In Appreciation of The Byrds

This post is one of an on-going series of musical re-discoveries, previously covering artists such as Van Morrison and Neil Young.  This time, I’ve gone back to the first four albums made by The Byrds, a Los Angeles band that got started in the mid-sixties, led by Roger McGuinn and joined by David Crosby, Gene Clark, Chris Hillman and Michael Clarke.  I remember seeing some comments made by Crosby about how they saw the Beatles movie “A Hard Day’s Night” in 1964 and were inspired to go in a pop direction.  Their first record, Mr Tambourine Man, came out in mid-1965, and featured four Dylan songs along with some originals written by Clark and McGuinn, and some other covers.

The band put out another record before the end of 1965, Turn! Turn! Turn!, and then came Fifth Dimension in 1966 (featuring the great single ‘Eight Miles High’), and Younger Than Yesterday in early 1967 with ‘So You Want to be a Rock ‘n’ Roll Star’).  As they progressed Crosby began to contribute songs, the Dylan covers lessened, and things got more spacey and psychedelic.  While I can’t say that any of these four albums is without a bit of lesser quality filler, considering the speed at which they were working I think it’s understandable, and the highlights are very good.  I really love the guitar interplay along with the strong bass sound, first really shining on the song ‘The Bells of Rhymney’ on the first record, and very evident on ‘I’ll Feel a Whole Lot Better’, ‘It Won’t Be Wrong’, ‘Why’, ‘Have You Seen Her Face’.

You can get the hits easy enough in a compilation, but really each original album is worth a listen.  After these albums the band membership started changing rapidly, and of course there were other important developments instigated largely by Gram Parsons.

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