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Old 07-15-2006, 01:31 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default The Byrds

Because they almost single-handedly invented folk rock and were one of the biggest factors in the existence of country rock. Furthermore, they revolutionized the pop music world with their debut album.

The Byrds burst onto the scene in 1965 with their album Mr. Tambourine Man which, arguably, still stands as one of the greatest debut albums in the history of rock 'n' roll. Their formula for success was taking Bob Dylan and making him sound like the Beatles. Four of the album's twelve tracks were written by Dylan, including the smash hit title track, which Dylan himself had yet to record. The Byrds had it all: an original sound and the excellent four-part harmony to back it up.

Roger McGuinn's jangling 12-string guitar (the style of which influenced generations of musicians after him, including Tom Petty and Peter Buck) mixed with the driving beats of drummer Michael Clarke, the rhythmic guitar playing of David Crosby, the groovy bass of Chris Hillman, and the tambourine of Gene Clark gave you the recipe for a sound that still blows minds 41 years later.

Between 1965 and 1968, The Byrds released several albums that were all received well and along the way lost Gene Clark, Michael Clarke and David Crosby. Gene Clark, the band's principal songwriter at the time, was never actually replaced, but Michael Clarke and David Crosby were replaced with Kevin Kelley and Gram Parsons respectively.

The new band released an album called Sweetheart of the Rodeo in 1968 that is considered a watershed moment in music and is one of the foundations of the country rock movement that would explode in the early 1970s. The album is a lot more country than it is rock, and was mainly Gram Parsons' work, but is still absolutely unbelievable.

If you've never explored this band, I'd say to start with The Byrds' Greatest Hits, which is everything you need to know about the early Byrds when David Crosby and Michael Clarke were still in the band. It contains all their biggest hits like "Mr. Tambourine Man", "Turn! Turn! Turn!", "5D (Fifth Dimension)", "Eight Miles High", etc. and also includes a few lesser known nuggets. If that lights your fire, then I'd suggest starting with Mr. Tambourine Man and buying all the albums sequentially.

Is anyone else a fan of the Byrds? Let's hear the love.
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Old 07-15-2006, 04:01 PM   #2 (permalink)
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I like Mr. Spaceman and So You Want To Be A Rock And Roll Star
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Old 07-15-2006, 04:29 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by MURDER JUNKIE
I like Mr. Spaceman and So You Want To Be A Rock And Roll Star
Love both of those tracks. "So You Want to Be a Rock and Roll Star" is a fantastic send-up of the Monkees.
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Old 07-30-2006, 07:45 AM   #4 (permalink)
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I've been recently rediscovering The Notorious Byrd Brothers. What an amazing album.
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Old 08-01-2006, 11:04 AM   #5 (permalink)
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i was weened on crosby, stills, nash and sometimes young. it's natural then to be a byrd's fan. the original lineup was touted as "america's answer to the beatles" and it turned much of britain off when they toured after things started steam rolling here.

in his biography 'long time gone' crosby describes the evolution of the band that literally started doing garage practicing for gigs out and about and quickly became this juggernaut of a pop band. his fortay was his harmony singing more than his guitar playing. to a person, everyone that ever worked with crosby said that his voice is so very powerful and astoundingly beautiful. the split from mcguinn and the others was over egos mostly but it seemed that those that crosby left behind wanted the three minute pop hit. i think both sides benefitted from the estrangement.

it's amazing how influential bands of that era were and would become for the next comers considering that they only stayed together for such a short time.

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Old 04-03-2016, 11:37 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Time to revive this thread:

I always liked the Byrds tracks I had heard, but never explored their albums in depth. Recently in an actual physical record store (yes!) I spied one of those 5-CD boxed sets containing five Byrds albums:

Sweetheart of the Rodeo
Dr Byrds & Mr Hyde
Ballad of Easy Rider
Byrdmaniax
Farther Along

I decided that for the price I could not go far wrong.

Well. How wrong I was. I have now listened to all five, and for my money there is barely a full album's worth of decent material in the whole lot.

"Ballad of Easy Rider" is easily the best of the bunch, almost worth it for the title track alone. Having said that, even that album had some songs that did little for me.

I probably should have done my homework first. The problem was that I did not realise just how dramatic the group's transition in style had been, beginning with "Sweetheart of the Rodeo". This is the album that is sometimes claimed to have started off country rock. For me it is just a country album, with everything I dislike about the genre. If you like country in the first place, then you would probably love this; I didn't. Blame Gram Parsons for that. Things get a little better on the other albums of the set, but not much.

