Monday 26 January 2015

Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young "Looking Forward" (1999)

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Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young "Looking Forward" (1999)

Faith In Me/Looking Forward/Stand And Be Counted/Heartland/Seen Enough/ Slowpoke/Dream For Him/No Tears Left/Out Of Control/ Someday Soon/Queen Of Them All/Sanibel

"You're always in a place where you don't want to be when you arrive" or "practising psychiatry without a license!"

Back in 1969 the world needed CSN. The cold war, political machinations and Vietnam meant that Crosby, Stills and Nash's energetic cries for peace love and understanding were the perfect backdrop to riots, protests and a growing sense of anger at the interpretation of the American Dream. There the three proudly sit on their first album cover, unconventionally in the wrong order, staring out the camera with an I-dare-yer smirk, larger than life. By 1999 the world didn't need CSN or even CSNY. The cold war had melted a decade earlier, it was accepted truth that politicians were going to lie or at least alter the truth to look good and wars tended to be sudden and sporadic, more often than with the Americans 'helping' in international matters rather than invading to plant the flag. There they stand on the CD booklet teeny tiny conventionally in the right order, their aged faces treated with some ghastly trendy then-modern computer graphics, with a better-look-good-for-the-camera smile that just isn't them at all, suddenly smaller than life. Even allowing for the fact that a bunch of fifty-year olds on their latest album are unlikely to have the potency of a hot new band created and shaped by the times, something has clearly gone wrong somewhere. For all the title's claims and the welcome presence of Crosby's toddler Django on the front cover (thus fitting the idea of this album being made for the 'next generation') there's something sleepy and weary about this record which we'd never heard from CSNY before, together or apart. At least in the past their albums had been bad enough to warrant passionate responses from a confused media press, but strangely this album - only the third to feature the full quartet - went almost un-noticed by the press and a lot of their fans. The older CSN were sometimes laughed at, criticised for being naive or rich or not knowing what the hell they were talking about but they'd always caused some response from their audience before. The silence that greeted this project, from the very moment it was announced, was eerie. The world had moved on. CSNY had not. End of story.

However, as we all now know (apart from Rip Van Winkle) the new century that CSNY were looking forward to here was prime CSNY territory: the millennium just about to start, the band 'knowing they could make a difference'. When the modern world gets written down in history books it may well record that the first and possibly decade of the 21st century were the most corrupt in history, full of scandal after scandal, with terrorist plots, faked election counts and illegal retaliatory wars in the wrong frigging continent. I was actually playing this album - then two years old - when the planes hit the second of the twin towers on 9/11 and could still hear this record, on repeat, as the events unfolded (I'd missed the first). It seemed highly apt somehow, as the CD spun round and round on repeat, cutting through all the gun/gung-ho nationalistic guff that to my alarm was coming not just from America (where it was expected) but from Britain too. 'We have to find out who did this'. 'We have to do this to them'.'We have to fight back'. In that moment CSNY were needed more than ever before, telling us not to declare a war but to 'have faith', to not retaliate straight away while the Western world was still hurting but to look forward to 'someday soon' when we'll 'see the light of day', to 'stand and be counted' by searching for the truth not for what the president (or the prime minister - Tony Blair was just as bad) told us was the truth. This record suddenly made sense, a prescient warning in two ways: to look out for  and solve injustice wherever it lay (an old CSNY mantra they had from the first) and to keep on doing your own thing, whether that got dismissed as irrelevant middle age or not. In time CSNY will fight their way back to, if not quite the forefront, then at least the front of the second tier of 'old acts' thanks to the ripples that 9/11 causes: the 'Freedom Of Speech' tour of 2006, 'Let's Impeach The president', the 'Deja Vu' concert film documentary, Crosby and Nash running for joint mayoral office and campaigning for Barack Obama before most people knew who he was...with this record sounding a little like a 'false start' two years early, a super-hero getting his costume on before he's actually been called into service.

Now I'm not saying that CSNY knew that a terrorist plot was about to happen - that's plainly daft. There's no conspiracy theories here I'm afraid, no mention of planes, bombs or explosions, although goodness knows there are enough weird things out there in the music world from the period just before the attacks (check out The Coup's rap album 'Party Music' from June 2001 if you ever get the chance - criticised by people for being 'sick' by showing smoke pouring out of the twin towers while one of the band holds up his drumsticks as if 'orchestrating' events, not everybody seemed to realise this record came out shortly before the attack! If that isn't a warning I don't know what is...) However 'Looking Forward' sounds in retrospect like a 'warning'. While politics were a CSN theme from the first and 'After The Storm', the previous CSN album, is if anything even more concerned with what's happening with the outside world that record tends to be local (most of the songs take place on a nearby 'street' where Crosby rides his bike, young punks 'lean on' and Stills views Bad Boyz in teenage gangs) - the events on this record are global, something big. Crosby bounces back from the relative 'failure' of his songs on 'After The Storm' to his fighting best, urging the world to 'stand up for truth' wherever they can, wherever they can even though there was nothing obvious on 1999 to stand up for. His other song 'Dream For Him' has him imagining the day he has to explain the evil and corruption of the world to his new-born son. Stills, meanwhile, dismisses the past decade of affluence and prosperity with the snarling rap song (yes, rap!) 'Seen Enough' attacking each generation from his own to the then-present day, 'removed from reality by silicon diodes' and claiming that the world is a pot about to over-boil. Elsewhere Nash chips in with his usual soothing ballad 'Someday Soon' but even that seems to hint at some bigger catastrophe than his usual it'll-get-better songs, while 'Heartland' has the message to the band 'we've been running so far away from where our lives belong' as if he knows that they'll be needed soon. Neil, meanwhile, chips in with the pointed 'Out Of Control' and uses similar lines in his other songs like the title track and 'Slowpoke'. If I was a music historian from a later time period I'd have happily labelled this as one of those 'troubled' immediately post-9/11 albums when the world's morality seemed to be turned on its axis and nobody knew who the bad guys were anymore, concerned with truth, justice and liberty. Instead 'Looking Forward' came out in a nothing year where the only big news internationally was concerned with the best way of celebrating the millennium a year later - which was particularly daft given that the millennium actually started the next year in 2001!

Of course, just because this album has taken on extra meaning over the years, that doesn't mean this record is necessarily any good. The second CSNY record, 1988's 'American Dream' was generally regarded as a disappointment: too many bland songs, way too many ballads and with a sappy late-80s production that zapped all of the drama out of the band. The good news is that one of these three items has finally been fixed: following on from the good work of 'After The Storm' CSNY finally sound like themselves, with a nicely retro production filled with actual proper performances and as close to live performances as possible (remarkably this makes most of 'Looking Forward' the first ever CSNY album where all four men played at the same time - there are a few exceptions on 'Deja Vu' like 'Helpless' 'Almost Cut My Hair and 'Woodstock' but otherwise both the rest of that record and 'Dream' are overdub city). However the bad news is that there are even more ballads than ever before, with Neil especially assuming that CSN are a 'folkie' band who need the softer songs from his back catalogue akin to 'Helpless' rather than the rage and zeal behind 'Ohio' or the epic mystery of 'Country Girl'. Yet again his songs are his least interesting of the entire decade, CSNY getting a rum deal once more, even though the few reviewers who heard this album automatically gave Neil the most credit simply because he was the only band member they could name. Nash too is reduced to sweet ballads, a shame after his recent solo album 'Songs For Survivors', while similarly slow tempo-wise, is a much darker and scarier ride. Only Crosby and Stills are writing rock songs and the sad truth is that at best only three of them come off. While lyrically there's a lot going on in this album, musically 'Looking Forward' sounds more like a snoozefest, with Neil's laughable comments on the title track about 'trying not to use the word 'old'' whenever the band are together sounds more like the truth than the edgy humour it's meant to be. Few people around to hear those remarkable records in 1969 and 1970 would have guessed that CSNY would simply fall into old age with as much comfort and as little noise as here. Far from raging against the light, this is a flickering candle a mere pop song away from extinguishing altogether.

