Home » The Yardbirds Song Jimmy Page Disregarded as “Extremely Silly”

The Yardbirds Song Jimmy Page Disregarded as “Extremely Silly”

While Jimmy Page is celebrated primarily for his role in Led Zeppelin, his career before forming the iconic band in 1968 was noteworthy in its own right. As Zeppelin fans know, the band’s original working title was ‘The New Yardbirds,’ founded by Page out of the remnants of his previous outfit. The Yardbirds were psychedelic pioneers, steering rock towards a more expansive and darker path, with the guitar at the forefront of their innovation. Notably, the quintet played a pivotal role in launching the careers of three of the era’s most vital guitarists: Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, and Jimmy Page.

Initially, The Yardbirds wanted Page to replace Clapton, but his loyalty to his friend and enjoyment of being one of London’s most sought-after session musicians kept him from accepting. Instead, he recommended Jeff Beck for the role. However, with the unexpected departure of Paul Samwell-Smith, Page and Beck eventually formed one of the era’s most formidable twin guitar assaults, elevating The Yardbirds and rock music to new heights. Their single ‘Happenings Ten Years Time Ago’ stands as a distilled example of their potency.

Despite the heights reached during his time with The Yardbirds, Page acknowledges that not every artistic endeavor was a success. In particular, he deems their 1967 version of the Harry Nilsson song ‘Ten Little Indians’ as a misstep. Speaking to Uncut in 2009, Page dubbed the single “terrible” and explained, “I don’t need to tell you what it was like; you can tell just by the title. And it had brass on it!”

In an attempt to salvage what he perceives as an “extremely silly song,” Page introduced the concept of reverse echo, where the listener hears the echo before the main sound, inverting the standard echo format. Despite Page’s criticism of the track’s quality, this technique became a hallmark of Led Zeppelin’s sound, featured prominently in early staples like ‘You Shook Me’ and ‘Whole Lotta Love’ from 1969, as well as the indomitable ‘When The Levee Breaks’ from the 1971 masterpiece, Led Zeppelin IV.

Reflecting on the genesis of this idea, he shared with Guitar Magazine in 1993: “I hit upon an idea. I said, ‘Look, turn the tape over and employ the echo for the brass on a spare track. Then turn it back over, and we’ll get the echo preceding the signal.’ The result was very interesting – it made the track sound like it was going backward.” Listen to ‘Ten Little Indians’ by The Yardbirds below.

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