BCB 100 - The Byrds

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BCB 100 - The Byrds

Postby geoffcowgill » 16 Jun 2006, 16:44

A good 'Vs.' thread might be The Byrds vs. Creedence Clearwater Revival for best American band of the 60s. I guess Velvet Underground should fall under that consideration, too.

Anyway, the Byrds did some pretty amazing things, didn't they. Listening to my two favorites, their Rubber Soul and Revolver, Younger Than Yesterday and Notorious Byrd Brothers last night and was particularly struck by the tension in the best of their music. It's a pretty obvious and major part of their sound, but I'd never really consciously paid much attention to how the way the languid vocals are offset by terse, snappy rhythms and guitar. Take 5, d can elucidate on the technical explanation for this, I'm sure, but damn if it doesn't sound cool. I'm thinking particularly of things like "Renaissance Fair" and "Everybody's Been Burned". Rather than the jangly hippy-happy sounds of "Mr. Tambourine Man" or "Turn Turn Turn", this is the kind of Byrds music I love. The middle of Younger, from "Renaissance Fair" to "Thoughts and Minds" is one of the most glorious patches of 60s music and ensures that this is my favorite album of theirs. I even like, with reservations, "Mind Gardens". Crosby's vocal is annoyingly affected, of course, not the least on the pretentious reading of the pretentious lift from Hamlet, but there's real beauty in the music and he almost makes up for much of the agregiousness of the song in the ululations he lets out on the line "But when the sun ca~a~me", shortly thereafter echoed by the backward guitar. No, the only really impossible track on this album is "CTA-102", which just grinds it to a halt. The bulk of the tune is pretty bland Byrds-by-the-numbers and dismissable but not offensive, but the alien voices and the 'transmission' replay is unacceptable. It's only something as strong as the opening of "Renaissance Fair" that can pick the record back up. "My Back Pages" sounds a little out of place on the record as it hearkens to an earlier Byrds sound, but given the theme of the song, I can accept this as irony. Imagine how bordering on perfection this would have been if "Lady Friend" had replaced "CTA-102" and "It Happens Each Day" replaced "The Girl With No Name" (fine but inconsequential).

"Lady Friend" is the peak of the Byrds for me. Those California harmonies floating through a garage-band verison of Spector's Wall of Sound, all dropping out briefly for that descending guitar line only to be quickly buoyed back up ("the last wave I drowned in"?) by those horns then Clarke's clipped and furious drumming.

Favorite Album - Younger Than Yesterday

Favorite Song- "Lady Friend"

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Postby PENK » 16 Jun 2006, 16:49

Mr Tambourine Man is the one album of theirs I really love, and it has Feel a Whole Lot Better, their greatest song. I prefer the early jangly stuff to what came later, which I'm not really too bothered about. It's always warm and comforting and tuneful and even without being aware of its influence and importance it's just great music, despite the prevalence of Dylan covers. Wonderful songs and performances.
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Postby toomanyhatz » 16 Jun 2006, 18:03

Favorite album - Tough, because they all have filler. But probably a tossup between Mr. Tambourine Man and 5D. Now if Turn, Turn, Turn had only the title track, It Won't Be Wrong and the Gene Clark songs...

Favorite song - When all is said and done, probably Eight Miles High. I mean, think about how strange it must have sounded on the radio in 1966- and it was a top ten hit! That they were the only band other than the Beatles to get away with having a hit with something so "out" just proves how on top of the world they were at the time.

Most impressive achievement - Losing their best songwriter and continuing to make great records.
Last edited by toomanyhatz on 16 Jun 2006, 18:35, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Matt Wilson » 16 Jun 2006, 18:31

toomanyhatz wrote:Favorite album - Tough, because they all have filler. But probably a tossup between Mr. Tambourine Man and 5D. Now if Turn, Turn, Turn had only the title track and the Gene Clark songs...


So you'd leave out "It Won't Be Wrong?"
One of the best songs on the album.

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Postby toomanyhatz » 16 Jun 2006, 18:35

Matt Wilson wrote:
toomanyhatz wrote:Favorite album - Tough, because they all have filler. But probably a tossup between Mr. Tambourine Man and 5D. Now if Turn, Turn, Turn had only the title track and the Gene Clark songs...


So you'd leave out "It Won't Be Wrong?"
One of the best songs on the album.


Amended.
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Postby Matt Wilson » 16 Jun 2006, 18:39

Favorite Album: Notorious Byrd Bros.
Favorite Song: Eight Miles High
Favorite run of albums of any US '60s band: 1965-1968. That's six LPs, folks...

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Postby Mike Boom » 16 Jun 2006, 18:51

Notorious Byrd Brothers is their best album - huge variety of styles and genres covered on one LP (even within songs) and all excusions pretty much succesful.
Best song - Eight Miles High or Draft Morning - honorable mention for the beautifully wacky Chestnut Mare.