This record shouldn't have been like this and they started, as usual, with all the best intentions. CSN had been without a record deal ever since Atlantic had dropped them in 1994 (to put that in context, they'd been the label's poster-buddies for so long that this was the equivalent of EMI sacking Paul McCartney, or - ahem - Neil Young leaving his cosy nook Reprise for a dodgy independent label run by David Geffen, whoops!) However they still felt they had things to say and felt they had a better chance in the record industry if they stayed together for once and out of solidarity had stayed together ever since for a series of tours (interrupted only by Crosby's new and thrilling band CPR whose first record came out in 1998). The band still hadn't found a record deal in 1999 but had a pile of songs they wanted to sing and, undeterred, set off to record them at California's Ocean Studios funded with their own money. Stills had an idea for a guitar part on his song 'Faith In Me' which sounded a bit like Neil in his head and he just couldn't get to work. So he rang up his old collaborator/competitor, sent over the tape and asked him to come on down, not expecting hi to ever say yes (this is a man who won't even turn up for recordings he's meant to be on, never mind calls out of the blue!) Against all odds Neil arrived, declared that he loved the tiny amount of material that had been recorded up to this point and was impressed that the band were going it alone. Excitedly he agreed to join the project as a full-time member and played the trio demos from his latest album in the works, the very CSN-like 'Silver and Gold' (out in 2000), telling them they could 'pick out the best' which they'd re-record together. This, surely, should have been the golden moment, with Neil making this album not as a career launching pad or to help out old friends but as a fully signed up participant for the one and only time (so far, in the studio, at the time of writing...) Neil also brought added clout from his own label Reprise, who were more than happy to get three extra superstars attached to their new Neil Young record effectively as a 'bonus' on top of the record he had waiting in the wings, and suddenly had both the finance and backing to record this album for as long as they liked. Which was a while, with sessions dating back to November 1996 and running to as late as July 1999. By the end of the project CSNY actually found themselves in surplus for the first time ever, with far too many songs to go on a single album. The choices they faced were either releasing the whole lot as a double CD (which is what Crosby and Nash did when a similar thing happened to them in 2004) or featuring only the very best. This involved some animated discussion about what was the 'best' so in a neat mimic of the democratic system they'd fought so hard to protect through the years the quartet all 'voted' in a 'secret ballot' with numbers out of ten beside each song they'd recorded until now (a vote which had to be done again when it was revealed that Crosby had voted 'ten' for each of his songs and 'zero' for the others, thus turning the album into something of a Crosby-fest; that might be why he only ends up with two on the finished product!)

But alas a lack of decent songs - and certainly a lack of a variety of decent songs - is what hurts this album so much. CSNY sound in terrific voice most of the way through, the 'live' performances and the steady production are a major improvement on 'American Dream' and there's much more of a 'unity' to these songs, a sort of theme about looking towards the future that makes it far from a terrible record. However very uncharacteristically it's the songs that let this album down - which is a little like saying that George Bush has a nice speaking voice while ignoring everything he says with it. You have to ask - what on earth were the rejected songs like? We know in a few instances: Crosby's 'Climber' was re-recorded for the second CPR album 'Just Like Gravity', with the CSNY version from these sessions also coming out on his 2006 box set 'Voyage' and very nice it is too, up to the other Crosby songs on the record anyway with it's very Crosby-ish tale of a mountain as a metaphor for life, people living because it's 'there'. Neil's songs, too, we know about because they appeared on his 'Silver and Gold' album, which ironically suffers from the completely opposite problem (better songs than late on average, but with terribly bland and lacklustre performances). Had the band chosen the best or at least most CSN-like of these songs (the beautiful title track, which dated back to the 1970s and which they did sing on stage later, the faintly political 'Great Divide', the nostalgic 'Distant Camera' or the spooky 'Razor Love') then this album might have been great, not just a tad disappointing (the same goes had CSN guested throughout that entire album). Rotten song that it is, even 'Buffalo Springfield Again' might have made more sense had fellow Springfielder Stills played on it (although I suspect that Neil's naive line about 'we had a band - but it broke up', with no mention of the five times that Young walked out on them, would have set Stephen off guffawing).  I also suspect that the Stills/Nash collaboration 'Wounded World' (later released on the Stills album 'Man Alive' in 2005) might also date from this period, given how soon Stills started playing it in concert (plus the fact that he and Nash didn't spent much time together between 1999 and 2005). Anyway, whatever was meant to be on this album, surely it should have been better than what did make the album - and if not then shouldn't 'Looking Forward' have at least been longer? (At 44 minutes it's rather short for the CD age and runs for  a full quarter of an hour less than 'American Dream', which by contrast might have sounded rather good had it been reduced to that length!) And what can the excuse possibly be for the first full CSNY cover song since Joni Mitchell's 'Woodstock' in Denny Sorokin's soppy album finale 'Sanibel'? The oft-repeated chorus line of 'and we sing ooh la la la every day' might well be the most irritating CSNY moment of them all, right up there with Crosby and Joni Mitchell's 'Yvette In English', Stills' misguided 'Tomboy', most of Nash's 'Innocent Eyes' and Neil Young's 'Lookout Joe' ruining an otherwise perfect 'Tonight's The Night'. Or Greendale. However bad this album is at times, it could never be as bad as Neil's soap opera about a patronising ecologist and her grandpa.

One thing I do like about this record is that it tries so hard to use the approaching millennia as something special. Every other band it seemed - including all of the other AAA bands - treated January 1st 2000 as just another day on the calendar rather than the start of a new century. This one, released a mere 67 days before it (well, the day everybody celebrated it on anyway) ushers in the Age Of Aquarius by urging people to take new stock of their lives, to sort out the best bits from the 20th century without the greed or the corruption and to believe that, just as in 1969, everything is possible. The fact that the world chose to ignore the quartet and went for greed and corruption in an even bigger way than before shouldn't get in the way of what a brave and CSNY-like statement that was. While few people collecting their records in 1969 would have given a second's though to the new century (and would have assumed the band would have been long gone by then anyway), I hope that a few people if told the news would have greeted that fact with a thumbs up or a peace sign or a 'right on, brother'. Against all the odds, CSNY had become brothers again, standing with a united front to see where the world was going to go next after as natural a break in the human ordering system as any you could hope to find - and there's something rather wonderful about that, like the 'updated' version of the 'American Dream' on their last get-together but sung with more hope and less irony and sarcasm (which suits Neil but not the others by and large). There are lots of references to the future on this album, especially on the de facto title track where Neil awakes to sunlight reminding him that 'good things happening to you and to me' are a possibility not just a hope. Crosby's son Django, born 1994, is a key presence on this album, a natural choice for an album cover (where he's seen 'playing' with the tape reels of the sort the band would have been using back in the day, a neat touch in an era of digital technology harking back as well as forward) and a natural inspiration to 'dad' Crosby, whose 'Dream For Him' offers the best motivation yet for standing up and doing what you know is right, even when everyone else tells you you're wrong: in years to come when your children ask you what you did in the 'war' (even in peace-time) you can tell them proudly. 'Stand and Be Counted' gets positively Jefferson Starship with its cries that with 'the millennium just about to start' Crosby wants everyone to stand up to evil, knowing that 'together we can make a difference'. Nash's 'Someday Soon' looks to the future too, telling his audience that all will be well if 'you have faith in what you do'. Stills, typically, defies the others to look back on 'Seen Enough', a short punkish history of life from 'The Woodstock nation' to the present, but even he cries that he's 'seen enough' as if urging the next generation being born in the next century to pick up where CSNY and co left off and finish the American Dream properly this time.

