Monday, 9 February 2015

The Byrds: Non-Album Songs 1964-90




Non-Album Recordings Part #1: 1964
A) [1] 'Please Let Me Love You' is the first ever Byrds release - although it's  still credited to manager Jim Dickson's choice of quirky English-centric name 'The Beefeaters' (a tag the rest of the band hated with a passion!) Like the rest of the marathon lost of songs in this section, it was recorded at World Pacific Studios across 1964, financed by manager Jim Dickson who used the demo tape as a means of hawking the band round town.This track - one of only two of the 24 tracks here to find a period release - is a lovely folky Gene Clark song. It's interesting how many elements of the band sound is here from the start: Crosby's harmonies, Roger's guitars and a sound that manages to sound if not quite a cross between Dylan and The Beatles then certainly folk and The Beatles. Gene's simple lyric is still pretty far ahead of it's time: this isn't a straightforward song but one about revenge: the narrator doesn't care about the girl on his arm for her feelings but because of the jealous looks he gets from others so he can feel he's 'really' made it. This is an unusually unsensitive lyrics from Clark which suggests it's being written under duress, but there's no sense of that in the hauntingly beutiful melody which manages to sound both simple enough for top 40 radio and deeply unique and original. The trio (Hillman and Clarke haven't joined the band yet) turn in a great performance too, one full of life and exuberance. The Byrds will get better, deeper and even more special but they've already hit the forumla right here from the start, with only a rather unfitting German-Beatlesy 'oh yah' chorus sounding clumsy and out of place. The band really should have revived it for one of their first two albums. Find it on: 'In The Beginning' (1988), box set 'There Is A Season' (2006) and 'The Preflyte Sessions' (2001)
B) [2a] 'It Won't Be Long' was the flipside of that Beefeaters single, heard here under it's original title 'Don't Be Long' for reasons unknown (the band never sing these lines - did they change it too late in the day to have the paperwork changed?) This Clark song isn't quite as convincing - a wannabe rock and roll song played by a folk trio with a session musician drummer, something about this track doesn't quite gel. The song sports a fine guitar riff though, which already sounds great treated with echo (although a long way from the powerhouse it will become on debut album 'Mr Tambourine Man') and some nice if scrappy vocals. Gene's already employing his love of sudden switches of rhythm, too, which must have made this song a pain for three largely inexperienced musicians to sing - without Chris Hillman there to 'cover' the gap this doesn't come off quite as well as later attempts. Still if I'd heard this record I'd have signed the band then and there - clearly there's magic in the room with just a few odds and ends that need sorting out. Find it on: 'In The Beginning' (1988), box set 'There Is A Season' (2006) and 'The Preflyte Sessions' (2001)
C) Clark's [3] 'You Showed Me' is one of the lesser 'Preflyte' songs, with a 'dooby dooby doo' melody-line far simpler than his usual work and lyrics best described as from the 'moon and June' school of writing. That said McGuinn gets in a fine middle eight ('And when I try-e-y I can see you fa-a-a-all') that seems to push against the rest of the song, as if it's the mirror image. The songis a short one, though, without much to say and comes to a natural full stop st 1:30, though, with the repeat of the middle eight and chorus superflouous. Find it on: 'Preflyte' (1969), 'In The Beginning' (1988) , box set 'There Is A Season' (2006) and 'The Preflyte Sessions' (2001)
D) [4a] Clark's 'Here Without You' already sounds like a great song, full of doom and portent and loss. Gene sounds like a star too, with a terrific baritone vocal that would have been nice to hear solo. Everyone is isn't quite there yet though - Crosby's bouncy geeleful harmony isn't quite right of the song, McGuinn's Rickenbacker's a little too vivid and Clarke's drumming hopeless (having not been a drummer for very long, he struggles on these early recordings but is one of the best drummers around in thew 1966-68 period). The arrangementis remarkably similar to the version released on first album 'Mr Tambourine Man' a year later - it's just the little touches here and there that aren't quite there yet. Find it on: 'Preflyte' (1969),   'In The Beginning' (1988) and 'The Preflyte Sessions' (2001)
E) [5] Clark's 'She Has A Way' was tackled by the early Byrds a few times, perhaps because it's another of the tambourine man's more Beatle-inspired and commercial works. While both are sloppy, one is drowned out by some chaotic guitar-and-drums battles, while the other much nicer version is more harmony-led and simpler. Lyrically this is a song that borrows heavily from Mersebeat, with lots of 'lo-e-ongs' and 'hea-e-art's, but already Clark is digging a little depper than mere love songs. This narrator isn't happy he's in love, he's already doubting whether he'll be able to keep up this happiest of times ('I wonder if she'll ever want to settle down') and searching for meanings as to why he's fallen for this girl in particular. Never returned to by the Byrds proper - perhaps because this song smacks so much of 1964 - it's a shame that a song this good has to sit in the vaults for so long. Find the 'rougher' version on 'Preflyte' (1969) and the more harmony-led simpler version on 'In The Beginning' (1988) and both on 'The Preflyte Sessions' (2001)
F) [6] 'The Reason Why' is yet another Clark song that's key in his development as a songwriter: his first song about a break-up. Later Clark songs will try to come to terms with such a loss existentially, philsophically and morally - this one is simpler and more about not understanding why he was dropped. Clark's narrator even tells us that he never really liked her that much anyway, but he's clearly lying, admitting in the chorus 'the reason why I cried - I wish he knew'. Clearly he knows - he was fonder of the un-named 'her' than he'll ever let on. The best part of the song isn't the laidback verse-chorus but the first of many truly terrific Gene Clark middle eights: told by his girl's friends that their relationship is over he both hints at his covered-up hurt and the reason the relationship failed, in two pithy short sentences Dylan would have been proud of ('I couldn't understand a thing they were saying, 'cause inside my head the music was playing!', Gene already 'mocving on' from hurt by turning it into art). The Byrds turn in a stronger performance here, with Crosb especially nailing the song's naive charm. Find it on: 'Preflyte' (1969),  'In The Beginning' (1988) and 'The Preflyte Sessions' (2001)
G) [7] 'For Me Again' is a slighter, less convincing Clark song that's very 1950s old school until a sudden unexpected conversion to a minor chord that has the effect of knocking us off our feet. Typically Clark's mind is trying to write a Beatley song he knows might get played on the radio, but his heart is pouring out a lyric and music that's 'real', with the end result a compromise betwee the two halves. The lyrics 'pretend' that all is well and that even after a minor tiff the pair will inevitably get back together - but the music is less sure, sighing it's long sighs as the music switches between the hopeful and the pessimistic over and over again, never quite setlling down in either. The Byrds' three-part harmonies are really growing lovely now, although with less 'changes' going on throughout the song than normal for Clark there's less for the band to do. Find it on: 'Preflyte' (1969),   'In The Beginning' (1988) and 'The Preflyte Sessions' (2001)
H) [8] 'Boston' is my favourite of all the Byrds' pre-Flyte demos. Tiring of earnest folk, Clark comes up with his first attempt at a rock song and - basic and simple as it is - it's a whole lot of fun and one that Crosby and Clarke particular relish. The chugging riff around which this track is based is a typical 12-bar blues and the lyrics aren't that special: they try hard to edge towards Chuck Berry territory, listing 'Boston Massachusetts' as the destination of the narrator's girl, eager to see him the same way that Berry lists 'Memphis, Tennessee'. The 'twist' is that the narrator is already entangled with another, admitting to his now stranded second lover 'I'm not leaving because of you - I just can't stand here sitting feeling blue!' (this is an unusually pro-active lyrics for Gene, whose normally the 'injured party' on his songs!) In truth Clark has written better songsbefore and particularly since, but the riff is an especially good one that McGuinn has fun playing, Clarke and Hillman's rhythm section suddenly click and Clark and Crosby are superb on the vocals, egging each other on right up until the fade-out (where Clark's dry Dylanesque drawl hits Crosby's excited Beatles 'ooh!' head on - perhaps the most Beatles-Bob Dylan hybrid moment of the band's career!) What a great shame that the Byrds never returned to this fabulous song, which would have livened up the first album no end. Find it on: 'Preflyte' (1969) ,  'In The Beginning' (1988) and 'The Preflyte Sessions' (2001)
I) A fun driving rocker, [9] 'You Movin' is a Beatles pastiche that gets the 'Mersey' sound impressively spot on for an American band. A driving rattling rocker with a funky beat it features Gene's breathless vocals trying to ask a girl to dance. Fascinated by the way 'you toss your hair as you swing to the right' the narrator sounds thrilled as he tells us 'I'm falling so in love!' and the trio launch into a Beatley chorus of 'you moving oh you moving oh yeah!' Clark's written better songs, McGuinn's played a better solo (this is too fast and rock and roll for his tastes) and the three have belnded their vocals better elsewhere, but this is a whole lot of fun and perfect for the times - it's a surprise it wasn't the second Beefeaters single, in fact. Find it on: 'Preflyte' (1969), 'In The Beginning' (1988) , box set 'There Is A Season' (2006) and 'The Preflyte Sessions' (2001)
J) Interestingly the most accomplished of these early recordings comes not from Clark but Crosby. [10] 'The Airport Song' is a smoky blues that simply ignores Clark and McGuinn's attempts to aim for the middle of the folk and rock market to do something deeply original and uncategeroisable. It's a wonder this fine song wasn't revived by the guitarist during his Byrds career (it didn't come out until 1988!) the same way his periods song 'Everybody's Been Burned' was. An unusual tale of a romance taking place at an airport (all three 'Beefeater' Byrds were into aircraft and bonded by hanging out at airports), it's never made clear whether the 'girl' has just got off a plane, is going on one or has simply met up with the narrator while plane-spotting herself. Note too the first appearance of the Crosby line 'you make me smile' which he'll recycle on 'his' section of CSN song 'Wooden Ships' and several songs beside. Crosby sings solo but gives plenty of space over to his colleagues, with Clark puffing away on harmonica and McGuinn playing the 'straight man' to Crosby's burbled jazz staccato guitar bursts. Find it on: 'Preflyte' (1969), 'In The Beginning' (1988),  box set 'There Is A Season' (2006) and 'The Preflyte Sessions' (2001)
K) [11a] 'You Won't Have To Cry' is one of Clark's songs that was successfully re-recorded for the first album - and that's a surprise, frankly, because great as it is some of his other early songs were better. Another very Beatle-inspired song, there are two seperate versions doing the rounds. The first is a sweet acoustic demo, pretty similar in every way to the finished version - just not yet as good, with both Gene and Jim (as McGuinn still was back then, before he became 'Roger) both singing an octave lower than per the finished product. The second though is a more electric reading which sounds harsher on the demo version, driven not by the full pretty harmonies (which sound a little scrappy here) but by Roger's almost punkish guitar riffs and Clarke's fierce drumming. This sounds rather at odds with the message of the song, which by Gene's standards is uncharacteristically straightforward - basically saying 'I'll be here for you whatever happens'.  Find it on: 'Preflyte' (1969), 'In The Beginning' (1988) and 'The Preflyte Sessions' (2001)
L) [12a] 'I Knew I'd Want You' is an exquisite Clark song that gained a lot of attention when it was first professionally released on 'Tambourine Man'. Simple enough for rock/pop fans to appreciate while saying a lot in it's short clipped sentences and with a really neat tension in the harmonics unusual for the period, it's Clark at his best. The demo version is scrappier than the finished product than far, with the tension replaced by an odd and over-busy part from both McGuinn and Clark (who taps a tambourine noisily throughout the entire song). However it's still very pretty, with McGuinn's bass, Crosby's falsetto and Clark's baritone all adding up to something wonderful. Already, though, The Byrds don't sound like a 'band' - every other act around in 1964 (certainly the ones we cover at our site) know excatly what they want: to sound like The Beatles (with the possible exceotion of The Beach Boys, who wanted to sound like they always did, but with a bit of The Beatles in there too). Crosby wants to sound like The Beatles, but McGuinn wants to sound like a folk act and Clark is already one of a kind, expressing his soul while his colleagues try and 'pretty' his song up. Find it on: 'Preflyte' (1969),  'In The Beginning' (1988) and 'The Preflyte Sessions' (2001)
M) No one in their right minds surely would have heard this wretched early version of [13a] 'Mr Tambourine Man' and said 'yes guys that's the one - it'll be number one for six weeks next year and the start of a whole new movement!' Easily the sloppiest recording of these entire 1964 sessions, this recording seems to agree with the legend that's built up around the song (that manager Jim Dickson got it from Dylan as a 'favour' and hard sell about how much the band loved it, when in truth they thought it was ordinary and less interesting than their own - meaning Gene Clark's - material). This recording sounds suspiciously like 'sabotage' to me, the equivalent of The Beatles rattling off Mitch Murray's 'How Do You Do It?' in ten minutes to satisfy George Martin before really showing what they can do on one of their own songs. Clarke's military drumming is so wrong for this song it's not real: while the later Byrds release tidied it up a bit the whole point of Dylan's original is the fun it has with time signatures, stretching out each verse to unequal length so that you're never quite sure when the famous chorus will kick back in. McGuinn's vocal and guitar part fall flat, sleepy and lethargic quite unlike the rich promises of tomorrow the song has in both Bob's and the Byrds' later version. Crosby and Clark are competent but far from the note-perfect harmony singers we've heard elsewhere. In truth this version of 'Mr Tambourine Man' is a rotten mess not equal to the atelnts of the band or the song and easily the worst Byrds performance for the whole of the 1960s. How on earth did they get from this to a million-selling record in less space than it takes The Spice Girls to do a reunion tour?! Perhaps sensibly, this recording was released once only, on the original 'Preflyte' compilation, rather than the two follow-up sets that came out afterwards.  Find it on: 'Preflyte' (1969),  'In The Beginning' (1988) and 'The Preflyte Sessions' (2001)
N) [14a and b] 'Tomorrow Is A Long Ways Away' is a gorgeous forgotten Clark song that's never gained the credit it deserves. Passed over for the first two 'proper' Byrds albums and passed over again in 1970 for the 'Preflyte' collection, it finally saw the light of day as late as 1988 and the 'In The Beginning' compilation. A lovely song that has one foot in the band's past and in the future, this is a folk-rock song with twinges of psychedelia that finds Clark in a deeply romantic mood. Wishing he could stay with his beloved forever, he's contented to think that even just tomorrow is a long time away (well, it is by his standards of romantic relationships!) A beautiful yearning middle eight seems to add some clouds on the horizon, however, stating 'if you would stay forever...' (note the word 'if', not something the rest of the happy-go-lucky song suggests), ending up ina  delightful growl as Clark promises 'my love for you will never die' singing as low as he can (what impresses me most about these early recordings is how many notes the Byrds are using. Most relatively new singer-songwriters tend to use foru or five notes, an octave at most - but Clark is already moving well out of his comfort range on songs like these). While Byrds fans have tended to ignore this song, they were clearly very into this song at the time, turning in two seperate but erqually distinguished arrangements acoustically and electrically (these are used to bookend the 'In The Beginning' comp). The electric version is slightly better, thanks to a fuller sound, but both are excellent. Another song the band really should have returned to. Find it on: 'In The Beginning' (1988) and 'The Preflyte Sessions' (2001)
