Little Games is the fourth studio album by The Yardbirds, released in 1967. It is their only studio album to feature Jimmy Page, their first album without Paul Samwell-Smith and Jeff Beck, and their final studio album to feature Keith Relf. It is also their final studio album released before their break-up the following year, with their next studio album - Birdland - being released 36 years later. Produced by Mickie Most, Little Games is seen as an attempt to revitalise the band's popularity, which had been in decline for a while by then. As a result, the majority of the album is not seen as representative of the band's live sound, and Most has been largely blamed as a catalyst for the band's break-up the following year.
Upon release, the album was only released in the US, as the self-titled lead single failed to chart in the UK. Little Games ultimately failed in saving the band's declining commercial fortunes, as did the subsequent non-album singles. To this day, the album receives strong mixed reviews, with some viewing the album as a psychedelic pop masterpiece, and others viewing it as the band's nadir. To sum it up, Little Games is The Yardbirds' Smiley Smile. Interesting to note is that the band themselves have since expressed their dislike for this album, particularly Jimmy Page, who described the album as "horrible".
Fan favourites include the title track, "White Summer", "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Sailor", "Glimpses" and "Drinking Muddy Water".
- "Little Games" (2:25)
- "Smile On Me" (3:16)
- "White Summer" (3:56)
- "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Sailor" (2:49)
- "Glimpses" (4:24)
- "Drinking Muddy Water" (2:53)
- "No Excess Baggage" (2:32)
- "Stealing Stealing" (2:42)
- "Only The Black Rose" (2:52)
- "Little Soldier Boy" (2:39)
- Chris Dreja - bass, vocals
- Jim McCarty - drums, percussion, vocals
- Jimmy Page - guitar
- Keith Relf - lead vocals, harmonica, percussion
Only The Black Tropes:
- Album Title Drop: Aside from the title track, "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Sailor":"Having buys it's fortune, fame
Living's just a little game"
- Alliterative Title: "Tinker Tailor Soldier Sailor".
- Cover Version: "Drinking Muddy Water" is a cover of the Muddy Waters song "Rollin' And Tumblin'" in all but name and credits. "Smile On Me" is a re-working of Howlin' Wolf's "Shake For Me". "Stealing Stealing" is a blues song originally by Gus Cannon's Jug Stompers. Furthermore, "Little Games" and "No Excess Baggage" were written by outside songwriters.
- Design Student's Orgasm: The very Pop Art album cover.
- Face on the Cover/Floating Head Syndrome: The cover art depicts the band members as a series of floating heads.
- Instrumental: "White Summer".
- New Sound Album: At least compared to Roger the Engineer, this album leans more towards psychedelic pop, as well as folk influences. No doubt the result of major line-up changes in 1966 as well as their collaboration with producer Mickie Most.
- One-Word Title: "Glimpses".
- Record Producer: Mickie Most, famous for his work with The Animals and Herman's Hermits, among others.
- Sex, Drugs, and Rock & Roll: The subject of the Title Track."Little games are for little boys
Loving games are for bigger boys
Parties in Chelsea flats
Mixing with kinky cats
Are games I wanna play some more"
- Shout-Out: "Drinking Muddy Water" is a fairly obvious reference to Muddy Waters. Rather fitting, considering that it's essentially a reworking of his song "Rollin' And Tumblin'".
- The Show Must Go Wrong: The original LP misspelled Chris Dreja's name as "Ereja". Not the first time to happen to Dreja, as the US version of Over Under Sideways Down misspells his name as "Drega", as well as McCarty's name as "McCarthy".
- Special Guest: Ian Stewart of The Rolling Stones plays piano on "Drinking Muddy Water". As a session musician John Paul Jones plays bass on "Little Games" and "No Excess Baggage".
- Spoken Word in Music: During "Glimpses" we hear a faint, barely audible voice reciting the text:"Glimpses of clouds in a forestCan review well within usAnd never to linger on one is lifeEnergy radiates from the sourceThe life around us is but a reflection of our ownFlowing within never-ending boundless infinityTime is just a cumular limitWhich with one glimpse can overcomeCan overcome..."
- Title Track: "Little Games".
- World Music: "White Summer" has an Eastern music sound, exemplified by an oboe and an Indian-percussion tabla. During "Glimpses" a sitar plays.