Alas, while 'Looking Forward' is full of good intentions, great performances, a lovely theme and one or two excellent songs, it's definitely a jump down in standards from previous LPs. Even 'American Dream' caught fire intermittently and once again Crosby came to the record's rescue with some of his best material of the period - by contrast Nash, Young and sometimes Stills sounds half asleep here. Leaving solo records aside for now, no collaboration between more than one member of the band had yet wielded such poor returns: even Crosby and Nash's 'Whistling Down The Wire' and the Stills-Young Band's 'Long May You Run' were merely disappointing compared to what came before. Even as recently as 1994's 'After The Storm' signs of the band's creative revival had been strong, with an excellent run of songs from Stills and Nash and a feeling that at least the CSNY franchise had updated to a new audience, one filled with mean streets, empty hearts and 'unequal love' rather than protests and politicians. With Neil on board and Reprise interested (while a one album deal there would no doubt have been more had this album done better - although I was surprised actually researching this album to find it had peaked as high as #26 in America, the best since 'Dream') this could have been a great brave new future for the band as well as for the world, with the band at long last back centre stage just in time for a new millennia. Alas it's another wasted opportunity that didn't live up to its promise - and this time the band couldn't blame it on rows or band members walking out. Of course, 'Looking Forward' isn't all bad, with 'Seen Enough' and 'Dream For Him' both excellent additions to the CSNY canon, but in 'Sanibel' 'Slowpoke' and 'Out Of Control' especially the band have also hit a new low. It is perhaps not merely co-incidence that this, to date, the last full CSNY studio recording and I wouldn't hold your breath for another one just yet despite the well received tour of 2006...

'Faith In Me' isn't the best place to start, a rather noisy and unfocussed Stills rocker that sounds like it's trying a little too hard. The song sounds like a self-conscious update of 'Only Waiting For You', the rather winning opening song from 'After The Storm' with a couple who married in a vow of faith struggling to hold on to it as the marriage gets older. Then again, there's also the subplot that Stills might be singing to the band here, promising the world during a difficult time for CSN/Y that 'we really do know better and we do belong together'. However Stills has once again updated his love of latin music and equated it with reggae, which just about worked on '(Got To Keep) Open' but is another stage further along the road here. Stills' patois-style vocal is irritating, as is his decision to open the album with swearing ('Life's a ***') - swearing is fine in it's place but it's something you work up to in an album, not place as the opening throwaway part of a song. Noticeably Nash, who sings a lovely counter-vocal alongside Stills most of the way through, drops out on this first verse. There is however a lovely and unexpected chord change, the whole song suddenly shifting up a gear as the band sing about how 'you're always in a hurry to be someplace you don't want to be when you arrive' - virtually CSNY's theme tune given their splits and reunions down the years and another hint that Stills really is singing about 'them' (note his sigh on the line: 'such a waste of time'!) Musically too this backing track is a little chaotic, with Stills and his old Manassas pal Joe Lala throwing every bit of percussion they can t this track. This is very nearly another Stills solo masterclass in fact with Stephen playing bass, organ, cowbells, timbales, maracas and something called a 'baiaa' in the sleevenotes (do they mean a 'baya', a type of Indian tabla?) The highlight though is Young's blistering lead guitar frills and a storming solo near the end which do suit the song really well - you can see why Stills was so desperate to get his old colleague involved on this track, although quite why Young was so eager to join with a song deeply under Stills' average hit rate is less obvious. Not a great start.

Not that Young's title track 'Looking Forward' is any more inspired, although it's stark acoustic backing  is a lot more suitable for the band and leaves lots of space for the single best CSNY vocal performance on the album with everyone singing much lower than normal to accommodate Neil's lead, though still in their usual place with Stills below, Nash on top and Crosby in the middle (quite often they'll switch over when accompanying Neil, so that Crosby and Nash sing low and Stills is in matching falsetto). The song itself is standard late 90s Neil fare: feeling uninspired as he sits down to write a song he merely tells us about the writing process and everything he can see around him as he writes and sings his melody out loud. Like many of this period's Neil Young songs I can't quite tell if the result is profound or simple. The chorus sounds almost like a slap in the face to a band who once sang hopefully 'love is coming to us all' and represented the youth of the day - Neil almost cackles his way through a line about 'trying not to use the word old' in reference to his feelings that day and adds the drippy chorus line 'looking forward all that I can see is good things happening to you and to me'. Hmmm. Unusually the song is also rather short with a single two-verse-and-chorus structure which is repeated throughout again and then ends uncomfortably after a second straight repeat of the first verse, the song hanging mid-air as if the story still has a way to run. Given Neil's mischievous side and this album's loose theme about where the band stands in the present he might be being cheeky here by suggesting the band have been recycling themselves in contrast to his own increasingly adventurous (though not always in a good way) solo career. If he is then more fool him: the only reason this song works as well as it does (being arguably Neil's best on the album) is that it seems like a comfy warm blanket full of all the ideals CSNY once held so high but haven't used in a while: the full-on vocals, the acoustic backing, the loosely hippie hopeful lyrics. Sadly its a song that lacks the 'real' ethos of CSNY though - that the negative sides of living can be inverted and turned into a positive and that anger and sadness can be turned into a call for social justice that will put all these things right, someday. If you didn't know CSNY before buying this album I'm not you'd get that from this track, which is otherwise highly suited to the band.

Crosby's strident 'Stand And Be Counted' is another song that critics picked on at the time for being naive, David calling on all the listeners to stand with him on the band's response to injustice and greed. back in 1999 it seemed that way a little too: the times that Crosby quotes in this song (like the 'Chinese boy and that oncoming tank' in Tiananmen Square standing up to Soviet might in a very public way (Crosby sings 'I wonder who he was' so I'll tell him: it's generally accepted that he was a 19 year old student named Wang Weilin, although some reports since have differed). While 'tank' and it's rhyme of 'thank' is far from the best line Crosby ever wrote (and the rhyme of 'dawn' and gone' frankly isn't one), there is at least something about the old CSNY fire about this song, which doesn't simply fade away into old age peacefully. Crosby makes it clear how big a role music can play in politics too, inspired by a snatch of a song he hears on the radio and 'loving' how it makes him feel when it says that we all have a chance to 'stand be counted' (sadly I haven't a clue what song this was, if there was one - as we've seen 1999 was a very 'empty' year for music and any protest song would have stood out; of course this could be an 'old' song, one of those by Pete Seeger, Joan Baez or Harry Belafonte, all of whom Crosby clearly adored judging by the book of 'musical protest figures' he published in 2001 and which was named after this song). The third verse even has him impressed by his older self's fight, a middle aged man settled into family life amazed to see some old footage of him and his comrades 'standing brave and trim' before 'I know that I was him', a lovely moment for anyone who too has followed CSNY into complacent middle age. Musically Crosby's written himself a better tune and the chorus is especially lumpy but a fantastic full on band performance from all four of CSNY (the first, really, since 'Ohio' 27 years earlier!) rescues this, with some excellent Stills-Young guitar duels and a bravado backing track that continues 'After The Storm's trend of being as hard as nails. Unusually Young plays the chunky rhythm and Stills sort of power-slides over him, while Crosby's live vocal is delightful, making this track sound like the long lost brother of 'Almost Cut My Hair' with Crosby rebellious and proud of it. All in all one of the better tracks on the album, if more for the performance than the song itself.

All four of CSNY seem to be getting a song each in the early days of the album and that leaves Nash with his first of two ballads 'Heartland'. Like the others Nash sounds a tad uninspired here, delivering what fans would have been expecting instead of what he can do. That's a shame because some of the lyrics on this song are actually rather good, Nash reflecting on growing older and finding his friends and colleagues 'come and go', returning to another album theme (and one that he used to sing about a lot with The Hollies on 'Look Through Any Window' and the gorgeous 'Elevated Observations'), viewing the world from afar and watching people 'hurry by' at a different speed to himself. Nash then moves on to the rather odd idea of a shared 'heartland' where people can 'share their hopes and dreams' and 'always find their way back home'. Now that 'Drop Box' has been invited (a system of sharing not quite hopes and dreams but certainly creative work and constructive comments) this song makes more sense (again adding to the feeling across this album that CSNY are soothsayers). There's a particularly nice middle eight where Nash sings along with Stills, an unusual combination out the four which works rather well, Graham's still pure falsetto purring against Stephen's increasingly growly tenor (this actually works better than the second verse, sung by the more natural pairing of Crosby-Nash). Alas the melody is so singularly unmemorable and the chorus especially is so gauche that even these excellent ideas fall flat. Neil tries to drive the song on with some stinging guitar but it's too forceful for this sweet little song and Mike Finngan's large dollops of swirly organ don't help matters much either. One of those Nash songs that works better as a poem than a song.

