Having a Rave Up with The Yardbirds

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Having a Rave Up with The Yardbirds
Having a Rave Up reissue album cover.
Studio album by The Yardbirds
Released 15 November 1965 (1965-11-15)

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, Paul Samwell-Smith
The Yardbirds chronology
For Your Love
Having a Rave Up with The Yardbirds
Sonny Boy Williamson and The Yardbirds
Eric Clapton chronology
For Your Love
Having a Rave Up with The Yardbirds
Blues Breakers with Eric Clapton

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. Next to their 1967 Greatest Hits collection, it was the Yardbirds' highest charting album in the US and introduced "The Train Kept A-Rollin'", one of their most copied arrangements.


"Rave up" was 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. The rave-up became the Yardbirds' signature sound and is usually attributed to bass player Paul Samwell-Smith; several rave-up arrangements, with singer/harmonica player Keith Relf and Clapton trading riffs, are included on the Yardbirds' debut album, Five Live Yardbirds.

When Five Live Yardbirds was released in the UK at the end of 1964, it failed to reach the charts and was not issued in the US. After Eric Clapton's departure following their first Top 10 single "For Your Love", the Yardbirds recorded a successful string of forward-looking singles, due in large part to Clapton's replacement, Jeff Beck, with his pioneering hard-rock/psychedelic guitar work.[1] 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 as they were preparing for their first American tour. 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.

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. Three were recorded when the Yardbirds were on their first American tour with Jeff Beck — "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. Further refinements to the three songs were recorded at Columbia Recording Studio in New York City by Roy Halee 21 and 22 September 1965.[2]

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. The four remaining songs were recorded live with Eric Clapton 13 March 1964 at the Crawdaddy Club in London: "Smokestack Lightning", "Respectable", "I'm a Man", and "Here 'Tis". These songs first appeared on the Yardbirds' UK debut album Five Live Yardbirds and were chosen over other album tracks, because it was thought that they fit better with the "rave-up" theme.

Bassist Paul Samwell-Smith is listed as "Musical Director" next to producer Giorgio Gomelsky's production credit. However, Samwell-Smith has since stated that he himself did the production on "Heart Full of Soul", "Evil Hearted You" and "Still I'm Sad". Having a Rave Up is the last Yardbirds' album produced by Gomelsky; their next albums featured more consistency in personnel and material.

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 Jeff Beck's experimental guitar work.[3] 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.[4] "Evil Hearted You" also explored different scales with Beck's steel guitar-like "shimmering two-octave slide solo sounding almost ghostly".[5][6] "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. "Still I'm Sad" is the album's sole original piece, written by Yardbird's bassist Paul Samwell-Smith and drummer Jim McCarty. Called an "early example of psychedelic pop",[7] it is built around a mock-Gregorian chant, with producer Gomelsky adding the droning bass vocal under Keith Relf's melody line.[8]

The remaining six songs on the album are the Yardbirds' interpretations of older blues and rock and roll tunes. "I'm a Man" was written and recorded by Bo Diddley in 1955. The Chess studio version of "I'm a Man" with Jeff Beck has been called "perhaps the most famous Yardbirds rave-up of all", although compacted to just over two and a half minutes in length.[8] A second, earlier live version with Clapton also appears on the album. These two versions of "I'm a Man" perhaps best illustrate the difference between Clapton's and Beck's styles during their tenures with the Yardbirds — Clapton employs a more traditional sound with chording, 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..."[5] Bo Diddley's "Here 'Tis", the Isley Brothers' "Respectable", and the Howlin' Wolf classic "Smokestack Lightning" also feature Clapton.

The Yardbirds' take on "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. "The Yardbirds propulsive, power-driven version, however, deviated radically from the original",[9] with new guitar parts and a harmonica solo. According to Jeff Beck biographer Annette Carson, "the Yardbirds' recording plucked the old Rock & Roll Trio number from obscurity and turned it into a classic among classics".[9]

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. The album cover shows a photo of the group posing in matching black suits in a mock performance, which to one commentator appeared to be "more of a tea dance than a rave-up".[10] Clapton, who left the band eight months earlier in March 1965, is not pictured on the album cover. The liner notes read like ad copy, with no mention of the band members or recording information.

