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The Byrds
Albums

  • Preflyte,
  • Mr Tambourine Man,
  • Turn Turn Turn,
  • Fifth Dimension,
  • Younger Than Yesterday,
  • Notorious Byrd Brothers,
  • Sweetheart Of The Rodeo,
  • Dr Byrd Vs Mr Hyde,
  • Live At The Filmore West,
  • Ballad Of Easy Rider,
  • Untitled,
  • Byrdmaniax,
  • Farther Along,
  • The Byrds,








  • Adrian's Album Reviews |

    The Byrds

    Preflyte 7 ( 2001 )
    You Showed Me / Here Without You / She Has A Way / The Reason Why / For Me Again / Boston / You Movin / The Airport Song / You Won't Have To Cry / I Knew I'd Want You / Mr. Tambourine Man

    Gene Clark was a one man Beatles. The Byrds were of course heavily influenced by The Beatles at this stage in their career. They went on to invent Folk Rock and help make Bob Dylan famous. They also invented Psychedelic Rock and Country Rock along the way before falling apart altogether under the weight of inter band chemistry. This is a collection of early demo's pre-dating their 'Mr Tambourine Man' debut. Gene Clark has the vast majority of the song writing credits here. I said he was a one man Beatles? Well, 'You Showed Me', 'Here Without You', 'She Has A Way', 'The Reason Why'. All are STUNNING songs in terms of quality. The sound isn't so great, it is a collection of demo's after all and the playing is tentative at best. The harmonies are not quite there either, but Gene and I think David Crosby do harmonize quite well in places. I mean, take 'She Has A Way'. It didn't make their debut proper but it's such a good song! Wonderful melody, charming lyrics and harmony parts. You can't go wrong with it, really. 'Boston' and 'You Movin' were group compositions designed to give fans something to dance to at early gigs. They are pretty much awful though unfortunately, and hardly resemble Byrds songs at all. 'The Airport Song' is a fascinating early example of a David Crosby song and lead vocal. It sounds crystal clear compared to much else of what's here which sounds like it was recorded in a shed, and almost was. 'The Airport Song' is genuinely good, sounds good, works as a shining highlight and also as a fascinating glimpse into pre-fame Byrds.

    The Byrds initially didn't even like their big breakthrough Dylan song, 'Mr Tambourine Man', apparently. They had to be heavily persuaded to stick with this verse heavy, lengthy song. The early version of 'Mr Tambourine Man' appearing here is simply a disaster, all over the shop, but the drums are quaint. Played on cardboard boxes apparently and sounding very military marching band. They'd already dropped out half of the verses, but hadn't yet come up with something, a certain 'other' to replace the words with. The jingle-jangle is hardly there, and sounds sloppy. Still, the very early beginnings of any great band is always going to be disappointing to some. It's not quite an exception here, but having said that, Gene Clark had already demonstrated great song writing ability. Roger McGuinn's guitar style was coming into place, and greatness was only just around the corner.

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    Richard Astley-Clemas alicespiral@yahoo.co.uk
    A review of not much substance.For a start the Byrds did not "invent" psychedelia.No one purposely invented it but the Beatles were the ones who made this now recognised genre of music possible. Reviewing a collection of demos is not quite fair other than to say its a historical artefact and it is at least nearer the mark than the Gram Parsons ones re an attempt to show where their main influence was and thats the Beatles. The Byrds had previously recor ded before these demos were hauled out of storage and under 2 different names-the Jet Set and the Beefeaters. As for "folk rock" again no one invented it even though the Beau Brummels are said to have done

    Gregg Star Oslo, Norway
    Mr Clemas' premise seems to be that no one person invents anything. "Eight Miles High" was the vanguard of psychedelic music. ERGO the Byrds were present at the creation and to my knowledge did the inventing thanks to some appropriating melody lines from Coltrane.


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    Mr Tambourine Man( 1965, UK pos 7 )
    Mr. Tambourine Man / I'll Feel A Whole Lot Better / Spanish Harlem Incident / You Won't Have To Cry / Here Without You / The Bells Of Rhymney / All I Really Want To Do / I Knew I'd Want You / It's No Use / Don't Doubt Yourself, Babe / Chimes Of Freedom / We'll Meet Again

    Well, Roger McGuinn certainly came of age with his performance in the title song. The only member of The Byrds to actually play on their debut single proper, and not only that, but what a vocal! A perfect and deliberate mix of John Lennon and Bob Dylan, with a bit of spiritual guidance thrown in for good measure. Yeah, 'Mr Tambourine Man', with its little bass introduction, heavenly harmonies and awesome 12 string rickenbacker guitar. There really is nothing like 'Mr Tambourine Man' as performed here by The Byrds. Half as long, twice as good. Well, twice as good in a pop setting, of course. The Dylan version serves a different purpose, but The Byrds bridge a gap between the pop of The Beatles and the serious of a Dylan, and? Instant chart topper! Of the original material, well, Gene Clark, the best songwriter in The Byrds at this stage certainly comes up trumps with 'Ill Feel A Whole Lot Better', a wonderful perfect piece of rock/pop music. The 'probably' put in the lyric makes the whole thing and it's so shining! 'Spanish Harlem Incident', 'It's No Use' and the quirky Vera Lynn cover 'We'll Meet Again' are not quite as essential as such glittering diamonds, yet all feature the chiming Roger McGuinn guitar. The sound is not only reliant on the chiming Rickenbacker of McGuinn, of course, but also reliant on the vocal harmonies. These harmonies though are pretty much unsurpassed by anyone apart from The Beach Boys, in my humble opinion. The guys sang and sang when practising these songs. They spent months and months honing their sound. Just listen to the bit just at the end of 'The Bells Of Rhymney'. Listen. They go 'ahh'. That's it! But, they really do sound like Gods angels themselves. Whether you believe in God, Angels, or not. I do realise I'm getting a little carried away, but this music reduces me to tears of joy more often than not. David Crosby was concerned with getting the pronunciation of the Welsh Mining Villages mentioned in 'The Bells Of Rhymney' correct. He spent a lot of time worrying about his diction. These guys cared about the little details.

    More great performances abound, the sound and performances occasionally better than the actual material, but the material is fine as well. The Byrds mix their own original songs with well chosen covers, several of which belonged to the pen of that Dylan fellow. Songs from within The Byrds camp includes Gene Clark's 'You Won't Have To Cry' and 'Here Without You' - both wonderfully beautiful haunting songs. We have the harmonies of 'Don't Doubt Yourself Babe' and it's all so happy. 'Chimes Of Freedom' is here, another Dylan song and such a good performance and song, you've NO CHOICE but to admire and enjoy it. Really, this can seriously be considered one of the greatest debut albums of all time. The Beatles paid attention, by the way - and were soon writing their own Byrds and Bob Dylan influenced material. So, a wonderful record. Such a high point, so early on!

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    Michael Harrison fughedaboudit455@yahoo.com
    Go get this album. NOW. Even if you're not necessarily a fan of the folk-rock sound, GO GET IT ANYWAY. For one thing, this album is amazing in the sense that the material is solid all the way through. Most rock albums released in 1965 had a hit single and worthless filler....at best. But each song on this album has something going for it, be it the sound, musicianship, vocal harmonies, or choice of first-class outside material. For another, Gene Clark was, and is, truly an underrated singer and songwriter. Even if some of the Clark originals gravitate toward simple boy-girl love songs, they're FAR more advanced musically and lyrically compared to his 1965 contemporaries.

    Mike Perry mikeperry23@hotmail.com
    I couldn't have put it better myself. The single and the album started me on a love affair that goes on to this day.

    Jim Finnis george.finnis@gmail.com
    "David Crosby was concerned with getting the pronunciation of the Welsh Mining Villages mentioned in 'The Bells Of Rhymney' correct." It's just a shame he didn't check Rhymney itself.. I live in Wales, and the pronunciation really grates every time I hear it. It should be "Rum-knee." This might sound like nitpicking, but it's as if someone had sung a song in which they rhymed London with "tom tom." I believe that McGuinn, in his solo gigs, sings it correctly now after having had someone shout "It's Rhumney, ya bloke!" from the audience...

    Richard Astley-Clemas alicespiral@yahoo.co.uk
    The fact is that the Byrds versions off Dylan songs are easier to listen to than his when you consider the originals were non commercial acoustic performances.Dylan was influenced enough by the Byrds and Beatles as to go electric and this is when the albums began to hit the mainstream

    Josh jb970@aol.com
    Adrian I really concur w/ your review of Mr. Tamborine Man. The harmonies are the best I've heard in rock. And you are spot on about the ending of Bells of Rhymney. I listen to it again & again in awe. Virtually every song is so well done. It's timeless. My favorite piece though is spanish harlem incident. The guitars & vocals are just stupendous. McGuinn's vision is genius. I think Terry Melcher produced. What great work. But you know what I am not w/o recognizing how good Hillman's bass is. And I don't understand why people give a hard time to Micheal Clark on drums. Honestly he always sounds fine in the Byrds to me!

