This is an article from the magazine UGLY THINGS, which came out in Sept. 2002. 
Courtesy of Will Shade, the author.  	

Thanks to Will Shade and Ugly Things magazine for permission to reprint these articles and reviews.......


The driving force behind psychedelia was The Yardbirds. The following are significant mile mon the highway to Lysergia.
The Yardbirds formed in 1963 with the express purpose of playing blues material. Original lead guitarist Top Topham didn’t see the end of the year, being replaced by one Eric Clapton. By late autumn, the band was already twisting its R & B roots. With the development of their trademark rave-ups, call-and-response segments and embryonic power chords, blues standards like “Smokestack Lightning” became an aural firestorm and took on a life of their own. Howlin’ Wolf, the song’s author, proclaimed The Yardbirds’ version to be the definitive one. A recorded example from a December 1963 gig is about six minutes long, yet that particular piece was often stretched to a half-hour jam during other performances. Extended improvisatory passages are a hallmark of psychedelia. Thus the foundation for this particular genre of music was being laid three years ahead of schedule.
The Yardbirds also contributed to the concept of a loud rhythm section. American rock n roll in the ‘50s had almost no bottom and many rockabilly bands didn’t even employ a drummer. Borrowing the idea of a powerful drum and bass combination from their blues idols, English bands exaggerated the concept until it resulted in a phenomenally loud rhythm section, which would be a vital element in hallucinogenic alchemy. The Yardbirds were pioneers in this area. Drummer Jim McCarty, along with bassist Paul Samwell-Smith and rhythm guitarist Chris Dreja, built a solid platform upon which their lead guitarist was able to catapult into the stratosphere.
February 1965 found the band in the studio, arranging a tune by budding songwriter Graham Gouldman. “For Your Love” was a melodic piece of pop, boasting a harpsichord-driven hook that gave the song an exotic flavor. Session keyboardist Brian Auger’s intro chords crashed and chimed, resulting in a menacing sound. Strangely for a band boasting Eric Clapton in its ranks, the only time he made an appearance on the tune was during the bridge.
Unsurprisingly, blues snob Clapton announced his resignation within a week of its recording. No matter. “For Your Love” was The Yardbirds first major chart success, reaching #3 in the U.K. and #6 in the U.S. This was one of the first significant uses of a harpsichord in pop music, paving the way for psychedelia. Subsequently, the harpsichord was to become a staple of said genre.
The Yardbirds approached London’s top session guitarist, Jimmy Page, with an invitation to join. Page turned the offer down, fearing it would jeopardize his friendship with the departing Clapton. Instead, he suggested a mercurial young guitarist, Jeff Beck. 
In April 1965, The Yardbirds upped the ante. Another Graham Gouldman song, “Heart Full Of Soul,” found newcomer Jeff Beck sulking in the corner of Advision Studios. A hired sitar player struggled to lay down a decent intro passage for the song. The Yardbirds seem to have been the first rock group to use a sitar on a recording. The instrument would not feature in a Beatles song for at least six more months. Unfortunately, the sitar on “Heart Full Of Soul” sounded thin and weedy. This particular version would not be released until nearly twenty years later. The Yardbirds were almost ready to abandon the tune until the untested Beck stepped in and fired up his fuzz box. He conjured the appropriate Eastern sound from his Telecaster and his band-mates never looked at him quite the same way again. Peaking at #2 in the U.K. and #9 in the States, “Heart Full Of Soul” introduced Western pop audiences to Indian sounds.
By July 1965, Paul Samwell-Smith and Jim McCarty added to The Yardbirds’ tonal palette yet again with “Still I’m Sad.” The duo’s dirge-like composition centered around Gregorian chants treated with echo. Beck’s guitar was buried in the mix. Surprisingly for a band that’s reputation rests on its guitarists, The Yardbirds always experimented with other sounds and instruments. Be that as it may, the monk chants on “Still I’m Sad” were another brilliant innovation courtesy of the quintet.
January 1966 found The Yardbirds mastering the final version of their hallucinogenic manifesto, “Shapes Of Things.” Curiously, Dave Brubeck’s “Pick Up Sticks” initially inspired the Samwell-Smith –Relf – McCarty-penned tune. The Yardbirds song was a fuzz-tone masterpiece of feedback and sustain, culminating in a free-fall Jeff Beck solo that left a generation of aspiring guitarists with jaws agape. In addition, McCarty’s tommy gun drumming coupled with ominous lyrics propelled the song to #3 in Britain and #11 in America respectively.
Hit fast forward to April 1966. Russian modalities and Bill Haley’s “Rock Around The Clock” sparked The Yardbirds next single, an original entitled “Over, Under, Sideways, Down.” Beck teased a balalaika-like lick from his electric guitar, marrying it to a maddening chorus of Cossack cheers and a dreamy mantra of shimmering acoustic guitar. “Over, Under, Sideways, Down” was commercial surrealism come to life, climbing to #10 in the U.K. and #13 in the States. Paul Samwell-Smith was gone by June of that year. Session wizard Jimmy Page finally joined the band, initially playing bass until Dreja mastered the instrument.
With the addition of Jimmy Page on second guitar, The Yardbirds announced that psychedelia had arrived in all its splendor. Recording “Happenings Ten Years Time Ago” in July 1966, the dual lead guitars of Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page hammered out a hypnotic riff that dissolved into air-raid sirens and transmissions from Venus. A disembodied voice cackled manically through the bridge as three guitars swirled and collided in a void of sonic light. Appropriately, Relf’s lyrics were written during an acid trip and dealt with the concept of reincarnation. Heady stuff for a pop song indeed. The song peaked at #30 in the U.S. Considered a disaster at the time it’s actually amazing something this revolutionary charted at all. Quite simply, “Happenings Ten Years Time Ago” is the zenith of psychedelia. Jimi Hendrix acknowledged the song’s tremendous impact, quoting one of the lead lines in a later recording of his own. ‘Nuff said. 