O) The most dated song of this early batch is [15] 'The Only Girl I Adore' - the most overtly Beatley song here (the song ends with an 'oh' stolen from the  finale to 'When I Get Home' - hot off the press on the 'A Hard Day's Night' movie in July that year - and there's even a 'yeah yeah' in the chorus, just one word away from a 'yeah yeah yeah'!) All that said, Clark's song is awfully sweet in an early 60s kind of way and it's interesting to hear him trying to drop his usual writing style in favour of writing something simpler and more commercial. Had he been less of a poet Clark could have done well as a 'Tin Pan Alley' composer, conjuring a song that features every romantic cliche under the sun (stars, 'I could be the only one' ) and yet still ends up sounding as if it was written and inspired by a 'real' person. The arrangements of the vocalists is interesting too: Clark sings lead with McGuinn and Crosby largely parroting away a few beats behind him, a trick the Byrds sadly never used again but particularly suitable here (as the narrator 'chases' his girl until their voices finally combine on the sublime middle eight). That middle section is by far the greatest part of the song - by rights the song is so short it doesn't need a middle eight anyway but a bit of the 'real' Clark slips out on a delightful and complex run through twice as many chords as the rest of the song and with Crosby's sunny harmonies on the line 'could be real' suddenly sounding as if this is a relationship that's going to run and run. Of it's time, but charming. Find it on: 'In The Beginning' (1988) , the box set 'There Is A Season' (2006) and 'The Preflyte Sessions' (2001)
P) [16a] 'It's No Use' is an interesting one. The Byrds do return to this song, which we rather dismissed out of hand on our review for the first album. The band tried a little too hard with the polish there and the rocky feel of the song didn't quite come over, sounding like a bad Beatles pastiche ('I'll fi-e-ind her someday!')  This demo, however, is terrific: Clark has dropped all his inhibitions and sounds like a 'proper' rock singer, Crosby dances neatly alongside him in suport and McGuinn and Clarke widly thrash around like maniacs. This puts a little life back into a song I'd never really rated before and a recording that's relatively rare (I had to really hunt for this demo recording, which wasn't included on either 'Preflyte' or 'In The Beginning'!) Find it on: 'In The Beginning' (1988) and 'The Preflyte Sessions' (2001)
Q) [17a] 'The Times They Are A Changin' only got as far as a backing track before being abandoned - which is odd given that it's arguably the tightest one here with the McGuinn-Hillman guitar-bass relationship particular lively and strong. The song sounds like a much better bet than the earlier taped 'Mr Tambourine Man' - and is actually a better, more driving arrangement than the re-recorded version on 'Turn! Turn! Turn!' the following year. Find it on 'The Preflyte Sessions' (2001)
R) [18] 'Come Back Baby' is a very bluesy song for The Byrds to cover (AAA fans might know it from Jefferson Airplane's version), but they suit it surprisngly well. Crosby sings deeper than normal and makes for a very convincing bluesman, far more so than the only other comparable song in his canon (1989's 'Drop Down Mama'). Michael Clarke is much more open to jazzier songs like this than folk-rock and puts in way more effort than anywhere else on these early sessions, while McGuinn unleashes his inner Ledbelly. The result is a recording that would have given The Byrds a whole new string to their bow and really should have been returned to. If I was manager of The Byrds I'd have junked the folk-rock and the Dylan covers and promoted them as a blues band instead. Find it on 'The Preflyte Sessions' (2001)
S) [19] 'Willie Jean' is more of the same, another traditional blues song that Crosby takes lead on, with McGuinn as his very able second-in-command. The result is another convincing performance that's a far better pastiche of the sound than the later 'Hey Joe'. Find it on 'The Preflyte Sessions' (2001)
T) [20] 'Jack Of Diamonds' is the least convincing of Crosby's four blues songs but the Byrds still turn in a fine performance: wilder than anything else the 'Preflyte' sessions threw up and with Crosby really yelling out the lyrics. The gambling lyrics are the kind of thing every lazy folk song has included down the centuries, though, and the tune is less distinguished than elsewhere. No one's told Michael Clrke this is a folk song though, as he transforms himself from a rather basic folky drummer into Keith Moon! Find it on 'The Preflyte Sessions' (2001)
U) [21] 'Get Together' is another traditional song made famous by Jefferson Airplane,featuring a winsome Crosby lead. His vocal is quite different to what he'll go on to do, caught halfway between folk and blues as the Byrds take the usually slow moving ballad about peace and jive it up a bit, adding a distinctive 'growl' to it not present in any other version I've heard. The song is a  fascinating one: an inter-war folk song by Dino Valentino, it's calls for peace and equality make it arguably the world's first 'hippie' song, with obvious appeal to proponents of the age like Crosby and the Airplane's Paul Kantner. The cheery chirrup in Crosby's voice really dfoes make you believe that world peace is possible. Find it on 'The Preflyte Sessions' (2001)
V) After the 'real' Crosby, not rhe 'real' Clark. [22a] 'She's The Kind Of Girl' is a gorgeous ballad that won't see the light of day until 1973 (when it marks the last time all five original Byrds are in the same room until their Rock and Roll Hall of Fame appearance in 1990!) Clark's demo is slower and more thoughtful than the finished product and misses CRosby's classic harmonic blend, but it's still a fantastic reading of a great song that sets out many of Clark's touches of genius to come: (he's deeply in love with her, she isn't with him, it's all going to end in tears, he still wants her anyway!) How astonishing to think that The Byrds will pass over this great song for both the two records with Gene in the band and their reunion album and even when this version is recorded in 1973 it has to wait another four years and a rarities set ('Roadmaster') to see the light of day. A Clark classic to rank as high as 'Set You Free This Time' and 'I'll Feel A Whole Lot Better', it already sounds note-perfect here. Find it on 'The Preflyte Sessions' (2001)
W) [23] 'I'm Just A Young Man' is solo Crosby, the Bo Diddley song recorded by so many early and mkid 1960s bands from The Who on down (it's more usually called 'I'm A Man'). Crosby's version is less threatening than cute (certainly compared to Roger Daltrey's growl), with the usual power of the lines 'I'm a man now - I made 21!' sounding more like triumph than threat. The result is one of the lesser songs from these sessions, petering out before the end and probably not giving Ellas McDaniels (aka Bo) too many sleepless nights about his competition (it's also worth pointing out that Crosby is a comparatively old 23 here!) Find it on 'The Preflyte Sessions' (2001)
X) [24a] 'Everybody Has Been Burned' is the single most thrilling moment of the 'Preflyte' recordings. Crosby's smoky ballad won't be heard on record until The Byrds re-record it for 'Younger Than Yesterday' in 1967. That version is perfectly respectable with lots of clever overdubs that really flesh out the sound. This, though, sounds like the 'real deal' - Crosby sings solo to his own acoustic guitar part sounding not unlike Gene Clark's early solo work in the process). Both are staggering, ominous, bleak - a world away from the cutesey-pie Beatles pastiches of most of these recordings. This song too sounds far more like Crosby's future work with CSN than any other single Byrds recording - the starkness, the acousticness, even the off-centre jazz modal guitar tunings are in place (suggesting just how much CRosby changed his 'ntaural' leanings to keep The Byrds 'on-message'). Marvellous - how this song got passed over for the original 'Preflyte' goodness knows). Find it on 'The Preflyte Sessions' (2001)

Non-Album Recordings Part #2: 1965
A) We're onto the 'true' Byrds sessions now, recorded after the band's first hit. The Byrds are unusual amongst our AAA bands in that virtually all their singles and their flip-sides ended up being repeated on whatever the next album happened to be (1971's A side  'Lay Lady Lay' and 1965's B-side 'She Don't Care About Time' being the exceptions). There's still quite a list of these 'non-album songs' across the book, though - most of them unreleased in the band's lifetime but available since a series of rather good CD re-issues in the 1990s and two seperate Byrds box sets. First on our list is Gene Clark's lovely [5b] 'She Has A Way' should really have found a home on 'Mr Tambourine Man' - it's a typically lovely song about heartbreak and loss that's one of Gene's better attempts at finding a 'halfway house' between The Beatles and Bob. The band sound so much more confident than they did on their 'Preflyte' version, with some especially nice harmony work from Crosby and a great Rickenbacker motiff from McGuinn. Presumably this song got left behind simply because Gene already had so many songs on the album. While arguably better than 'It's No Use', Clark was flying so high in this period that even this charming piece isn't quite up to his standard on the rest of the album.Find it on: the bonus tracks on the CD re-issue of 'Mr Tambourine Man' (1996)
B) [41] 'You and Me' is a groovy backing track from the first album sessions that was sadly never finished. It would have made for quite a departure for The Byrds, with a wild swinging medley, a great walking jazz bass part from Hillman and solid drumming from Hillman. The heaviest rock the Byrds will attempt until 'Eight Miles High', the song sounds like a template for their more famous composition - especially the way Crosby and McGuinn's guitars mesh together for a twin attack. It would have been fascinating to hear a finished version or read a lyric sheet - the title suggests an angry rant along the manner of 'It's No Use' - but sadly none have ever been discovered. A nice curio, though, that would have enlivened 'Mr Tambourine Man' up no end! Find it on: the bonus tracks on the CD re-issue of 'Mr Tambourine Man' (1996)
C) One of the most famous non-album Byrds songs is Gene's [42] 'She Don't Care About Time', the flip-side of 'Turn! Turn! Turn!' Preumably only jealousy over Gene's creative spurt got in the way of this song appearing on the second album, as this song is very much to his usual high standards. The lyrics have a real Dylanesque slant as a tale of an illicit meeting evolves, but one that's read not in terms of geography but in time. The first verse is especially staisfying, setting the scene in just a few words and making it sound at once like an ordeal and the greatest thing that's ever happened to the narrator ('Hallways and staircases every day to climb, to go up to my white-walled room out on the end of time'). The narrator is a busy man who can only get a few snatched moments of joy before going tback to his 'other' life (is he a musician and she a groupie?), but to his joy he finds that 'she'll always be there - my love don't care about time'. The Byrds turn in a tight backing track, with the urgent restlessness of the song coaxing some wonderful shuffled rhythms and the best performance yet out of drummer Michael Clarke, with an excellent Rickenbacker part from McGuinn that sounds pretty much identical to his future one for 'I Know You Rider' from the following year (rhythm, tempo and chords are all the same; this is, along with 'Bells oif Rhymney' the Byrds  song George Harrison admitted helped inspire his similar part on Rubber Soul track 'If I Needed Someone' ). There are two versions of this song doing the rounds - the 'Turn! Turn! Turn!' re-recorded version discussed above which is the one most compilations/box sets/etc tend to use and an earlier sketchier and frankly odder version first intended for release on the back of aborted single 'It's All Over Now Baby Blue' intended for release as the band's third single with a bass and drum riff that sounds very much like the template for 'Ticket To Ride' (did the Beatles get an advance copy?) This is another nice version of a great song but takes the idea of 'playing with time' rather too literally for confortable listening though.  Find  the 'main' version on: the bonus tracks on the CD re-issue of 'Mr Tambourine Man' (1996), the two box sets 'The Byrds' (1990) and 'There Is A Season' (2006). Hear the 'alternate' version on 'The Original Singles As and Bs 1965-71' (2012)
C) [11c] A very loose and rather sloppy version of 'You Won't Have To Cry' from 1965 remarkably comes out sounding even sloppier than the 'Preflyte' version of 1964. McGuinn's guitar sounds as if it's played down a tunnel, Hillman's bass is more suited to an uptempo Motown song and the harmoncies between Clark and Crosby are about as ragged as this band ever sounded under the Byrds banner. For all that, this is still a fascinating glimpse at a nice song taking shape, the band clearly coming at this one more from the 'rock' angle than the 'folk' style of the finished take. Find it on: The CD re-issue of 'Mr Tambourine Man' (1965)
D) [25b] The alternate take of 'I'll Feel A Whole Lot Better' is a fascinating alternate glimpse of how the song might have turned out had it been closer to rock than folk. Gene sings double-tracked, with a nicely gritty lead vocal - it sounds to me awfully similar to the 'leaked' session tapes that had Gene singing a live rough guide with the rest of the band, but everything else is too polished for that (suggesting it's the standard issues backing with Gene's 'final' vocals replaced by his first take). This song (probably) feels a whole lot better the way The Byrds did it for the record, with all of their usual polish, but it does add a nice human element into one of Gene's better songs that's rather fitting. Find it on: the CD re-issue of 'Mr Tambourine Man' (1996)
E) The single version of  [28b] 'All I Really Want To Do' is, surprisingly, much less commercial than the album version. Taken slightly fasterm with a silly tambourine riff going throughout, McGuinn sounds perkier on it but the rest of the band sound a little sluggish. The most obvious differences are the rather tinny mix (sadly the single version has only ever been released in mono) and the middle eight where Roger sings lead rather than David. No wonder this version of the single flopped and why virtually all the compilations out there prefer the album version: this take sounds rushed, without the poise and nuance of 'Mr Tambourine Man'. Find it on: The CD re-issue of 'Mr Tambourine Man' (1996) and 'The Original Singles As and Bs 1965-71' (2012)
F) [43] 'The Day Walk' aka 'Never Before' is one of the last songs Gene recorded with the band (it may well be the last as he most likely doesn't appear on 'Eight Miles High', his last Byrds composition) that was taped late in the 'Turn! Turn! Turn!' sessions and was completely forgotten about until being re-discovered when work was being done on the Byrds rarities set 'Never Before' in 1987. Unusually for Gene the song doesn't seem to have been 'named' on the session tapes and when contacted about the song Clark admitted he couldn't remember it - as a result the compilers named it after their compilation 'Never Before'. However session notes that have come to light since give this song it's 'proper' title 'The Day Walk' - a very un-Clark like title (it woulsn't surprise me if this is the wrong name for the song too). A rather odd and angular song, this composition finds Gene in true Dylan mode, with a song that isn't split so much into verse and chorus as 'rant one' and 'rant two'. The lyrics for this one are fascinating, Gene caught between the two paths as he figures on the one hand he needs The Byrds and he'd be stupid to walk away from a band that's made him a success ('The day is too short and you can't find support in the slums') and on the other that the experience has stopped being fun: 'The sudden scare of a landing there on a scene which you don't even care to see when you're alone'. With a tune that's forever going back and forth between the two ideas, it's the musical equivalent of pacing up and down, trying to decide which option might be best. Another great band performance is the icing on the cake, Crosby (in the left speaker) and McGuinn (in the right) not so much playing in harmony as competing with each other, each trying to grab the listener's ear. The song ends on an unfinished 'question mark', with a note that belongs halfway between the two sets of melodies and ends hanging in the silence. One of Clarks' better songs, you can understand why this song wasn't used at the time (Gene was out of the band and this is perhaps his least commercial track for The Byrds yet) but it's their loss: Dylan's favourite songwriter ended this time with the band as he started it: inspired and pioneering, by far the Byrds' most convincing songwriter in their early years. Find it on: the bonus tracks on the CD re-issue of 'Turn! Turn! Turn!' (1996), the rarities set 'Never Before' (1987) and the two box sets 'The Byrds' (1990) and 'There Is A Season' (2006).
