Shapes of Things: One of Rock & Roll Hall of Fame 500 Songs that Shaped Rock & Roll

Shapes of Things
Single: The Yardbirds
Released: February 25, 1966
Genre: Psychedelic rock
Songwriters: Paul Samwell-Smith,
Jim McCarty, Keith Relf

The Yardbirds' hit, "Shapes of Things," was the first popular psychedelic/rock song. Jeff Beck's groundbreaking use of feedback influenced Paul McCartney and Jimi Hendrix.  

The track counts among the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 500 Songs That Shaped Rock & Roll. Q magazine placed the song at number 61 in its March 2005 list of the "100 Greatest Guitar Tracks Ever!"

Jeff Beck & Rod Stewart 
Strikingly bold ... deliberately rebuilding the song.
Allmusic critic Bruce Eder

In May 1968, Beck re-recorded "Shapes of Things" with his new band, the Jeff Beck Group, for their debut Truth album. Rod Stewart suggested it. Beck added, "let's slow it down and make it dirty and evil." The new arrangement was called a precursor of heavy metal. Music critic Bruce Eder wrote about the effort: 

"Beck opens the proceedings in a strikingly bold manner, using his old Yardbirds hit "Shapes of Things" as a jumping-off point, deliberately rebuilding the song from the ground up, so it sounds closer to Howlin' Wolf."

David Bowie

David Bowie recorded "Shapes of Things" for his 1973 album Pin Ups. The record, comprised of 1960s covers, received negative reviews from most music critics. Unimpressed by the LP, music reviewer Bruce Eder wrote

"I Wish You Would" and "Shapes of Things" were both showcases for Bowie's and Mick Ronson's guitars, and "See Emily Play" emphasized the punkish (as opposed to the psychedelic) side of the song. "Sorrow," which benefited from a new saxophone break, was actually a distinct improvement over the original."

The Yardbirds
"I think it was a great success,
a good hit record. And original."
Yardbirds drummer, Jim McCarty

Before its official release, the band performed "Shapes of Things" on American television: The Lloyd Thaxton Show. The episode aired on February 1, 1966. 

The Lloyd Thaxton Show

On February 25, the single was issued in the UK and the US. The song reached Number 3 in the UK and Number 11 in the US. Billboard's year-end Top 100 singles chart of 1966 ranked "Shapes of Things" number 99.


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