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Three photos showing the three main lineups of the group with the stylized group name in the middle
Compilation album by
ReleasedJuly 2001 (2001-07)
RecordedDecember 1963 – March 1968
ProducerGary Stewart, Bill Inglot
The Yardbirds chronology
Cumular Limit

Ultimate! is a comprehensive career retrospective album by English rock group the Yardbirds. The 52-song two–compact disc compilation was released in 2001 by Rhino Records. The tracks span the period from the group's first demo recordings in 1963 to the last singles in 1968. They include all 17 of the group's singles, both A-side and B-sides, supplemented with more than a dozen album tracks, their performance for the film Blow-Up, and three early solo numbers by singer Keith Relf.

The Yardbirds were one of the best-known British rhythm and blues groups of the mid-1960s and part of the British Invasion phenomenon in the United States. They enjoyed a string of Top 40 hits, including "For Your Love", "Shapes of Things", and "Over Under Sideways Down". Although one album appeared on the UK Albums Chart, they had greater success in the US, with six albums on the Billboard 200 album charts between 1965 and 1967.[a]

A large number of compilation albums have been released over the years, usually limited to the group's pre-1966 catalogue. Attempts at full career retrospectives were hampered by cross-licensing problems. Yardbirds' recordings from different periods have different owners (corresponding to the tenures of their three main producers), which proved to be an obstacle. Ultimate! is the first official compilation to feature songs from all four recording lineups of the Yardbirds – including those with guitarists Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, Jimmy Page, and the dual lead lineup with Beck and Page.[1] The album was released to favourable reviews, with the critics describing it as the most comprehensive, but perhaps overinclusive, collection of the group's material.


Prior to Ultimate!, several Yardbirds compilation albums were issued. In March 1967, Epic Records released the ten-song collection, The Yardbirds Greatest Hits.[2] It was the group's most successful American album on the record charts[2] and was included on Billboard magazine's 100 Top LPs of 1967 chart.[3] Since it preceded the recording of the Little Games album with Jimmy Page, the album does not include any songs by the Page-quartet lineup. In 1970, Epic issued a second compilation album, The Yardbirds Featuring Performances by Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page.[4] The two-LP, 22-song collection includes songs from Little Games, but lacks any of the material recorded by the dual-lead guitar lineup with Beck and Page. Starline Records in the UK, an EMI Records subsidiary, released a compilation titled Remember... The Yardbirds in 1971. It includes twelve songs with Clapton and Beck.[5]

Their [Yardbirds' song] catalog ... has been subject to more exploitation than any other group of the '60s; dozens, if not hundreds, of cheesy packages of early material are generated throughout the world on a seemingly monthly basis.

Richie Unterberger, AllMusic[6]

Beyond these early attempts by their official record companies, numerous small and gray market labels have issued a large number of "best of" and "greatest hits" packages.[6] In Europe and the UK, the group's material was licensed to several different record companies, who issued collections of seemingly random tracks, often with attractive packaging and Clapton's or Beck's names and images prominently displayed.[7] In 1977, Shapes of Things, the first of many albums made up of Giorgio Gomelsky-era Yardbirds tracks (limited to Clapton and pre-Roger the Engineer Beck recordings), was released by Charly Records.[8]

With the advent of audio compact discs, this trend accelerated.[9] When the Yardbirds' were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1992, Sony Music Entertainment, parent of Epic, prepared two compilations. Both sets contained two CDs worth of haphazardly-sequenced songs (with overlap) from the Gomelsky era.[10] However, the early Epic compilations continued to be the only ones to include songs from Roger the Engineer and Little Games, which were not owned by Gomelsky.[7]

Song selection[edit]

The songs selected for Ultimate! represent all singles and a significant portion of the material found on the Yardbirds' albums released between 1964 and 1968 by Columbia Records in the UK and Epic Records in the US.[11] Yardbirds' biographer Adam Clayson describes the selections as "the best of the Yardbirds, with material from all four line-ups [sic]: Clapton; Beck; Beck & Page; and Page."[1] Critic Richie Unterberger noted that the set "manages to cross-license material from the Clapton, Beck, and Page eras".[12] The songs are taken from the core of the group's catalogue:

The balance are non-album singles, "Stroll On" from Blow-Up, and three solo recordings by Keith Relf.[11][b] Since Ultimate focuses on officially released recordings from 1964 to 1968,[12] it does not include material released later or by other labels, such as live recordings (except from Five Live Yardbirds), demos, and alternate takes.[c]

Release and critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
The Austin Chronicle[19]
Vintage GuitarRecommended[20]

