Clyde D. Hoops | Back where I started from in Oceanside California | 04/10/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"First of all if you are reading this review then it is pressumed that you are either a Yardbirds fan of some degree or a fan of the mighty LZ and are looking for roots of Jimmy Page.You cannot just bulk all of their work together in a lump sum and praise or berate as a whole, every incarnation of this band stood alone according to the guitarist of the day. An example is the EC material in comparison to the Beck era material or even the Page era material, all must be listened to as seperate bodies of work or entities, as their guitarists were and are.This is the only available album of the Jimmy Page line up which at this time was a quartet of Page/Relf/McCarty/Dreja and is as much a real enjoyment as the other albums by this band, so many hints of the future direction of rock is apparent but not necessarily on first listen. That and the fact that this collection is amended with one or two missing classic tracks like 'LSD' or 'You stole my love', and a whole load of crap, from the commercial jingle, to the band "Together" songs,to the last singles this band ever recorded for release 'Good night sweet Josephine', 'Ha Ha said the clown', which are really light-hearted almost second rate Pop/schlock, to the one off cut of 'I remember the night', I still wonder why it was included.Apart from the fact that Mickie Most was the producer, which is an unfortunate oversight, the fact that many of the singles included to flesh out the package are also an oversight, this band could still rock and rock HARD. Listen to 'Think about it', 'You stole my love', 'No excess baggage', or even 'Tinker, tailor, soldier...,Evidence of things to come can be heard in the song 'Tinker, tailor.., when you hear the first recorded use of the violin bow during the middle break, or the interesting acoustic workout that is titled 'White Summer' which would reappear on the first LZ as 'Black Mountain Side'.Its a shame that this album doesn't get better reviews or reactions from the music industry then or now, one interesting fact is that All Music Guide (wether in their book or on their web site) rate this album higher than the studio album with Eric Clapton. As an added aside if you are interseted in this time period than any reader MUST have the latest disc release about this period called "Cumular Limit" which has several songs from this time which were never released or fully developed as songs, a rare find indeed."
Morten Vindberg | Denmark | 05/05/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
""Little Games", originally released in 1967, was the last Yardbirds studio album. It was recorded after Jeff Beck and Paul Samwell-Smith had left the band to be replaced by Jimmy Page. At this time the band's popularity was on the decline, and their time as chart-toppers seemed to be over. Even though their previous single-release "Happenings Ten Years Time Ago" had both been adventurous and catchy it had only reached no. 30 in the charts. "Happenings . " had featured both Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page and it is in my opinion one of their strongest.
Their next single release ( without Beck ) was the almost equally strong recording "Little Games". This song was more immediately catchy, but with a great guitar playing from Page, showing that they were still a band with ambitions to be more than a hit-singles band. I remember it being played regularly on Danish radio in the summer of 1967, and it's hard to understand how it could fare even worse in the charts than "Happenings".
Consequently the group was allowed only days in the studio to record an accompanying album. The album, also called "Little Games" was originally only released in the US, and though it contains many great songs, some of it may sound somewhat rushed.
The original version contained 10 songs ( later reissues up till 16 ). The songs vary quite a lot a style.
Fine blues rockers like "Smile on Me Baby" and "Drinking Muddy Water" are much in the same vein as the "Roger the Engineer" 1966 album.
More commercial songs had been part of the Yardbirds' repertoire since the departure of Eric Clapton, and I always enjoyed this side of the band too.
"Tinker, Tailor, Soldier", Sailor", "No Excess Baggage" and "Little Soldier Boy" are all great examples of this.
"Little Soldier Boy" has often been criticized for been an under par recording. And I can agree that a little more time in the studio probably would not have harmed the song, but still it's one of my personal Yardbirds songs.
There are also a couple of instrumentals on the album. "White Summer" is very reminiscent of "Black Mountain Side" on the first Zeppelin album, and "Glipmses" is a relatively long experimental track featuring strange sounds and voices, and a choir much like the one they did on "Still I'm Sad"
Keith Relf's "Only the Black Rose" is an acoustic song, showing that Relf at this time probably already was seeking softer grounds.
