The Byrds / The End Of The Innocence 1965 – 1973

 

1965 – 1967

 

1 MR TAMBOURINE MAN / Single A Side May 1965

2 I KNEW I’D WANT YOU / Single B Side May 1965

3 I’LL FEEL A WHOLE LOT BETTER / Single B Side July 1965

4 HERE WITHOUT YOU / Mr Tambourine Man August 1965

5 THE BELLS OF RHYMNEY / Mr Tambourine Man August 1965

6 DON’T DOUBT YOURSELF BABE / Mr Tambourine Man August 1965

7 CHIMES OF FREEDOM / Mr Tambourine Man August 1965

8 TURN! TURN! TURN! / Single A Side October 1965

9 SET YOU FREE THIS TIME / Turn! Turn! Turn! December 1965

10 SATISFIED MIND / Turn! Turn! Turn! December 1965

11 IF YOU’RE GONE / Turn! Turn! Turn! December 1965

12 HE WAS A FRIEND OF MINE / Turn! Turn! Turn! December 1965

13 EIGHT MILES HIGH / Single A Side April 1966

14 WHY? / Single B Side April 1966

15 5D (FIFTH DIMENSION) / Single A Side July 1966

16 I KNOW MY RIDER / Originally Unreleased Recorded July 1966

17 WILD MOUNTAIN THYME / Fifth Dimension August 1966

18 I COME AND STAND AT EVERY DOOR / Fifth Dimension August 1966

19 SO YOU WANT TO BE A ROCK’N’ROLL STAR / Single A Side January 1967

20 EVERYBODYS BEEN BURNED / Single B Side January 1967

21 CTA 102 / Younger Than Yesterday March 1967

22 MIND GARDENS / Younger Than Yesterday March 1967

23 MY BACK PAGES / Younger Than Yesterday March 1967

24 THOUGHTS AND WORDS / Younger Than Yesterday March 1967

25 TRIAD / Originally Unreleased Recorded August 1967

26 GOIN’ BACK / Single A Side November 1967

 

1968 – 1973

 

1 ARTIFICIAL ENERGY / Notorious Byrd Brothers January 1968

2 DRAFT MORNING / Notorious Byrd Brothers January 1968

3 CHANGE IS NOW / Notorious Byrd Brothers January 1968

4 TRIBAL GATHERING / Notorious Byrd Brothers January 1968

5 SPACE ODYSSEY / Notorious Byrd Brothers January 1968

6 YOU AIN’T GOING NOWHERE / Single A Side May 1968

7 THE CHRISTIAN LIFE / Sweetheart Of The Rodeo August 1968

8 YOU’RE STILL ON MY MIND / Sweetheart Of The Rodeo August 1968

9 HICKORY WIND / Sweetheart Of The Rodeo August 1968

10 DRUG STORE TRUCK DRIVIN’ MAN / Single B Side March 1969

11 THIS WHEELS ON FIRE / Dr Byrds And Mr Hyde March 1969

12 KING APATHY III / Dr Byrds And Mr Hyde March 1969

13 THE BALLAD OF EASY RIDER / Single A Side October 1969

14 GUNGA DIN / The Ballad Of Easy Rider December 1969

15 DEPORTEE (PLANE WRECK AT LOS GATOS) / The Ballad Of Easy Rider December 1969

16 CHESNUT MARE / Untitled October 1970

17 JUST A SEASON / Untitled October 1970

18 ALL THE THINGS / Untitled October 1970

19 PALE BLUE / Birdmaniax July 1971

20 I TRUST / Birdmaniax July 1971

21 FARTHER ALONG / Farther Along December 1971

22 BUGLER / Farther Along December 1971

23 FULL CIRCLE / The Byrds March 1973

 

   For a few seasons in their early twenties, The Byrds had it all. They were pop stars, fashion plates, avant-garde musicians, and sex symbols, especially drummer Michael Clarke with his Brian Jones sheepdog fringe. They supported the Stones and took acid with The Beatles. ‘Mr Tambourine Man’ had introduced a different mode of perception into pop and blown thousands of minds

   The music was, and remains fabulous. The first five Byrds albums, from Mr Tambourine Man to Notorious Byrd Brothers, stand up with the best of their peers: The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Kinks et al. Nothing can top the stately perfection of ‘Turn! Turn! Turn!’, the ecstatic ‘I’ll Feel A Whole Lot Better’, or the modal electric buzz of ‘Eight Miles High’. The Byrds story is a great one. But apart from the quality of the music, they have been curiously underrated: when rock criticism began in earnest, during 1967, the group were struggling, caught in the teen era trap of 30 minute sets and unable to embrace the improv imperative of the new San Franciscan psychedelic age. They were castigated as too Los Angeles, too Apollonian and, worst of all, too emotionless.

   Infact, The Byrds caught the secret heart of the sixties as they moved through all the decades’ changes. It was all there, from teen romance to booming beat to Beatles ready-mades. Gene Clark dominated the writing during this period with Dylanesque torch songs like ‘Here Without You’ and ‘Set You Free This Time’ that revealed the barely recognised sorrow that lay behind the decades accelerating momentum.

   During 1965, The Byrds trajectory was space age. Turbo fuelled by success and drugs, they made two albums that still sound as fresh today. And this under great duress, while trying to recapture the success of their breakthrough hit. Whether or not they admitted it, The Byrds output in late 1965 and 1966 was saturated in time/space dislocation and transcendent spirituality, all epitomised in ‘5D’. In this, they were way ahead of the game, making psychedelic music at least 18 months before it became a fad. Despite the dark edge to some of their stuff – Gene Clark’s romantic angst, David Crosby’s generation gap rants – they took care to promote positivity, so capturing the first careless rapture of mind expanding drug use. By the summer of 1966, and with Gene Clark recently departed, The Byrds were orbiting at warp speed. The momentum carried them on, and yet, near their very zenith they began to stumble, the poignant cover of Dylan’s ‘My Back Pages’, a vain attempt to revisit a successful formula.

   The heavily produced Notorious Byrd Brothers was their psychedelic peak, but it broke the group. Crosby and Michael Clarke were sacked. The Byrds began the process of retrenchment. Although iconic as one of the very first country rock albums, the Gram Parsons aided Sweetheart Of The Rodeo is curiously muted and perhaps over respectful. After Hillman left late 1968, Roger McGuinn was the only original left.

   The glory days were over. From 1969 on, The Byrds became a road band, morphing into cosmic cowboys of the counterculture, gracefully mixing bluegrass and traditional ballads with psychedelic jam band excursions. After the underrated Dr Byrds And Mr Hyde their LP’s became more and more downbeat and down tempo but still accurately reflected the times and the torpor of hippy culture in the early seventies. Despite the best efforts of guitarist Clarence White and McGuinn himself, there was nowhere left to go despite a number of quality releases and songs like ‘Chesnut Mare’, ‘Farther Along’ and Gene Clark’s ‘Full Circle’ from their 1973 reformation album.

   It can truly be said that The Byrds did it all first: folk rock, psychedelia, raga rock, space rock and country rock. They even reformed before everyone else and are embedded deep in rocks DNA, five young men changing the culture forever. Listen to their works and wonder.

 

December 2006