBook.
  3. ^ Schumacher 2003, p. 29.
  4. ^ Hicks 2000, p. 31.
  5. ^ a b Russo 1998, p. 15.
  6. ^ Clayson 2002, p. 76.
  7. ^ Clark 1996, p. 290.
  8. ^ a b c d Bowling 2013, eBook.
  9. ^ Russo 1998, pp. 29–31.
  10. ^ a b "500 Greatest Albums of All Time No. 355 – Having a Rave Up with the Yardbirds". Rolling Stone. 2010. Retrieved 17 July 2013. 
  11. ^ Unterberger, Richie. "Heart Full of Soul – Song Review". AllMusic. Rovi Corp. Retrieved 17 July 2013. 
  12. ^ Unterberger, Richie. "Evil Hearted You – Song Review". AllMusic. Rovi Corp. Retrieved 17 July 2013. 
  13. ^ Greenwald, Matthew. "Still I'm Sad – Song Review". AllMusic. Rovi Corp. Retrieved 17 July 2013. 
  14. ^ Koda & Russo 2001, pp. 33–34.
  15. ^ di Perna 2012, eBook.
  16. ^ a b c Casabona 1989, p. 114.
  17. ^ Koda & Russo 2001, p. 2.
  18. ^ a b Carson 2001, p. 44.
  19. ^ Russo 1998, pp. 85–86.
  20. ^ a b c d Koda & Russo 2001, p. 45.
  21. ^ Russo 1998, p. 86.
  22. ^ Russo 1998, pp. 31–32.
  23. ^ Russo 1998, p. 85.
  24. ^ a b Having a Rave Up with the Yardbirds (Album notes). The Yardbirds. Epic Records. 1965. p. Back cover. LN 24177. 
  25. ^ Koda & Russo 2001, pp. 16–17.
  26. ^ Clayson 2002, p. 21.
  27. ^ Billboard 1965, pp. 6, 72.
  28. ^ Billboard 1965, p. 72.
  29. ^ a b c d Russo 1998, p. 29.
  30. ^ Billboard 1966, p. 48.
  31. ^ Russo 1998, p. 96.
  32. ^ "The Yardbirds – Having a Rave Up with the Yardbirds (Canada)". Discogs. Zink Media, Inc. Retrieved 4 February 2016. 
  33. ^ a b c Eder, Bruce. "Having a Rave Up with the Yardbirds – Album Review". AllMusic. Rovi Corp. Retrieved 17 July 2013. 
  34. ^ Sullivan 2004, p. 171.
  35. ^ "The Yardbirds – Having a Rave Up (Repertoire reissue)". Discogs. Zink Media, Inc. Retrieved 4 February 2016.