Deep Dive: Yardbirds, LITTLE GAMES

Monday, August 7, 2017
Deep Dive: Yardbirds, LITTLE GAMES

50 years ago this month, The Yardbirds released an album which was their first with Jimmy Page as their lone guitarist and – by pure coincidence – the last proper studio album of their career.

Produced by Mickie Most, LITTLE GAMES was, as you might imagine, a bit of a transitional album for The Yardbirds, with founding member Paul Samwell-Smith, who – in addition to being the band’s bassist – was also their musical director, having left the band. EMI, the Yardbirds’ label, hired Most to produce the sessions for their new album, and he made a pronounced effort  to steer the band toward scoring more hits. In turn, there are those who say that the album proved to be a disappointment. Then again, there are also those who hold the opposite opinion.

“When my dad died, there were all these obituaries, and a lot of them focused on the fact that he failed with the Yardbirds and that he did such a terrible job,” recalled Calvin Hayes, Most’s son, in a 2016 interview with Rhino. “Well, Dave [Gregory of XTC], who I really admire as a musician, he’s a musicologist, he’s in a far different league, and he turned around and said, ‘Actually, Calvin, I think it’s the Yardbirds’ finest album!’ And I think the ‘Little Games’ single is terrific.

“I think some of the album is great,” continued Hayes. “I can see some of the blueprint of Led Zeppelin, and the Truth album by Jeff Beck, and even some Terry Reid, who was supposed to be the singer with Led Zeppelin. ‘Little Games’ was also, I think, the first marriage of the ‘Kashmir’ strings from Led Zeppelin. It was John Paul Jones and jimmy Page working on that. It was that moment in ’67 when pop songs and rock bands could work together. But the band were falling apart. My dad said to me it was like making love to an old girlfriend!”

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