    Gazza One of the greatest debuts ever surely ?? Even if the byrds were a fabricated band (and they sure couldnt play love at this point) designed to cover dylan songs initially they were a whole lot more in reality . You have to mention gene clark here , its his songs that have a maturity and charisma that the others just didnt have at this point and thats what raises this record to the sublime . "here without you" and "feel a whole lot better" are the best tunes here by a mile and were my introduction to this great band. "chimes of freedom" is a lovely performance and deserves to be heard more . One of the 60s landmark albums and a joyous thing to listen to .


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    Turn Turn Turn( 1966, UK pos 11 )
    Turn! Turn! Turn! (To Everything There Is A Season) / It Won't Be Wrong / Set You Free This Time / Lay Down Your Weary Tune / He Was A Friend Of Mine / The World Turns All Around Her / Satisfied Mind / If You're Gone / The Times They Are A-Changin' / Wait And See / Oh! Susannah

    More of the same, but with not quite as many stellar moments as the 'Tambourine Man' long-player. Group politics and the thorny issue of song-writing royalties ( eg, Gene was driving a nice new car and the rest of the group weren't ) means we miss the same quantity of Gene Clark compositions. He's limited here to just a couple of ( still admittedly excellent ) songs. As for Crosby & McGuinn - their song writing contributions trying to pick up the slack were fairly limited at this stage. We have 'Wait And See', for example. It features the guitars and the Byrds harmonies, but remains lightweight and lacks conviction in terms of performance when compared to much of the 'Tambourine Man' set. 'It Won't Be Wrong' is rocking, but it's surely no 'I'll Feel A Whole Lot Better'. Gene's songs here, by comparison, include the superlative 'Set You Free This Time'. It doesn't really sound like a Byrds song much in either sound or structure, yet remains a stunningly complex and poetic composition - presaging much of his solo career. Another Clarke gem is 'The World Turns All Around Her'. A short, fun and very happy sounding song, the sound of the debut Byrds set is retained fully here. Less jingle-jangle is 'If You're Gone', but it's a real Gene Clark classic, and emotion stirrer. There are less Dylan songs and the cover of his 'The Times They Are A-Changing' doesn't quite work out, to tell you the truth. How exactly can anyone cover that song, turning it into an upbeat folk rock classic? The Byrds tried, but don't quite nail it. This was projected to be their third single, but luckily 'Turn Turn Turn' was chosen instead. Now here, everything comes together. As good as anything from their debut and simply a shining heavenly moment. The harmonies and the guitar! This Byrds sound was distinctive. No one can match the sound, many have tried through the years and failed.

    'Lay Down Your Weary Tune' is a Dylan song. It's not done to be a prospective single, like many of their Dylan covers. This performance and version is all about feeling. They transform not so much the structure of the Dylan original but the feeling, intensifying the emotion. A weary vocal -  it seems to slightly drag but the harmonies are as transcendent as ever. So? A fine album overall, an excellent album, even. Moments of genius are less here than the debut, but there are still more than enough shining moments to make the whole thing worth anyone's while. The title song, 'Set You Free This Time' and 'If You're Gone' are classic Byrd songs - classic songs. A couple of good covers into the bargain, and there you go! 

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    Michael Harrison fughedaboudit455@yahoo.com
    This is nowhere near as strong as the debut. "The Times They Are a Changin'" is a really weak....sounds like they did five takes and gave up. The McGuinn/Crosby tune "Wait & See" is hopelessly juvenile.....hard to believe that Gene Clark's "She Don't Care About Time" didn't make the album in place of THIS. "Oh Susannah" is too pedestrian to continue the Byrds' tradition of "offbeat album closers." On the plus side, the Gene Clark tunes that made it to the album are terrific, especially "Set You Free This Time." The group sounds more professional, too.

    kalbertini@look.ca
    What^s all the hype concerning Gene Clark. It was McGuinn^s brilliant arranging adding that immortal riff to Tambourine man & McGuin & Crosby^s arranging that took the song Turn Turn Turn to new heights(It had been covered many times before but it wasn^t played or arranged like this).Their best albums came after this guy left(Younger than....,Notorious)Some of his songs are cool but alot of it is just Fluff.

    Alex Heslop alex.heslop@hackney.gov.uk
    Although not as good as the sensational Mr Tambourine Man, this is still first class material most of the time. In particular Gene Clark's material. In deed it is odd to think of Roger McGuinn as the leader of the Byrds when Gene cleared showed more musical and lyrical leadership in the 1st two albums than the official leader! The weakest track in my opinion is The Times They Are A Changing.

    Gazza
    A solid follow up that tails of badly after the disastrous cover of "the times they are a changing" "lay down your weary tune" is spot on though as is the classic title track and the beautiful "if youre gone". One should also spare a thought for the late great gene clark here- all his songs are great here. The byrds were a classic case of too much talent and ego to be contained in one band.


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    Fifth Dimension 8 ( 1966, UK pos 27 )
    5D (Fifth Dimension) / Wild Mountain Thyme / Mr. Spaceman / I See You / What's Happening?!?! / I Come And Stand At Every Door / Eight Miles High / Hey Joe (Where You Gonna Go) / Captain Soul / John Riley / 2-4-2 Fox Trot (The Lear Jet Song)

    Gene Clark had departed, the official reason was his dislike of pop stardom, especially his fear of flying. Sure, those were major reasons for his departure. The other group members hardly tried to persuade him to stay, though. More room for their own writing efforts, you see? More money for Crosby and McGuinn in particular, but the timing was terrible. The really stupid thing was it happened after he had gifted them 'Eight Miles High'. 'Eight Miles High' is an early and glorious psychedelic masterpiece. And, it is a masterpiece, from start to finish. So much so, it still sounds absolutely thrilling and contemporary even today. That bass riff, that 'raga' see-sawing amazing guitar, the lyrics... David Crosby and Roger McGuinn 'finished' the song after Gene left, adding to the song so it eventually became a rare but true collaborative writing effort. Unfortunately for the rest of the album, after Gene's departure, the remainder of The Byrds made the decision to drop Dylan covers - more bad timing. The lack of material from Gene combined with turning their backs on the pen of Dylan means this 'Fifth Dimension' LP - which should have been an absolute groundbreaking classic - is let down by a number of songs for which the term 'filler' is rather generous. This filler includes the truly dreadful dirge of 'I Come And Stand At Every Door' and a dubious cover of 'Hey Joe' - a song later made famous by Jimi Hendrix, and performed at least twelve times better than it is here. Oh, and 'Captain Soul'. An instrumental that is neither soulful nor particularly 'captain' (?!).

    Still, there are genuine highlights apart from the aforementioned 'Eight Miles High'. These include 'I See You' which does fit into the same sort of mould as 'Eight Miles High'. It's not quite as thrilling, but it's still a great track. David Crosby's 'What's Happening?!?!' sports perfect lead vocals with great guitar parts from McGuinn to 'answer' the questions posed by David lyrically - a lovely song. The singles 5D and 'Mr Spaceman' are both entertaining and quirky, although hardly in the same league as 'Eight Miles High'.  Still, to finish the album we have a lovely version of 'John Riley' which features good Byrds harmony work and another typically daft closing number, the supremely silly '2-4-2 Fox Trot'.  So, how to sum up? Well, any album containing songs as good as 'Eight Miles High' and 'I See You' is hardly going to be lack-lustre. Some of the playing elsewhere is thrilling, too. The whole record, almost without exception, actually 'sounds' great. It's a pretty damn fine album, just not what it could have been. A missed opportunity then, but Gene Clark's loss had been overcome, just about. The Byrds didn't fold or anything, nothing of the sort. That in itself is achievement enough considering how much he'd dominated their early original material.

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    Michael Harrison fughedaboudit455@yahoo.com
    This is definitely a transitional album, and as an album is probably more admirable than likeable. "Eight Miles High" is one of my top 20 favorite songs of all time.....as usual, they were ahead of their time by a year or two. With Gene Clark 's departure, I would have expected more original material from the other Byrds. Nevertheless, the cover material is well-done, even if the strings on "John Riley" and "Wild Mountain Thyme" don't exactly match the rst of the album, soundwise. I always liked "I See You".....pretty far out for mid-1966. Crosby's cover of "Hey Joe" redefines LAME.....it doesn't even qualify as filler. The mixing/sound quality is atrocious compared to the first two albums, and the remastering didn't help.

    Ross Thomas ross@icseven.freeserve.co.uk
    Agree with all of this except I Come And Stand At Every Door is a great song and has deep resonance. A courageous move by the band.

    Ber Wilbers l.wilbers@chello.nl
    Since my days as a teenager The Byrds are the world's no1 band to me and Notorious is in my opinion the best album ever, period. So I mostly do fully agree with you, but hate to see that you don't recognize the full drama and beauty of I Come And Stand. Try it again Sam!

    Kevin Barrett kevinbfm@hotmail.com
    There was no hype involving Gene Clark, he was simply an amazing & prolific songwriter and a talented singer as well. Gene's departure was a major loss to a great band.

    Josh jb970@aol.com
    In disagreement w/ you on this album. Granted their first 2 efforts are tough acts to follow but I think it holds up quite well. Wild Mountain Thyme is a great Byrds vocal performance. There's a reason it was placed 2nd on their 3rd classic album. Could not disagree w/ you more on I come & stand at every door. This is a brilliant a performance. Who else can do this? Who could get away w/ it? Also the guitar on Hey Joe is excellent. It is a classic album, period.