Notably missing from the set is "Untitled", which chronologically falls somewhere in there. I've heard Untitled, and it's better than anything in this five-album set.

For anyone wanting to dip their toe into this band's canon, I'd suggest going with "The Notorious Byrd Brothers". Really though I think your money is better spent on Crosby, Stills & Nash (& Young) - any of their first three albums. The guitars are there, the harmonies are there, but the songwriting is at a whole new level. Not for nothing was this band known as the first "super-group".

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Old 04-04-2016, 11:58 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Hey Bob_32 ! Welcome to MB!

I found your verdict on the Byrds box very interesting, because my starting point is very similar to yours; heard bits of their stuff, at the time I really liked their early singles, but, since then have only come across a few uninspiring tracks.
You've done a useful job for me, and your appraisal of that box set rather confirms my suspicions; Gram Parsons was too keen on the country style for my liking too, and despite its reputation, what I´ve heard of Sweetheart hasn't stood the test of time too well. I guess too many later artists have made better and bolder country-rock crossovers.

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Notably missing from the set is "Untitled", which chronologically falls somewhere in there. I've heard Untitled, and it's better than anything in this five-album set.
^ Well, I've been lucky then, as that's the only Byrds album I ever bought; a very successful studio-disc-plus-live-disc double with lots of good tracks; yesterday's train, truckstop girl, eight miles high.. All good stuff.

Yes, I can believe that those CSN albums are more interesting - and how about this one, Bob? :-

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Old 04-04-2016, 08:09 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Though I can't say I've listened to an entire one of their albums (aside from their greatest hits), it was my impression that the band is generally considered to have gone downhill after Crosby left. I think if I were to ever check out entire albums of theirs I would start with their first 3.
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Old 04-04-2016, 08:33 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Though I can't say I've listened to an entire one of their albums (aside from their greatest hits), it was my impression that the band is generally considered to have gone downhill after Crosby left. I think if I were to ever check out entire albums of theirs I would start with their first 3.
Blasphemy!!!

OK it's like two different bands but with the same name. Kinda like the Stones or Genesis after key members left (or in Brian's case was done in by the handyman). It's not that they went downhill they changed their sound from a jangley Folk meats Beat to a more (Acid Folk &) Country oriented sound with Clarence White and his b-bender Telecaster. He is probably one of the more over-looked guitar players out there. Which is a shame for having such talent. By over-looked I mean by the general public, he's more of a musician's musician. Even Jimi Hendrix was a fan of his and I've where Jimi played Clarence's stuff everyday. He is tremendous influence on Country pickers everyone from Albert Lee to Brad Paisley were influence by Clarence White and subsequently the post-Crosby Byrds. Both Tony Rice and Marty Stuart with Clarence's guitars. Tony acquired Clarence's Martin D-28 and Marty is the proud owner of his heavily modified Telecaster. Pet Sounds will be proud to know that Clarence White is of French-Canadian ancestry.

OK it's not a happy-clappy Pop jingle, but I don't see where it went all down hill.
The Byrds, You Ain't Goin' Nowhere ~ This Wheel's On Fire, Los Angeles 9-28-68


Tony is seen here playing on White's Martin D-28. On the album David Grisman plays a Gibson "Loar" F-5 mandolin signed by the man himself Lloyd Alistair Loar. However I do not know what he is playing in the video.
David Grisman Quartet - E.M.D.
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Old 04-04-2016, 10:53 PM   #10 (permalink)
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I think one's opinion of the Byrds' later period is basically going to come down to whether you dig country or not.

I can't argue against that assertion that Clarence White was a great technically skilled musician, jimi Hendrix was a fan, etc, but to me those things are beside the point. What matters to me is the musical direction they took.

"You Ain't Goin' Nowhere" is an OK song, but they had done plenty of Dylan covers before, and better ones IMO, so for me this is a bit of a yawn. The bigger problem though is that this song is actually one of the better songs from their later catalogue.

When you talk about "country rock", the obvious comparison, the elephant in the room if you like, is The Eagles. Now I stopped being an Eagles fan after Hotel California, but for a while there I thought The Eagles were doing something really new - not country, so much as rock-pop songs done in a country style. To this day I consider Tequila Sunrise one of the best songs ever written - utterly simple, yet managing to sound fresh and original.

One could (and probably should) do a whole separate Eagles thread. My point however (and all this is "IMO") is that The Eagles brought something new to the table, whereas The Byrds, from Sweetheart of the Rodeo onwards, sounded most of the time like a country and western nostalgia band.
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