'Seen Enough' is also viewed as something of a disappointment by most CSN fans but I have to say I love it. Following on from his contributions to 'After The Storm', this is Stills updating not just his sound but his audience from old age to teenagers, commenting on the problems he sees for the youngest decade around in 1999 and playing them at their own game with a semi-rap song (linked back to the past with the line in the sleevenotes that it was 'inspired by Bob Dylan's 'Subterranean Homesick Blues'). The closest song to this in the CSN canon is the career highlight 'Word Game', Stills spitting invectives like a hoary old blues singer and it's welcome to see Stills' back to having emotion driving his songs again, although the mood here is more laidback and rather less intense. 'I lost my innocence over intolerance' Stills starts, speaking out that even now 25 years after CSN tried to put it right 'over the indignities heaped on the black man', sent by white people to church to bow to white icons (who would have been black anyway given the setting for most of the Bible is in the far East).  He turns next to his own 'Woodstock generation' (dismissed as 'a little bit flaky, but no hesitation', a pretty neat summary of an era of youths who always jumped in head-first) set against the back-drop of the cold war, 'arrogant old men with domino theories'. Their off-spring are then left with the repercussions 'people you never met locked in  the basement hot-wired to the net' (this is 1999 remember - the internet had been around for all of three years at best at this point unless you were really into your computers). Another verse has this turning them into 'dead drunk dead stupid cyberpunks' and 'gigabyte meth freaks' although Stills sees links between the two, having them playing fantasy games online against Vietnam Veterans unable to cope without combat in their lives. Stills' answer: the internet is great but gets out of hand, full of people 'who got all the answers but ain't got a lick of sense, practising psychiatry without a license' - why it's as if he was reading Alan's Album Archives! Throughout we come back to the same chorus: how dare 'adults' look down on the 'kids' when they're such bad role models themselves: 'What's a kid supposed to think when the adults are all such hypocrites, impossibly smug, I have seen enough of them, I had had quite enough, I split!' A glorious vocal performance from Stills - his last truly great lead to date - really makes this song, punctuated by CSY harmonies at key moments and a slinky backing track that spells trouble. The result caught quite a few people on the hop (an old band recording in a new style? Well of course it's bad - I don't even need to hear it!') but rap stars are actually the closest of all musicians to the CSNY manifesto to fight injustice today, now that rock has had its teeth loosened by years of poor bands, lacklustre reunions and its association with pop. This is exactly the sort of thing CSNY should have been doing and Stills in particular does it extremely well.

Alas 'Slowpoke' sucks all that energy out of the album like a sponge. A deeply odd Neil Young song, this one has the singer trying to slow down a growing relationship which in retrospect is almost certainly about his current girlfriend at time of writing Daryl Hannah (there's even a line about her being 'a mermaid and a little girl' - her most famous role in 1984 Tom Hanks film 'Splash') - the pair would have met about here although only become an 'item' as late as last year. Neil goes on to throw in a few surreal references to taking it slow, cross-dressing ('I'm going to run with you, wear all your clothes and do what you do') and is already heading into 'Storytone' territory by see-sawing between ecstasy and guilt over the wife left behind ('Something is missing - but something is found'). This song is unbelievably cryptic given that nobody knew about the relationship at the time (even CSN probably didn't know, given Crosby's shock and outrage about Neil leaving his wife in an interview this year - and if Crosby is shocked then you know you've done something enormous!) That ought to put 'Slowpoke' on the same level as the similarly cryptic 'Country Girl' from 'Deja Vu' - however this mystery doesn't sound quite as enticing a one to solve. Instead of a 'country girl' working as a waitress 'too tired to keep the change' yet 'too young to pay' pulling the narrator into an entirely new way of life this is a track low on passion, where by it's own admission 'the song is gentle and the song is long', even if returns to Nash's theme of people hurrying, scurrying by ('When I was faster I was always behind' Neil sings sage-like). The word 'slowpoke' itself is rather an odd and lumpy one and CSNY sound downright uncomfortable singing it, however beautiful they sound together. File under forgettable.

Luckily Crosby's 'Dream For Him' - the start of the second side had this album ever actually been released on vinyl - is another album highlight. Becoming a dad at the rather late age of 53 (for the second time as it happens, although Crosby wasn't around for James Raymond's upbringing in the pre-fame days) has clearly affected Crosby's life in a major way, making him see life anew in the same way that has an uncanny resemblance to his own 'breakthrough' song 'What's Happening?!?!?' (from Byrds album 'Fifth Dimension'). This time he's explaining why the world works the way it does not to himself but to his son, in an imagined conversation he dreads having to have in the future and which will take in 'everything from Jesus to John Wilkes Booth', the old Crosby coming out as he asks again why 'they lie in the house and senate too - only get close to the truth when it suits them too'. SNY come in like a ghost of angels from on high commenting on the action at certain moments, chiming in with Crosby as he talks about being 'uncomfortable lying to a child - feels like building a trap for something wild'. For Crosby, as ever, the truth is what matters in all things - but now, for the first time, he has to balance his need for honesty against his concerns over what that might do to someone he loves and hasn't experienced the darker side of life for himself yet. The melody for the song reflects Crosby's troubled state of mind, flowing relentlessly on and on, with even the soothing chorus not being enough to stop yet another dark though occurring to him. Edgy and questioning, dark and brooding, the older Crosby is once again the closest to his younger self, at one with the more personal autobiography and quietly jazzy numbers he's been writing for spin-off band CPR (son and 'R' in 'CPR' James Raymond even plays piano on this, his first appearance on a CSN/Y record). What's interesting to note is how becoming a parent affected CSN and Y in very different ways, all of them interesting parents relatively late in life in their late 30s: Stills alternates between pride and guilt in 'his' father song 'To Mama From Christopher And The Old Man' ('Stills' 1975), vowing not to give in to the excesses of his youth; Nash is awed by his 'Magical Child' which he watched being born like a conjuring trick (a track from his 1979 record 'Earth and Sky'), while Neil is more concerned with his son Ben's problems battling cerebral palsy and his desire to communicate to him everything Crosby pours out in this song (see most of 1982's 'Trans'). Crosby, typically, is more confused with morality and whether the world will shape up to what he wants for his son, a moving moment on a rather emotionless album, nicely played by another cracking full on band performance with Stills' 'concerned parent' guitar frills especially on the money.

'No Tears Left' is quite emotional though, having said that, finding Stills at his emptiest and most despondent. He virtually screams this song's bitter lyrics on a recording made very early on in the album sessions in November 1996  and which probably only features Neil via a brief solo in the middle from years later (were Crosby and Nash's harmonies dubbed later too? They don't quite fit). This is another Stills song that can be viewed as being about a personal relationship breaking up or another political attack - people who are 'deaf and blind and cannot think, but now they want to be your shrink' and that 'mostly it's about control, they're terrified that you might go out there and find for yourself what they can't teach you' - is Stills attacking the music press who spent most of the 1980s and 1990s writing him off as a booze-sozzled wannabe? Certainly the guitar performance on this song is fierce and intense, as if trying to prove just how well Stills can play while Stephen sadly reflects vocally that this won't be enough, almost sobbing 'what the hell do I have left?!' The result is nicely fierce but like 'Faith In Me' a little chaotic, with a whole range of percussion and guitar tracks wailing up past each other. Stills' highly Dylanesque delivery with several extended lines that sound more like poetry than rock lyrics (and recall 'Move Around', his delightful philosophical work from the first 'Manassas' album of 1972) is decent enough but hard to hear with so much going on and for once the harmonies are distracting, sounding loud and clear and joining in at random moments as if giving the wrong impression of what the song's about. It would be unfair to call this song overall a mess - Stills' intense passionate lyrics and performance are exactly what this album needs about here to raise its game and there's a strong set of words too, but this track isn't exactly easy to listen to either.

