Friday, August 23, 2013

The Yardbirds: You're A Better Man Than I

One of my favorite Yardbirds’ songs is “You’re a Better Man than I.”  A cut that many Americans may have never heard, as it wasn't issued as single in the US and was relegated to only be an album cut. I first got acquainted with the song from its appearance on the rare album “Live Yardbirds: Featuring Jimmy Page.” On that version, Page played the lead guitar as the song was teamed with “Heart full of Soul” in a medley. On the studio version that appeared on the 1966 North American album, “Having a Rave Up with The Yardbirds,” Jeff Beck played the lead.

It is the studio version that we feature today. Notice that I stated that it never made it to a 7 inch release in the US; then why on earth am I featuring it as my Friday flip side? It’s because it was the “B” side the British release of “Shapes of Things” – and it’s my blog, so I’ll feature what I darn well please – so there.

Now back to the show. The message about the evils of prejudice course through the lyrical veins of “You’re a Better Man than I” and it would have been a perfect anthem for the turbulent ‘60s. I have no idea why Epic Records failed to use it for an American single release. “Shapes of Things” was issued twice in the US with two different “B” sides: “I’m Not Talking” and “New York City Blues.”

“You’re a Better Man than I” was written by brothers Mike and Brian Hugg. Mike Hugg is best known as the drummer in Manfred Mann. “You’re a Better Man than I,” or as it was sometimes titled as “Better Man than I,” was covered by a couple of American bands: The New Colony Six from Chicago, which failed to chart; and Terry Knight and the Pack out of Flint, Michigan who went national with the tune, but it peaked horribly at only #125.

Besides Jeff Beck on killer lead guitar on this record, the lineup of The Yardbirds consisted of Keith Relf on vocals, Chris Dreja on rhythm guitar, Paul Samwell-Smith on bass, and Jim McCarty on drums.

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