    Gazza
    That crosby wanted gene clark out the byrds is most likely considering he was constantly undermining him from the moment he joined the group . Mcguinn and hillman were also beginning to tire of crosbys antics - and yes , band politics were beginning to eat this group up . Never the best of live bands in this line up , they still managed to deliver 2 more great albums after this release. This one like "turn turn turn" also suffers from having not quite enough quality songs , 5D is clearly padded out with 3 filler tracks , and none too subtle about it either. Still everything up to "8 miles high" is pretty awesome though , and the harmonies and strings on "john riley " are lovely .


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    Younger Than Yesterday( 1967, UK pos 37 )
    So You Want To Be A Rock 'N' Roll Star / Have You Seen Her Face / C.T.A.-102 / Renaissance Fair / Time Between / Everybody's Been Burned / Thoughts And Words / Mind Gardens / My Back Pages / The Girl With No Name / Why

    The big surprise of this album is not that they went back on their decision to drop Bob Dylan covers with a lovely version of his 'My Back Pages'. Nor that this, the second album they'd recorded minus Gene Clark, is altogether more consistent than the first, 'Fifth Dimension'. No, the real surprise is Chris Hillman's emergence as a songwriter of note. None of his songs are groundbreaking classics but all are made to fit the Byrds mould and provide entertaining diversions here. Especially 'Have You Seen Her Face' which is simply a great song. 'The Girl With No Name' is easy to hum and dance along to, and very listenable. Chris Hillman songs were not replacements for the songs of Gene Clark, but helped enormously in fleshing out Byrds albums, providing more than entertaining diversions. The album opens with 'So You Want To Be A Rock N Star'. Crowd noises, deeply cynical lyrics. Great trumpet sections! It's a fast pop rock song. 'C.T.A. -102' sounds kind of trippy. It's not 'I See You' or 'Eight Miles High'. In fact it's rather lightweight, but it's not offensive and it fits the album. 'Renaissance Fair' is a two minute Crosby/McGuinn wonder. A startlingly original composition that points the way forwards toward the album they'd complete the following year. A couple of more entertaining Chris Hillman songs follow - 'Thoughts And Words' is a good song.

    David Crosby's 'Everybody's Been Burned' is simply beautiful with lovely guitar from Roger and I can't let this album pass without at least some sort of mention of David Crosby's 'Mind Gardens'. A psychedelic abomination, dragged out, don't know what it's about. David was starting to try to dominate the group dynamic at this point, and the song was included simply to keep him quiet. Tensions within The Byrds camp always threatened to take away from what they could have achieved, had they only been a little closer outside of the music itself. 'Mind Gardens' is followed by 'My Back Pages' - the Dylan cover. Crosby was opposed to the inclusion of the song, but after 'Mind Gardens' - he wasn't in a position to complain too loudly. It's a semi-classic Byrds Folk Rock moment, it works, and reminded listeners of all the reasons they fell for The Byrds in the first place. 'Why' closes this album, for once on a straight forward note. And, this is a good album that overall shows progress for the group. It's not the masterpiece everyone acclaims it to be, however. Compared to 'Sgt Peppers' or 'Pet Sounds' for example, inquisitive music fans digging out 'Younger Than Yesterday' promised that this is the legendary Byrds masterpiece, are likely to be disappointed, and perhaps not even bother to investigate The Byrds further, which would be a crying shame. Listen to 'Younger Than Yesterday' for what it is, not what's it's claimed to be, and you'll be entertained, and given enjoyment with a sequence of very fine music.

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    Alan Brooks albrookscentury21@yahoo.com
    The Byrds track 'So You Want To Be A Rock And Roll Star?' is not the best song the Byrds ever did, but the combination of the jazzy horns and the wry lyrics (plus the crowd sound effects) make it my favourite.

    Michael Harrison fughedaboudit455@yahoo.com
    Chris Hillman's emergence as a songwriter was a pleasant surprise when I first heard YTY. He brought in a country element to their music, almost unheard of for early '67 rock. David Crosby also became a significant songwriter, although here we have one of his best songs ever "Everybody's Been Burned"....I always feel a sense of unease or despair when I listen to this) and one of his worst ("Mind Gardens", which I always skip over). Also, "CTA 102" is playful in a way that 5D's "Lear Jet Song" was not.

    James Evans thenationofjames@yahoo.co.uk
    The Bryds at their most complete. Definitely their best. 'Have you seen her Face' and 'Thoughts and Words' are two of my favourite Bryds tracks ever - both Hillman compositions too. Nice feel to this album though because seems to be hitting their stride. The Pyscehdelia doesn't intrude like it does maybe on Notorious. Except on Mind Gardens naturally.

    richard frank booshank620@hotmail.com
    I think that is possibly the best byrds album. Apart from the atrocious Mind Gardens alll of the album is grand and the likes of Everybody's Been Burned and Rennaisance Fair and beautiful. Of all the byrds albums i own they are all the re-issues with bonus tracks. On all of them, including this album, it shows what bad choices they mad on which tracks to include. On Younger then yesterday it would have been a stone cold classic album if the likes of Lady Friend and It Happens Each Day had been addd instead of Mind Gardens.

    Duke Doyleecqueenrock@yahoo.com
    Is it good? Yes. Is it close to "5-D"? No way. As Roger McGuinn himself said, this album is too much of a democracy, which almost never works in a rock-n-roll band (save for "Ballad of Easy Rider" and "Untitled"). I'll be the first to admit that Crosby is my least favorite Byrd in terms of songwriting, and "Mind Gardens" affirms this wonderfully. "Everybody's Been Burned" is okay, but not as stellar as his later "Guinnevere", both of which sound very similar. "CTA-102" tries to recapture "5-D" but just doesn't have enough gravity to do so- nothing at all like the song. There are, of course, its saving graces- "So You Wanna Be A Rock 'n' Roll Star" and all of the Hillman compositions, which are stunning. And they include future Byrd (and my personal favorite alongside McGuinn) Clarence White...very cool. Overall, not as good as everyone says.

    Paul Wilde _Picnic@yahoo.com
    So you want to be a rock n roll star is the finest rock and roll song I have ever heard as it sums up the innocence and the excitement of rock and roll. It is the greatest example of the use of stereo I have ever heard, with what sounds like a comb being brushed in the left speaker and the trumpets and the crowd.

    Richard Astley-Clemas alicespiral@yahoo.co.uk
    A nice touch really to include the dubbed in audience noises from a Beatles concert in Bristol! The album is flawed because of the appalling Crosby song but I suppose that's an excuse for it-Crosby was not and never will be a songwriter and was the only member of the Byrds who never went into country music.His own weird non songs went with him and never gained any covers

    Gazza garyhess44@hotmail.com
    I agree with richard frank . This album is overlooked in terms of it being an answer to revolver. Might i dare suggest that with the addition of "lady friend" and "it happens each day"(both crosby - why the hell were these excluded ?) it would have surpassed it. Its the byrds at their creative peak , a stimulating burst of sonic innovation . Crosby couldnt write songs?? - nonsense!! "everybodys been burned" dispells that and shit i like "mind gardens" , its no more self indulgent than space oddyssey was on notorious. And here chris hillman commences adding a country element to proceedings.(far out for 67). Beautiful harmonies (renaissance fair) space rock (cta102) experimentation in tone and feel (mind gardens) halcyon pop melodies (have you seen her face) the best dylan cover the band did (my back pages) Its all here in place . Its the quintessential californian psychedelic pop record .10/10


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    Notorious Byrd Brothers 10 ( 1968, UK pos 12 ) more best albums...
    Artificial Energy / Goin' Back / Natural Harmony / Draft Morning / Wasn't Born To Follow / Get To You / Change Is Now / Old John Robertson / Tribal Gathering / Dolphin's Smile / Space Odyssey

    A true masterpiece this time round. Unfortunately, this albums stature has suffered not due to the psychedelic tinged production tricks. The production, by former Brian Wilson collaborator Gary Usher, is actually stupendous. The assorted studio effects really do add to certain songs here and sound utterly appropriate in every case. The running order is seamless, every track flows into the next quite naturally and it really is impossible to imagine the songs ordered in any other way. No, the reason this album's reputation has suffered is due to the fact that mid-way through recording David Crosby quit the group. Drummer Michael Clarke soon followed. With the album still incomplete they were reduced to a duo of just Roger McGuinn and Chris Hillman. Session Man Jim Gordon helped out on drums and Gary Usher together with Roger and Chris pieced the whole thing together. David's departure was unfortunate, but perhaps inevitable. There were countless famous studio arguments and actual fights. Drummer Michael Clarke was criticized un-mercilessly. The tension however was vital in creating this album. The tension and competition helped the creative process. We kick off with 'Artificial Energy'. It includes a delightful little borrow of the vocal phrasing of The Beatles 'Ticket To Ride' and is a whole load of fun. The cover of the Goffin and King classic 'Goin' Back' is a thing of beauty, Plain and simple. Roger and Chris effectively duplicated the groups old three part harmonies very well indeed. It's one of the best harmonies they ever did, in fact! The song has a floaty ethereal feel and is extremely beautiful. Jim Gordon comes in towards the end with a fantastic, superbly timed drum roll and the whole thing is an impossible triumph against all odds. 'Natural Harmony' by Chris with it's 'Arms open wide' lyric is evocative and flows into David's 'Draft Morning'. It flows oh so beautifully, and 'Draft Morning' is one of the greatest recordings they ever did. The production effects including drum-shots, trumpets etc really do add dramatic atmosphere. The singing is outstanding and the bass playing displays just how much Chris Hillman had developed as a musician -  a wonderful perfect moment all round.