Neil's 'Out Of Control', meanwhile, is pathetic. The writer of some of the greatest songs the world has ever known has been reduced to a clumsy repeated chord piano lick and lines like 'once on a hill there was a song, nothing was wrong, that's when time stood still'. This song is a nursery rhyme dressed up in pretty colours and even CSN sound mis-cast, Stills especially struggling with the quite complex lines his tortured voice has to sing. Once again this cryptic song only really makes sense now that we know about Daryl Hannah and Neil's effectively 'double life' - he wants to hold on to his old life as well as his new one and sighs that 'somewhere near the end lovers pretend, fake what they feel and take what they can get from love'. Only a very pretty middle eight ('Sky is fire, hell is blue') stays in the memory though, one sad quiet reflective moment where the song has seemingly righted itself and stopped that awful relentless banging piano that pricks away at Neil's guilty conscience all too believably. That presumably was the effect intended - Neil reflecting on how his new love brings those few short pleasing moments where his life makes sense before having to get on with his 'old' life all over again - but sadly that doesn't make this song any easier to listen to, or to understand for the first 15 years of release when Neil's relationship was firmly under wraps. Neil is clearly coming up with the poorest material on this album and you wonder why CSN plumped for this song rather than one of the far more suitable songs from 'Silver and Gold'.

Not that Nash's second sleepy ballad is much better. 'Someday Soon' is exactly what you'd expect a Nash ballad to sound like: sweet and cosy, hoping for better times soon if only we can 'keep holding on to the things that have brought you here', with so much of the journey still to go. It's a disappointingly average composition given the depth and poignancy of so many of the Nash songs on 'After The Storm' (his best set since 'CSN' in 1977) and while it's nicely performed with Nash both rawer and deeper than usual and with only the second full-on CSN harmony fest on the album, it still falls a little flat. Once again the middle eight is the best thing here, Nash suddenly soaring alongside Stills again as if some nasty hidden emotion has just caught him unawares and taken him out of his cosy mind-place ('When life's too hard to bear for you to take it, have faith in what you do!') It's interesting to hear Nash singing about faith so soon after Stills does exactly that and an unusual word choice for Graham who till now has taken 'faith' as one of the many aspects of the word 'love'. In short, this song is awfully pretty but it takes a very safe road and an album so short on great songs needs something more.

Neil's unwieldy 'Queen Of Them All' gives him the most tracks on the album, although quite how this one got through quality control goodness knows. Like the title track of 'American Dream' it's hard to tell whether the cute doorbell-style riff played by Neil on a celeste ('Ding dong! Ding dong dong!') and the heavy awkward percussion attack is meant genuinely or as pastiche. 'Don't know why I feel so good - but it's happening to me so I knock on wood!' runs the chorus on another song about a new love that makes more sense now that Neil's new relationship has been unveiled to the world. However there's an extra layer going on in this song too, Neil asking the rather odd questioning 'whose the radio?' (I always heard this line as 'boost the radio' but that's not what the lyric booklet says), his new love now taking the place of everything in his life: not just his new partner in life holding his hand and helping him 'take a stand' but taking the place of inanimate objects. Maybe even - whisper it quietly - the place of his muse, which till now has been simply music itself in all its shades (Neil's career had been dropping like a stone since 1997 Crazy Horse collaboration 'Broken Arrow' after a rather fine decade - is this why?!) A better arrangement might have made for an interesting song, especially with another excellent CSN harmony attack, but alas it's not to be: all you remember is the awkward structure of this song, the chaotic Joe Vitale drumming and that godawful celeste that keeps making me think my pizza delivery is ready and someone is at the door even though I haven't ordered anything (curses! Well it was worth a look just in case! And yes I am overdue my lunch - let's make this review quick shall we?!)

'Looking Forward' then ends in the most unexpected way possible. CSN had recorded a few cover songs on their last three 'trio' albums in 1982, 1990 and 1994 but these tended to be unexpected ones no one would have expected from CSN or those written by friends and collaborators like Craig Doerge. 'Sanibel' by Danny Sarokin is exactly the sort of silly trite hippie mess lesser writers like Donovan come up with and which non-fans who don't 'get' the weight that CSN brings erroneously think their albums are full of: you know the sort of thing, a clichéd island paradise, a girl dressed in white and an ooh la la chorus that sets my teeth on edge every time I hear it. That's a shame because the basis of this track is very CSNY, complete with the imagery of water and sailing that runs throughout their canon from 'Wooden Ships' to 'Shadow Captain' and through to 'Southern Cross' - but dear God not like this, the sort of silly song that adults always think children like but rarely do. Nash takes the first verse and Young the second before all the band join in on the last verse - the best verse thanks to another of this album's unexpected key changes which really catches the ear after four minutes of drifting. had the rest of the song been more like this section it might have been enjoyable - but dear God I end up wanting to throw something every time I hear that 'ooh la la' chorus because I know it's going to stick in my head for days afterwards and automatically over-rides all the good bits of this album, CSNY at their most gormless. It's one hell of a long way down from 'Ohio' and the 'Deja Vu' album and even a slide down from 'American Dream'.

That's vaguely true of the whole album, which curiously tends to get a lot of things right which that album got wrong (the 80s production, the synthesisers, the overdubbing) in favour of some excellent as-live band performances and a nicely retro production. However the songs themselves are in general a touch down from that record: Crosby's excellent two songs still can't compete with his masterpiece 'Compass', Nash's two songs are by his standards dull and plain, while Neil seems to have lost his wit and pathos and come up with alternately boring and ordinary and deeply weird songs (though to be fair it might be that his colleagues picked the worst bunch of his latest batch of songs). Only Stills improves on his last album tally, with some fiery guitar work and the excellent 'Seen Enough', although even he's taken a back seat after providing so many gems on 'After The Storm'. Had this been one of many CSNY albums out there - the band's 29th album (which is where it sits in our CSN chronology of solo, duo, trio and quartet albums, plus whatever Manassas counts as) rather than merely their third we could have let this go. There are some good ideas, even a few great ones and the chance to hear CSNY combining forces from near-enough the start of a project for once is terrific, with many performances rescuing this album from total calamity. But a lot more was riding on this project than that: CSN needed a good album to rescue their career, get them the record contract they deserved and to make them some money after a lean period. What's more we needed them - or at least we will do soon when 9/11 hits (can you imagine it had that tragic event happened mid-CSNY tour? They'd have been at the site of the twin towers and singing 'Find The Cost Of Freedom' before the second tower was down, righting wrongs, calming hatred and bringing peace and healing to a world that needed it, the same way they did the night the Berlin Wall fell down (and they scored an unexpected local hit with that night's anthem 'Chippin' Away'). Instead Neil turned up alone to the reunion concert a year later and sang a painfully off-key cover of John Lennon's 'Imagine', which doesn't really compete). CSNY needed the world in 1999. The world needed CSNY in 2001.The discrepancy between those dates is ultimately what caused 'Looking Forward' to be another disappointing reunion project as compared to the album to end all albums. Is this the end for the foursome working together? On the face of it yes - Stills says the trio will never work together again after an aborted covers album in 2009, while Neil is further away from the trio than ever after Crosby's comments about his love life. Which of course means that they'll be back together sooner than you know because that's how they've always worked - as Crosby once told us the darkest hour is always just before the dawn. Let's hope that when it happens they get it right this time. 

A Now Complete List Of CSN/Y and Solo Articles Available To Read At Alan’s Album Archives:

'Crosby, Stills and Nash' (1969)

'Deja Vu' (CSNY) (1970)

‘Stephen Stills’ (1970)

'If Only I Could Remember My Name' (Crosby) (1971)

'Songs For Beginners' (Nash) (1971)

'Stephen Stills II' (1971)
‘Graham Nash, David Crosby’ (1972)

'Stephen Stills-Manassas'  (1972)

'Wild Tales' (Nash) (1973)
'Down The Road' (Stephen Stills/Manassas) (1973)

'Stills' (1975)

'Wind On The Water' (Crosby-Nash) (1975)
'Illegal Stills' (Stills) (1976)
'Whistling Down The Wire' (Crosby-Nash) (1976)

'Long May You Run' (Stills-Young) (1976)

'CSN' (1977)
'Thoroughfare Gap' (Stills) (1978)
'Earth and Sky' (Nash) (1980)

'Daylight Again' (CSN) (1982)
'Right By You' (Stills) (1984)
'Innocent Eyes' (Nash) (1986)
'American Dream' (CSNY) (1988)

'Oh Yes I Can!' (Crosby) (1989)

'Live It Up!' (CSN)  (1989)

'Stephen Stills Alone' (1991)