G) Someone in The Byrds must have really loved [44a] 'It's All Over Now, Baby Blue' - one of Dylan's least convincing attempts at a rock and roll song - because they recorded the song three times with different line-ups (probably McGuinn seeing as he sang lead on them all). The 'middle version' has never come out and the 'last version' from 1969 is the only one to find release in the band's lifetime (on 'The Ballad Of Easy Rider' 1969). This first version was intended to be the band's third straight Dylan A side in a row before McGuinn came up with the more voncinvinv 'Turn! Turn! Turn!' In truth this song would probably have fared even less well in the charts than 'All I Really Wanna Do' thanks to a slightly hurried and frenetic air where nobody quite seems to know what they're doing (Clarke and Clark, for instance, are playing very different rhthms on drums and tambourine respectively) and an increasingly high and unconvincing McGuinn vocal. While arguably closer to the shifting mood back ot rock and roll of late 1965 than 'Turn!', this song simply doesn't have the accessibility of 'Tambourine Man', being one of Bob's more deliberately obscure and complex lyrics about love and loss ('Your lover who just walked out the door is taking all his blankets from the floor, the carpet too is moving under you!') The slower third version is much more convincing, although even that isn't great. **check***Find it on: the bonus tracks on the CD re-issue of 'Turn! Turn! Turn!' (1996), the rarities set 'Never Before' (1987) and the two box sets 'The Byrds' (1990) and 'There Is A Season' (2006).
H) A trippy alternate take of Dylan's [17c] 'The Times They Are A Changin' was also recorded at the 'Turn! Turn! Turn!' sessions. Manager Jim Dickson considered this such an key song of the era that he was horrified at the Byrds' slapdash approach and got them to record the version that appeared on LP - but actually it's that re-make that sounds tired and lethargic. This early version has a real wing to it and McGuinn especially relishes having a strong set of Dylan words to spout, which sound more genuine here than with the rather sarcastic approach he takes for the final product. He also adds a nice pearl of guitar notes during his guitar licks instead of just plkaying the riff straight (the way that Dylan did on his version) and the song doesn't end with the silly 'dum-dur-dee-dah-bah-dum-*crash*' finale of the finished version, sounding altogether more serious and weighty.While this version isn't perfect -  the drums are slightly sluggish and the harmonies a tiny bit off  - there's a real passion and drive in the room, which is more than you can say for the re-recorded version which, in restrospect, sounds like a rather bored Byrds angry at having to re-create this song all over again. Find it on: the CD re-issue of 'Turn! Turn! Turn!' (1996)
I)  Crosby's unfinished backing track [45] 'Stranger In A Strange Land' was inspired by the book of the same name by sci-fi author Robert Heinlein. An early example of The Byrds trying to do 'space-age', he's admitted since that he's not very keen on the song and it was most likely his own indifference to it rather than band in-fighting that meant it wasn't finished. I'm intrigued to know if that's true or not (Crosby isn't always the best judge of his own material) because the backing track could have gone either way. An intriguing and daring fade-in to the track is highly apt for a song that as the title implies is a hurried, always moving sea of guitar, bass and drum lines that's deeply unsettling. With the right lyrics this could have really been something (and as the first sci-fi Crosby song, four years before 'Wooden Ships' and six before his role in Paul Kantner's superlative 'Blows Against The Empire' important in Croz' development as a writer). With the wrong lyrics it could simply have been silly - given Crosby's other songs in this period (the trite 'Wait and See', the superlative 'What's Happening?!?') the jury's still out. Like many a backing track 'Stranger' isn't really made for repeated listening but is a nice find and more proof of how well the Byrds were able to mesh their 'traditional' jingly-jangly sound to new genres when the mood took them. Find it on: the bonus tracks on the CD re-issue of 'Turn! Turn! Turn!' (1996) and 2006 box set 'There Is A Season'. 

Non-Album Recordings Part #3:1966
A) [57a] 'Why?' is the exciting flip-side of 'Eight Miles High' that made for a great one-two. A driving Crosby rocker with the same take-no-priosners raucous rock sound and an instrumental break featuring a similar sense of space and energy, it's one of Crosby's best Byrds songs and in another era might well have been the A-side. He's ably backed up by everyone though on one of the band';s tightest performances: Gene's 'afrewell present' to the band is a superb gruff 'parental' vocal that gives the more youthful sounding Croz somethiung to bounce off, Roger provides a superb Indian-influenced guitar solo and Hillman and Clarke are at their liveliest, with soe superb jazzy bass swoops and a terrific hold-on-tight drum onslaught from Clarke (whose at his best on these straightforward sorts of songs). Crosby wrote the piece originally as a Lennon-ish put-down of all the people who'd held him back and told him he was 'useless' - the lack of love from his mother, especially, is one of the key driving forces of his early years (before drugs mellow him out). Although childhood angst was 'big' in 1966, McGuinn disliked the negative words and re-wrote his partner's first verse to being a girl the narrator has never noticed before, receiving a co-credit in the process. I'm not quite sure why this song didn't turn up on '5D' - the band were clearly desperate for material and Crosby in particular was thrilled with how the song turned out (perhaps Gene's part was just too prominent for a band trying to prove they could make an album without him?) Frustrated that not people had heard this song, Crosby pushed for a re-recording on 'Younger Than Yesterday' a year later, but while that version is passable it's nowhere near as tight as here, lacking both the extended McGuinn solo and Clark's excellent harmonies. A third, even earlier version was also dug up for the CD re-issue of '5D' - slow and tentative, with a folkier sound, this version is even less successful and never quite catches fire, although as ever it's fascinating to hear the subtle changes in the band's arrangement (Crosby's lead is much more prominent in this version and McGuinn's solo a bit more 'normal'!) Originally the B-side of 'Eight MIles High', this 'single' version can also be found among the bonus tracks on the CD re-issue of '5D (Fifth Dimension)' (1996) and the 2006 box set 'There Is A Season'.
