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The Yardbirds' Roger The Engineer: an erratic album held together by dazzling brilliance

Haphazard album 'Roger The Engineer' shows why The Yardbirds were such a terrific singles band

The Yardbirds: Roger The Engineer (Super Deluxe)
(Image: © Demon/Edsel)

Arguably best known as a finishing school for three of Britrock’s most celebrated guitarists – Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck and Jimmy PageThe Yardbirds are a band whose recorded output is rarely held in the same regard as contemporaries such as the Rolling Stones and The Beatles, both of whom made significant strides of their own in 1966. 

Listening to The Yardbirds’ sole UK LP (aka Roger The Engineer) it’s easy to see why. With one foot in their blues past and the other in the psychedelic present, this is an erratic album that’s held together by Beck’s frequently dazzling displays.

Over, Under, Sideways, Down is where both threads are bound together, while What Do You Want finds Beck letting rip in fine style. Alas, Hot House Of Omagarashid’s throwaway psych and the lightweight Turn Into Earth are too slight to convince. 

Presented in both mono and stereo formats, with a seven-inch single of Happenings Ten Years Time Ago, an additional disc of 1966 studio recordings plus a 24-page booklet with contributions from Wayne Kramer and Thurston Moore, The Yardbirds remains a curate’s egg that at once highlights stunning musical talent alongside some pretty pedestrian songwriting.

Julian Marszalek is the former Reviews Editor of The Blues Magazine. He has written about music for Music365, Yahoo! Music, The Quietus, The Guardian, NME and Shindig! among many others. As the Deputy Online News Editor at Xfm he revealed exclusively that Nick Cave’s second novel was on the way. During his two-decade career, he’s interviewed the likes of Keith Richards, Jimmy Page and Ozzy Osbourne, and has been ranted at by John Lydon. He’s also in the select group of music journalists to have actually got on with Lou Reed. Marszalek taught music journalism at Middlesex University and co-ran the genre-fluid Stow Festival in Walthamstow for six years.