'CPR' (Crosby Band) (1998)

‘So Like Gravity (CPR, 2001)

‘Songs For Survivors’ (2002)

'Deja Vu Live' (CD) (2008)

'Deja Vu Live' (DVD) (2008)

'Reflections' (Graham Nash Box Set) (2009)

'Demos' (CSN) (2009)

'Manassas: Pieces' (2010)

‘Carry On’ (Stephen Stills Box Set) (2013)

'Croz' (Crosby) (2014)

'CSNY 74' (Recorded 1974 Released 2014)

'This Path Tonight' (Nash) (2016)

‘Here If You Listen’ (Crosby)

The Best Unreleased CSNY Recordings
Surviving TV Appearances (1969-2009)
Non-Album Recordings (1962-2009)
Live/Compilation/Rarities Albums Part One (1964-1980)
Live/Compilations/Rarities Albums Part Two (1982-2012)
Essay: The Superest Of Super Groups?
Five Landmark Concerts and Three Key Cover Versions

The Byrds: Surviving TV Appearance 1965-1991

You can buy 'All The Things - The Alan's Album Archives Guide To The Byrds' By Clicking

You can now groove along to our very own AAA Byrds Youtube playlist! Visit

Hello! This is the fifth in a series of (gulp!) thirty columns looking back at the TV appearances by a number of AAA bands that have - against all the odds - survived the test of time. If you've read one of our earlier articles then you'll know what to expect: a bit of tut-tutting about the poor state of the archives (especially on the European side of the world) and our usual greivances over being unsure/puzzled/intrigued by where exactly some of the clips we know to exist came from. This edition is a little bit different to what we've had before: until now most of our bands have either left their careers and back footage well deocumented across a series of carefully made DVDs (The Beatles, Beach Boys and even Belle and Sebastian), while the Buffalo Springfield sadly never left enough of a legacy for even a short running DVD. The Byrds, though have yet to have had a DVD dedicated to their surviving TV clips, even as insters made in a documentary, despite having one of the biggest hauls of footage in AAA history. The American vaults are certainly a lot fuller than the UK ones we usually cover, although this list takes in not just the UK and US but Germany, Belgium, Holland, Sweden and Australia - forget the lyrics, The Byrds certainly were goin' somewhere throughout the 1960s, especially during their boom year of 1965 when they seemed to be on some programme or another every other week!

To be honest I was dreading compiling this list because without any DVD sleeve notes to run with all I had to rely on was a list of TV appearances in Johnny Rogan's excellent book 'Timeless Flight' - and by his own admission that list is rather vague (American TV networks may have kept more things than their British counterparts, but they seem to have liked cataloguing them less!) However, joy of joys, the Byrds community on youtube is thriving. Admittedly things change on Youtube quickly, but as of writing this practically everything on this list is available on Youtube, often cleaned up and lovingly restored and catalogued with a precision that would impress the fussiest librarian. In the end compiling this list was a pleasure, although I still found a few discrepencies between the bootleggers and 'Timeless Flight' - some clips listed here are missing from that book, while some dates have been altered slightly where I consider one or other authority to have got them 'wrong'. As with all these articles, this list is a work in progress: the law of averages means there'll be something great sitting in someone's loft somewhere they haven't shared with the world yet while new clips are being discovered all the time (including the TOTP Byrds appearance on this list, which was returned sometime in the 1990s if I remember rightly). So if you know of something, please write in and share your knowledge of it. Until then, however, this is as complete a list as you can get of what really does exist out there and has been seen at some point, in some form, with my own eyes. By the way we've restricted this list to performances either credited to 'The Byrds' or which feature two or more of the original band together (so the McGuinnn Clark and Hillman footage and various revivals are here, but - say - Roger McGuinn's 1970s TV appearances or Gene Clark's interviews aren't).

In terms of where you can get this stuff - well you can't by and large I'm afraid. There are just two DVDs featuring official Byrds footage: the various artists box set 'Monterey Pop Festival' (2007) features performances of 'He Was A Friend Of Mine' and 'Chimes Of Freedom' from 1967 and there's a  rather short running 'Beat Club' DVD dedicated to The Byrdsa featuring just four songs performed as-live in 1971. That's it I'm afraid - the rest of these clips can curreently only be seen on Youtube. As ever, we won't take you to individual links (as videos get taken down and re-loaded all the time and this book will soon date if we start doing that) but as ever we'll try and keep as complete a collection of clips as we can in the 'Byrds' folder of our Youtube page (, free to be viewed by all whether you're a member of youtube or not. Another first, though, is that there's simply so much good stuff out there (including lots of videos of a young Roger McGuinn with the Chad Mitchell trio and an unrecognisably junior Gene Clark as part of the New Christy Minstrels) that we recommend another youtube channels to check out: the official Byrds Video Depot whose playlist for the band numbers a staggering 100 videos!

1) Shivaree (USA) May 8th 1965 (Mr Tambourine Man/I Knew I'd Want You)

Hand up who remembers 'Shivaree'? No me neither, I had to look it up but it was apparently a 'popular' music variety show that featured several go-go dancers including a young Terri Garr (three years before she was in Monkees feature film 'Head'). Getting the TV debut of The BYrds (by a full three days!) must have been quite a coup at the time and the band are duly introduced as 'one of the country's brightest young singing groups': although released as a single as early as April the single didn't get to number one until July as word of mouth took hold. The Byrds look suitably nervous during this mimed performance although they already have their 'cool' look down to a tee (despite the lack of cape and granny specs for CRosby and McGuinn respectively). The only thing that ruins this historic clip is the fact that Gene Clark is so far to the left that he can only be seen on the rare occasions the camera puts him in close-up: an early example of Gene dodging the spotlight of fame or simply bad setting up during camera rehearsal? The rare clip of 'I Knew I'd Want You' is the only known occasion The Byrds performed this rare B-side and thankfully Gene is back centre-stage for this one, with Crosby peering over Roger's shoulder instead.

2) Hullabaloo (USA) May 11th 1965 (Mr Tambourine Man/I'll Feel A Whole Lot Better)

National TV appearance number two and already the 'bird' comparisons are getting old! Hullabaloo have turned in an awful set full of bird-houses and the band already seem a bit grumpy about things - or is it just the fact that they're being forced to sing live for the first time? With so many lines to learn on 'Tambourine Man' this must have been quite an ordeal for a clearly nervous McGuinn and the camera sticks to him in close-up for most of the song. However, the rest of the band are on good form and rescue him before too much damage is done, with a rare shot of Gene playing guitar alonside David and Roger. An even funnier live performance of 'I'll Feel A Whole Lot Better' has the band surrounded by the HUllabaloo 'go go dancers', strutting their stuff in giant cages on plinths either side of the band. That naughty young Crosby doesn't take off the girl in front of him duering the course of the whole song! Legend - or at least Rogan's book 'Timeless Flight' - has it that manager Jim Dickson tries to intervene in what the band were wearing. 'That will make you llok fat on TV' Jim told told Crosby. 'I'm wearing it anyway' the guitarist replied. On viewing back the taping Crosby was in tears: 'You made me look fat! Why didn't you just tear the  thing off me?!' (Actually he looks great, if perhaps a little cuddlier than usual). There are going to be many more rows like this down the years, but not about clothes - Crosby solves that problem by buying a slimming green cloak and making it his own.

3) Shivaree #2 (USA) June 12th 1965 (All I Really Want To Do/I'll Feel A Whole Lot Better)

Introduced as 'All I Really Want' this is an early plug for second single 'All I Really Wanna Do', a second Dylan cover that never did quite as well as 'Tambourine' in the charts even though the band probably played it more in these early days. Even Shivaree has got into the act on the dancing beauties score, although The Byrds are by now so in control of their own destiny they outshine any background antics while they mime. Crosby especially steals the show with his middle eight vocal, crumpling up his nose to make all the girls scream. B-side 'I'll Feel A Whole Lot Better' features a rather smart looking Gene miming to his own vocal and looking deeply uncomfortable about the whole thing, a world away from Crosby and McGuinn's enthusiastic backing to his right. A ridiculously young Chris Hillman, till now hidden at the back near the drums, finally gets a place at the front of the stage for the first time although he looks earnestly serious throughout.