B) The first attempt at [52b] 'Eight Miles High' is fascinating too. Crosby considered this slower, jazzier version better than the one put out as a single; I'm not sure I agree but it does sound more than fit enough to release and you wonder why the band pushed so hard for a second go. The main differences are the tempo (it's about half the speed of the finished version) and the impact this has on the rest of the song: causing Crosby to rumble rather than stab and McGuinn to loosely find his way around the main guitar riff instead of showing off how fast he can play. This version of 'Eight Miles High' teases us and plays cat and mouse with us instead of going for full-on nightmares and as a result is less intense and ground-breaking. However there's something to be said for the slow build-up of noise, which peaked surprisngly early in the hit single version and stayed there - this 'Eight Miles High' only hits full cruising mode at the very end in a cacophonous rumble of flying cymbals and arpeggios guitars that sound even more as if the 'plane' has crashed. Find it on: the bonus tracks on the CD re-issue of'5D (Fifth Dimension) (1996)
C) The traditional [58] 'I Know My Rider' - much covered by fellow AAA band The Grateful Dead - was yet another aborted Byrds single. Intended as the first poist-Clark single it was a McGuinn choice that isn't quite as suitable for the band as 'Turn! Turn! Turn!' but does have lots of space for his Rickenbacker peals and the straightforward rock drumming of Clarke, who sounds mightily reliveed to have got the band's 'folk years' out of the way. This track also (probably) features the singing debut of Chris Hillman (very much filling in Clark's part here) and some exquisite vocal work all round. However there's something about this frenetic arrangement which doesn't quite come off: the song seems rushed and hurried and has (ironically given that The Byrds more or less invented the genre) lost the folk-rock flavour of most cover versions (the Dead included, where it was usually played languidly and part of a medley with the similarly relaxed 'China Cat Sunflower'). Looking for something heavy and powerful after 'Eight Miles High', this song clearly wasn't it - although it would have made a fine album track and really should have found a home on '5D' (it makes more sense than 'Captain Soul' for instance). However it's also a better choice than what the Byrds did ultimately go for (the weary cyncism of 'So You Want To Be A Rock and Roll Star') so perhaps it wouldn't have been too bad. Find it on: 'Never Before' (1987) and among the bonus tracks on the CD re-issue of'5D (Fifth Dimension) (1996)
D) [59] 'Psychodrama City' is further evidence of David Crosby's growing interest in jazz and like a good half of '5D' finds The Byrds floundering - unsure whether Gene Clark's departure is a great excuse to do all the things they've always wanted to do or the beginning of the end. This song is about the weirdest put together in this period (trust it to be a Crosby song!), with he and McGuinn trading increasingly atonal guitar lines for a full 80 seconds before the song 'proper' kicks in. When it does the song is one of Crosby's typical 'questioning' lyrics, three stark verses dealing with unrequited love, the death of the world, violence on TV and a rather harsh dig at Gene Clark for leaving them in the lurch ('All of my friends got on a plane, one of them got off again, to this day OI won't know why he got on at all if he really didn't want to fly!') Each verse tails off with the single line 'Psychodrama city - don't need none today!' 'None' what? Drama? Psycho-analysis?! Strange jazz tunings?!? What does it all mean? The sound of guilt and jealousy tinged through with acid, 'Psychodrama City' is an odd song that could only have been recorded in that short time between 1966 and 1967 when new experiences, however, odd, were there to be shared. The star of the entire proceddings is Michael Clarke who has a particular 'feel' for jazz tracks like this - everyone else, Crosby included, sounds adrift and a little lost. Rightly left off the '5D' album. Find it on: the bonus tracks on the '5D (Fifth DImension)' CD. re-issue (1996)
 Non-Album Recordings Part #4:1967
A) 'Let's double it! Masterpiece!' David Crosby's sarcastic wit at the end of the rather silly McGuinn/Hillman song [69] 'Don't Make Waves' is sadly spot on. A rare extra-curricular 1960s project for the band, it's the not terribly distinguished theme tune to a not terribly distinguihsed film, thankfully long forgotten. The sound of The Byrds aping The Beach Boys (Roger even attempts a Hawaiian style guitar part - all that's missing is the sound effects!) should be more interesting than it is. Even the lyrics are suspect, basically saying 'don't stand up for yourself because if you ruffle feathers you might lose all your money!' Yeah right, like that's the 'real' Byrds philosophy - we'd have had no folk-rock, country-rock or whatever-the-hell-is-going-on-on'Dr Byrds and Mr Hyde' with that attitude! In truth writing songs for film scores is a difficult art-form to master - you have to sum up a film's 'feel' without parroting the plot and without offering up ideas that are alien to your own band sound. Hillman and McGuinn badly fail this test - 'Don't Make Waves' is regarded by even the band's biggest films as something of a mistake!  Find it on: the bonus tracks on the CD re-issue of 'Younger Than Yesterday' (1996)
B) [70] 'It Happens Each Day' is perhaps the greatest song Crosby ever wrote for The Byrds. Near-enough a solo performance and an obcvious template for his later ethereal work with CSN/Y, it features a very Paul McCartney-esque rounded melody and some gorgeous and complex multi-layered Crosby harmonies that try so hard to reach for the sky but always fall back. wounded, as gravelly low as Crosby can sing. That's a clever musical trick for what's happening in the lyrics: like many of David's best songs this is a track about loss and the world not being quite right. We only get hints about the person missing from his life, but they stull float throughout his life like a ghost, a 'dismebodied spirit wathcing over me'. This song is quite eerie given what will happen to Crosby in 1970 (his long-term girlfriend Christine dies in a car crash after the pet cat she was taking to the vet got loose - the needlessness of the accident and the speed with which it happened, mere minutes after he saw her, will haunt and stretch his music for many many years to come; decades even. This song sounds at one with later songs like 'Shadow Captain' and 'Somehow She Knew' about rudderless ships and wounds that will not heal - but we're still three years away here. Something's clearly gnawing away at Crosby though - his last four songs for the band ('What's Happening?!?' 'Psychodrama City' 'Mind Gardens' and 'Why?'; 'Burned' is of course an earlier song re-recorded) all share similar aggressive active melodies (unusual for Crosby's later work) matched with increasingly peaceful lyrics. Are the band battles getting to him? Does he see his own future a a Byrd in doubt? Is the adolescent hang-ups that once saw him bullied and be-littled rising to the surface again now that The Byrds are no longer the all-conquering heroes they once were? Something clearly made Crosby walk away from one of his better songs when it's actually better and more Byrdsy than any of his on the 'Yesterday' album - did the 'realness' in this song (forget the lyrics if you want, they could be fictional - but this frightened deer-in-the-headlights melody is trying to tell us something and while the words fit well this isn't necessarily a song of loss) - the first real time this has ever happened to the by now 26-year-old composer - frighten him a little? Did it frighten the other Byrds? Or was he simply saving what sounds suspiciously like a solo recording (with just simple Clarke drumming and a quiet McGuinn Riockernbacker part, buried under layers of Crosby's guitars) for a solo recording he knew might soon come? Whatever the cause 'It Happens Each Day' is a special song, amongst the most signifigant in this entire book, a lovely haunting piece of music about losing something you simply refuse to give up. Find it on: amongst the bonus tracks on the CD re-issue of 'Younger Than Yesterday' (1996), plus rarities set 'Never Before' (1987) and both box sets 'The Byrds' (1990) and 'There Is A Season' (2006)
C) [71] 'Lady Friend' is the other side of Crosby's talent and his 'big break' while in The Byrds - his first ever solo A side with the band (McGuinn of course had '5D', He and Hillman had 'Rock and Roll Star', Clark had 'Set You Free This Time' and Clark McGuinn and Crosby wrote 'Eight Miles High' up to this point). A fun and nicely driving song about the moment a 'friend' becomes something more but then goes away suddenly without ever learning of what she' awakened and leaving their uinfatuated boyfriend behind (the title, not repeated in the lyrics, is ironic) is spoilt by an exrenely indifferent performance and a spoilt Phil Spector-ish production that seeks to make what should be a nicely intimate song about personal experience big and wide and echoey. Clarke's drumming, which had shown such a marked improvement over the past year, is his sloppiest in a while, slashing the cymbals this way and that so hard you lose all sense of the beat. McGuinn and Hillman are more professional but still do the smallest amount of work needed to keep this song on the straight and narrow. A double-tracked Crosby tries to liven up the song, with a cheery likeable melody and an unusual orchestration involving horns (very out of favour in 1967, despite the use on 'Sgt Peppers' title track), but the rest of the performance just drags him down. A brave stab at something new, this would have made a fine album track but really should have been re-done as an A-side - with little or no help publicising this song from the rest of the band Crosby was aghast to watch this single sink without trace. McGuinn and Hillman then decided to exclude it from the 'Younger Than Yesterday' album on the grounds that it was a 'failure' - harsh words considering '5D' and 'Rock and Roll Star' hadn't exactly lit up the charts and Crosby had raised no objection to them. I wonder how the rest of the band might have re-acted had Crosby pushed for either 'Why?' or 'It Happens Each Day' for the single - both would have had better chances of success and even Roger and Chris wouldn't have been follish enough to let an 'obvous' hit single drop (knowing The Byrds they'd have just claimed the credit for it instead!)  Released as an 'A' side. Find it on:amongst the bonus tracks on the CD re-issue of 'Younger Than Yesterday' (1996) and as part of  'The Singles Collection' (2012)
D) [72a] 'Old John Robertson' is the 'friend' (or at least the 'B-side') of 'Lady Friend', written largely by Chris Hillman to 'exorcise' his demons after adult guilt over a childhood spent laughing at eccentrics (drugs - plus two years amongst his exceeedinly eccentric co-Byrds - may well have seen Chris belatedly learn that there's more to learn from people with unusual characters and that they may well 'know' more than conventional 'straight' people; speaking of himself and his childhood 'gang' in the third person Chris recalls 'they never took the time to find out what he was all about - they kept him out!') The same recording was subtly remixed for 'Notorious' with very few differences - this version has lighter bass and drums, slightly more 'feathery' vocals, less phasing and effects during the strings 'instrumental break' and a generally more 'folk-rock' than 'rock' feel. It's placement on an album in favour of the A side seems deliberately designed to 'wound' Crosby, who turns in a typically fine suppoorting role in the harmonies. Find this 'B-side' mix amongst the bonus tracks on the CD re-issue of 'Younger Than Yesterday' (1996) and on the 'Singles Collection' (2012)
E) [67b] 'My Back Pages' is the song The Byrds recordewd more times than any other - as well as the published album version there are 'medley' versions and 'live' versions of it coming up on this list later. For now, though, we're interested in the first ever attempt at this song - not all that different from the 'Yesterday' version except for a slightly looser feel and a loud organ part skipped entirely for the finished product. As with the album cut, only McGuinn feels like he's really in love with the song - everyone else sounds as if they're gpoing through the motions, chomping at the bit to have a go at one of their own songs. Find this alternate take on: The CD Re-issue of 'Younger Than Yesterday' (1996)
F) Finally, for now, we have an early version of Crosby's [66b] 'Mind Gardens' - the polar opposite of 'My Back Pages'. This take is very different, with a quite different Crosby vocal that's sad and mounrful rather than full of 'outrageous fortune'. There are far less layers of sound going on, too, which actually makes for a much more interesting recording with space given to individual instruments to allow them to be 'pulled out' by ear one by one. With more emphasis on Crosby's acoustic rather than McGuinn's backwards electric, this song reveals it's folkie origins, especially Crosby's vocal which wouldn't have sounded out of place in a folk club. The result is far less intense than the finished version - which was kind of the main point of the song in the first place - but all these years on it's arguably a better version, less of a 'recording' but more of a 'song'. An additional third alternate take of 'Mind Gardens' is also available - an instrumental take without vocals that's a seriously trippy affair. My ears suggest that this alternate version was used rather than the more common album version, although the packaging ('Yesterday' is unique among the Byrds re-issues in not having the usual fascinating booklet) doesn't specify which version was used - or if this another take altogether. Find both of these on: The CD re-issue of 'Younger Than Yesterday' (1996)Non-Album Recordings Part #5:1968
A) While 'The Notorious Byrd Brothers' is our pick of the albums and on first sight seems to be the CD to upgrade (with lots more bonus tracks than usual), the truth is the leftovers from these sessions are by far the least interesting unearthedby record label Legacy.  [94] 'Moog Raga' is a case in point: Roger McGuinn never seriously intended this track for public release at the time - he was just doing what anyone who could afford a moog synthesiser in 1968 was doing: having fun with what weird sounds he could make! Slightly more palatable than George Harrison's similar 'Electronic Sounds' actually released as an album a year later (mainly because it's shorter!), what's interesting is that despite playing on an instrument that couldn't be less like his beloved Riockenbacker guitar, I bet most fans blindfolded would still be able to 'guess' that this was McGuinn - this track has his tradermark blend of Indian time signatures in a Western setting with a distinctive folk flavour in the 'guitar picking'. Obviously the more Byrds items released the better - but this is scraping the barrel a little thinner than the other CDs. Find it on: amongst the bonus tracks on the CD re-issue of 'The Notorious Byrd Brothers' (1997)
B) [95] 'Bound To Fall' is Hillman getting the band to mess around with a distinctly rockified backing track toone of his favourite country songs. The song's new translation into a hard-hitting 4/4 rock tempo works surprisingly well and would have added a nice extra texture to the rather short 'Notorious' album had it been released. Hillman will revive the song, in an arrangement closer to the way it's always played, on the Stephen Stills/Manassas album of 1972 which replicates this arrangement's nice extra tension through the key change in the middle eight but loses out on the comical Michael Clarke rock thrusts. Find it on: amongst the bonus tracks on the CD re-issue of 'The Notorious Byrd Brothers' (1997)
C) [96] 'Triad' is a cheeky Crosby song deliberately designed to provoke a re-action. Intended by it's composer for a starring role on 'Notorious Byrd Brothers', it's lyrics discussing three-way relationships was always going to get his more traditional-minded colleague's minded backs up. Knowing Crosby, it was probably created as a trade-off to get his loathed cover of Goffin and King's dreary 'Goin' Back' off the album and sounds like another near-solo performance bar some more typically under-par drumming from Clarke, probably in protest at s sdong he didn't like or agree with (that idea and this song became null and void once the other Byrds kicked Crosby out of the band;the more adventurous Jefferson Airplane welcomed the song with ipen arms instead as Crosby must have known they would - their version, from fourth album 'Crown of Creation' is slower and moodier than the Byrds' and has quite a different slant with Grace Slick singing a 'female' version of the tri-gamous relationship). The sound of a man experiencing a whole new lifestyle and wanting others to share in it, it's highly typical of Crosby's work in that it all stems from the question 'why?' Crosby is at his peak womanising period in 1968 and genuinely loved two ladies (both immortalised in the CSN song Guinevere along with Joni Mitchell). Crosby's vocal is typical sumptuous, almost able to convince the world of anything by itself, although the surprisngly upbeat and jazzy arrangement isn't quite up to the delightful solo acousti cperformances Crosby gave of this song during his CSN and solo tours (a live version of which can be heard on CSNY's 'Four Way Street' LP). While you can understand why the other Byrds objected - unlike CSN this was a 'band' in the raditional sense, who all had to take the flack from anything one of the five did or said - it still deserves it';s place on the album especially compared to the drivel of... Find it on: amongst the bonus tracks on the CD re-issue of 'The Notorious Byrd Brothers' (1997) and the 1990 box set 'The Byrds'.
D) [74b] 'Goin' Back', which astonishingly sounds even worse in an early incarnation that somehow manages to be both heavy-handed (Michael Clarke treats this twee ballad as a heavy rock and roll song) and slighter (thanks to some twinkled glockenspiel). This version lacks the later finished product's sweeping harmony vocals (did Crosby insist on them as the only way he would accept having anhything to do with this drivel?) and Hillman's lead vocal is more prominent, with McGuinn all but hidden. The finished version was pretty drippy in the context of one of the band's tougher, better albums - this version is a waterfall, soaked through with artifice and is one of the Byrds' weakest, most insincere moments on record. Find it on: amongst the bonus tracks on the CD re-issue of 'The Notorious Byrd Brothers' (1997).
E) )  [97] 'Universal Mind Decoder' is a lot more fun - basically it's the backing track for one of the Byrds' greatest recordings 'Change Is Now'. While obviously not as good (you miss the harmknies, the sudden twists and turns into country and that breath-taking solo), this early rehearsal version is still awfully good. McGuinn's Indian-influenced guitar-work kicks in much earlier while Chris only learns how to play his strong bass loops near the end of the song. The band do lose their way quickly, though, suggesting that they're jamming on the riff rather than making a full and proper attempt at the song (although interesting everyone hits their mark exactly at the three minute mark, suggesting it was pre-arranged). What a shame, too, that the very psychedelic title was dropped - did this song originally come attached to a completely different set of lyrics?! Find it on: amongst the bonus tracks on the CD re-issue of 'The Notorious Byrd Brothers' (1997) and the 2006 box set 'There Is A Season'.
