The first two album releases in the United States by The Yardbirds were cobbled-together affairs featuring singles, B-sides and live tracks. For Your Love, issued in July of 1965, sold moderately and reached number 96 on the American charts. Having A Rave Up, released in November of the same year, would be more successful and reach number 53.
Having A Rave Up is an odd album in Eric Clapton's catalogue. He had already left the group by the time of its release and is not pictured on its cover or mentioned in the credits. The six tracks on the album's A-side feature Jeff Beck as the lead guitarist while the B-side is comprised of previously released live tracks featuring Clapton on lead guitar. They are some of the earliest live recordings by Clapton on record.
Among his earliest live recordings by on record, Clapton's four tracks are representative of his early sound. “Smokestack Lightnin,’” the old blues tune by Howlin’ Wolf, presents Clapton at his best. His solos are imaginative as he steps forward to dominate the song. Also, "Respectable," an Isley Brothers cut, was the type of song that taught him his craft. During the early part of his career Clapton was attracted to American rhythm & blues and here he adapts his style to stay within the song's framework.
Two Bo Diddley tunes complete the album. “Here ‘Tis” shows that Clapton, even at this early point in his career, is a guitarist of note. His clarity and ability to bend the instrument's sound in all sorts of ways are representative of his future work. “I’m A Man” is interesting when comparing it to the studio version that appears with Jeff Beck in the lineup on the A-side.
While it has nothing to do with Eric Clapton, if you are going to listen to the live tracks you might as well listen to the Jeff Beck ones as well. The top ten American single, “Heart Full Of Soul,” features some great early fuzz tone. And “Train Kept A Rollin’” was Beck’s coming-out party, proving that he was and would continue to be Clapton's equal.
Having A Rave Up is early and elemental rock ‘n’ roll. Rolling Stone Magazine would ultimately place it among their 500 greatest albums of all time. Today it remains a good listen for anyone interested in Eric Clapton and the evolution of rock ‘n’ roll.