4) Hollywood-A-Go-Go (USA) June 19th 1965 (Mr Tambourine Man/I'll Feel A Whole Lot Better/All I Really Wanna Do)

At last, McGuinn's granny specs have arrived! Just as well because the camera spends a great deal of time on him during this short-lived show from 1965, named after the 'Whisky-A-Go-Go' that was The Byrds' second home, although Roger's never seemed more comfortable in front of a cmera, loving all the attention and grinning his head off! Crosby, restricted to appearing behind his colleague for most of the shot, even forgets that he's meant to be miming the harmony during 'All I Really Wanna Do'! By comparison, Gene can't get a close-up at all during 'Better', with the camera showing most of the band at a distance during 'his' song (perhaps because Gene sings most of the song with his eyes tight shut!) Even with all this going on, all three clips are priceless performances and really show off the band's charisma at it's peak and, despite the fact that it's survivied it's hazardous 50-odd-year journey in less bright form than some of the other shows The Byrds appeared on, it may well be the best thing here. Magic.

5) Shindig (USA) June 23rd 1965 (Mr Tambourine Man/Not Fade Away/Long Tall Sally (sung with rest of cast))

Shindig was a much higher profile show than a lot of the others on this list and The Byrds really smarten themselves up for it, with Roger and David even turning up in tuexedos as part of an all-star rock and roll medley that opens the show (the pair sing a verse of 'Long Tall Sally', their only performance of the Little Richard classic known to exist; unlike the famous Beatles cover, Crosby even remembers all the words! Interestingly Gene, their chief writer and second lead singer, missed this one out) Another rare performance - uninterrupted this time - is Buddy Holly classic 'Not Fade Away', another song the band never ever did again. Roger takes the lead while Gene puffs away on a harmonica and Crosby especially looks the part, grooving along on acoustic guitar. While clearly modelles on the recent Rolling Stones cover of the song, I'd actually take the Byrds' version over it, which comes with a lot more menace and has more for the band as a whole to do (even Michael Clarke is far more at home here than he ever was on the band's folkier, quieter songs!) Elsewhere it's business as usual with another performance of 'Mr Tambourine Man', this time performed atop a revolving table (is this where they got the idea for 'Turn! Turn! Turn!?!)

6) Where The Action Is (USA) July 7th 1965 (Mr Tambourine Man/I'll Feel A Whole Lot Better)

For some reason The Byrds were shot outside by a lake for their latest TV appearance (they're Byrds, not ducks! Why did no one dod the obvious and shoot them at an airport?) for this bizarre American Bandstand-spin off compered by Dick Clark, the kind of compoere who only looks good when set next to Ed Sullivan. Once again The Byrds play second fiddle to a group of go-go dancers, which comes as some relief to Gene who looks much happier here than he has of late. The wind plays havoc with The Byrds' carefully formed manes but the band are on good form here and play up to the cameras with more bonhamie than they have of late.

7) Where The Action Is #2 (USA) August 5th 1965 (The Bells Of Rhymney/All I Really Want To Do)

Presumably shot the same day and held over for a later performance (the band are wearing near enough the same clothes), sadly this second 'Where The Action Is' clip hasn't survivied the years as intact as the first. That's a shame because the band are in good form again, with McGuinn taking lead this time and struggling to remember the lyrics to 'Rhymney' in particular! Gene goes really quiet when the camera goes up to him for a close-up and starts looking at his shoes: co-incidence? Or shyness? Or perhaps he's just cold because it's another windy day by the pond (again, why?!) Interestingly Chris swaps places with Gene for 'All I Really Wanna Do' and for the first time stands on Crosby's side of the stage - an argument? Or was the director fed up of Crosby always looking at the dancer at the side of the stage? (gene is oblivious, even when he nearly hits her in the face with a tambourine!)  Once again the band are only a side-show, though, to lots of grooving dancers who all have the same scary toothy grin even while ostensibly taking part in other activities like swimming and what looks like an odd American form of cricket.

8) Top Of The Pops (UK) August 12th 1965 (All I Really Want To Do)

A hilarious clip from The Byrds' ill-fated and under-rehearsed tour of Britain (being billed as 'America's answer to The Beatles' didn't help a lot of the audience warm to them!) You see this a lot on UK TV, perhaps because it's the only clip of the band on what used to be Britain's seminal TV show (till Jimmy Saville's reputation ruined the franchise!) The band look a little frazzled and while still looking the height of cool mess things up as only The Byrds can, McGuinn accidentaly miming the wrong words to 'drag you down and chain you down' and instead of covering up by miming the right ones bluffing his way through even though he knows he's wrong. The rest of the band find this hilarious, except for Chris Hillman, who looks so intense it's scary.

9) Shindig #2 (USA) September 16th 1965 (I'll Feel A Whole Lot Better/The Bells Of Rhymney/California Sun (with rest of cast))

Shindig appearance #2 sees a similarly smartened band miming to two classics - and unusually neither is their current hit single. However the performance is most notable for the one-off performance of Joe Jones' 1961 hit 'California Sun' which features McGuinn taking lead vocal on the last verse while the rest of the band mime behind him, looking uncomfortable as they balance precariously across a group of steps. The steps make a come-back on a cracking live performance of 'I'll Feel A Whole Lot Better' (interesting how much more comfortable Gene is performing rather than miming) where even in silhouette for the first few bars of the song The Byrds are still both recognisable ansd the epitome of cool. Interestingly Chris' bass is the loudest thing here and all but drowns everyone else out, while Michael Clarke actually smiles at one stage - a truly unique experience all round! 'Bells Of Rhymney' is slower and rougher, with McGuinn singing lead for much longer than normal (and standing miles in front of the others) before someone on the control desk clearly realises they're all meant to be singing in harmony. By now the screams are really becoming loud - the band are really at peak flight despite the comparative flop of 'All I Really Wanna Do'.

10) Hullabaloo #2 (USA) October 4th 1965 (The Times They Are A-Changin'/Do You Believe In Magic?)

However even by this point the Byrds aren't so big they can escape TV presenters clowning around and host Michael Landon introduces the band by listening to a parrot sitting on his shoulder (of course he does, it's Hullabaloo...) The Byrds look the most uncomfortable they have in a long time too thanks to a simply ridiculous set: the girl dancers are back again but standing still this time, posing with guns as if 'hunting' the band against a wildlife backdrop. Hmm, just be glad that The Beatles were a British group and never did appear on Hullabaloo, I dread to think what might have happened to them...Alas the production team are going for 'arty shots' and spends the whole of the precious first verse panning into the band from a long way away! Interestingly Gene plays a guitar for only the second time in one of these clips. The second clip is more interesting, a brief but welcome one-off cover of the Lovin' Spoonful's first hit 'Do You Believe In Magic?' Crosby was the big John Sebastian fan in the band but it's Roger who takes the lead vocal on it once again.

11) Shivaree #3 (USA) October 16th 1965 (Turn! Turn! Turn!/I'll Feel A Whole Lot Better)

Hats are the big talking point of Shivaree performance number three, with the world premiere of the band's second number one 'Turn! Turn! Turn!' overshadowed by the second clip of yet another 'I'll Feel A Whole Lot Better' where McGuinn for once stands in the background but still upstages everyone by wearing a bus conductor's hat on his head. Gene and David are on particularly on great form, loving the fact that they can mime without any worry of performance or any off-putting gimmicks for the first time in ages and Crosby's crumpled grin is at it's best here. As for 'Turn!', it's already getting a huge reception from the crowd despite the fact that it's only been out in the shops a fortnight or so and hasn't yet topped the charts.