"Puzzles", which was the B-side of the "Little Games" single, was oddly not included on the first versions of the album. It is a great up-beat band composition, featuring a terrific guitar solo from Page. The song was recorded during the "Little Games" sessions, so it ought to have been included in the first place
Of the other songs that were included on later versions of the album "Think About It" and "Goodnight Sweet Josephine" are great additions.
These two very different recordings were the A and B side of the final Yardbirds single released in spring 1968.
"Goodnight Sweet Josephine" is a very catchy commercial tune written by hitmaker Tony Hazzard ( "Fox on the Run", "Listen to Me" etc, ), and had it been released a year or two earlier, I'm sure it could have made it to the top of the singles charts. I prefer the version on CD 2 which I actually took for the original version.
"Think About It" is another experimental track, clearly pointing in the direction of what was to come with "Led Zeppelin"
"Ten Little Indians" is another fine but unsuccesful single from late 1967.
CD 2 contains outtakes, alternate versions and 4 songs from Keith Relf and Jim McCarthy's "Together" project.
Most alternate versions are great and as strong as the original album versions.
Of the outtakes the instrumental "De Lane Lea Lee" could have easily been included on the original album, it's song in the same vein as "Glimpses"; most likely it was decided that two songs of that kind would be too much.
"Never Mind" and "You Stole My Love" could also have been great additions, but both obviously are lacking vocals.
"LSD" and the "Great Shakes" commercial are nice to have but nothing special.
The "Together" tracks seem totally out of place here. I would have preferred the 4 songs that were recorded with both Page and Beck.
The "Happenings Ten Years Time Ago" / "Psycho Daisies" single, "Stroll On" and "Beck's Bolero" would have been logical choices.
Still I consider this an essential release for any fan of progressive 1960's music.
By the way, it deserves being noted that this 2 CD release contains a great 28 pages booklet with detailed band history, extensive discography, rare photos and notes to each track on the CD's."
Rave-Ups, Rough Diamonds and Rubbish
donnelly117 | 09/28/2000
(3 out of 5 stars)
"An appreciation of this odds and sods album of these late-period (1967-68) Yardbirds recordings probably depends on one's affection for either the band or Jimmy Page. The LITTLE GAMES era was the most erratic of this band's manic career, alternating between sheer genius (the volcanic fury of "Think About It", the hypnotic sound collage of "Glimpses") and the flat-out awful ("Ha, Ha Said the Clown," "Goodnight Sweet Josephine") with the occasional hidden nugget in between. Hackmeister Mickie Most apparently confused this heavy ensemble with his agonisingly winsome hitmakers Herman's Hermits as he rushed the Yardbirds through two days of haphazard, half-baked recording sessions that were the norm for bucktoothed Peter Noone and co. The group's creativity was still evident, although the songs are even sketchier than those on ROGER THE ENGINEER. Page fantatics will be thrilled to hear his acoustic opus "White Summer" (shamelessly ripped off from "She Moves Through the Fair") while "Glimpses" is Keith Relf reciting a bizarre poem through a wah-wah pedal as Page weaves chaos around him. A masterpiece. The giddy take on the jugband standard "Stealing Stealing" is likeably goofy (love the kazoo and Keith's harp!), although it sounds more like a demo than a complete song. "Little Soldier Boy" is a wrongheaded attempt to wed the willful naivety of Donovan with Vietnam-era anti-war politicking---a gag-inducing cocktail (see Eric Burdon). It also sounds incomplete - note Jim McCarty's riotous vocal impersonation of a trumpet. "No Excess Baggage" is spiffy power pop with some fine John Paul Jones bass bursts (Chris Dreja seems to have been shunted to the background on this LP), though the tune seems more appropriate for the 1965 Animals (FYI: the song's writers also penned "It's My Life"). "Smile On Me" sounds like another rehearsal take, but it still kicks, thanks to Page's greasy guitar riffs. "Tinker Tailor..." is famous for Page's bowed guitar solo, but Relf delivers McCarty's playfully yearning lyrics with brooding grace, and