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Postby Leg of lamb » 16 Jun 2006, 19:35

Notorious Byrd Brothers for me and 'Draft Morning' for best song. It's got their nicest, most horizontal melody before going off on one for about 30 seconds. And then that little descending bass motif which brings the main guitar motif back in! Ah, it's a truly pleasurable song. What I've always liked about the Byrds is, well, how they're so easy to like. Unlike quite a few canon bands from the past, listening to them for the first time reaped instant rewards. Effortless.
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Postby Oscar » 16 Jun 2006, 19:50

Too difficult. I'd choose one of the first three just because of Gene Clark's contributions but this isn't about Gene Clark. Can I have 'The Preflyte Sessions'?

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Postby purgatory brite » 16 Jun 2006, 19:55

Apart from Turn, Turn, Turn, 8 Miles High and Mr Tambourine Man I simply have no interest in the Byrds whatsoever.

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Postby LMG » 16 Jun 2006, 20:20

P Brite wrote:Apart from Turn, Turn, Turn, 8 Miles High and Mr Tambourine Man I simply have no interest in the Byrds whatsoever.


Then you either have such a comprehensive and wonderful collection of the best ever recorded pop music, bluegrass, country, country-rock, harmony vocal groups, Dylan interpreters, singer-songwriters, folk music, folk-rock, Christian contemporary rock, etc that regretfully you can spare no more of your available listening time for the Byrds, who were exemplars but only occasional masters of these genres.

Or else you are a silly, opinionated arsehole who is quite deservedly missing out on one of the great treasure troves of music recorded since 1963.

Gee, I wonder which it could be? Answers on a postcard with a vintage American jetplane circa 1965, please.
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Postby purgatory brite » 16 Jun 2006, 20:40

LMG wrote:Then you either have such a comprehensive and wonderful collection of the best ever recorded pop music, bluegrass, country, country-rock, harmony vocal groups, Dylan interpreters, singer-songwriters, folk music, folk-rock, Christian contemporary rock, etc that regretfully you can spare no more of your available listening time for the Byrds, who were exemplars but only occasional masters of these genres.


Do you want a medal or something? If the Byrds are such masters of all these musical genres, why then are they so dull?


LMG wrote:Or else you are a silly, opinionated arsehole who is quite deservedly missing out on one of the great treasure troves of music recorded since 1963.


I know what I like, and that doesn't include an overrated and mediocre band like the Byrds.

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Postby LMG » 16 Jun 2006, 20:48

P Brite wrote:
LMG wrote:Then you either have such a comprehensive and wonderful collection of the best ever recorded pop music, bluegrass, country, country-rock, harmony vocal groups, Dylan interpreters, singer-songwriters, folk music, folk-rock, Christian contemporary rock, etc that regretfully you can spare no more of your available listening time for the Byrds, who were exemplars but only occasional masters of these genres.


Do you want a medal or something? If the Byrds are such masters of all these musical genres, why then are they so dull?


LMG wrote:Or else you are a silly, opinionated arsehole who is quite deservedly missing out on one of the great treasure troves of music recorded since 1963.


I know what I like, and that doesn't include an overrated and mediocre band like the Byrds.


Thanks very much - I wish everyone else in God's universe would be so obliging in answering basic, straightforward questions.
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Postby The Slider » 16 Jun 2006, 21:42

The Byrds are gay.

After their third album they suck so badly that even turds floating in the lavatory say "man, they suck"

the first couple of albums are pretty good in a hybrid of Dylan and the Beatles kind of way, though.


I hate everything they did after Crosby left with a passion that is quite beyond words. Baez is the only act for which I have more contempt.
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Postby geoffcowgill » 16 Jun 2006, 22:47

The Slider wrote:
I hate everything they did after Crosby left with a passion that is quite beyond words. Baez is the only act for which I have more contempt.


Do you mean Clark instead of Crosby?

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Postby Tom Violence » 17 Jun 2006, 00:04

Leg of lamb wrote:Notorious Byrd Brothers for me and 'Draft Morning' for best song. It's got their nicest, most horizontal melody before going off on one for about 30 seconds. And then that little descending bass motif which brings the main guitar motif back in! Ah, it's a truly pleasurable song. What I've always liked about the Byrds is, well, how they're so easy to like. Unlike quite a few canon bands from the past, listening to them for the first time reaped instant rewards. Effortless.


Agreed on both counts.

NBB is by far the best album I think, simply because every single song is brilliant. It has a couple of nice 5/4 songs - 'Get To You' and 'tribal Gathering'. And the brilliant 'Dolphin's Smle'. There's not a weak track on there.

'Younger Than Yesterday' the runner up, again very consistent, you know the songs I wont bother listing them.

The first three albums in my opinion consist of about 4 or 5 fantastic songs each, and quite a lot of lesser (if not exactly filler) material.

'The Essential Byrds' very neatly picks up these tracks, missing only 'World Turns all Around Her' from TurnTurnTurn. I tend to listen to that compilation much more than the first three albums.

The next three albums are essential to own, the first two i've already mentioned, Sweetheart of the Rodeo is obviously a radical shift in sound and is an important milestone in country rock blah blah.

