The Yardbirds – Roger The Engineer – Our Mono Shootout Winner from 2012

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame

This is one of the few Mono mix albums that really justifies the claims made for the superiority of mono mixes in general. Just listen to the vocals on side one: they’re right up front and centered the way they should be in any good pop song. On the stereo version, they’re off to the left and down in level. They have no power over there! It robs the song of its focus.

This Edsel Mono British Import LP has an AMAZING SIDE ONE with some of the best sound I have EVER heard for this material. It has big time energy and presence. Over, Under, Sideways, Down, the big hit off this album, sounds particularly good here.

Some of the tracks are a tiny bit bright and others a bit dull but overall the sound is Right On The Money (ROTM). It’s one of the few Mono mix albums that really justifies the claims made for the superiority of mono mixes in general.

Unlike most of the Sundazed and Classic monos, these really are the best mixes.

Unfortunately side two is not nearly as good. Some of the tracks are a bit dull and can sound stuck behind the speakers. Overall we rate this side a solid ‘A’.

Also, Edsel did a great remastering job here. What do we hear on this pressing that’s different from the two early LPs we had on the site a year or two ago? A smoother, sweeter, lower distortion midrange and top end. And really punchy solid super low distortion bass. The transparency of this pressing is clearly better. It may only be 15% to 20% better than the other copies, but that’s a big difference in my book.

TRACK LISTING

Side One

Lost Woman
Over, Under, Sideways, Down
The Nazz Are Blue
I Can’t Make Your Way
Rack My Mind
Farewell

Side Two

Hot House of Omagarashid
Jeff’s Boogie
He’s Always There
Turn Into Earth
What Do You Want
Ever Since the World Began

…the real sound of swinging London in ’66…

Chris Jones 2007-04-17

At the top of this review is a little white lie: the title of this album. Forever to be now known as Roger The Engineer, after Chris Dreja’s cartoon rendition of a studio technician (Roger Cameron) – this album was originally just titled The Yardbirds. If you really want to be confused it was actually released stateside as Over Under Sideways Down with a different tracklisting, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves…

By 1966 the Yardbirds had the respect of every young guitar-slinger in London due to their main axeman, Jeff Beck. Having replaced the more puritanical Eric Clapton in 1965, Beck had to both contend with an audience who missed the bluesman’s authentic tones and also management who couldn’t decide whether the band would be an out and out pop combo or retain their earlier R’n’B credibility that had made Five Live Yardbirds such a hit during the Blues boom.

Luckily for Beck, the nascent strains of psychedelia were just around the corner, fitting nicely with his disregard for anything approaching the straight playing of six strings. Even in his days before the Yardbirds with bands like the Tridents, Beck had demonstrated a stinging attack and ability to coax weird sounds from his guitar. Now with ballads like “Heart Full Of Soul” and “Shapes Of Things” he was given license to unleash the full fuzz terror of his proto metal stylings.

On Roger…the band approached something like the only proper studio album of this classic mid-period line-up. While Keith Relf’s rather anaemic blues yelps were never going to make them the rivals to the Stones or Beatles, the well-oiled rhythm section were perfectly suited to support some of Beck’s wildest sounds to date. From The gloomy chant of “Hot House of Omagarashid” to the cod-Arabian whirlings of “Over Under Sideways Down” these are songs that sit midway between Eel Pie Island and the UFO club. While they still clung to the 12-bar shapes that had seen them through the lean years (“The Nazz Are Blue”) they now had a stunning weapon in Beck’s filigree fills. Just listen to his amazing showboating on “Jeff’s Boogie”.

Unfortunately it was a brief, bright point for the band. More bad management and a seeming inability to capitalise on any success eventually led Beck to quit and two years later it was all over. But for the real sound of swinging London in ’66 you’d do no better than to listen to the Engineer…

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