Ultimate! Tracks Yardbirds’ Entire Flight Path

Double-CD collection is first to feature songs from every phase of band's career.

More than 32 years after the Yardbirds dissolved, the first double-CD collection to feature tracks from every phase of the band’s career — the Eric Clapton years, the Jeff Beck era and the Jimmy Page period — is about to surface.

The Yardbirds — Ultimate!, due July 7 on Rhino Records, will include 53 hit singles, album tracks and live recordings made between 1963 and 1968.

The Yardbirds pioneered psychedelic blues-rock in the mid-’60s and introduced rock fans to the notion of the “guitar god.” Over its unstable five-year career, the band featured three of rock’s most influential guitarists — Clapton played in the group from October 1963 to March 1965, Beck from March 1965 to November 1966, and Page from June 1966 to July 1968.

The label has been working on the project for five years and has had to pull the album off its schedule at least twice because of licensing issues, a spokesperson said.

The first disc of The Yardbirds — Ultimate! focuses on the group’s early blues and pop material. Some of the bluesier tracks are “I’m a Man,” “I Wish You Would” and “I’m Not Talking.” The poppier cuts include the top-10 singles “For Your Love” and “Heart Full of Soul” as well as “You’re a Better Man Than I,” “Evil Hearted You,” “The Train Kept A-Rollin’” and “Shapes of Things.”
Disc two showcases the band’s trippier side and includes three tracks that feature both Beck and Page on guitar — “Psycho Daisies,” “Happenings Ten Years Time Ago” and “Stroll On,” from the film “Blowup.”
The set also includes live Clapton-fronted versions of “Too Much Monkey Business,” “I Got Love If You Want It,” “Smokestack Lightnin’” and “Here ‘Tis,” from the album Five Live Yardbirds.