"Shapes of Things" is a song by the English rock group The Yardbirds. With its Eastern-sounding, feedback-laden guitar solo and anti-war/pro-environmental lyrics, several music writers have identified it as the first popular psychedelic rock song. It is built on musical elements contributed by several group members in three different recording studios in the US and was the first Yardbirds' composition to become a record chart hit. When it was released as a single on 25 February 1966, the song reached number three in the UK and the top-ten in the US and Canada.
The song features Jeff Beck's musical use of feedback, which he learned to control by finding the guitar's resonant points and bending the strings. Music writers have called his work groundbreaking and cited its influence on Paul McCartney and Jimi Hendrix. Several live Yardbirds recordings with Beck and later with Jimmy Page have been released.
In 1968, Beck reworked it for the lead track on his debut album Truth. The new arrangement, along with other album tracks, has been described as a precursor of heavy metal. "Shapes of Things" is included in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's permanent exhibit of the "Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll" and several artists have recorded renditions of the song.
According to the Shapes of Things Songfacts, bassist Paul Samwell-Smith told NME staffer and press officer Keith Altham that he wrote this song about the destruction of the planet. He added: “I wrote it in a bar in Chicago. I just lifted part of a Dave Brubeck fugue to a marching beat. It’s a sort of protest song.”
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