Yardbirds’ roger the engineer featured guitar legend Jeff Beck

1st June 2016

Title: Roger The Engineer
Label: Repertoire

In many ways, the Yardbirds were not so famous for what they did but for who they were. After all, the band was the launching pad for three of the greatest British rock guitarists there has ever been: Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, and Jimmy Page. Think about that for a second. What are the odds?

One of the great rock bands but one that was in a consistent state of flux and, similarly, they were not content to focus on the same type of music. They would move from blues-based rock to experimental pastures by the time of the release of this 1966 release, their first album to feature completely original material and starring the guitar noise of Jeff Beck (his first album with the group).

On Roger…, there is in fact, a blend of blues rock but you get that sonic exploration too with variations on psychedelia with Indian flavours and beyond.

The LP is both brilliant and frustrating. Partly because it is so inconsistent as a project. Yes, there are plenty of top notch tracks here but, well, sometimes you want to say, “Look lads, if you are going to experiment, let go of the rail and commit yourself.” It’s a bit like The Beatles doing Sgt Pepper but including Love Me Do in the middle of it. Sometimes there are jarring moments in Roger…. Jeff’s Boogie sounds like pure filler, for example. Almost as if Beck decided to noodle for a bit while the rest of the lads ran off to grab some fish & chips during a break in recording.

Still, an album that you need to hear and highly recommended as a piece of art and a serious historical document of rock. In order to listen, though you can do no better than this version which is newly compiled, remastered and restored. A 2CD set, it includes the mono and stereo versions of the album plus 12 bonus tracks, including eight mono recordings (featuring a non-album Yardbirds Single and Stroll On from the original soundtrack of the film Blow Up, five Keith Relf solo recordings from the same year, four stereo rare alternative recordings and an illustrated 28-page booklet.