Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Album Review: The Byrds - Byrds

The Byrds released what has turned out to be their final album in 1973.  It's a long way from their classic, 'jangly' material of the sixties.  This feels very much like an early seventies West Coast rock album from the opening track Full Circle.  Which of course, was what it was!  David Crosby had done much to invent this sort of thing as part of Crosby, Stills and Nash.
Gene Clark's Changing Heart is a pleasant country-rock strum in the vein of Wasn't Born To Follow.  It's the cover versions which sound the strangest here.  Instead of, as they once did, covering Bob Dylan, here they cover their peers.  Crosby's rendition of Joni Mitchell's For Free takes one getting used to, turning a sweet piano lament into a plodding rock ballad, kind of CSN-lite.  They also cover two Neil Young songs.  Cowgirl In The Sand is all countrified jauntiness, which, once you get used to how different from the original it is, is not bad really.  (See The Sky) About To Rain, sung by Clark features acoustic guitar and mandolin until a minute or two before it ends, a gorgeous Roger McGuinn jangly guitar part reminds us as to what is sorely missing from this album.  It is, tantalisingly, right at the end of the album, as if McGuinn and co thought: "oh s**t, we're The Byrds - THIS is what we do".
Crosby's Long Live The King is not a bit like what most people think of as The Byrds.  Yet it's very identifiably Crosby, while they cover his own solo song Laughing in a version which isn't very noticeably altered from the stoned strut of the original with McGuinn's guitar complementing it nicely.  But with most of the original tracks being fairly forgettable, it certainly feels like it was time they called it a day.