The Yardbirds: “Happenings Ten Years Time Ago” (Columbia 8024, 1966)
As long as I’ve worked through the story of Jimmy Page and Jeff Beck a little bit this week, I may as well feature the one Yardbirds song that features both of them on lead guitar today. Released in October, 1966, “Happenings Ten Years Time Ago” was a pivotal track for the Yardbirds, marking their most significant shift away from their blues-rock and beat origins to that point.
They’d done some similar experimentation with their March single, “Shapes of Things,” and their self-titled LP that July, with songs like “Hot House of Omargarashid” and “Over Under Sideways Down” (which was the title track of the U.S. version of the album) testing different waters, but “Happenings” fully crosses the line into psychedelia, following a handful of songs on the Beatles’ Revolver as one of the earliest releases that could truly be labeled as such.
Chris Dreja was still playing rhythm guitar at this point, so you get a triple-guitar attack on this song—that’s future Led Zeppelin member John Paul Jones sitting in on bass. Page and Beck really go crazy on this one in the instrumental breaks, imitating sirens, calling up feedback and throwing in other special effects like pick slides to create a trippy atmosphere for Keith Relf’s “sinking deep into the well of time” hook.
Beck let the Yardbirds just after this was recorded, leaving Page as the band’s final guitarist. They recorded the Little Games LP in 1967, and Page eventually evolved the band into Led Zeppelin.
This was released as Epic 10094 in the U.S., with “The Nazz Are Blue” on the b-side. The U.K. b-side was “Psycho Daisies,” the only Yardbirds song besides “Happenings” to features both Page and Beck, though Page is playing bass on it, not guitar. In the U.K., “The Nazz Are Blue” was an album track.