I've only recently come to appreciate The Byrds for all of their greatness. Like many other musical re-discoveries I came in through the back door. First it was because of Gram Parsons and his hijacking of their 1968 album "Sweetheart of the Rodeo". Then it was my discovery of Gene Clark (pictured left) who was the first Byrd to embark on a solo flight. And most recently its been because of David Crosby who's 1970 solo album "If Only I Could Remember My Name" has been blowing my mind as of late. But here I am now taking some cautious, yet curious steps deeper into Byrds territory.
I remember finding their 1973 reunion album in a Brooklyn record store for the low price of $3.99 and upon checking the album details I noticed the following details:
1. Produced by David Crosby
2. Two original Gene Clark tracks
3. Two Neil Young cover tunes
This is what Allmusic.com had to say about it:
"Much of the original material, especially David Crosby's, sounds like cast-offs from their other projects. And what sort of a Byrds album features two Neil Young covers and not a single Bob Dylan tune? . . . But for the most part, Byrds sounds like a competent but unexciting country-rock band going through their paces, rather than the work of one of the best and most innovative American bands of the 1960s."
But I beg to differ. Yes, this is an album of the former Byrds doing their solo thing, but with the added bonus of these country-rock pioneers coming back during the sounds' hey-day to show the youngins (read: The Eagles - not the similarity in names) how it's done. You have the early seventies production and all of the advancements that each of the individuals made in their own careers, plus you get these great songs with those heavenly Byrds harmonies! Upon listening to the album I found the whole thing to be pretty darn good barring Roger McGuinn's contributions and one of Crosby's tunes (the other is a different version of "Laughing" from his solo album I mentioned earlier). But two of the great assets to the album are the Neil Young cover tunes performed by none other than Gene Clark. Not only do you get the Byrds doing Gene Clark, but these are two of my all-time favorite Neil Young tunes. Contrary to the Allmusic review I feel that covering Neil is kinda like the evolution of covering Bob Dylan and it seems like the Byrds intended it to be that way, seeing as these two songs are the only ones not written by Byrds members. Dig it.
The Byrds - Cowgirl in the Sand
The Byrds - (See the Sky) About to Rain