F) [98] 'Flight 713' is a final farewell for the McGuinn-Hillman partnership, an unfinished instrumental recorded late on in the 'Notorious' sessions. The song was untitled when it was originally recorded, McGuinn adding the title especially for release when the track was added to the CD re-issue of outtakes set 'Never Before' ('Flight' came because they were 'The Byrds' while '7:13' was the time on the studio clock when Roger was asked what it was called!) Sadly this rather nice instrumental, which is much more interesting than most of the other Byrd instrumentals, has never been given a wider audience and is currently out of print (why isn't it on box set 'There Is A Season' for instance, given the amount of tracks on that set getting their 4th or 5th release?) This doesn't sound like any previous incarnation of The Byrds, with a driving rock beat, a bubbly bass part and some lovely double-tracked McGuinn guitar, sounding more like Paul Revere and The Raiders than the band's usual style. It's one that suits them, though, and one they should have returned to with a clever contrast between the reflective verses and the harsh angry choruses. The very fact that we're discussing verses and choruses suggests that this song was originally intended as more than an instrumental and it would be easy to imagine a vocal line to this one (kinda like the verse part of 'Get To You'). Alas if there were any words they've been long forgotten. A nice discovery. Find it on: 'Never Before' (1987, CD Version only)
G) For all of Gram Parsons' 'reputation' as a country genius, I've always preferred his rockier songs: he's got a great rock voice and a nice understanding of off-beat rhythms. 'Sweethearts' outtake [99] '(You Got A) Reputation' - originally a folk song written by Tim Hardin - was only ever intended as a studio warm-up and does sound a little unfinished, but it's possibly the greatest example of this. It's a 'heavy' song, almost funky and very bass heavy the way it's mixed here, as if all the joy has been sapped out of the song, with only Hillman's bright harmonies offering a 'way out'. Lyrically it's an early example of Gram's low opinion of women (no wonder he got on with the Stones so well!), Parsons' narrator wearily turning on his girlfriend whose getting a 'reputation' for being an 'easy lay'. At one stage of the song Parsons even claims she's doing it solely to get to him, that 'you're just fishing, but I won't bite!' Kevin Keley is the other star of this song, again proving how much more suited to a Byrds rock and roll album he would have been, while conspicusously McGuinn is apparently nowhere to be seen. An even greater sign of what's to come in the Parsons-Hillman Flying Burrito Brothers spin-off than the 'Sweetehearts' album, this is one of the better songs from the sessions that badly deserved a place on the album, with a life and enthusiasm about it that no Gram country ballad or Roger vocal on a Gram country cover song can hope to match. Find it on: 'Sweethearts Of The Rodeo' (CD re-issues 1997 and 2003) plus the box set 'The Byrds' (1990)
H) [100] 'Lazy Days' is a fun Parsons song that was never finished during his time in the band and seems to have been treated merely as a 'warm-up' exercise. While less polished than 'Hickory Wind' and 'One Hundred Years From Now', it's arguably a song closer to the defaulty Byrds sound than either, a true match between heavy Beatles and simple Dylan. Gram and Chris sing together for the first time without Roger, with this country-rocker another major signpost towards their joint venture The Flying Burrito Brothers (their more straightforward rock version appeared on second album 'Burrito Deluxe' in 1970 under the title 'Lazy Ways'). More fun than any other Gram Parsons song, it reveals a funner, less serious side to the young country purist and Hillman too sounds as if he's having more fun than in a very long time on lyrics celebrating doing nothing that ironically comes with an urgent, relentless riff that sounds as if it can't wait for the next opportunity that comes along. Roger is again conspicuous by his absence on a rockier track that must surely have appealed more to his own tastes (his later compositoon 'Tiffamy Queen' sails pretty close to the beat of this song), missing entirely from the most 'famous' mix of this song (not heard during The Byrds' lifetime but a regular on rarities sets, box sets and CD re-issues) and heard only in a curious unmusical squeal on a mix included in thr 2006 box set that suggests he was trying too hard to impress his oldest and newest friend. Find one mix on both the single and two-disc CD re-issues of 'Sweethearts Of The Rodeo' and the 1990s box set 'The Byrds', with a second mix appearing on the 2006 box set 'There Is A Season'.
I) [101] 'Pretty Polly' is a fast-strumming folky song that was one of McGuinn's favourites - he recorded it no less than three times in his career! A tale of love, lust and betrayal, he first learnt in his pre-Byrds days as a folksinger and - along with the later 'Sweet Mary' - is the only time Roger put his folk period to full use with The Byrds.The first version we're referring to appeared on the first Byrds box set and on the original single disc CD re-issue of the 'Sweethearts' album - it's a tad slower than the other two, with more McGuinn double-tracked harmonies and a slightly muddled murky mix. The second version and the best of the three only came out on the 2006 box set 'There Is A Season' - more straightforward, slightly longer (thanks to a fiery guitar-banjo duel, presumably with Hillman), faster and with just one Roger singing throughout it's terrific until the track falls apart right at the end. Either one would have cheered up 'Sweethearts' no end - presumably Gram Parson objected because it was 'folk' not 'country', but one return to the band's original sound would have helped fans make the uncomfortable sudden leap between genres a lot easier. A decidedly more country version appeared on Roger's third album 'Cardiff Rose'. Roger kept the banjo but no the guitar, replacing the fast trot of the other two versions with a fiddle. McGuinn's vocal, so neat and tidy on the Byrds versions, is all over the place - Roger acting 'drunk' as he tries to over-dramatise the storylines. A clear early signpost of his 'folk den' project (reviving forgotten traditional songs in the way they would have been played), it's a key song for McGuinn, even though the first two versions of the song never came out and the third one was largely ignored. Find it on: version one: both the single disc and deluce two-disc CD re-issues of 'Sweethearts Of The Rodeo' and the 1990 box set 'The Byrds'. The second version can be heard on 2006 box set 'There Is A Season'.
J) Poor Kevin Kelley. There he was, helping cousin Chris Hillman out when The Byrds were in trouble and promising to delivere the kind of psychedelic wonder they'd delivered on the 'Notorious Byrd Brothers' album when suddenly, without warning, they become a country band! Kelley never sounded entirely comfortable as a Nashville drummer, but rhe new boy was game to try anything and - keen to ingratiate himself into the band properly - even wrote his own attempt at a country song. It's rather good too: [102] 'All I Have Are Memories' is very much in keeping with the nostalgic and slightly sorry for itself mood of the album. Kelley is a much more convincingcountry singer than Roger ever was and sounds like he was tailor made for country singing despite all being so alien to him. This song wouldn't necessarily win any awards for originality - in the song the narrator gets drunk, waiting for his girlfriend to show and realising it's over - but Kelley manages to convey the right sort of sorrowful lament without anything likle the fuss of Gram. This is another of my favourite songs from these sessions and once again a 'Sweethearts' outtake that's far better than anything actually on the album! Find three versions of this song - two instrumentals and a vocal version - on the 2003 'deluce' re-issue of 'Sweethearts Of The Rodeo'.
K) Recorded by the International Submarine Band in 1966 and not included on their LP 'Safe At Home',  [103] 'Sum Up Broke' was first released as a bonus track on the Byrds 'Sweetheart Of The Rodeo' album, even though technically speaking it had nothing to do with those sessions. Harder edged than most of Gram's work, it's actually rather Beatlesy and more like Gene Clark songs 'You Movin' and 'Boston' than the country-rock standards of the LP. Gram's fiery guitarwork is the highlight of a song that has the narrator leaving after a breakup, vowing to 'forget all about you now'. Chances are everyone would have forgotten this forgettable song too had it not been recorded by a future star. Find it on: the 2003 deluxe version of 'Sweethearts Of The Rodeo'
L) Similarly [104] 'One Day Week' is another International Submarine Bandsingle from 1966. This one has a distinctive Monkees 1966 vibe, complete with Hammond organ and catchy chorus. It's a long long way away from what's to come, although the moment when Gram finally starts singing in his natural deep voice in the middle eight is quite an electrifying moment and he turns in another fine fiery guitar solo. Find it on: the 2003 deluxe version of 'Sweethearts Of The Rodeo'
M) [105a] 'Truck Drivin' Man' is a very early version of future Byrds classic 'Drug Store Truck Drivin' Man', started by Gram in 1966 (and released as a flop single by the International Submarine Band) before being co-written with Roger sometime near the end of thwe 'Sweetheart' sessions (a version duly appears, made without Gram, on the 'Dr Byrds and Mr Hyde' album). To be honest the two are only very very distant cousins, the only real similarity being the chorus (which goes 'a tru-uck driving ma-an' to fill in the gap where 'drug store' should be at the beginning) and a general sense of sarcasm - taken to new heights in The Byrds' version. There's no mention yet of The Byrds' poor response in Nashville or the country DJ who doesn't really know what music is - just a gentle slap in the face with a cream pie rather than a wet fish. Find it on: the 2003 deluxe version of 'Sweethearts Of The Rodeo'
N) From hereon in, this is The Byrds as The Gram Parsons show. Goodness knows what ructions might have occurred had 'Sweetheart Of The Rodeo' come out the way it was intended, with new boy Gram Parsons given another seven vocals in adittion to the two that made the album (basically Gram would have sang everything bar the two Dylan songs, 'Pretty Boy Floyd' and 'I Am A Pilgrim'!) All of these Gram vocals were of course removed because of a legal claim from Lee Hazelwood, who still had Gram under exclusive contract - although given that this claim was solved before the album's release it seems odd that the band didn't simply junk Roger's hatily re-recorded vocals in favour of the originals.  [85b] 'The Christian Life' is amongst the better Gram alternate takes, complete with fascinating opening dialogue between the band, with Roger getting nervous over his harmony part (which sounds rather good to me) and getting his own back on the years of producer Terry Melcher interrupting perfectly good takes when his in-studio buzzer accidentally does off ('That's Melcher's favourite toy' he giggles - anyone whose sat through the bootlegged outtakes of the first two Byrds albums will agree with him!) The rehearsal take included on both CD re-issues of 'Sweetheart' is light years ahead of the album version: Gram is born for a country honky tonk style song like this and Roger's unashamedly folky support is delightful. Had the album been more like this it might not have hurt the band's reputation quite so much, the pair of singers finding some rare common ground on this song of religious virtue. Two similar rehearsal takes were also discovered in the vaults and added to the 2003 'Sweethearts' CD , although they don't add much if you already own the earlier 'Gram' take released in 1997. Find it on: the 1997 and 2003 deluxe version of 'Sweethearts Of The Rodeo'
O) Roger never really suited [86b] 'You Don't Miss Your Water' on the album, which brought out the worst in his nasal tendencies. Gram, however,m was born for the role and clearly respected the material, delivering an excellent reading with Roger again reduced to some rather good backing harmonies (sung by him double tracked on the album version). Find it on: the 2003 deluxe version of 'Sweethearts Of The Rodeo'
P) Gram's vocal on his own [90b] 'One Hundred Years From Now' , though, is actually not up tot eh rendering Roger gave it on the album, heading a little too far into country cliche. The take with Gram singing released on the two CD re-issues of 'Sweetheart' is actually a rehearsal take and Gram struggles a little here, with the band taking the song at a much slower lick. The pedal steel is very different too, playing only about half as many notes! In total four rehearsal versions - all more or less the same - appear on the 2003 'deluce' CD.  Find it on: the 1997 and 2003 deluxe version of 'Sweethearts Of The Rodeo'
Q) A rehearsal take of Gram's charming ballad [89b] 'Hickory Wind', actually taped in Nashville, isn't actually all that differebt from the finished version: Gram sings a little deeper and growls the word 'p-i-i-i-i-i-nes' a little differently, while there are no backing vocals (which is a bit of a shame, actually, makinhg this song sound more boring than it should). For a rehearsal the band are impressively together though. Find it on: the 2003 deluxe version of 'Sweethearts Of The Rodeo'
R) An early reheasal version of [92b] 'Life In Prison' is also near enough to the finished product to make no difference. This take is slightly less cluttered and elaborate but that annoying pedal steel part is still intact and the song still sounds a little too woe-is-me for the tone of the album. One of the lesser discoveries of the 'deluxe' Sweethearts set - scarily enough thyat goes for (gulp!) all four very similar alternate versions. Find it on: the 2003 deluxe version of 'Sweethearts Of The Rodeo'
S) The rehearsal take of  [87b] 'You're Still On My Mind' from the 'deluxe' Sweetheart set is take 43, hinting at just how many problems a distinctly non-country band were having tackling this material. The differences aren't that great: just an ever so slightly longer honkly tonk bar-room piano solo and a slightly less fussy pedal steel part. An earlier version, take #13, reveals that very little has changed in the arrangement between the two. Find it on: the 2003 deluxe version of 'Sweethearts Of The Rodeo'
T) Finally on this long list, take 14 on the rehearsal version of [91b] 'Blue Canadian Rockies' reveals the band in trouble: Chris is 'flat', Roger is 'too slow' and coming in at the wrong time the band sound tired and mutinous. Roger jokes that this is 'take 116, right?' and the take when it finally gets going is indeed a bit of a struggle to sit through. Chris takes the lead, not Gram, and while he's not as at home as with 'I Am A Pilgrim' he sounds rather good - better than Parsons actually, who never did quite nail this song. The slightly brighter backing track - there's less harmonies getting in the way and the mix doesn't add echo to everything - suits this song much more than the album version. One of the better discoveries from the 'deluxe' Sweethearts, with The Byrds finally playing as a real live 'band' rather than as Gram's back up men. Find it on: the 2003 deluxe version of 'Sweethearts Of The Rodeo'Non-Album Recordings Part #6:1969