    The short up-tempo country tinged number 'Wasn't Born To Follow' is so grin inducing! 'Get To You' and 'Change Is Now' are lesser compositions here but both  benefit hugely from Gary Ushers superlative production, and there are wonderful vocals from Roger and Chris. David's songs 'Tribal Gathering' and 'Dolphins Smile' show just how good he was getting as a song-writer of real talent and vision. David Crosby would indeed be sorely missed, and even though he was replaced by a picture of a horse on the albums front cover, he does make great contributions to this album. 'Space Odyssey' closes the whole record on a slightly strange note as had become a Byrds trademark. It works though, the album does too! Best listened to from start to finish, it's a brilliant cohesive work of art that has suffered unduly due to the circumstances of it's creation. It's a fantastic perfect record and highly recommended. 'Notorious Byrd Brothers'  is arguably the peak of The Byrds as a studio act.

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    Nick Einhorn finkle_2000@yahoo.com
    I'm definitely with you in calling this the best Byrds albums. It combines the sonic experimentation of 5D and YTY with the terrific songwriting/songcovering of their debut. "Wasn't Born To Follow", "Draft Morning", "Goin' Back" - in fact, just about all the songs are terrific. Definitely a ten.

    Michael Harrison fughedaboudit455@yahoo.com
    Wow, between this, YTY, and MR. TAMBOURINE MAN, it's hard to decide which album is their best! They're all great in their own way. NOTORIOUS is probably the most interesting listen of the three because they coalesced all of their previous work and added a little psych experimentation into one album. It could be argued that the psych elements are there to make up for the lack of a full band.....I say the elements add to the overall sound experience without overtaking the sound. "Goin' Back" should have been a hit. Also, I like the hidden bonus track, a hilarious snatch of the Byrds fighting in the studio, where every fifth word is "man"!!

    Richard Davidson Charlbury@hotmail.com
    The re-issue has the wonderful "Triad" in its full glory.This and the other Crosby classic "Girlfriend" are quality songs.They should have been on the album instead of "Old John Robertson" & the awful "Space Odyssey".When you make the substitutions you have the real masterpiece.I do not blame Crosby for being angry about the omission of the two songs. Still, he got his way on YTY and we got "Mind Gardens".Say no more.

    Bradley Goodman Bradleykgoodman2@aol.com
    This album is simply a classic. In my top five for sure and I wasn't even a big Byrds fan. Like the group Love's "Forever Changes" during the late sixties this album captures the incedible era that can never be duplicated...

    orangeropes@myway.com
    No question, their best album. When people say it sounds dated, it seems like such a silly argument. It was recorded in 1967!! Draft Morning is the best song they ever did, period. I don't mind the horns on Artifical Energy one bit...an easy 10

    Duke Doyleecqueenrock@yahoo.com
    This is overhyped, overproduced rubbish. "Goin' Back", "Wasn't Born To Follow," "Draft Morning," and "Change is Now" are great songs, but not nearly as legendary as the critics and y'all make them out to be. I think it's more of a landmark album due to the story behind it's production. One of their worst efforts. john, county kildare, ireland john.j.doyle@nuim.ie
    i would like to praise adrian for his consistency in this section.unlike your dylan,young and beach boys reviews,you actually give the correct amount of praise to each album here!!! notorious byrd brothers is UNDENIABLY a perfect 10, AND im glad to say features at 33 on my college top 100 albums of all time. adrian baby, there's hope for you yet.

    Richard Astley-Clemas alicespiral@yahoo.co.uk
    Seemingly Crosby objected to the decision to cut the song Goin' Back yet no way could he write a song as good as that. This in itself showed how far away he was from reality-not only had the Beatles recorded Goffin King songs but so had the Byrds. The song had recently been a hit in England for Dusty Springfield and had previous versions by Goldie (of the Gingerbreads) and Carole King herself

    gazza garyhess44@hotmail.com
    Ive been listening a lot too this and notorious byrd brothers , i reckon this is the stronger record . people slate mind gardens but is it any less indulgent than space odyssey ? and those other horrible moog experiments on the extra tracks on notorious. the album flows beautifully , my back pages , renaissance fair everybodys been burned - beautiful songs , joyous harmonies , its one of the best records of the era , but why the hell was lady friend left off !!???

    Gazza
    Its a strong record but not quite as good as "younger than yesterday" IMO . "change is now" and "space oddyssey" are deeply dull and the album is extremely overproduced . However side 1 rivals "younger than yesterday" as their most mature and beautiful recordings .


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    Sweetheart Of The Rodeo( 1968 )
    You Ain't Going Nowhere / I Am A Pilgrim / The Christian Life / You Don't Miss Your Water / You're Still On My Mind / Pretty Boy Floyd / Hickory Wind / One Hundred Years From Now / Blue Canadian Rockies / Life In Prison / Nothing Was Delivered

    Fans were not anticipating this. After the critically acclaimed 'Notorious Byrd Brothers' The Byrds went country! They did in fact, with the help of a certain Gram Parsons, 'invent' country rock. How good is that? Fact is, Roger McGuinn, focal point of the group now Crosby had departed wanted to make a double album spanning the entire history of music right into the future and incorporating  'space' music. Gram Parsons was hired because he was a nifty little keyboard player. It seems hard to credit that Roger had no idea Gram was also an avid country nut. He certainly would have heard some of Gram Parsons past recordings with the International Submarine Band. What he possibly didn't know was that Gram Parsons would effectively all but take over the Byrds during his short tenure with the group. At the very first rehearsal Gram and Chris Hillman were harmonising on a variety of country standards. Roger quickly was reduced to third in line in the group he'd formed and provided a signature sound for. When faced with listening to this album and trying to ignore it's huge influence on all and sundry since it's release, one thing pops into my head. Why? On the face of it, this is patently inferior to Gram's subsequent solo recordings and arguably to many Byrd moments that followed too. There are fine moments here, however. We open with 'You Ain't Going Nowhere' a Bob Dylan song. The country influence is less obvious here than with other songs on the record, and the performance is very fine. The second song is a version of 'I Am A Pilgrim' sung ( very well, actually ) by Chris Hillman. 'I Am A Pilgrim'? From the same group that released 'Eight Miles High'? Yeah. It's a nice moment actually. Doesn't sound one bit like The Byrds though. 'The Christian Life' is a little too 'up' for me personally. 'You Don't Miss Your Water' is absolutely wonderful though. Great little weary harmonies. Very nice. Only two original compositions, both by Gram. Quite what Roger and Chris were doing is beyond me. How they couldn't come up with a single new song between them is something of a mystery after the masterful 'Notorious Byrd Brothers'.

    Some of the covers here 'Blue Canadian Rockies' and 'Life In Prison' sound lack-lustre, half done. It's rumoured ( from Gram's quarters ) these were warm up takes and never intended to be released. Gram Parsons quit The Byrds shortly after the completion of recording. Some of his original lead vocals were replaced by Rogers, and in one case, Grams own song 'One Hundred Years From Now', by the only duel lead harmony from Roger and Chris on the entire record. It's a highlight and the most 'Byrds' sounding songs on the entire album. The best song here, one of the two originals, is Gram's own 'Hickory Wind'. One of the few Gram lead vocals to survive as well. There is little to indicate it's a Byrds song, this is pretty much a forerunner to Chris and Grams next project, 'The Flying Burrito Brothers'. It's a wonderful song though, very spiritual and beautiful. 'Nothing Was Delivered' closes the album the same way it begun, with a Dylan song. Choosing Dylan covers ( almost certainly Roger's choice ) was seen as linking this Byrds line-up to their illustrious past. Overall this a good, if slightly confused, album. Not a great Byrds album, but a good album from anybody else, and a warm listening experience.

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    RunningPoogie@aol.com
    Hi there! The reason that gram took over the band is obvious for two reasons. The first being after the previous album the bands mainstay was completely tired and worn out. This is evidenced by the lack of any songwriting coming from the other members. Gram was freash blood. Also I believe out of all of the mucisians in the Byrds Gram Parsons was the most definitive. He was a true stylist in every sense of the word. He took the Byrds somewhere no other band or solo artist had ever been before. Thanks Gram for bring us Emmylou !

