Follow Here To Purchase Sitting On the Top of Time

Musician: James McCarty

Audio CD (August 31, 2009)


Jim McCarty is best known for being the drummer of The Yardbirds. Throughout the British Invasion, he laid down the beat for guitarists Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, and Jimmy Page. In 1969, he joined fellow Yardbirds alum Keith Relf to found the original line-up of the “classical rock” group, Renaissance for which he continued to write songs after he and Relf departed from the band.  Thereafter, McCarty has worked with various reunions of the Yardbirds including the mid-80s version called the Box of Frogs. 

After releasing his first solo album in 1993, McCarty began working with flautist Ron Korb in early 2005 to record his own compositions. For the next four years, he held sporadic sessions in Canada in between Yardbirds tours to build up his material. Working with Toronto session players, McCarty was able to also recruit guest musicians like Steve Hackett (Genesis) to add occasional guitar solos.

The result is far more akin to the classical inspirations for Renaissance than the blues/rock of The Yardbirds. For Sitting, McCarty’s lyrics do border on the psychedelic with spacy journeys looking both inside and out or lazily floating in the air like a “Hummingbird.” His phrasing and “ahs” at the end of some songs seem influenced by Keith Relf’s vocal stylings of old.   But, beyond the few electric guitar solos, the album is mainly McCarty’s lyrics supported by piano and flute as in “Living from the inside out,” “Temporary Life,” and the instrumental “Hidden Nature” which are reminiscent of early Jefferson Starship, particularly side two of   Blows Against the Empire.

Cello is added for the ethereal “For Eloise” about a girl who’s always waiting for you, a girl beyond time and space. “The Outsider” is equally gentle, with a flute solo in between lyrics about “beautiful rimes.” Likewise, acoustic guitar strums provide the setting for “Blowing through the countryside” where the winds blow out old values for new truths. A string quartet and trumpet section then deepen the melody for the idealistic, occasionally Beatlesque “Sitting on the top of time” where there are no worries, no fears, no need to judge or pay. Appropriately, the trip ends with “Shangri-la,” another instrumental drawing from a New Age harp, chimes, bells, and Native American flute stylings.

While Yardbirds fans have likely already checked out this souvenir of an alum from a seminal band, those into what can be loosely defined as “folk/rock” music are an audience that should also appreciate this disc. McCarty—ironically like Relf before him—is not a powerful singer, but he delivers a sense of honesty and reflection in his verses. His lyrics are hopeful, the music low-key, and the experience ideal for quiet afternoons. It’s not “Over Under Sideways Down”—it’s a personal statement from a musician apparently very comfortable in his own skin.


Follow Here To Purchase Sitting On the Top of Time