A) [109b] 'This Wheel's On Fire' is a slightly looser, rawer take on one of the band's better Dtylan covers which ended up on 'Dr Byrds'. McGuinn's vocal on the finished version is impressively confident, almost aggressive (not his usual singing style at all), whereas on this version he sounds nervous and afraid. Both interpretations of Dylan's all-meaning lyrics are equally valid but the released version fo this song is perhaps a little more musically-friendly, with Clarence atypically losing his way about the 90 second mark and having to vamp to catch back up with the song. White's solo is the highlight of this alternate take, though, with a second overdubbed McGuinn trading lines with  him - an idea sadly dropped for the later version. Hear it on: amongst the bonus tracks on 'Dr Byrds and Mr Hyde' (1997)
B) I always used to think that 'Dr Byrds' closing medley [117b]  ('My Back Pages/B J Blues/Baby What You Want Me To Do?') was so rushed and hurried it had to be a last minute played-as-live first take added to the album because nothing better was available. I was wrong. This is the first take, actually slightly tighter than the finished version but even less interesting, with the band trying too hard to hit each mark straight on without letting the song truly fly. There's a much shorter 'My Back Pages' but a longer 'B J Blues' and a slightly less histrionic version of 'Baby What You Want Me To Do?' with a terrific 'angry' guitar part from Clarence. The biggest difference though is that there's no 'Hold It!' instrumental break at the end, the song instead tailing off with layers of feedback similar to the opneing of 'Wheel's On Fire' (which would have made an interesting bookend to the album if nothing else!) Ultimately, though, the difference is between a band you know is great but having an off day (as per the finished version) and a competent pub rock band who don't 'feel' or 'live' the song. No wonder the band decided to re-record it - but, seriously, neither version of this medley is really worth your time. Hear it on: amongst the bonus tracks on 'Dr Byrds and Mr Hyde' (1997)
C) The alternate version of country instrumental [113b] 'Nashville West' isn't all that different - Clarence and Gene know the song so well you sense they could play it in their sleep, the main difference being a rather average rhythm part from MCguiin - discreetly placed low in the mix, although whether in the 1960s or 1990s for release Im not sure - and there's no 'false ending', including Gene's pierced screams and his 'nonsense' vocals. Running at 2:04 this version of the song is far shorter, and yet without that false ending to break things up seems infinitely longer somehow. Hear it on: amongst the bonus tracks on 'Dr Byrds and Mr Hyde' (1997)
D) I always wondered why the 'film mix' of [112b] 'Child Of The Universe' from the movie 'Candy' wasn't included on the 'Dr Byrds' CD re-issue. I figured it must have been awful, too bad for The Byrds to contemplate re-issuing - actually it's rather good. There's a heavy handed use of strings, brass, an organ part and even a choir that wasn't on the 'album' mix, which certainly has the effect of making this song less 'Byrdsy'. The song is strong enough to withstand the extra weight, however, and McGuinn and York's shared vocals are still extremely strong. Gene's drums are less 'heavy' here and the two guitars are very low in the mix. I'm not sure I prefer it to the finished version, but it's a nice one to hear and is very different - unlike some of the Byrds alternate versions doing the rounds. Hear it on the 2006 box set 'There Is A Season'
E) [128] 'Stanley's Song' is the first entry in this book from the forthcoming Roger McGuinn/Jacques Levy musical 'Gene Tryp' which sadly still hasn't been completed as I write in 2014. This is sadly the weakest of the seven released from the musical so far (most of which ends up on later LPs 'Untitled' and 'Byrdmaniax'), a rather anonymous walking paced ballad  about a minor character from the work which sounds to my ears as if it comes in the plot somewhere around 'I Wanna Grow Up To Be A Politician'. Gene reaches out a hand of friendship from the pulpit ('It's all one world in which we live, so understand and try to give') but unlike the zelous 'Politician' he sounds less than convincing or convinced. A fun country lilt on the guitars rolls this song along nicely, but like many of the Byrds' 1969 recordings it doesn't quite hang together, without any real fire or passion here. Hear it on: amongst the bonus tracks on 'Dr Byrds and Mr Hyde' (1997)
F) [129] 'Lay Lady Lay' is a stand-alone single that didn't too well in the charts - even Dylan was said to be displeased with it! One of Bob's more heartfelt, personal, simpler lyrics this song should have suited The Byrds to a tee. However nothing in this track really clicks: Roger sounds more like a lawyer than a lothario, the plucked guitars are twee and the sudden switches of rhythm and dynamics - something The Byrds used to be so good at - doesn't really come across. Whisper it quietly, but considering the many repeats that are in the song it comes over as a little bit boring. Over-weighted by too many over-powering Terry Melcher strings, it should have been an early clue that the similar sound of album 'Byrdmaniax' really wasn't the way to go. Hear it on: amongst the bonus tracks on 'Dr Byrds and Mr Hyde' (1997)
E) The jazziest the post-1967 Byrds ever become, [130] 'Way Behind The Sun' aka 'Way Beyond The Sun' is a very old traditional song that had been all but forgotten until fellow AAA band Pentangle revived it for their self-titled debut album in 1968. A big fan of the group, the Byrds' new bassist John York persuaded the band to give it a go, turning in an off-key yet so-right vocal that would have done that band's Bert Jansch and John Renbourn proud (York really should have got the chance to sing more, with a better voice than Clarence or his successor Skip Battin). Clarence White has great fun on this track, adding a touch of country to it, while Gene Parsons finds a great groove behind on drums. Only McGuinn gets precious little to do, which might explain why this fun jam session never got a place on 'Easy Rider'. The engineers at the session clearly hadn't heard of this obscure song either - it's official name is 'Way Behind The Sun' but the title 'Way Beyond The Sun' was scribbled on the tape box and that's the title originally used when this performance was first released in the 1990s. Find it on: The CD re-issue of 'The Ballad Of Easy Rider'  (1997)
F) Jackson Browne was an unknown teenager writing quirky songs when McGuinn heard about hi through word of mouth and fell in love with his all-American writing (Crosby too will become an early champion; for those who don't know him think of a hippier Bruce Springsteen)  [131] 'Mae Jean Goes To Hollywood' is the first of two Browne songs The Byrds will tackle (the other, [162] 'Jamaica Say You Will', will find release on 'Byrdmaniax' in 1971), a fun romp  about a wannabe actress who tries to find fame and stardom in an uncaring Hollywood. Her boyfriend - the narrator - can't work out why she should abandon her home town shere she's loved by him for a slim chance of being loved by others and flies over to be with her but that doesn't work out too well either ('I'm getting tired of hearing people call you someone else'). McGuinn gets this wordy song's frustration and love spot on but somehow this arrangement never quite convinces: The Byrds are the wrong band to try this kind of thing and apart from Roger's guitar no one sounds that convinced by the song. Find it on: The CD re-issue of 'The Ballad Of Easy Rider' (1997) and the box set 'The Byrds' (1990)
G) Of all the weird songs in the Byrds' canon - talking aliens, war standards with a folk-rock-beat, hoovers doubling as lear jets - [132] 'Fiddler A Dram' is one of the weirdest. To be fair it was probably never intended for release at the time, it's just one of those things that creative people come up with whe they have too much time on their hands and not enough songs. McGuinn plays the moog while White plucks a banjo through a traditional song that has a nice Byrdsy mix of the old and the new. The harmonies are particularly odd, among the most traditional 'country' the Byrds ever came up with; the results are best described as 'an acquired taste'. Find it on: The CD re-issue of 'The Ballad Of Easy Rider' (1997)
H) [133] 'Build It Up' is a more promising outtake from 'Easy Rider' that sadly only exists as a backing track. Had it been finished it would have been the heaviest rocker on the album, with a nice guitar interplay from White and McGuinn and some fierce drumming from Parsons. Sadly we don't know what the lyrics were and so can't judge this track's value as a song, but the many 'sections' this track comes in suggests one that cuts a shade deeper than normal 1969 style Byrds: an urgent driving verse, followed by a pause for thought and a world weary melancholy chorus before the whole song goes back round the cyles again. Find it on: The CD re-issue of 'The Ballad Of Easy Rider' (1997)
I) [121b] The first of two alternate versions from 'Easy Rider' features the original recording of  'Tulsa County Blue' with John York on lead before McGuinn said he fancied a go and booted the bassist off the recording. York's vocal is much more in keeping with the traditional folk of the song and he turns in a much more confident, assertive vocal than Mcguinn's weary, troubled narrator that quite changes the feel of the song. The rest of the arrangement is subtly different too: there's more guitar, less harmonies and no strings - the result being decidedly rougher than the finished product but ironically easier on the ear without all that treacle. Find it on: The CD re-issue of 'The Ballad Of Easy Rider' (1997)
J) The alternate version of [120b] 'Oil In My Lamp' couldn't be more different from the version that made the album: where the 'Easy Rider' version sounds like it's playing on a slower speed than it should be, so this one sounds as if it's been sped up to 78 rpm. This fits in nicely with the urgent lyrics that cry for spiritual fuel, but there's less space for those luscious harmonies and White guitar, while suggesting that all the 'oil' is going to be used up by the end of the song. The Byrds were probably right to re-arrange and re-record it, but this first version is still rather good. Find it on: The CD re-issue of 'The Ballad Of Easy Rider' (1997)
K) [134] 'Buckaroo' is a country instrumental that's an even closer marriage betwen rock and country than 'Nashville West'. A rollicking backbeat and some fiery McGuinn guitar pushes the song one way before White's country twanging pulls it the other. The band have a lot of fun with this one in a live setting (it's heard on several bootlegs as well as the mini 1969 live show featured on the 2006 box set), so much so it's a surprise this track didn't feature on one of the Byrds' LPs. Oh and sadly the song title is all to do with bucking horses (or maybe bucking women) rather than named after the game! Find it on: The 2006 box set 'There Is A Season'
L) Merle Haggard's [135] 'Sing Me Back Home' was another live favourite oft-played by the Byrds between now and the end of the road. Like many of the band's country songs, McGuinn sounds mis-cast with a hopelessly fake country accent that must have made Gram Parsons squirm but the song is a strong one that fits in nicely with the theme of 'Sweetheart' of returning to the music of the home and hearth (although they're actually the memories of a prisoner awaiting execution - Johnny Cash should have done this one, it has his name written all over it!) White once again fits in perfectly, updating the original's sound to be fresh and contemporary and this track would have fitted in nicely on 'Easy Rider' too. Find it on: The 2006 box set 'There Is A Season'
 Non-Album Recordings #7: 1970
A) [136b] 'Lover Of The Bayou' wasn't originally intended for the 'concert' half of 'Untitled' - it was recorded, along with the other Gene Tryp songs, in the studio. Great as this alternate version is, though, with a slower snakier rhythm, it's no match for the smoking hot live recording which is about ten times as intense. There's a curious harmonic phrase within this version that's much more elaborate than the bare-bones surroundings and doesn't quite work, while the sleepier, slower backing sounds less like a swamp-monster after it's prey than a teddy bear in need of a hug. Full marks to whoever suggested the band simply record their fesisty live version instead amongst a track listing otherwise made up of covers and hit songs: the swamp of live theatre is very much the 'Bayou's natural habitat: this studio version is simply too 'clean'. Still, nice to hear - and this studio version is still way ahead of the lesser re-recorded version by 'Roger McGuinn and Band' in 1975. Find it on: the two-disc CD re-issue of 'Untitled'  (1998)
B) The alternate version of our AAA ebook title track [140b] 'All The Things', meanwhile, sounds every bit as gorgeous as the finished version. All the pieces are in place already, with a backing track ever so nearly matching the final version and a McGuinn lead vocal that's a bit rougher but acually even more affecting than the finished version, treated with an echo that makes the narrator sound ever more lost and isolated, experiencing an untouched world anew.  The slower tempo and an extended repeat of the main song theme adds almost two minutes onto the playing time. Find it on: the two-disc CD re-issue of 'Untitled' (1998)
C) A third different 'Untitled' alternate  [141b] 'Yesterday's Train' is even nicer: the finished version wasn't exactly elaborate but this beautoful vocal-guitar-and-harmonica version (all played by Parsons) sounds ever closer to the 'essence' of this lovely song. Once again Gene Parsons' performance is exquisite and the laidback folky feel of his playing sounds even more Byrds-like. The only shame is that the middle eight is treated more like the rest of the song, instead of delightfuly rolling forward off the rails as per the finished recording, although the scat singing ending is even better. Find it on: the two-disc CD re-issue of 'Untitled' (1998)
D) [147] 'White's Lightning' (Parts One and Two) is a fiery studio jam that took place in 1970 never intended for release, although it sounds mightily close to the mammoth twenty minute version of 'Eight Miles High' the band played in concert about this time (just minus McGuinn's riff). The original version lasts for some 30 minutes, although to date only two extracts (each lasting mere minutes) have been released to date. To my ears they sound as if they belong the 'other' way round, with the 'part two' included on the 'Untitled' CD re-issue sounding like the start and the 'part one' extract taken from the 1990 box set 'The Byrds' sounding like it comes from the middle. Neither is excatly essential nor are they up to the cracking version of 'Eight Miles High' that made the album, but both are well played and intense. Interestingly only McGuinn and White get a writing credit despute the fact that this very much sounds like a 'group' composition! **Check*** Find 'Part One' on the 1990 box set 'The Byrds' and 'Part Two' on the  CD re-issue of 'Untitled' (1998)