    Mike Harrison fughedaboudit455@yahoo.com
    I'd give this an 8. You have to admit that, in 1968, this was an extremely brave move. To follow NOTORIOUS with THIS must have shocked the hell out of Byrds fans back then. Now, granted, this album isn't entirely successful because there are SO many covers.....I wonder if everyone involved hit a songwriting roadblock. Also, this sounds more like a COUNTRY album rather than a COUNTRY-ROCK album. I'd even go so far as to say that the reincarnated Byrds of 1969-1970 were a bit closer to a country-rock sound. But the Byrds' choice of material is absolutely first-rate, and the playing is as solid as ever. Recording SWEETHEART must have been a fairly easy task, too, since McGuinn & Hillman already had that country influence going as far back as "Satisfied Mind" on TURN TURN TURN, not to mention the country influence Parsons (and even Kelley from his Rising Sons days) brought to the table.

    orangeropes@myway.com
    Their 2nd best album behind Notorious bbros. Every song is a classic! How can those harmonies on the 'Christian Life' be beat?? '100 years' is gorgeous, and the bonus version of it is just as good with gram on lead vocals. I also dig the shit out of the studio argument (hidden bonus track on the remastered copy) Best part: Michael and Roger are fighting, and Crosby says: "Hey guys, come on! Stop arguing, man" "Fuck Off, Crosby"-McGuinn

    Duke Doyleecqueenrock@yahoo.com
    This deserves a flat out 9. What a wonderful departure for more genuine waters after a disappointingly phony "Notorious Byrd Brothers." In addition to being a landmark country album, it paved the way for the second coming of this legendary band, the Parsons/White lineup.

    John, County Kildare john.j.doyle@nuim.ie
    I agree totally with Duke. For such a short period of time, Gram left an amazing mark wherever he went. "Short" certainly sums up his Byrds career...... "Sweet" is also a word that should be used. Sweet as a summer morning. 9/10.

    Richard Astley-Clemas alicespiral@yahoo.co.uk
    Its only rock snobbery which ever said country music was useless.Rather a daft thing to believe when you realise rock'n'roll came straight from it! To digress for a minute there had been the most perfect album the Byrds never made-thats the ECHOES one by Gene Clark who next recorded a couple of albums with Douglas Dillard the famous bluegrasser.The 20 track CD version with sleeve notes by Sid Griffin of the Coal Porters is well worth seeking out. Meanwhile the Byrds had simply gone back to their roots

    gazza garyhess44@hotmail.com
    This is where me and the byrds part company . In my opinion it was a huge mistake to sack crosby (even though his ego was out of control) Crosby was about to hit his peak songwriting wise while the byrds drifted into becoming a mediocre country rock act. mcguinn clearly doesnt "get" some of these songs blue canadian rockies and christian life particularly , it actually sounds like hes taking the piss. gram parsons steeped in the traditions of the baptist south had a much deeper instinctive understanding of country music and his own hickory wind is a highpoint here. I agree with adrian that the william bell cover "you dont miss your water" was inspired and the album could have done with more in a similar vein Compare with the flying burritos brothers album and this pales very much .

    Dan Atlanta, GA
    Go to a music store, what is left of them, and look in the Byrds rack. Sweetheart is always there because people buy it. It is the most enduring of all and I am a huge Byrds fan.


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    Dr Byrds Vs Mr Hyde( 1969, UK pos 15 )
    This Wheel's On Fire / Old Blue / Your Gentle Way Of Loving Me / Child Of The Universe / Nashville West / Drug Store Truck Drivin' Man / King Apathy III / Candy / Bad Night At The Whiskey / Medley: My Black Pages-B.J. Blues-Baby What You Want Me To Do

    Chris Hillman departed. Roger McGuinn was the only remaining original member and some people ( step forward David Crosby ) never forgave Roger for continuing The Byrds. I for one am glad that he did. If he hadn't, we never would have had the simple joy that is 'Dr Byrd Vs Mr Hyde'. Yes, a simple joy! An exhilarating rock album! Rock! There are sounds on this album that are simply astonishing. Clarence White had a lot to do with this. A superb guitarist brought in to replace Gram Parsons. Clarence wasn't obvious guitar god material. He was certainly not into showmanship or showing off. He was however a guitarist openly admired by Jimi Hendrix. Not too many guitar players could claim that honour. He had a device attached to his guitar that enabled him to effectively duplicate the sound of a pedal steel guitar during live performance. His addition to The Byrds was vital to their survival. We kick off with an echo filled version of Bob Dylan's 'This Wheel's On Fire'. It really is ghostly, doomy and rather fun. Yeah, it's not as 'polished' a sound as we were used to from The Byrds. Then again, it's wise to consider this an entirely new group altogether. Although Roger took all lead vocals on the record, it sounds nothing like The Byrds of old. He ditched his old twelve string rickenbacker jingle jangle sound with Clarence playing the majority of the guitar. And, it's wonderful, Clarence White does some amazing things. Moving on through the album, 'Old Blue' is thought to be one of the most despised moments in the Byrds entire catalogue. I simply cannot understand why. Yes, it's a song about a dog - "My old blue was a good old hound..." - and, so on. The music is simply stupendous, however and so very happy sounding. The interweaving guitars really do sound wonderful. 'Your Gentle Ways Of Loving Me' is a Roger McGuinn song and it outshines anything from 'Sweetheart Of The Rodeo'. It's not a country song as such, just a happy song with great vocals and good guitar. It's actually, for my money, one of the great underrated Byrd songs of the era. 'Child Of The Universe' isn't quite so great and leads into the enthusiastically played instrumental 'Nashville West'. This creates a lull in the centre of the record. It's certainly not an especially consistent album, but it's always a more than rewarding listen.

    The second side of the record opens with a country song co-written by Roger and the departed Gram Parsons. It's corny but fun. The lyrics are great, actually. 'King Apathy III' and 'Bad Night At The Whiskey' are both just fantastic performances. Ghostly and wonderful guitar work with good vocals. The Byrds back from the dead, reborn as a rhythm and blues act? Well, yeah. 'King Apathy III' includes country sections in-between the guitar rock workouts. It was released as a single and is just....well, listen to it. It sounds nothing like how you'd imagine. It's just a brilliant moment, that is all. Listen to the critics! Go on! Listen to them berate 'Dr Byrds Vs Mr Hyde'. If you do, you'll be missing out on some of the best music The Byrds ever recorded. Yes, that's right! <

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    Matthew Anderson Matthew.Anderson@kentwoodps.org
    i was so happy to see you give dr. byrds the praise that it has always deserved and seldom received. i have thought that people undervalue this recording because of the schizophrenic production. jon landau noted in his review of dr. byrds that bob johnston had done an excellent job producing the country cuts, but had failed to find an equally compelling sound for the rock numbers. what if feliz pappalardi had produced this record?

    Ross Thomas ross@icseven.freeserve.co.uk
    Can't agree with this man! It's not a good album at all, even the bonus tracks suck. Gentle Ways IS a GREAT track, Old Blue IS fun. Child Of The Universe has some cool lyrics. Nothing else on this album is up to The Byrds standard IMHO

    chuck mcfeddron cmcfeddron@yahoo.com
    This is my favorite Byrds album along with Ballad of Easy Rider, The Notorious Byrd Brothers and The Byrds Greatest Hits (all you need of the first four albums which sound a bit dated and get somewhat redundant and formulaic).

    Josh kidtiger@graffiti.net
    Dr. Byrds and Mr. Hyde.... one wonders what this album would have been had Gary Usher been involved. As I undertsand, Columbia recommended (= selected) producer Bob Johnston, a Texas native and a guy with a seemingly well-grounded past in country music, after the Byrds went Nashville with Sweetheart. The logic behind this is null, perhaps, as Usher helped the Byrds craft a Country unlike any other -- but from Columbia's standpoint, Sweetheart was a loss (financially). I guess they thought with a true countrified fellow like Johnston, the result would be a more succesful Byrds excursion. On top of this, he had produced two hit albums for Dylan, one of the Byrds favorite song catalogues. Dylan himself, however, was most responsible for the sound captured on 61 Revisited and Blonde on Blonde. One listen to Dr. Byrds can be quite puzzling. The album is muddled, and of all the Byrds 60's works, this sounds the most dated today -- something that can be blamed on Johnston. ! Even the country numbers come off poorly, downright fraudulent when compared to Sweetheart. Granted, it was an entirely new Byrds lineup that entered the studio in October of 1968, Hillman having quit in the previous weeks, while White and (Gene) Parsons had only been Byrds a period of months. However, the songs on Dr. Byrds are strong -- and Gary Usher had dealt with changing lineups ever since Younger, and had been able to maintain the "Byrds sound." Dr. Byrds sounds like it was recorded in a trashcan. It was understandable for McGuinn to take lead vocals, but as for those Byrds harmonies that had graced every previous album -- they were gone. Even with Notorious and Sweetheart, with the loss of Crosby and the addition of Gram, the essential sunshine harmonies trademark of the Byrds survived. Parsons and White certainly had different vocal styles than the likes of Gram of Hillman, but augmented by York, and properly structured, the combined voices of the Dr. Byrds ! Byrds could have carried on those golden harmonies. Gary Ushe! r could have helped do this. Dr. Byrds - in concept a blend of the psychedelia of Notorious and the roots country of Sweetheart - could have been the Byrds rebirth in the commercial market. In the hands of Usher, songs like "This Wheel's on Fire," "King Apathy III," and "Bad Night at the Whiskey," could have bolstered the Byrds into the Billboard's upper reaches once again. "King Apathy" follows much the same structure as "Change is Now," from an upbeat verse to a country flavored refrain to a writhing guitar solo and back again. Had Usher been on hand, Dr. Byrds could possibly have been the peak of the Byrds on record... a truly spaced out countrified twisting, timeless record -- and a good starting point for the New Byrds. Imagine...

