The Byrds: Byrds

The 1973 reunion of the original five-piece.

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Byrds was the first album from the classic line-up since 1965’s Turn! Turn! Turn! It got a disappointed critical reception, although divorced from the era’s ennui, behinds-the-scenes jockeying for position – especially from David Crosby, who was at the studio controls – and notwithstanding the members’ later assertions that they kept their best material for their solo forays – this is a fine, melodic folk- and country-rock collection.

The worst you could say about it is that it a) sounds like a series of solo offcuts rather than the product of a cohesive unit, and b) suffers in comparison to their peak work. But then, as Jon Landau pointed out in Rolling Stone on Byrds’ release, their Fifth Dimension/Younger Than Yesterday/Notorious Byrd Brothers triptych formed “the core of the greatest white American rock band music of its time”, and next to it, Byrds could only come up short.

There is plenty to recommend, from the Neil Young and Joni Mitchell covers, and echoes of classic Byrds jangle on Chris Hillman’s Things Will Be Better, to Roger McGuinn’s mandolin-fest Sweet Mary.

But arguably this release is all about the bonus tracks from Gene Clark circa 1970-71: She’s The Kind Of Girl and One In A Hundred, feature all five Byrds and feel more like a reunion than anything else here./o:p

Paul Lester

Paul Lester is the editor of Record Collector. He began freelancing for Melody Maker in the late 80s, and was later made Features Editor. He was a member of the team that launched Uncut Magazine, where he became Deputy Editor. In 2006 he went freelance again and has written for The Guardian, The Times, the Sunday Times, the Telegraph, Classic Rock, Q and the Jewish Chronicle. He has also written books on Oasis, Blur, Pulp, Bjork, The Verve, Gang Of Four, Wire, Lady Gaga, Robbie Williams, the Spice Girls, and Pink.