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Friday, January 6, 2017

The Yardbirds - "I'm a Man"/"Still I'm Sad" 45 rpm Single (Epic Records) 1965


I distinctly remember that my first 45 rpm single that I purchased was The Yardbirds' double sided A-side hit "Still I'm Sad" and on the other side "I'm a Man."   I must have been around nine-years-old, and since I didn't have a job at the time, I'm going to presume that one of my grandmothers gave me the money to purchase the record.   "I'm a Man" (written by Bo Diddley) to this day gives me goosebumps in my lower back.  The way it starts off with the ugly sound of the guitars, and then slowly building up to this intense rave-up where it becomes noise.  Without a doubt, one of the first recordings that had a strong effect on my sensibilities at the time, and still, today. 


Then when I turned to the other side, the music is not only sad (of course) but also scary.  I heard this song on the radio as well as "I'm a Man," and it's the ying-yang or either/or of the pop music world of 1965.  Usually, for me, the album gives me the full narrative picture, but this 45 rpm single had a full narration for me.   One is very sexual, and the other is pensive.  

There are a lot of guitar bands that I like, but none sounds like The Yardbirds -except Television.  The Yardbirds went through three legendary guitarists in that group's history.  Eric Clapton.  Jeff Beck.  Jimmy Page.   By far my favorite is Jeff Beck.  Flashy yet detached.  I'm presuming that it's him playing on "I'm a Man," and not Clapton - but I'm not super sure about that. But I like to think it's Beck, because of the noise, in the end, seems so much up his alley.  Violent, sexual, and cool at the same series of seconds.  

The forgotten hero of The Yardbirds are not any of the three guitarists or even the singer Keith, but their bass player Paul Samwell-Smith.  He arranged the songs and did some of the engineering/production as well.  He worked with Mickie Most and Simon Napier-Bell. Eventually, he produced the classic hits of Cat Stevens in the 1970s.   I recently bought this single again for $1, and it sounds like a $1,000 to me.  Excellent record.