    Richard Astley-Clemas alicespiral@yahoo.co.uk
    For a start this is hardly a Byrds album-its Roger McGuinn retaining the name. It would not be till about 1974 when the Byrds made their REUNION album that the real Byrds were flying again. This album is simply a showcase for the latest ideas

    Rob New York
    Dr. Byrds and Mr. Hyde was perhaps the weakest Byrds album, but...consider the circumstances under which it emerged: personnel changes, time to forge a sound that linked to what came before, but with the added resource of finally being able to play live. This whole thread has touched on : who was leader, who was the best songwriter, who did what who gets the credit for this,etc,etc,etc. In the end, I look at both "editions"of the Byrds (if you will) as the result of outstanding collaborations. Everyone brought their respective strong (and weak) points to the mix. In the first original group, for 5 guys that had no extensive prior history of personal friendship, collaboration (as far as I know) what they succeeded in doing was masterful. I'm grateful for the legacy. In the second edition, even though the songwriting/vocals may not have had the same punch as the original lineup, does it make a differance? The second edition of the Byrds was an awesome live band. I ! saw, I heard, I felt. I think of the work of the Byrds 40+ years later as a wonderful American idea that involved synthesis, refinement ,vision that elevatedour thinking about what could be done musically. I keep it in my heart.Thanks to Roger, Gene Clark, Chris, David, Micheal, Clarence, Gene Parsons, Gram and all the rest. Thank you. Thank you.


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    Live At The Filmore West 7 ( 1969 )
    Nashville West / You're Still On My Mind / Pretty Boy Floyd / Drug Store Truck Drivin' Man / Medley: Turn! Turn! Turn! (To Everything There Is A Season)-Mr. Tambourine Man-Eight Miles High / Close Up The Honky Tonks / Buckaroo / The Christian Life / Time Between / King Apathy III / Bad Night At The Whiskey / The Wheel's On Fire / Sing Me Back Home / So You Want To Be Rock 'N' Roll Star / He Was A Good Friend Of Mine / Chimes Of Freedom

    A live album recorded just two weeks after the release of 'Dr Byrds Vs Mr Hyde'. It captures the group showcasing an uneasy mix of country, rock and The Byrds of old. Even though this new Byrds line-up couldn't get anywhere close to the vocal harmonic brilliance of The Byrds of old, it's the older compositions that shine the brightest. The medley, for example. It may not have much art in it - you know, 'lets play our three biggest hits in throwaway fashion right near the beginning of the set' but still, those chords send a chill up the spine. After the heroics from Clarence White on the studio album, this reminds you of Roger McGuinn's continuing importance as leader of the group. 'Close Up The Honky Tonks' and 'Buckaroo' I don't really want to listen to very much at all. I count myself as a big Byrds fan but this does nothing for me. 'Time Between' featuring Roger and Clarence on guitars is far more effective and entertaining. A Chris Hillman song, interestingly. 'King Apathy III' and 'Bad Night At The Whiskey' are as great as ever and Clarence White as great as ever on guitar. The closing three songs hark back to The Byrds of old. As I said, the harmonies are largely lacking. The guitar is there though, and it's a pleasing end to a rather mixed album on the whole. Not an essential document, this album, but a live Byrds album that should be welcomed by fans all the same

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    chuck mcfeddron cmcfeddron@yahoo.com
    This was an ouitstanding liv band with two of the greatest and most unique electric guitarists in rock bouncing off one another in a mesmerizing blend of rock and country rock. This WAS NOT a country band though, as McGuinn was from Chicago and White from Maine. No, the blend here is original and an ENORMOUS improvement of the DISASTER that the Byrds became with Crosby at the Monterey festival about a year and a half earlier. Get the Monterey DVD and listen to Crosby if you want to appreciate how much McGuinn improved the Byrds as a live act with the band from this Filmore 1969 era. 5 stars,so if you are a Byrds fan from the old days , what are you waiting for? Get it..

    Duke Doyleecqueenrock@yahoo.com
    First of all, the reviewer here is missing the point. This is a LIVE album, not a STUDIO album. Have you ever heard the early Byrds' harmonies in concert. No offense to my favorite band, but they're laughable at best, not to mention the instrumentation. This is BY FAR a step up, with Gene Parsons being a far superior drummer to Clarke, York equal to if not better than Hillman (but not at the level of Battin), and Clarence being light years above Crosby. What you hear is NOT the cohesive folk/raga rock of the Byrds of old, but the seemless yet genuinely rugged marriage of country and rock 'n' roll. And no one could do it better than the Byrds.


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    Ballad Of Easy Rider( 1969 )
    Ballad Of Easy Rider / Fido / Oil In My Lamp / Tulsa County / Jack Tarr The Sailor / Jesus Is Just Alright / It's All Over Now, Baby Blue / There Must Be Someone (I Can Turn To) / Gunga Din / Deportee (Plane Wreck At Los Gatos) / Armstrong, Aldrin And Collins

    Why do groups react often in such drastic fashion to sales figures? 'Dr Byrds Vs Mr Hyde' had demonstrated a new sound for The Byrds and great new potential. Nobody at all purchased the album. So, here we have a return to the Byrds folk and roots beginnings. It's not a problem on the opening title tune. Written for the film of the same name - the guitar works very well and the vocals weary and resigned. Very affecting. 'Fido' was written by the groups then bass player John York. He sings it too, unfortunately. His voice simply isn't strong enough to carry a lead vocal. There is nothing wrong with the song as such. The drum solo in the middle I could do without though. Other songs from outside the McGuinn camp include the actually very enjoyable 'Oil In My Lamp' which was brought to the group by Clarence White and new drummer Gene Parsons. The vocal harmonies are not classic in the Byrds tradition, but work well all the same. 'There Must Be Someone I Can Turn To' is a bland slow ballad that doesn't feature McGuinn at all. If he didn't like the song or the performance, why did he allow it on the record? Well, he was after a quieter life after the trauma of the previous and numerous splits in The Byrds camp. It was a way of keeping his new fellow group members happy, but at a cost to the overall quality of the groups output and it was a decision he would later regret. 'Gunga Din' is one of the best songs here - not a McGuinn song but rather written by Gene Parsons ( no relation to Gram ). The vocal isn't outstanding, but it's effective. The jingle jangle guitar of McGuinn returns however to great effect, and it's a very happy entertaining song - a minor gem.

    Of McGuinn's vocal showcases, highlights include the well performed 'Tulsa County'. It's a simple, easy to listen to moment. It's not ambitious but it works - it fits the mood of the album as a whole. 'It's All Over Now Baby Blue' is a Bob Dylan song slowed down to a snails pace. A previous Byrds line-up had also attempted this in best Byrds folk/rock fashion. This version works ok though it is slightly drawn out. 'Jesus Is Just Alright' is the fastest number here and features group lead vocals. The guitar rocks a bit more and it sounds more like a Byrds song that much else of what's here. What else is here hardly amounts to an unqualified disaster. Much of the music is perfectly professional and charming, but perhaps just lacking in a little raw excitement and ambition. It is an easy record to listen to however and works as a good album, if not as a good Byrds album necessarily, if that makes any sense at all.

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    Mike Harrison fughedaboudit455@yahoo.com
    This isn't one of their most exciting albums, probably because of the relative lack of original material, but it's definitely worthwhile listening. As a country-rock album, it's well-done and even better than most of their country-rock contemporaries. "Gunga Din" is one of the best late-period Byrds tunes. John York is a fine backup singer and bassist, and Clarence White's guitar work is, as always, rather impressive.

    Gene Burton geneburton@yahoo.co.uk
    The "jingle-jangle" guitar you mention on Gunga Din is actually played on an acoustic guitar with a flat pick by Gene Parsons (incidentally a better guitarist and banjo player than a drummer), not by McGuinn.

    Ross Thomas ross@icseven.freeserve.co.uk
    I think this is the most underrated Byrds album - especially when you consider the excellent bonus material on the reissue. The only essential album post-Sweetheart in my mind. why? It sounds like a band who enjoy music, it has great production, it has the sentiments of The Byrds - hope, uplifting spirit, harmonies, folk music. It works.

    Duke Mthrunn@learnlink.emory.edu
    I dunno what y'all are blabbering about- this is the best latter-day Byrds album. It has the harmonies (which sound rawer, often, than those of the early Byrds..."It's All Over Now," for example). And White is amazing- his solo on the extended "Ballad of Easy Rider" is bliss. That's the real version, too- the long one.

    Matt Sellman mattsellman@sbcglobal.net
    I'm with Ross and Duke on this. I think it is generally underrated because it is a "soundtrack" album and somehow unconciously marginalized. I could do without the sea shanty but the rest is great. The drum solo on Fido is gleeful and funky. Oil in my lamp's harmonies are magnificent and the drawing out of Baby Blue makes for their best - yes best - Dylan cover. 8.5

    Richard Astley-Clemas alicespiral@yahoo.co.uk
    In a different musical climate JESUS IS JUST ALRIGHT could have topped the charts.But it never strayed far from it s original resting place in spite of a single in the U K. There is of course no logic to what top the charts-around this time it was the high school pop of Gary Puckett & the Union Gap both here and in the States.I didn't mind that at all I'd sooner listen to high school pop than Jimi Hendrix anyday but it at least shut up those snob critics who would have you believe the Beatles saw the music off Which is a long way from the truth when you realise the Beatles were possibly unwittingly responsible for a great deal of it eg Billy J Kramer,Peter & Gordon But to get back on topic this album represents a time when rock critics could never agree and it would be well into the 80s at least in England before we had the Flaming Groovies and many other Indie people doing covers from all periods of the 60s or even copying them.Everything by then was acceptable

    Roger WortonWolverhampton
    I am sorry to say that I love the vocal on Gunga Din, would someone else from the band been able to sing it appropriately? One of my favourites!