By Will Shade
One of the unsung heroes at ground zero of psychedelia is The Yardbirds first manager. Giorgio Gomelsky did more than just manage the band. He took the band under his wing and nurtured them musically, exposing them to influences that the blues-loving teenagers probably would have never heard otherwise. Further, Gomelsky’s production ideas set The Yardbirds apart from their contemporaries. Here Gomelsky explains the development of three songs that were pivotal in the launching of a new genre within rock n roll.
For Your Love:
The harpsichord came about because I had a friend who collected Wanda Landowska (perhaps the greatest ever harpsichordist) records and harpsichords. An amazing instrument, to say the least. When I heard the demo of "For Your Love," I thought the intro was tailor-made for that instrument. I was managing and producing Brian Auger at that time too, and I asked him to play on the session. As you probably know, he's a great musician and being a pianist/organist he picked up the harpsichord without too much trouble. The trouble however, was in tuning it up after it had been brought to the studio. It almost took us longer to do that than to record the whole song.
Heart Full Of Soul:
My dad, a doctor, had a great interest in eastern philosophies and many Indian friends who often visited our house and played their music, classical Indian ragas mostly. I must have been around 13-years-old when I first heard them. Being very interested in percussion (I later played drums in a jazz band!), I just loved those polyrhythmic phrases. Years later, in an Indian restaurant in London I heard quite a lot of Indian music. It wasn't very well known outside small circles of people interested in folk and ethnic music like myself. Again, when I heard Graham Gouldman's second song, I visualized sitar and tablas on the intro, so I hired two guys from the Indian restaurant for the session. Unfortunately western time signatures and bar-counting were very different from what they were used to and since we were recording "live" we couldn't get then to stop after the 4 bar intro, even after many tries! We only had a limited amount of time in the studio, so Jeff took an amp into the bathroom (here we go again) and after 20 minutes had worked out how to get a sitar-like sound on his guitar. I paid the Indians and politely dismissed them. They didn't miss out though, because Jimmy Page was visiting the session that day and when he heard the sitar, he freaked out. This is funny, but he decided he wanted to buy the sitar from them, which after some negotiations, he did for some 25 pounds, which was a lot of money then! I remember him at the end of the session, walking down the street with the sitar wrapped up in an old Indian carpet. The next day he showed it to Big Jim Sullivan (a great London session guitarist), who a few days later showed it to George Harrison.
Still I’m Sad:
Among other schools (many!) I went to in my youth, I spent some time in a Benedictine Monastery where the monks had a choir and were singing Gregorian chants every day and the students had to learn them. I mean, I was into boogie-woogie then ("devil's music" of course), but what can you do. Besides these chants were quite amazing. Years later, by accident of nature, while Keith (Relf), Sam (Paul Samwell-Smith) and I were "shaking our commas" (taking a leak) in the toilets of the Aylesbury Town Hall, in between sets during a tour, I started singing a cappella some bass voice parts from those Gregorian chants and bathrooms having good acoustics for vocals, it sounded pretty impressive! You know about singing in the shower, well this is singing while taking a piss! So on that occasion I started off some deep melodic lines and Keith's and Sam's ears pricked up instantly. From then on, every time we met in bathrooms we kept getting more and more into those improvised chants until, one day the song appeared . . . it was, guess, "Still I’m Sad"! Apart from slow blues numbers there was no cool repertoire for slow, "ballady" tempos and I thought it important to invent some so as to have a broader "dynamic" range in the performances. By the way, the bass voice on the recording belongs to yours truly!
Planetary Pop Music:
You have to know that before producing British R&B I was exposed to a lot of jazz, classical and ethnic music. I liked Middle Eastern, African and Caribbean music a lot too. My concept was that one day there would be a "planetary" popular music (they call it "world music" these days) and that The Yardbirds could distinguish themselves from other groups by exploring and promoting it. That's the story, morning glory.
Giorgio Gomelsky and The Yardbirds parted ways in 1966. Some of the creative spark went out of the band at this point as they fell into the hands of two successive managers who were not really interested in the music itself. Without Gomelsky’s artistic input, the band sometimes failed to attain a balance between dazzling innovation and pop success they had previously. Gomelsky went on to work with The Blossom Toes and Julie Driscoll among others. Recently, he was featured in Richie Unterberger’s marvelous book, Urban Spacemen And Wayfaring Strangers. Gomelsky himself is kicking around the idea of finally writing his own biography.

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