In 2001, Rhino Records issued Ultimate! in July in the US and in August in the UK as a two-CD boxed set.[1] Dan Forte of Vintage Guitar magazine called it "the closest-to-definitive collection of a band that’s been woefully under-represented on CD".[20] The Austin Chronicle's Raoul Hernandez described the album as "lend[ing] ample credence to the supposition that the Yardbirds are the not-so-missing musical link between Sixties pop and Seventies rock".[19] However, he points out that the Mickie Most-produced tracks with Page "flounder", making the collection less of a concise statement.[19] Similarly, while Richie Unterberger gave it AllMusic's five star rating, he questioned the inclusion of some of the more obscure material.[12] He felt that the early demos, the Italian-language single, and the Keith Relf solo numbers detract from "the overall tone of a set largely selected on the basis of quality, rather than collectability".[12] Forte notes that more songs from Five Live Yardbirds and two strong Page-era songs, "Glimpses" and "Smile on Me", were not included.[20]

Track listing[edit]

The album sequencing is arranged chronologically, beginning with demo recordings from 1963. The songwriter's names, dates recorded, and track running times are taken from the Ultimate! CD booklet and may differ from other releases.[11] For discographical information (release dates, chart positions, catalogue numbers, etc.), see The Yardbirds discography.

Disc one
No.TitleWriter(s)Date(s) recordedLength
1."Boom Boom"John Lee Hooker10 December 19632:26
2."Honey in Your Hips"Keith Relf10 December 19632:20
3."A Certain Girl"Allen ToussaintMarch 19642:19
4."I Wish You Would"William ArnoldMarch 19642:20
5."Too Much Monkey Business"Chuck BerryMarch–April 19643:53
6."Got Love If You Want It"James MooreMarch–April 19642:40
7."Smokestack Lightning"Chester BurnettMarch–April 19645:42
8."Here 'Tis"Ellas McDanielMarch–April 19645:15
9."Good Morning Little Schoolgirl"Sonny Boy WilliamsonAugust–September 19642:46
10."Got to Hurry"Giorgio Gomelsky6 August 19642:29
11."I Ain't Got You"Calvin Carter19 September 19642:01
12."For Your Love"Graham Gouldman1 February 19652:31
13."I'm Not Talking"Mose Allison13 April 19652:35
14."Steeled Blues"Jeff Beck, Relf15 March 19652:40
15."Heart Full of Soul"Gouldman20 April 19652:30
16."I Ain't Done Wrong"Relf15 March 19653:42
17."You're a Better Man Than I"Michael Hugg, Brian HuggSeptember 19653:59
18."Shapes of Things"Paul Samwell-Smith, Relf, Jim McCartyDecember 1965 – January 19662:27
19."The Train Kept A-Rollin'"Tiny Bradshaw, Sydney Nathan, Howie KaySeptember 19653:26
20."New York City Blues"Relf, Chris Dreja21–22 September 19654:21
21."Evil Hearted You"Gouldman23 August 19652:26
22."I'm A Man"McDanielSeptember 19652:39
23."Still I'm Sad"Samwell-Smith, McCartyAugust–September 19653:04
24."Questa Volta"Roberto Satti, Gianni Marchetti, Giulio RapettiJanuary 19662:35
25."Pafff...Bum"Gianfranco Reverberi, Sergio Bardotti, Samwell-SmithJanuary 19662:38
Total length:75:56
Disc two
No.TitleWriter(s)Date(s) recordedLength
1."Lost Woman"Dreja, McCarty, Beck, Relf, Samwell-SmithMay–June 19663:14
2."Over Under Sideways Down"Dreja, McCarty, Beck, Relf, Samwell-SmithApril 19662:24
3."The Nazz Are Blue"BeckMay–June 19663:03
4."I Can't Make Your Way"Dreja, McCarty, Relf, Samwell-SmithJune 19662:27
5."Rack My Mind"Dreja, McCarty, Beck, Relf, Samwell-SmithMay–June 19663:14
6."Hot House of Omagararshid"Dreja, McCarty, Beck, Relf, Samwell-SmithMay–June 19662:44
7."Jeff's Boogie"BeckApril 19662:25
8."He's Always There"McCarty, Samwell-SmithMay–June 19662:29
9."Turn into Earth"Samwell-Smith, Rosemary SimonMay–June 19663:12
10."What Do You Want"Dreja, McCarty, Beck, Relf, Samwell-SmithMay–June 19663:22
11."Happenings Ten Years Time Ago"Relf, Beck, Jimmy Page, McCartyJuly, September–October 19662:57
12."Psycho Daisies"Dreja, McCarty, Beck, Relf, PageSeptember–October 19661:50
13."Stroll On"Relf, Page, Beck, Dreja, McCarty3–5 October 19662:46
14."Little Games"Phil Wainman, Harold Spiro5 March 19672:25
15."Puzzles"Dreja, Page, McCarty, Relf5 March 19672:03
16."White Summer"Page28–29 April 19673:51
17."Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Sailor"Page, McCarty28–29 April 19672:54
18."No Excess Baggage"Roger Atkins, Carl D'Errico28–29 April 19672:39
19."Drinking Muddy Water"Dreja, Page, McCarty, Relf28–29 April 19672:54
20."Only the Black Rose"Relf1 May 19672:52
21."Ten Little Indians"Harry Nilsson25 September 19672:17
22."Ha Ha Said the Clown"Tony Hazzard13–19 June 19672:29
23."Goodnight Sweet Josephine"HazzardMarch 19682:46
24."Think About It"Relf, McCarty, PageJanuary 19683:50
25."Knowing"Relf16 April 19661:55
26."Mr. Zero"Bob Lind16 April 19662:47
27."Shapes in My Mind"Simon Napier-BellAugust–September 19662:19
Total length:74:20