E) Little Feat are best known for their take-no-prisoners rock and roll and wild fury. For me though their best songs are their ballads.  [148] 'Willin' is a prime example, a song about devotion that finds Gene Parsons 'drunk and dirty' 'blown by rain and snow' still following the girl who doesn't even know he exists. Nowadays you'd call that stalking, but this song is entirely innocent with Gene again at his past on a slow burning soulful folk tune. The Byrds play acoustically, Parsons passing on his drums to add more conviction to his vocals, which works really well. Poor Gene gets rather overlooked on 'Untitled', with just the one glorious vocal (his own 'Yesterday's Train') to his credit: what a shame space couldn't be found to squeeze this delicate three minutes in somewhere - it's actually preferable to the Little Feat song that did make the album, 'Truck Stop Girl' (how odd that the Byrds should attempt two songs by a rival band!) AAA fans note: co-writer of both tracks Lowell George will later end up a Grateful Deade producer, working (and playing) their 1979 album 'Shakedown Street' (a disco/rock hybrid that couldn't sound less like this track!) Find it on: the two-disc CD re-issue of 'Untitled' (1998)
F) [149] 'Black Mountain Rag' was a live regular in the Byrds' set, a country instrumental rattled as fast as the band can manage. Clarence must have smoke blowing from his fingers after the first officially released version, which lasts all of 80 seconds and was included on the last. McGuinn does indeed strain to keep up with hi as he quips during his introduction! Find it on: 2006 box set 'There Is A Season'
G) [150a] 'Kathleen's Song' is a delicate McGuinns ballad taken from 'Gene Tryp' that was tried out for 'Untitled' but won't be recorded to the band's satisfaction until 'Byrdmaniax'. Another better than average McGuinn song, it's about Gene's lover Kathleen who waits for him, princess-like, across the changing seasons. In truth this understated song would have been a bit lost against the more gung-ho songs on 'Untitled' (even the ballads) but the stark acoustic reading first tried out for the song (and featured on the CD re-issue of that album) is dfeinitely preferable to the treacly strings-and-choirs version that made it to 'Untitled'. Find it on: the two-disc CD re-issue of 'Untitled' (1998)  the 1990 box set 'The Byrds' and 2006 box set 'There Is A Season'
H) An amazing a capella rendition of [151] 'Amazing Grace' used to end every Byrds concert back in 1970. Perhaps the most mesmerising display of the 'second band's vocal prowess, it borrows heavily from CSNY in the sense that four very different styles and voices all unite in brilliant harmony and gives al four space to shine. That's Gene on lead, McGuinn up there with him, Clarence doing the bass and Skip the falsetto on the studio take, unbilled but added to the 'Unreleased' half of the 'Untitled' CD re-issue at the very end (the dying notes of 'This Wheel's On Fire'). While clearly unfinished and lasting all of a single minute (ebbing away into silence at the end of the first verse), it's one of the greatest things on the disc and would have sounded breathtaking turned into a full song (where it would have made a fine eerie coda to war protest song 'Welcome Back Home'). Sublime. Find it on: the two-disc CD re-issue of 'Untitled' (1998)
I) While the full tapes for half the original 'Untitled' show (at the Queen's College, New York) seem to be sadly missing, the full concert at New York's Felt Forum (used on the other half of the album) thankfully does survive and the remaining pieces were sensibly added to the 'Untitled' CD re-issue. They reveal a band on fine form with tighter performances than on the posthumous official live LPs like the 1971 gig at the Royal Albert Hall and the 1969 show at the Filmore, even if all the best performances had been heard on the 'Untitled' album already. [83b] 'You Ain't Goin' Nowhere' was the 'real' opener to the LP as you can tell from the same emcee announcement that kicked off the original album (edited onto the front of 'Lover Of The Bayou'). It's a rather ragged performance of Dylan's spiky song, less subtle than the LP version (on 'Sweethearts Of The Rodeo') and without the sheer anger of the 1968 Tv version from Hugh Heffner's 'Playboy After Dark' show (the Byrds' best performance of their set regular). The harmonies are nice though, even if the instrumentation is a little worn and frayed. Find it on: the two-disc CD re-issue of 'Untitled' (1998)
J) [110b] 'Old Blue', another set regular, sounds like a friskier and slightly hunrier breed than the dog heard on 'Dr Byrds and Mr Hyde'. McGuinn's vocal is far less polished but has lots more character while his and White's guitar duet is a delight. You still have to question the taste of a band who sings a song about an imaginary pet dog in between two of Dylan's more acerbic songs but there's a strong beat to this song and this is one of the highlights of the concert songs that didn't make the album. Find it on: the two-disc CD re-issue of 'Untitled' (1998)
K) [152] 'It's Alright Ma, I'm Only Bleeding' is the Dylan song that McGuinn performed for the 'Easy Rider' movie. It was really good too: more intense and folkier than most of the Byrds' own cover versions, with a harsh lyric from Dylan that's one of his most thoughtful and profound (it's where his famous line about those who 'aren't busy being born are busy dying' comes from). The Byrds sadly never did record a studio version themselves but the White/Battion/Parsons line-up played it frequently in the early 70s. The live recording added to the bonus disc of 'Untitled' is one of the best things on it, with Gene's smoky harmonica and White's sinewey guitar leads conjuring up what is by Byrds standards a highly intense and dark recording. Along with 'Lover Of The Bayou', this darker-edged sound seems like a good direction to have gone in, tougher and tighter than most of their usual material, but sadly the band will go in a quite different direction through 1971 and 1972. Find it on: the two-disc CD re-issue of 'Untitled' (1998)
L) [118b] 'The Ballad Of Easy Rider' features much the same stop-start passage and Parsons' drumming barely  changes between the two, perhaps giving away it's birth as a 'Dylan' song (for the first verse or so at least). Still in 'Easy Rider' mode, McGuinn starts making some motorbike noises and quips to the front row 'hey there hippie, get a haircut - want me to blow your brains out?' (we can't see it of course, but the irony is the Byrds in 1970 have about the longest hair of any AAA band and three of them have thick beards to boot). The actual version of 'Easy Rider' is a little ramshackle and a tad fast, but Clarence fits in a fine guitar break that was played by the strings on the original version and this performance of the song is a lot more 'rootsy' than the more polished version that made the LP. Find it on: the two-disc CD re-issue of 'Untitled' (1998)
M) [67d] 'My Back Pages' seems to crop up frequently in this book, with as many versions of it around as 'Mr Tamboruine Man'! This rough version, with McGuinn losing his voice, is harder edged than both the 'Younger Than Yesterday' and 'Dr Byrds' versions, less throwaway and more carefully controlled and contained. The Byrds still sound less than comfortable on it, though, which makes you wonder why they revived it here. Find it on: the two-disc CD re-issue of 'Untitled' (1998)
N) Claren'ce vocal showpiece of 1970 was Ledbelly's [144b] 'Take A Whiff On Me' , a song designed to get a cheer from crowds at the sheer outrageousnes of mentuoning drugs on stage (and if anyone objects to modern hippies The Byrds could always point out at the pre-war recording date of the original!) White's vocals, uncertain in the studio never mind live, are an acquired taste and all in all this version doesn't have the bounce of the studio take. Parsons is on great form on the harmonica again though and this suits the song much more thewn the pounding drums he played on the Byrds' original take. Find it on: the two-disc CD re-issue of 'Untitled' (1998)
O) [123b] 'Jesus Is Just Alright' was the Byrds' surprise return to the charts with a song a Christian anthem seemingly at odds with everything else released in 1969. All live versions of this song sound superior to the rather timid studio version as the band got to know it that much better on the road and the 'Untitled' show is one of the best versions around, complete with squealing feedback at the start and some fiery guitar interplay from Roger and Clarence. In this version Jesus is Alright is more than Alright, he sounds invincible! Find it on: the two-disc CD re-issue of 'Untitled' (1998)
P) [109c] 'This Wheel's On Fire' is either the fifth or sixth Dylan song from the Forum show (depending on whether 'Positively Fourth Street' from the album was taped there too- session notes are a bit vague and sketchy), which seems like an awful lot of Bob for a half hour. 'This Wheel's On Fire' was one of the band's better Dylan covers and works well live: there's a definite hard rhythm on this song, unusual for Bob, and lots of space for Byrd harmonies and guitar bursts. Roger's looser and less respectful of the vocal than on the record, slurring his lines all over the place, but this only has the effect of making him sound more like his idol. The record still has the edge, though, if only for Clarence's wild and eerie guitar sound, replaced here by carefully controlled chaos. Find it on: the two-disc CD re-issue of 'Untitled' (1998)
Q) Meanwhile, just at the point where The Byrds had grown about as far apart as they were ever going to get, an unexpected reunion of the five original Byrds took place with old manager Jim Dickson producing. Inevitably the reunion was over swiftly, was achieved through overdubbing swork rather than in-person chemistry and typically the two songs recorded at the single session remained in the vaults for three years and even were near-impossible to get hold of. Even so though - The Byrds were back together again, as a quintet, for the first time in five years. It's always amazed me that there wasn't more fuss at the time than there once - especially because, unlike much of the pie-slicing reunion album, the two recordings really do sound like 'The Byrds' again, complete with glossy harmonies, Rickenbacker guitar and clattering Clarke drums (who was at his second peak in this period, a fact wasted on his day job in country spin-off  The Flying Burrito Brothers to be honest). What's even more remarkable is that both songs were done as a 'favour' to Clark to help get his solo career back on track after a difficult few years - a surprisingly generous gesture given the still simmering contempt at the way he'd left the band in the lurch in 1966 and 1968 (Gene will return the compliment to Chris and Michael straight away by helping out on the third Flying Burrito record in Gram Parsons' absence).  [182*] 'One In A Hundred' is a gorgeous new Gene Clark song that would have been crying out for The Byrds had they not been on it. Gently urging people to recover from a difficult night with ther words 'morning has come', Gene even adds a few allusions to 'Turn! Turn! Turn!' and 'My Back Pages' for good measure, prematurely hinting at next reunion song 'Full Circle' with lines about how 'seasons shall say - to look at a longer life now, to look at yesterday'. Crosby's gorgeously mellow harmony vocal goes together with Gene's lead deliciously, with a song that's very CSN-esque in it's quiet humble optimism and certainty of better tomorrows (Clark sounds very influenced by their first album both here and into the 'White Light' period, with the same acoustic subtlety), recognising how rare such inspired happy days are (they're 'one in a hundred', although Gene doesn't actually use the title in his lyrics). McGuinn, Hillman and Clarke - though quiet - are right on the money instrumentally and all sound enthusiastic about getting back together, even in different recording studios, unlike the 1973 reunion to come. This song should have been a big hit - instead it languised in the vaults until being released only in Holland in 1973, for some odd reason known only to Gene's record company, the rest of the world not hearing it for another thirteen years...Find it on: Gene Clark's 'Roadmaster' (1973/1986)
I) [22b*] 'She's The Kind Of Girl' is even more of a surprise. A demo recorded by The Byrds back in their 1964 Jet Set days but abandoned in favour of more commercial material, Gene revisits the song again with the original line-up all guesting on this song somewhere. The slower tempo, added flute work and dreamy double-tracked McGuinn Rickenbacker give this song even more of an air of mystery and Crosby's harmony vocal - though low in the mix - is again both sensitive and note-perfect. The middle eight where the band suddenly go into rock mode ('Doesn't everybody want to hear it?') doesn't come off quite as well as in 1974 - not all the band seemed to get the message about changing dynamics - but otherwise this later re-recording is a good example of how much Gene has been learning across the last half a dozen years. Once again the rest of The Byrds support him ably, much more so than back in 1965 when Gene was actually in the band! (perhaps all of the first two albums should have been recorded alone and separately like this?!) As with 'One In A Hundred', this song deserved a far better fate than being lost to the distant landsa of The Netherlands, who weren't even particularly known for their love of Gene Clark. Find it on: Gene Clark's 'Roadmaster' (1973/1986)Non-Album Recordings #8 1971
A) [174] 'Just Like A Woman' is a Dylan cover recorded for 'Byrdmaniax' - unusual, given that Dylan covers seem to be the default inspiratoon for the Byrds over the years, irrespective of quality. One of Dylan's weirder but more accessible sounding lyrics, I've never really taken to this song which basically says all it needs to say in the chorus and amazingly The Byrds' version is even worse than The Hollies' awful take on the song. Uniquely Skip takes the lead and he sounds more like Dylan than ever (ie out of tune!) but to be fair this is most likely a guide vocal most likely to be replaced at a later date. Like much of 'Byrdmaniax' the backing track is best described as folky gospel and really doesn't fir the song, which sounds rather weedy with church organ in the hole where the guitars should be. Probably best left on the cutting room floor to be honest. Find it on: The CD re-issue of 'Byrdmaniax' (1998)
