Little Games, originally released in 1967, was The Yardbirds‘ final album. It was also their weakest, being heavily influenced for the worse by the pop sensibilities of producer Mickey Most. He rushed the Yardbirds through their recording sessions and result was a release of patchwork quality in every sense.
Partly because of this, Little Games is very different to previous Yardbirds material. There’s less of the Rock n Blues and more of a mix of pop, experimental and harder-rock. Although there are some excellent tracks like White Summer, Drinking Muddy Water and Glimpses, there is also a substantial amount of filler material. Mickey Most was trying to fit the round progressive Yardbirds peg into a square pop-band hole.
So if it’s so patchy, why this re-release? Well one reason is that the Yardbirds, although experiencing some success themselves, were the archetypal “incubation” group. Their spin-offs included Cream, The Jeff Beck Group and Derek And The Dominos, and this particular album was the first to feature the talents of one Jimmy Page (Led Zeppelin).
Another reason for the re-release is the availability of a large number of extra and previously unreleased tracks which make up more than half of the album now. The original track count has gone up from 10 to 25.
Zeppelin enthusiasts will be interested to hear JimmyPage’s work on Little Games. By this point he was pretty much ready to take on the Zepp mantle – you can hear some great solos and there’s even some bowing of guitar strings going on in Tinker Tailor Soldier Sailor. There are a number of fans who consider this album to contain some of Jimmy Page’s best work.
But curiosity and collectability value aside, the varying quality of Little Games means it will fail to appeal to many. However this expanded version is a must for any diehard Yardbird fans, and also for any Zeppelin completists. Though if you’re only a part-time Yardie, or looking for an introduction to the Yardbirds’ opus, you might be better off with some of their earlier material.