A 4 December 1965 album review in Billboard magazine concluded:

The album entered the Billboard Top LPs chart on 18 December 1965 at number 137 and reached number 53 in February 1966. When it finally exited the chart after 20 August 1966, it had spent thirty-three weeks in the Top LPs, outlasting 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). Having a Rave Up "proved to be their most durable LP, remaining in print until 1972, longer than any other Yardbirds album on Epic".[13]

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[13] (see discography for singles information). However, in January 1966 the Yardbirds' UK label, Columbia, pressed Having a Rave Up for export.[13]

Critical reception and accolades[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4.5/5 stars[14]

Having a Rave Up was released before the advent of critical rock music journalism in the US. A reviewer for Allmusic gave the album four and a half out of five stars, noting that it was "on a par with the greatest mid-1960s work of the Beatles and the Rolling Stones".[14] In 2010, the album was ranked number 355 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of "The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time", identifying the album as "the bridge between beat groups and psychedelia".[3]

Track listing[edit]

Original album[edit]

Side 1
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
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 Sunspots, JVC, Get Back, and Repertoire.[14] In addition to the ten tracks from the original album, the Repertoire reissue includes the Yardbirds' next US single (tracks #1–2), demos recorded March–April 1966 for their upcoming Yardbirds/Over Under Sideways Down (aka Roger the Engineer) album (#3–10), and "Stroll On", an updated remake of "The Train Kept A-Rollin'", from the Blow-Up movie soundtrack (#11).

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



  1. ^ Clark, Rick (1996). Erlewine, Michael, ed. All Music Guide to the Blues. Miller Freeman Books. p. 290. ISBN 0-87930-424-3. 
  2. ^ 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" U.S. single and on several compilations.
  3. ^ a b "500 Greatest Albums of All Time No. 355 — Having a Rave Up with the Yardbirds". Rolling Stone. 2010. Retrieved 17 July 2013. 
  4. ^ Unterberger, Richie. "Heart Full of Soul — Song Review". Allmusic. Rovi Corp. Retrieved 17 July 2013. 
  5. ^ a b Power, Martin (2011). Hot Hired Guitar: The Life of Jeff Beck. Omnibus Press. p. 76, 80. ISBN 978-1-84938-869-6. 
  6. ^ Unterberger, Richie. "Evil Hearted You — Song Review". Allmusic. Rovi Corp. Retrieved 17 July 2013. 
  7. ^ Greenwald, Matthew. "Still I'm Sad — Song Review". Allmusic. Rovi Corp. Retrieved 17 July 2013. 
  8. ^ a b Koda, Cub; Russo, Gregg (2001). Ultimate! (Media notes). The Yardbirds. Rhino Records. pp. 2, 33–34. R2 79825. 
  9. ^ a b Carson, Annette (2001). Jeff Beck: Crazy Fingers. Backbeat Books. p. 44. ISBN 0-87930-632-7. 
  10. ^ Clayson, Alan (2002). The Yardbirds. Backbeat Books. p. 21. ISBN 0-87930-724-2. 
  11. ^ "Album Reviews – Pop Spotlight: Having a Rave Up with the Yardbirds". Billboard (Nielsen Business Media, Inc) 77 (49): 72. 4 December 1965. ISSN 0006-2510. 
  12. ^ 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 new Beatles' album, Rubber Soul.
  13. ^ a b c Russo, Greg (1998). Yardbirds: The Ultimate Rave-Up. Crossfire Publications. pp. 22, 29. ISBN 0-9648157-3-7. 
  14. ^ a b c Eder, Bruce. "Having a Rave Up with the Yardbirds — Album Review". Allmusic. Rovi Corp. Retrieved 17 July 2013.