B)  Much better is the original early version of one of Byrdmaniax's few highlights, [154b] 'Pale Blue'. The original wasn't exactlty over-adorned with instruments compared to most of the album but this version with just Roger's vocal and twin guitars is delightful, returning the Byrds temporaily back to their folky past. Perhaps one day someone will perform a 'stripped remix' version of 'Byrdmaniax' (in the style of John Lennon's 'Double Fantasy') - I've always said there was a good album in there somewhere underneath all the treacle and this recording enhances my theory nicely! Find it on: The CD re-issue of 'Byrdmaniax' (1998)
C)[175]  'Think I'm Gonna Feel Better' is a rather odd Gene Clark song picked and chosen by Clarence White (the only time the Byrds ever return to Gene's work with him not in the band). It's about the most rock and roll we ever hear the strict line counry traditionalist and rockier than Gene himself has sounded in a while. Sounding not unlike Hillman's upcoming Byrds song 'Things Will Be Better', this is a rare moment of hope and optimism from quite a depressing period. While White's vocal is awful, all over the place even by his standards (again it's probably just a guide to be fair), the backing is pretty good, McGuinn unusually taking the solo and twirling his Rickenbacker through some 'Eight MIles High' ish runs. While far from the best thing the band recorded it would have made a fine addition to the album whern finished. Find it on: The CD re-issue of 'Byrdmaniax' (1998)
D) An alternate version of [160b] 'Green Apple Quick Step' appears unlisted as a bonus track on the 'Byrdmaniax' CD. This version is a rough warm-up take that features a lot of intense descussion and debate about who exactly is playing what, with the unfamiliar deep bass voice most likely that of guesting fiddle player Byron Berline (***). As on the finished version, it's an unusual quickfire instrumental that never really fitted into it's surroundings, although Clarence's as ridiculously impressive as ever. The arrangement is noticably similar to the released version too, with only a slightly rougher performance differentiating the two, suggesting that all that discussion at the beginning served it's purpose and the band know what they're doing now. Nice to hear once, but not made for repeated listening. A further version of [160b] 'Green Apple Quickstep' is credited as  'Byrdgrass' on the box set 'There Is a Season' despite sounding near enough identical to the finished version to me (just missing the fiddle overdubs and running a shade longer). The same reponses as earlier apply here: Clarence sounds great, everyone else does ok and the instrumental, while clever, doesn't really deserve to be here in the place of a full song. Find it on: version 'b' is on the CD re-issue of 'Byrdmaniax' (1998), while version 'c' is on the 2006 box set 'There Is A Season'Non-Album Recordings #9 1972
A) [176]  'Nothin' To It' is yet another Byrds country instrumental, this one taped during sessions for 'Farther Along' but left in the vaults until as late as 2010. In truth this could be any fine country hillbilly band and is really just an excuse for Clarence and gene to keep in touch with their country roots. While well played it's probably just as well it didn't make the album, which was already over-stuffed with instrumentals (this one isn't quite up to either 'Green Apple Quick Step' or 'Britsol Steamboat Convention Blues'). Find it on: the 2006 box set 'There Is A Season'
B) [13c] The 'Banjoman' soundtrack recording of 'Mr Tambourine Man' features the Byrds poignantly turning full circle in their last year before the original band reunite. This scratchy pure folk version loses some of the freshman of the original, though, being more like 90% Bob and 10% Beatles in this version as opposed to 50:50 as before. The biggest change is that McGuinn now sings the second verse, cut from the Byrds' record but retained for all future McGuinn performances (including the McGuinn Clark Hillman years). White adds a harmony vocal that's so unlike Crosby's soaring harmonies it's almost embarassing - however if somehow you cpould come to this song fresh without knowing the original it's a pleasant enough version of the song. Find it on: the 2006 box set 'There Is A Season';
C) [178] A third and final song from 'Banjoman' features Chuck Berry's old warhorse 'Roll Over Beethoven', played in fumbling style by the country-era Byrds like some fading sidtant memory. You truly can't play a successful version of this song about the power of rock in any other style and yet The Byrds don't rock so much as roll their way through the song, sucessfully completing the changes but without much energy or fun. You can tell lustening to this performance that the end of days is in sight somehow, as the band struggle to get even their warm-ups to hang together. Find it on: the 2006 box set 'There Is A Season';
D) McGuinn had one last try at a Byrds album, though, taping three songs in the early part of 1972 before reluctantly calling a halt to preceedings. None of the trio are all that distinguished but could plausibly have been the cornerstone for a good album and might have been the best since 'Untitled'. All three will be re-recorded and recyled by McGuinn, two on his epnyumous first solo album and one on the Byrds reunion project. [179*] 'Lost My Driving Wheel' is a particularly interesting song about feeling uninspired and missing something, which seems like a particularly apt choice given how The Byrds felt in this period. This version is indeed lacking the fire and power of McGuinn's second attempt, with Parsons especially sounding too afraid to play anything much in case his erstwhile leader has a go at him again, but the song is a good one and very much the early 70s country-rock hybrid the band could have made their own in this period. The harmonies are quite lovely too, making the end result a draw. Find it on: The CD re-issue of 'Farther Along' (1998)
E) Roger's own [180a*] 'Born To Rock and Roll', meanwhile, is a lame dog of a song in any version. Re-recorded for the Byrds reunion album (where it sounds even worse than here), it's what punk was put on the planet to erase: a bunch of bored and tired musicians going through the motions on a song meant as a 'tribute' to the power of rock that couldn't rock less. Thats said, the 1972 vintage Byrds make a much better fist at this song than their more illustrious cousins, turning in a version with country leanings that features some nice guitar picking from Clarence and far better dynamics between the laidback verses and uptewmpo choruses. It's still an awful song (especially the chorus, which now has harmonies of 'I was born I was born to rock and roll' instead of 'rolling and a rocking' as per the later version), but it's a slightly less rotten song here with a bit of potential about it. Find it on: The CD re-issue of 'Farther Along' (1998)
F) [181*] Finally, 'Bag Full Of Money' is a McGuinn/Levy song that sounda like graditional moral folk tale about all them awful people out to steal your money unless yiou're wise with it. This deeply country recording is perhaps the most Hilbilly the Byrds have been since 'Nashville West' or even 'Sweethearts' and once again Roger is deeply unconcinving as a yee-hah cowboy. However the song itself is a good one that could have been a minor Byrds classic, re-recorded in superior form with Crosby's help on Roger's first LP a year later. Find it on: The CD re-issue of 'Farther Along'(1998)
G) The alternate version of [173b] 'Bristol Steamboat Convention Blues' appears unbilled at the end of the CD re-issue of 'Farther Along' and features The Byrds soudning unusually unsure of their own material. Gene Parsons muffs up his banjo opening a few times before the song finally takes flight. This version of the song is slower than the finished version and misses out on some of the overdubs but otherwise sounds much the same: nicely played but a little dull, only really taking off when Gene decides to play his banjo as a rock-star might a guitar rather than with the respect of a country player. Find it on: The CD re-issue of 'Farther Along' (1998)Non-Album Recordings Part #10: 1990
A) Few people would have put money on a Byrds reunion after the way McGuinn-Clark-Hillman fizzled out and the bad blood that still remained in the group. However in many ways the meeting of McGuinn Hillman and Crosby in 1990 was inevitable. These four songs exist, purely and simply, because releasing product with these three names attached to it helped them immeasurably in the court case they were currently fighting against Michael Clarke over the band name (Clarke's 'anniversary tour', arranged without their knowledge and the occasinal support of Gene Clark, had been touring since the mid-1980s, Michael's attorney arguing in court that he had as much right to revive the name as any, even quoting the fact that the band had no major success after he was pushed out of the band in early 1968). By reviving The Byrds name, if only for a short time, they proved that The Byrds were not dead but an ongoing entity (the booklet could have made it clear that this was only a three-way reunion like 1978-81 - whose songs were noticably absent from the box set - but instead it proudly and rather arrogantly announces them as 'The Byrds'). The fact that Columbia and McGuinn were busy working on a box set - the perfect home for four new songs - seemed like the perfect excuse. The trio met up to record four songs in Nashville, of all places - the arena that had once laughed the 'country' Byrds out of town now respecting the place the band had in the creation and popularity of country-rock. The threesome seem to have given no thought to making an olive branch out to their errant colleagues, even though Gene had been keen to distance himself from Clarke's band the minute they started being billed solely as 'The Byrds' rather than 'The Byrds Anniversary Tour', in deference to the others' request. However the move wasn't entirely cynical: Crosby for one had good reasons to get back together with his old band, experiencing the same thrill Nash had recently had getting back together with The Hollies and reminding him of his heritage - not to mention the fact that, after coming as close to death as anyone can and live in the 1980s, he was still enjoying something of a two-year 'victory lap' in the public eye. His harmonies are genuinely gifted across these four songs, while it's nice to hear Hillman singing what would normally Gene's part. Ironically it's McGuinn, the instigator of these sessions, who sounds less than sure about the whole thing - perhaps realising after the 1973 reunion album (blamed on Crosby) the others might turn on him if it wasn't a success. Actually the four songs attempted are a bit of a mixed bag. A re-make of [35b] 'He Was A Friend Of Mine' is easily the best of the four, a sensitive reading of a song that puts you right back in the moment, wiping all the years away and reminding us of all that was lost to The Byrds and their generation: JFK in 1963. This time Crosby sticks to the script, unlike the Monterey Pop Festival (the last time the Byrds sang it) and the arrangement really benefits from Hillman's deep harmony and McGuinn's simple guitar backing, drenched with echo. Few fans would take it over the 1965 original, which has a special sort of innocence and optimisim missing from this sadder, reflective version, but this is excatly the sort of things a good reunion does: revisits suitable material decades on and through fresh eyes. Find it on: 'The Byrds' (Box Set 1990)
B) [193] Inevitably, The Byrds turned to Dylan one last time during these sessions. 'Paths Of Victory' isn't one of the Bobmeister's better compositions, probably chosen by McGuinn because of  it's similarity to one of his own beloved sea shanties, but lacking his usual poetical touches despote being of 1963 vintage (it's an outtake from 'The Times They Are-A Changin' Album'). This is very much McGuinn's show again, with Crosby and Hillman reduced to rather tentative harmonies and everything smothered in two seperate McGuinn Rickenbacker guitar parts. The song never really gets going sadly, another wasted opportunity that might have been better kept for McGuinn's 'Back From Rio' album from the following year, although it's quite fitting that the band should look back to their first inspiration and go for an obscure song rather than a classic. Find it on: 'The Byrds' (Box Set 1990) and 'There Is A Season' (Box Set 2006)
C) Julie Gold's [194] 'From A Distance' was the hit of the early 1990s. Sung with the same wide open but entrancing naivite of some of the early Byrds songs ('He Was A Friend Of Mine' included), it was a favourite of Hillman's and seemed to make sense as a cover song: it was modern and in an alternate universe could have been a Crosby CSN composition (although it's actually closest to Phil Collins 'doing' CSN with Crosby's help - songs like 'Another Day In Paradise' and 'That's Just The Way It Is'  on his 1989 'But Seriously' album). Alas there've been so many cover versions of this song by now that it's hard to hear it without wincing slightly and The Byrds' version is more wince-worthy than most: Hillman's lead is treacly, McGuinn's nasal harmony is off-key in all senses of the word and this song suits the simple backing (Rickenbacker, echo, the odd bit of drumming) less than a few others here, somehow sounding more traped in time than the Byrds' recordings of thirty years earlier. At the time this song didn't seem too bad - but 'from a distance' of 25 odd years it now seems like something of a wrong move. Find it on: 'The Byrds' (Box Set 1990)
D) Roger's [195] 'Love That Never Dies' was the only orignal song recorded at these sessions and - amazingly - was Roger's first release of any kind since McGuinn and Hillman called it a day in 1981. Given the long wait it's a shame that the song wasn't better and it's not obviously suitable for a Byrds reunion: the title kinda fits and Roger drops in a few fascinating lines about a 'timeless flight' apt for a band whose main theme was always flight and altitude  (picked up on by Johnny Rogan for his book about the band) and 'throwing a dime' to a 'tambourine man' seen in the street (is that all the reunion Byrds are getting? A dime's worth of attention?! Or is this a dig at Gene Clark's revival of the band, left out in the cold?!?!?) For the most part, though, these references sound shoe-horned into an ordinary love song where meeting someone new is like 'opening a new door' and she is being 'held in my arms' and *yawn* you know the sort of thing - the charts are full of it, none of it any good. Chris and Crosby get very little to do once again, barely keeping up with Roger, although this is easily McGuinn's best perfoermance of the four. His guitarwork is genuinely lively and his vocal is great, without the wobbles or nasality of the other recordings. The sound used on this track will very much become the centrepoint for his 'comeback; album'Back From Rio'. Like much of that album, this song is pretty and brings a certain warm glow on first hearing, but is ultimately flimsy and disposable - not something you could ever say about the pre-1971 Byrds, even at their worst. Placing it at the end of the box set - instead of 'Friend' or 'Victory' also makes for one heck of anticlimax to the set - they should have out this one in the running first. Find it on: 'The Byrds' (Box Set 1990)



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