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    Untitled( 1970, UK pos 11 )
    Lover Of The Bayou / Positively 4th Street / Nashville West / So You Want To Be A Rock N Roll Star / Mr. Tambourine Man / Mr. Spaceman / Eight Miles High / Chestnut Mare / Truck Stop Girl / All The Things / Yesterday's Train / Hungry Planet / Just A Season / Take A Whiff On Me / You All Look Alike / Well Come Back Home

    The coupling of live tracks and studio tracks was deliberate of course. It was a way to throw a load of 'hits' onto the first two sides of the record ( a double ) to get the group back into the charts. It worked, this was a best-selling album. The studio side, containing some of the very finest Byrd moments for many a moon had something to do with it too. At this point Roger McGuinn was working on a musical 'Gene Tryp' with future Bob Dylan collaborator 'Jacques Levy'. He wrote some of the best songs of his life - The highlights of which are contained here. We open with the live recordings, 'Lover Of The Bayou' is a Gene Tryp song. Great guitar, wonderful singing from McGuinn in a rock style. It leads into a cover of the Bob Dylan song 'Positively 4th Street'. The jingle jangle returns! This is a classic Byrds Dylan cover. So much so, it's somewhat of a shame it was 'hidden' on the live side of 'Untitled' rather than released as a single. Really, it's very very good. A prime Byrds moment. Clarence White adds guitar too of course and it's a joy to hear him perform. 'Nashville West' is taken at a faster pace than the studio version and is rather inconsequential as a result. After that little interlude we have a number of The Byrds biggest hits. This new Byrds line-up, although not always creating classic work in the studio were a dynamite live group. The harmonies are slightly lacking but everything else is improved tenfold if we are purely talking pure musical  performance and playing ability. The original Byrds were an inconsistent live act at best - this new Byrds won over a whole new fan base through extensive touring. When the opening notes of 'Mr Tambourine Man' kick in, you can't help yourself. It's so GOOD to hear this performed by The Byrds in a live context. McGuinn gives a good performance although Clarence White completely ignores the original song and just sticks loads of little virtuoso guitar runs over the top. It's certainly entertaining! The version of 'Eight Miles High' is 16 minutes long and makes very little sense despite the superlative playing. It's impressive but not something you want to sit through too many times.

    'Always alone....' 'Chestnut Mare' kicks off side three ( of the original vinyl release ) and is one of The Byrds best ever songs. Really, forget those early classics, this is stunning. Wonderful McGuinn guitar parts as only he can, story-telling lyrics, Clarence White. 'and we'll be friends for life...' You find yourself with a little tear in your eye. Really! Well, I do. One of my favourite EVER Byrds songs and it was released in 1970, past their apparent peak. Clarence sings 'Truck Stop Girl' a cover of a Little Feat song. Little Feat were a great little group and this is a great little song here given a weary yet effective vocal.  'All The Things' is another absolute McGuinn highlight. Stunning harmonies on this one, Gram Parsons contributed. He helped out on this one song and it adds to the songs magical weaving spell. The lyrics are simply fantastic, a wonderful song all round. Even 'Yesterdays Train' written by the Byrds rhythm section of Skip Battin and Gene Parsons is a good song. It doesn't sound like a Byrds song, but it's high quality and an effective companion to 'Truck Stop Girl'. 'Hungry Planet' which McGuinn sings isn't a high point, there's a little production effect on his vocal. It's not bad as such, just passes by. Good guitar work, though. 'Just A Season' is another of those magical McGuinn/Levy collaborations. Jingle Jangle, and a stunning McGuinn vocal. Romantic world weary lyrics - a brilliant song. 'Take A Whiff' is a cover of an old old Leadbelly song. The Byrds country influences really come through, but it's not such a great listening experience. Too much 'Whiff' all round! 'You All Look Alike' is another effective Skip Battin composition. McGuinn wisely takes lead vocal, he sounds better than Skip, no disrespect to the guy and it's a good song. The closing 'Welcome Back Home' is wonderful for about half of it's duration. It then goes off into a bizarre chanting section that eventually fades out. It's a suitable closer I suppose and this is a damn good album, actually, full of fine songs and performances. If not for the lack of cohesion created by the live/studio split i'd give this a nine. The studio half REALLY IS that good. A fine quality Byrds album that practically saved their careers, wiped out their debts, and made them a ton of money. 

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    Ross Thomas ross@icseven.freeserve.co.uk
    It sucks. I don't understand the praise it gets. Chesnut Mare, All The Things and Just A Season are the only songs that hold up for me. The reissue has a lovely alternate Yesterdays Train too.

    Duke Mthrunn@learnlink.emory.edu
    The original vinyl double album featured a relatively weak sounding live set and a decently robust studio set, featuring such gems as "Chestnut Mare" and, my favorite, "Truck Stop Girl." When Columbia re-released "Untitled" with improved sound and a unissued companion disc, it rocketed to being one of the most coveted discs in not only Byrds' history but rock history. The 2nd disc adds a whole new aura which more accurately describes the Byrd's sound in 1970- part acoustic (as evidenced by the alternate "Yesterday's Train," which far outshines the original, "Willin'" which ABSOLUTELY should've replaced one of the Battin tracks on the original). "Kathleen's Song" is the most beautiful ballad Roger McGuinn ever wrote (the other lesser competitor being "Pale Blue"), but this stripped down version has MUCH more soul than the "Byrdmaniax" take. I can almost see McGuinn passing out when singing the vocal take after putting his heart into every single word- AMAZING!!!! Th! e live set, too, is MUCH better than the original selections. Add a frighteningly moving version of "Amazing Grace" as a bonus track, and you have "Untitled/Unissued." Bottom line: If Melcher replaced the live set from the original disc with the recordings on the "Unissued" disc, started the studio disc with the ardently inspired "Lover of the Bayou," replaced the Battin numbers with "Willin'" and "Kathleen's Song," swapped "All The Things" and "Yesterday's Train" with their alternate master takes, and closed the album with "Amazing Grace", you would've had one of the best records in history. What a shame.

    Richard Astley-Clemas alicespiral@yahoo.co.uk
    Little Feat? I think I heard or read the name somewhere but thats gotta be high among the Stupidest Ever Band Names.What a waste when bands can give themselves brilliant names like CAMPER VAN BEETHOVEN or HALF MAN HALF BISCUIT! However one of the things you got to admire the Byrds for is they did plenty of covers.I for instance collect Beatles covers.I like cover versions and I like the idea that rather than set himself up as a singer songwriter,McGuinn did plenty of covers

    kevin cramsey kccramsey@verizon.net
    Three fabulous McGuinn songs and a good one sung by Clarence makes means you make OK in the long run. Forget the live disc, especially if you've got the concert disc that was issued a few years ago. As all of you Byrd lovers out there probably know, the reissues over the years have shown time and time again that McGuinn or whoever was calling the shots was not always the best arbiter of what was the best material. Amazing how songs like "Willin'" "Mae Jean Goes To Hollywood" (Easy Rider outtake) and "Kathleen" were left off and songs by Skip Battin were left on. This would become an insurmountable problem with the last two albums, where totally un-Byrdsy dreck like "Citizen Kane" was allowed to permeate. Only Dylan can rival the Byrds for bad-decision making when it comes down to what to leave in and what to leave out.


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    Byrdmaniax( 1971 )
    Glory, Glory / Pale Blue / I Trust / Tunnel Of Love / Citizen Kane / I Wanna Grow Up To Be A Politician / Absolute Happiness / Green Apple Quick Step / My Destiny / Kathleen's Song / Jamaica Say You Will

    The Byrds were touring. And then, they toured a bit more. They followed this up with a bit more touring before the record company insisted on a new studio album. Their previous set, 1970's 'Untitled' was actually still on the charts. They hadn't given much thought to writing new songs, or anything like that. The contract they had re-signed back in 1967 with Columbia records demanded product from the group at a less than leisurely pace. They complied, re-enlisted Terry Melcher as producer. He'd worked on their famous first two albums way back when but also on the previous years acclaimed 'Untitled' set. They spent three weeks in the studio before returning to the road. Terry Melcher added lush strings to certain songs in an attempt at providing something a little more dramatic than this mostly mediocre set of songs The Byrds delivered. Backing vocalists help out on the opening 'Glory Glory'. A gospel type number where McGuinn's rickenbacker guitar breaks sound misplaced. It's not too bad, though. It passes by inoffensively enough. 'Pale Blue' benefits from the production. A McGuinn folk ballad with added orchestration. 'I Trust' wraps up a perfectly respectable opening to the record. We soon hit problems with 'Tunnel Of Love' and 'Citizen Kane'. Skip Battin the groups bass player at the time provided the group with these songs. Roger McGuinn either didn't care or thought he'd be generous to devoting space on the record to the supporting group members. 'Tunnel Of Love' suffers vocally, lyrically. The music is average, nothing more, nothing less. Nice organ parts...not much else. It's too long at just over five minutes. To make matters worse, it was directly followed on the album by the truly miss-able 'Citizen Kane'. Sounds nothing like a Byrds song at all. It plods along and really is one of The Byrds ultimate all time low points.