overall, it has a real driving Mod feel. Love McCarty's snap beats on the tom-toms that kick off the second verse. "Little Games" has an infectious rhythm, and Page's guitar artfully blends with John Paul Jones's cello, but the corny coming-of-age lyric ("gold fish and jam jars...?") is stupid. "Drinking Muddy Water" is a driving knockoff of "Rollin' and Tumblin'" dominated by Page and Relf's guitar-harp trade offs. Enhanced with backward percussion and a ghostly vocal, "Only the Black Rose" is Keith Relf's medieval folk-pop acme. Harry Nilsson's weird hip-kiddie lament "Ten Little Indians" is an acquired taste, but it did grow on me. Relf's whispered countdown from 10 to 1 is backed by an army of Page overdubs and horns arranged by the ubiquitous Jones. "Think About It" is the Yardies' proto-Zep attempt at heavy metal, and it is a killer track. Relf's ghostly voice guides listeners into Page's blazing solo, backed by Dreja's finest recorded bass work (no Jones here) and McCarty's fluid around-the-kit drum rolls. "Ha Ha Said the Clown" and "Goodnight Sweet Josephine" are dreadful attempts at Manfred Mann-style Swinging London pop. The alternate takes that take up the rest of the CDs are listenable (the mono version of "Little Games" outstrips the stereo), and "De Lane Lea Lee" is trippy enough, though Page's narrative is annoyingly buried in the mix. The "Great Shakes" jingle (aping "Over Under Sideways Down") is a cute addition too. The Together tracks are more in the Incredible String Band mode than the Yardbirds, as Keith Relf and Jim McCarty warm up for their formation of Renaissance. LITTLE GAMES has its pleasures, but its slapdash feel will not appeal to everyone. If you're a Yardbirds fan, pick it up (Greg Russo's liner notes are definitive, and he did a masterful job re-mastering the recordings), but casual fans will likely be put off by the horridly camp and poppy material like "..Clown.""
Take a While, think about it...a pre Zep glimpse
Brian Tepper | PA | 05/13/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This record got slammed when it was released. Producer Mickie Most knew nothing about rock n roll until he heard Jimmy Page blazing away on his Day-glo Telecaster with notes bent to the point of the neck falling apart (listen to "Smile on Me" again). Most basically had his ace session man John Paul Jones pop in on this one, so we get a glimpse of interplay with he and Page on the title track as well as "Tinker Tailor". Unfortunately, some really good material was trashed here and no one ever did a good version of "Little Soldier Boy". Fortunately, some incendiary bits have been gathered including a snarling instrumental version of The Mockingbird's "You Stole My Love" and the phased version of "Goodnight Sweet Josephine" featuring a Zep-style solo from Page. We also get the bowed guitar technique that Page may have nicked from The Creation's Eddie Phillips. Where Phillips scraped away with the violin bow, Page puts delicacy into the mix and we get more of a eerie atmosphere throughout("Puzzles, "Tinker Tailor" "Glimpses"). Even when some dopey pop travesties rear their silly heads every now and then (Ha Ha said the what????), it's still interesting to hear that they're trying something so odd for them. They actually add to the power of the stronger tracks. No evaluation of this extraordinary Yardbird-Pre-Zep collector's wet dream can be complete without dishing props to "Think About It". Ever wondered where the climatic rev-up after the bowed segment of Led Zeppelin's version of Jake Holmes'"Dazed and Confused" came from need look no further..here is the Psolo of solos..note for note in its original (albeit mono) glory. Page definetly earned his chops with this stuff and for any Yardbird fan, this comprhensive double decker easily serves up the most interesting Yardbird material just because of it's numerous glimpses to the future when a Zeppelin would rule the next era in rock n roll!"
The best Jimmy Page's work!!!
Marcos Henrique | Piraju, SP Brazil | 04/28/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Sorry, Zep fans... but I prefer Jimmy Page in the "Little Games" album. Songs like "White Summer", "Tinker, Taylor, Soldier, Sailor", "Think About It" and "Glimpses" are eternal. If you, just like me, love the sound of the sixties, you MUST buy it right now!!!"