Then after that, it's back to the Essential Byrds compilation to be honest.

'The Essential BYrds'
'Younger than yesterday'
'Notorious Byrd Bros'
'Sweetheart of the Rodeo'

Those four are all you need in my very humble opinion.
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Postby The Write Profile » 17 Jun 2006, 08:25

Okay, let's get this outta the way(limited time on the computer and whatnot), RSP's favourite Byrds LPs, in order of preference

1. Notorious Byrd Brothers
2. Mr Tambourine Man
3. 5th Dimension
4. Younger than Yesterday
5. Turn! Turn! Turn!

But in saying that, I can't be doing without any of them. There's something that's quite special about all of these LPs, for different reasons. There's the woozy, perfectly spaced-out feel of Notorious Byrd Brothersperhaps the most oddly serene breakup LP ever recorded (even Draft Morning has a gorgeously ethereal quality. Whatever one thinks about the Cros, there is something special to this song, just the way it floats above everything, despite its subject matter. )

Mr Tambourine Man would be one of the key proto-power-pop LPs, wouldn't it? That title track's opening Rickenbaker chime, that spirited naivite, those attacking harmonies ("I Feel A Whole Lot Better" is a classic in virtually anyone's hands), just the assuredness in their playing and the sheer spirit of it (I'm a fan of the Bells of Rhymey on that record, too, in fact the whole of it bristles with enthusiasm)

Oddly, I used to prefer Younger than Yesterday to 5th Dimension, but again, I've started to find 5D's oddly fragmented mood really appealing. Of course, it has the moment- 8 Miles High, but there's a strange sense that they're grasping for a whole lot of things just out of their reach, they seem to be really testing themselves because of the horrible situation the band was in. David Crosby's song "What's Happening?," is just weird.

Younger than Yesterday might be more melliflous ( Do You Wanna Be A Rock 'n' Roll Star? Reneissance Fair, Have You Seen Her Face?, Thoughts & Words) than its predecessor, and I do really like it, of course, (more to the point, it has "Everybody Has Been Burned, one of the more oddly rational pop songs about depression, if only in its delivery and gentle melodic grace that gives the song a levity)...but...maybe it's the "Mind Gardens" factor? I don't know, but that song does put a real bummer on that record, and not in a good way. Musically, it's interesting enough, but lyrically it's absolutely dire, preening psych(edlic) babble that renders the whole song fundamentally gauche. Then again, I suppose that's what the skip button is for.

Turn! Turn! Turn! is strange for me because, as with all the records, it's greatly altered by the remastered/expanded version/ Despite the fact it never even featured at the time, I can't imagine it without the beautifully breezy She Don't Care About Time, which seems to sum up Gene Clark's talent- the way it just seems to spark without seeming overly ebuillent. There's just the right amount of bite to make the song work. "Set You Free this Time" is the other one, the plaintative reflection in Clark's words, the way he ruminates on the "between how it was..." line.

Something to note, though is that they weren't very good with closing tracks, were they? In fact, in a couple of cases, they're among the worst things they've ever written! Even if "Space Oddyssey" is hilarious for all the wrong reasons, being arguably the least prophetic song of all time :lol: ("In 1996, we ventured to the moon..." Erm, right digits, wrong order, guys :lol:)

That said, the remastered NBB features some of the more comical on-record bickering between bandmates. Not quite up to the "Troggs Tapes" Standards, but still viteraputative enough to sting nonetheless :-D

I wonder, though, whether the fact that they were never really a stable lineup adds to the mythology but makes it harder to get a handle on them as a group. Certainly, Johnny Rogan's Timeless Flight Revisited is almost insanely convoluted as a result.

I'm anything but a Byrds expert, but I like them well enough up to and including Notorious. CCR- now you're talking...
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Postby Oscar » 17 Jun 2006, 08:47

Fave Album

The Notorious Byrd Brothers
Younger Than Yesterday
Mr Tamourine Man
Turn Turn Turn
5th Dimension


Fave Track

Everybody's Been Burned
Eight Miles High
Set You Free This Time
Goin' Back
I Knew I'd Want You
The Airport Song
Turn Turn Turn
She Don't Care About Time
What's Happening?!?!
Tomorrow Is a Long Ways Away
She Has a Way
You Showed Me
Draft Morning

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Postby The Fish » 17 Jun 2006, 09:15

Album: Amother vote for Notorious Byrd Brothers
Track: Turn Turn Turn

OK the track is a toughie. This for me is the perfect crystallization of the Byrds sound. As much for that intro as anything else. Those few seconds remain one of the few things that can instantly fill me with joy.

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Postby The Slider » 17 Jun 2006, 09:27

geoffcowgill wrote:
The Slider wrote:
I hate everything they did after Crosby left with a passion that is quite beyond words. Baez is the only act for which I have more contempt.


Do you mean Clark instead of Crosby?


Both.

They are all gay and do each others bums.
That is probably why their singing is so horrible - they all have Roger McGuinn up them.
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