    McGuinn's own 'I Wanna Grow Up To Be A Politician' is pleasant filler but it sounds like a song written quickly and without due care. Skip Battins 'Absolute Happiness' is better. Good vocals, quiet instrumentation that's utterly appropriate. It goes off into a great middle section and really is quite swoon-some. 'Green Apple Quick Step' is a phenomenal bluegrass number performed by the group and taken at a frightening pace. It's a virtuoso performance and actually a happy song! Such a welcome relief after the mid section of the album has been rather dour. If there is one fault of the producer Terry Melcher it's that this simply isn't a guitar record. Clarence White's contributions were restricted to two lead vocals. His guitar playing is largely buried in the mix. McGuinn's 'Kathleen Song' was actually an 'Untitled' out-take with added strings to provide it's inclusion here. It's a highlight and rather pleasantly pastoral sounding.

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    Michael Harrison fughedaboudit455@yahoo.com
    This album sucks. Put another way, it sucks as a BYRDS album, but it merely would be a mediocre album if another band released it. Melcher's production is the biggest problem. My little "rule of strings" is that they should only be used for accents (Love's FOREVER CHANGES is a good example). Melcher buried the ENTIRE ALBUM, taking White's guitar work with it.......and White is the main reason I would listen to latter-day Byrds. But regardless of Melcher's intent, the material is pretty mediocre country-rock. Covering a Jackson Browne tune ("Jamaica Say You Will") is a heinous act. I've listened to "Citizen Kane" only ONCE. As for McGuinn's "I Wanna Grow Up to be a Politician".....the guy manages to be political without taking a political stance!

    Richard Astley-Clemas alicespiral@yahoo.co.uk
    Another attempt at something different with the first use of a string section which gives the album a poppier flavour.Melcher was more associated with surf than high school pop yet it works.The Gospel song Glory Glory is quite mindblowing


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    Farther Along 7 ( 1971 )
    Tiffany Queen / Get Down Your Line / Farther Along / B.B. Class Road / Bugler / America's Great National Pastime / Antique Sandy / Precious Kate / So Fine / Lazy Waters / Bristol Steam Convention Blues

    The Byrds, dissapointed with 'Byrdmaniax' rushed into the studio to try to atone for the faults that record displayed. Placing the blame squarely on the shoulders of producer Terry Melcher, this set was recorded in London and self produced. While it's admirable they wanted to correct the wrongs of 'Byrdmaniax' so soon, perhaps it was too soon. They didn't have any songs! Still, although 'Tiffany Queen' for example was written and recorded live in the studio, it's actually damn good. It's a fine rocking song, and a strong opener. 'Get Down Your Line' was Gene Parsons main contribution to the album. Good drumming and classy guitar playing from Clarence. Clarence then sings the lead vocal on the hymnal title track. Wonderful guitar on this song and an effective vocal. 'B B Class Road' is terrible! The Byrds try to be The Doors. A song co-written with one of the groups roadies and the lyric is celebrating roadie life. It's worse than even that sounds. An obvious melody, even Clarence White's guitar solo seems to lack any enthusiasm whatsoever. Almost as if he was embarrassed to be involved in such a song in the first place. I can hardly blame him. Clarence gets a second vocal on the sweet relaxed 'Bugler'. This is certainly not the groundbreaking Byrds of yore, just pleasantly easy music to listen to. 

    The highlight of the second side comes with the lovely 'Antique Sandy'. A rather quirky lyric, but it's evocative all the same. A weary effect tinged McGuinn vocal. I adore the gentle lilting picked guitar and the piano section that comes in. It raises a smile with me but again, this isn't groundbreaking. People expected a lot of The Byrds and this album doesn't deliver what people would expect from the original Byrds line-up. Still, it wasn't the original line-up! If judged as an album that stands on it's own merits, it really isn't that bad. 'Precious Kate' is another calm, melodic relaxed tune. 'Lazy Waters' has effective harmonies. 'America's Great National Pastime' suffers from the rushed nature of these recordings, and does sound rushed. It sounds clumsy, and Skip Battin ( for it was he ) really did the group no favours with songs like this. Still, a decent enough record on the whole. It wasn't intended as a goodbye album but that's what it became as the group splintered shortly after this records release. A much hyped, but ultimately disappointing reunion album would follow, but never again would The Byrds fly high.

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    The Byrds 7 ( 1973, UK pos 31 )
    Full Circle / Sweet Mary / Changing Heart / For Free / Born To Rock N Roll / Things Will Be Better / Cowgirl In The Sand / Long Live The King / Borrowing Time / Laughing / See The Sky About To Rain

    Of course, the original Byrds line-up reforming was cause for celebration, wasn't it? The other Byrds guys, Skip Batten, Gene Parsons etc, had cause for complaint - but this surely would be the album to restore The Byrds to both critical and commercial favour, like it was 1966 all over again. Wouldn't it? Well, not quite. The album lacked a single and lacks a unifying sound. It comes across as a series of solo projects released under The Byrds name. Chris Hillman adds attractive mandolin to several songs, the Gene Clark songs are nearly always the best songs here. The Crosby and McGuinn tunes come across as merely left-overs from whatever solo work they were doing at the time. There is little of the trademark Byrds sound, either musically or vocally. Because of this and because of the high expectations, the album has received perhaps undue criticsm through the years. It is a fine, relaxing listen. That's it. Listened to 30 years later, we can surely divorce the expectations and circumstances from the actual record, can't we? Well, we should be able to, at least. The opening Gene Clark penned salvo of 'Full Circle' fits the mood perfectly. It's a small shame about the actual performance, the song never quite flies at it should, and indeed, the Gene Clark solo version would end up sounding far more like The Byrds than The Byrds own version. The lack of unity and harmony here really is noticeable.

    'Sweet Mary' sounds for all the world like a decent Roger McGuinn solo track, Gene's 'Changing Heart' sounds for all the world like a very decent Gene Clark solo track. A hugely enjoyable 'tune'. Cover versions, 'For Free', a couple of Neil Young tunes - 'See The Sky About To Rain' being the most accomplished. Roger McGuinn's 'Born To Rock N Roll' has always been a dog of a tune, and he's recorded it something like three times now, but we'll forgive him, I suppose. Much better is 'Things Will Be Better'. Harmony vocals appear, echoes of the Roger McGuinn guitar sound. Elements of The Byrds married to seventies production values that places The Byrds effectively at a new crossroads. 'Borrowing Time' is light, but nifty. This reunion of The Byrds had potential to be carried on from this 'beginning'. Sadly, the usual personality clashes made that impossible.

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    Michael Harrison fughedaboudit455@yahoo.com
    I'm not sure what the Byrds were trying to do here. I suspect they were looking for a "new" Byrds sound, which may explain why the mandolin is at the fore rather than the Rickenbacker (the WORST ROCK & ROLL RECORDS OF ALL TIME book contends that McGuinn actually forgot to bring his Rick to th sessions). But that's the BIG problem: there's precious little of their trademark sound. When I hear the Byrds, I WANT to hear that jingle-jangle sound! So, they saddle us with competent but annoyingly unoriginal country-rock, sounding just like then-labelmates the Eagles and every other country rock act around in 1973! Then there's the songwriting. McGuinn's tunes are boring as hell. Crosby is, well, Crosby......he's never good for a strong rock sound, but you can be damn sure he'll throw in a little political commentary where inappropriate. Hillman's songs are okay, but they're bland. In the end, Gene Clark's work is reason to investigate the album, and that's it.

    Kevin Barrett kevinbfm@hotmail.com
    A weird pastiche of the prevailing country rock trends of 1973. Gene Clark's Full Circle and Changing Heart make it worthwhile. While Crosby recorded the worst single Byrds song ever Long Live The King. Born to Rock & Roll is a good song, but where is that 12 string sound? Crosby is absolutely a no-load, with the worse producing instincts in the world. The hell with covering Joni Mitchell and Neil Young, its like the Beatles copying Badfinger & The Raspberries.

    Tom ECAlert@yahoo.com
    Actually, I think the reunion album is great. I love the big acoustic sound, and I thought it was a GOOD idea to be different from the early days. By the time they recorded this record, the early Byrds sound was already old hat. It was time for new ideas, a new feel. And they did it on this record even if they don't admit it today. The best songs are the Gene Clark songs and covers of Neil Young and Joni Mitchell. I think it's a much underrated album. I have the vinyl and still enjoy listening all these years later. One listen to Roger's solo work after this reveals that he didn't really have any more ideas. Crosby was at his peak and this turned out to be his last great artiistic project. I love the Crosby stuff up to and including this record. After this, well, this was his (and their) high point. Gene Clark went on to write great songs but he was never a great solo act. None of these guys were great solos, they're best work was in group projects like this reunion alb! um. Too bad they didn't realize it at the time. --tom


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    this page last updated 24/08/15


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