Julian Cope presents Head Heritage

Keith Relf
Shapes In My Mind/Blue Sands


Released 1966 on Columbia
Reviewed by Dave Furgess, 20/02/2001ce


Former Yardbirds and Renaissance lead singer Keith Relf was truly one of the unsung heroes of rock and roll. Not only did Relf possess a highly distinctive and original voice (despite the rubbish said about him by ultra-square rock critics) the guy was a body double with Brian Jones and a truly compelling front man, oh how I wish he stayed as the lead singer of Led Zep then I would have actually liked them, personally I could never stomach Bob Plant's voice.

But back to the subject of Mr. Howlin' Relf, Keith managed to squeek out a couple of solo 45's during the Yardbirds heyday, "Shapes In My Mind" is a most pleasing disc that is a bit of a departure from the Yardbirds bluesy sound. "Shapes" is in fact a dead ringer for Procol Harum circa-"Shine On Brightly" and a song of immense commercial appeal. The flipside "Blue Sands" is low key blues instrumental that recalls Lovin' Spoonful numbers like "Night Owl Blues".

None of Relf's solo singles sold well so they are quite rare these days but are worth tracking down. Keith resurfaced down the road in the late 60's after the Yardbirds split with some excellent records with the original lineup of Renaissance, and made a hard hitting album in the mid-70's with Armageddon. Sadly Keith Relf died in 1976 after receiving a fatal electric shock in his home, A tragic end to one of the all time COOL CATS.


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