The Yardbirds[21][edit]

  • Keith Relf – vocals, harmonica, tambourine, acoustic guitar
  • Chris Dreja – rhythm guitar (disc one, disc two tracks 1 through 10, 25, and 26); lead guitar ("Questa Volta"); bass guitar (disc two tracks 13, 15, 17, 19, and 24); piano; maracas
  • Jim McCarty – drums (disc one, disc two tracks 1 through 13, 15 through 20, 21 through 23, and 24 through 26); percussion; backing vocals
  • Paul Samwell-Smith – bass guitar (disc one except track 15, disc two tracks 1, 3, 5, 7, 10, 25, and 26)
  • Eric Clapton – guitar (disc one tracks 1 through 12)
  • Jeff Beck – guitar (disc one tracks 13 through 25, disc two tracks 1 through 13, 25, and 26); bass guitar ("Over Under Sideways Down"); vocal ("The Nazz Are Blue" and "Psycho Daisies")
  • Jimmy Page – guitar (disc two tracks 11, 13 through 24, and 27); bass guitar ("Psycho Daisies")

Additional musicians[21][edit]

Technical personnel[22][edit]

  • Gary Stewart – compilation producer
  • Bill Inglot – sound producer, remastering engineer
  • Dan Hersch – remastering engineer
  • Sevie Bates – art director, designer



  1. ^ Besides the five albums released by Epic, the Blow-Up soundtrack album appeared on Billboard's album chart.
  2. ^ Many of the non-album singles and "Stroll On" were included on the 1975 bootlegs Golden Eggs and More Golden Eggs.
  3. ^ Live recordings, such as those found on Sonny Boy Williamson and The Yardbirds, Live Yardbirds: Featuring Jimmy Page, Yardbirds ... On Air (re-released as BBC Sessions), Live! Blueswailing July '64, and Glimpses 1963–1968 are not reprresented.[11] Likewise, demos and alternate takes/mixes included on Train Kept A-Rollin': The Complete Giorgio Gomelsky Productions (re-released as The Yardbirds Story), Little Games Sessions and More and Cumular Limit are not included.[11]


  1. ^ a b c Clayson 2002, p. 200.
  2. ^ a b Eder, Bruce. "The Yardbirds' Greatest Hits – Review". AllMusic. Retrieved 19 June 2014.
  3. ^ "Top LP's—1967". Billboard. Vol. 79, no. 52. 30 December 1967. p. 42. ISSN 0006-2510.
  4. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "The Yardbirds/Featuring Performances by Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page – Review". AllMusic. Retrieved 19 June 2014.
  5. ^ Russo 1998, p. 97.
  6. ^ a b Unterberger, Richie. "The Yardbirds – Biography". AllMusic. Retrieved 19 June 2014.
  7. ^ a b Russo 1998, pp. 117–120.
  8. ^ Russo 1998, pp. 98–101.
  9. ^ Russo 1998, pp. 102–113.
  10. ^ Russo 1998, p. 106.
  11. ^ a b c d e Koda & Russo 2001, pp. 44–47.
  12. ^ a b c d e Unterberger, Richie. "The Yardbirds: Ultimate! – Review". AllMusic. Retrieved 18 June 2014.
  13. ^ Eder, Bruce. "Five Live Yardbirds – Review". AllMusic. Retrieved 5 August 2016.
  14. ^ Eder, Bruce. "For Your Love – Review". AllMusic. Retrieved 5 August 2016.
  15. ^ Eder, Bruce. "Having a Rave Up with the Yardbirds – Review". AllMusic. Retrieved 5 August 2016.
  16. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "The Yardbirds: Roger the Engineer – Review". AllMusic. Retrieved 5 August 2016.
  17. ^ Eder, Bruce. "The Yardbirds' Greatest Hits – Review". AllMusic. Retrieved 5 August 2016.
  18. ^ Eder, Bruce. "The Yardbirds: Little Games – Review". AllMusic. Retrieved 5 August 2016.
  19. ^ a b c Hernandez, Raoul (21 September 2001). "The Yardbirds: Ultimate! (Rhino)". AustinChronicle.com. Retrieved 20 June 2014.
  20. ^ a b c Forte, Dan. "The Yardbirds: Ultimate". VintageGuitar.com. Retrieved 20 June 2014.
  21. ^ a b Koda & Russo 2001, p. 48.
  22. ^ Koda & Russo 2001, p. 49.