Of the many bands who joined in the “British Invasion” following the success of the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, most tended to follow either the pop formula associated with the Beatles or the blues-influenced track of the Stones. One of the more notable and successful blues acts to come next from the UK was the Yardbirds, a band that is probably more well-known for who was in the band than the music they actually produced.
The album “For Your Love” was released in the U.S. in mid-1965, and was a mix of songs featuring their first highly rated lead guitarist Eric Clapton, and his successor, Jeff Beck. Interestingly enough, it was the recording of the single “For Your Love”, the most commercially successful song on the album, that alienated and frustrated Clapton enough to leave the band to join John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers in an attempt to get closer to the blues recipe he believed the Yardbirds should have stayed with.
This album, and the Yardbirds as a whole, are a bit of an enigma to me. As you listen, you can definitely hear the blues roots, with a formula similar to what was coming from the Stones. Lead singer Keith Relf had a great rock-blues voice, and he was also an excellent harmonica player. Even so, with that intent and some of the greatest musicians of the rock blues era, I have always found the Yardbirds to be a bit uninspiring, and listening to “For Your Love” did not change my mind. I think at the end of the day, even though I can appreciate some of the songs like “I Ain’t Got You” and “Got to Hurry”, I think their weakest link was the songwriting and the lack of compelling hooks or interesting takes on the blues approach. It is certainly very insightful to hear the earliest of Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, and ultimately Jimmy Page as he joined the band eventually as well, but there just isn’t nearly as much here that grabs me like what I get from any of the early Rolling Stones albums. I would argue the lack of staying power and commercial success somewhat validates my take here.
I had to be sure to include the Yardbirds in this process to help pave the way for what comes next from Clapton, Beck and Page, however I fully believe that each of them moved on to much bigger and better things in subsequent reinventions.