12) Shindig #3 (USA) October 23rd 1965 (Chimes Of Freedom/Turn! Turn! Turn!/I'm A Loser)

Back on Shindig for the final time, The Byrds are introduced by comedian Ed Wynn (he's either The Mad Hatter in Disnye's cartoon or the bloke on Twilight Zone with a Grandfather Clock depending on your age) with comedy patter about forgetting the band's name: ho ho ho indeed. It's a shame, then, that The Byrds are in serious troubadoor mode for this performance, with two of their most serious songs. 'Chimes Of Freedom' - a highlight from the debut album - makes rather a late appearance on this list. The band are clearly miming although Roger seems to be singing his vocals live, hence the fact he gets the third verse wrong and grins at his goof before falling back into step with the others. 'Turn! Turn! Turn!' is causing hysterics in the Shindig audience even though by their high standards this rather a tired performance (the rather odd cardboard 'waves' set isn't helping either!) However the third item in the programme is a surprise: The Beatles' 'I'm A Loser' is something of a fan favourite that's far from their best known work and already eleven months old by the time the band do it here. Roger and Gene share the lead gathered round the same microphone, although they only sing the first verse - presumably as another 'all star jam' linking piece with the rest of whoever was on Shindig that week, although I've never actually seen the rest of it. The song sounds rather good with oodles of Rickenbacker guitar and Byrdsy harmonies though!

13) The Big TNT Show (USA) November 19th 1965 (Turn! Turn! Turn!/The Bells Of Rhymney/Mr Tambourine Man)

This entry is unusual in as much as it comes from a film, albeit an extended film version of excatly the sort of TV programmes the rest of this list entails, shot at the Moulin Rouge Club in Los Angeles. David Mccallum, then best known as one of the Men from Uncle, is emcee for the night and introduces a whole host of other acts: in order Ray Charles, Petula Clark, The Lovin' Spoonful, Bo Diddley, Joan Baez, The Ronettes, Roger Milles, Donovan and Ike and Tina Turner. The Byrds appear near the end of the film and get a whole three song medley to their name, taking up eleven whole minutes of the film. Considering the austere settings and McCallum's rather earnest introduction (informing the crowd that 'Turn! Turn! Turn!' was adopted by Pete Seeger from the Book of Eccliastes), the band turn in rather a sloppy performance for them. Roger's mike is way too low, Gene's is way too loud and Crosby has to yell at the top of his voice to try and rescue the whole thing. Michael Clarke, struggling to hear anything, simply hits the drums as hard as he possibly can and hopes for the best. How the band end all together is nothing short of a miracle, especially as they add a couple of extra 'doo-da-doo-da-dur-durs' at the end of 'Turn!' compared to normal. 'Rhymney' is the best of the three, although even that becomes more of a struggle by the end, with the last elongated 'ahhhhs' breaking all three voices at different points. Evidence of how poor the Byrds could play when under-rehearsed and over-stressed, it's not one of their better moments although it's priceless footage to have and the audience - bored to tears after an extended Roger Miller workout - scream their heads off.

14) The Ed Sullivan Show (USA) December 12th 1965 (Turn! Turn! Turn!/Mr Tambourine Man)

The biggest shock here is seeing The Byrds in colour, even if typically the band seem to have all decided to wear grey! Oddly, America's answer to The Beatles played far less shows on America's premier television programme than The Beatles did and only appeared this once, with rather timid versions of their two biggest hits. Even more oddly, Ed Sullivan gets their name right and it's quite a hard name to pronounce if you don't know or understand the 'joke' (by contrast Cilla Black was billed as 'England's biggest star, from Wales' and Eric and Ernie into 'that well known trio 'Morey Cambey and Wisey'!)

15) Unknown (UK) Unknown 1965 (It's No Use)

It's no use asking me where this clip comes from, because I plain don't know! The Byrds Video Depot lists as being 'November 6th 1965' which is fair enough, but the 'Timeless Flight' book doesn't list any programmes that day or indeed any performances where The Byrds sang this song, which makes it rather remarkable. Despite Gene taking the lead vocal he's been shunted to the back, just like the early days, while McGuinn has ditched his usual smart suits for what looks like an RAF uniform with lots of pockets (hence perhaps that classic joke 'The Byrds have just flown in - and boy are their arms tired!')

16) Hollywood-A-Go-Go #2 (USA) February 5th 1966 (Set You Free This Time/Turn! Turn! Turn!/It Won't Be Wrong)

Unusually, Gene has been given the coveted fourth A-side to write and sing. More usually, the others are clearly jealous of him and completely upstage his earnest and serious vocal. IN what must be the funniest of all these videos, Roger has dressed up as David (big green cloak) and David has dressed as Roger (complete with Granny specs). Well, you have to do something to stop yourself going mad on the road I suppose! They look rather good actually, even if they both have clearly failed to do their homework and learn the backing vocals properly and poor Gene in the middle seems lost as to what's going on! Seeing as this is the Hollywood-A-Go-Go programme there are more shots of dancers than there are of the singers anyway. The other two songs are less interesting, with The Byrds back up some stairs for a rather tired looking mime of 'Turn!' and a lively dancer-filled jive through B-side 'It Won't Be Wrong', that yet again shoots the band largely at a distance.

17) Shivaree #4 (USA) February 19th 1966 (It Won't Be Wrong/Set You Free This Time)

'What could possibly go wrong? Let's ask the Byrds, who say 'It Won't Be Wrong'!' With that corny intro the band clock up their fourth and final appearance on Shivaree and this is arguably the last time they actually look interested in what they're playing. Roger gets so into it his head starts grooving to the beat in a jazz musician way, while David grins his head off and Gene awkwardly clutches a pair of maracas. A much more serious take on Gene's classic 'Set You Free This Time' is up next, although Clark is once again visibly uncomfortable with all the attention and really doesn't know what to do with his hands as for once he can't mime to a tambourine. It's nice to see him at the front for a change, though, with Crosby demoted to 'top step'!

18) Where The Action Is #3 (USA) February 21st 1966 (Turn! Turn! Turn!/It Won't Be Wrong)

Well, that was unexpected. Anyone who thought The Beatles looked uncomfortable on horseback on the 'Penny Lasne/Strawberry Fields' promos has never seen The Byrds here, trying to sing along with 'Turn! Turn! Turn!' whilst balancing their guitars awkwardly on a series of five ponies (is this whetre Roger got the idea for 'Chestnut Mare' from? Or, worse, the decision to replace Crosby with a horse on the 'Notorious Byrd Brothers' cover?!?) Roger looks quite comfortable, Chris looks shocked, David tries hard not to fall off (his horse is as frisky as he is and tries to walk off at the very end of the song!) and Michael is hiding at the back so you can't see his horse too well (although it seriously does look as if his tom-toms are balanced over a pony!) I didn't see Gene, who may have sensibly decided not to take part. For some reason the shot seamlessly fades in during the second half to a more normal mimed performance of the band with instruments, although to be honest they don't look any more comfortable (it fades back for the very end). The band are clearly getting fed up with all this TV lark by now too, with a shambolic mimed performance of 'It Won't Be Wrong' which is for some reason set outdoors (inevitably, this band being called The Byrds, there's a big tree in shot too). Gene mouths the wrong words and clutches painfully at his maracas while shivering from the cold, Crosby doesn't even bother singing along for half the song and Michael Clarke grins on oblivious underneath a great bit Stetson hat of which he's clearly proud. However the band are still getting on fairly well and turn to each other with a big grin over the inanity of it all in the second half.

19) Where The Action Is #4 (USA) March 24th 1966 (Set You Free This Time)

The last surviving TV performance with the original five-man Byrds is once again outside and returns to the same boring 'tree' formula. Only a rather poor quality version appears to exist, which is a shame because it looks like rather an intense mimed performance after a full month away from the Tv cameras. Roger is spsrawled across a tree trunk, while Gene is perched on a stump, clutching a twig instead of his usual tambourine, perhaps symbolically a bit apart from the others on the right hand side (he's mere weeks away from quitting the band at this point, making it odd they should choose his song to plug even if it was the last single).

20) Popside (Sweden) March 3rd 1967 (Mr Tambourine Man/So You Want To Be A Rock and Roll Star/Eight Miles High)

A lot had changed since the band's last appearance: the Byrds are now a quartet and are actually about to start sessions for their second album without Gene Clark at this point. They look different too: Crosby now comes with hat and moustache, Michael Clarke is growing a slight moustache too and comes wrapped up in a woolen scarf, Hillman's hair has grown out of all porportion and for perhaps the first time on this list McGuinn is barely seen. In fact, it's Crosby who does the introductions However it's the first TV clip of them miming to their final Gene Clark song 'Eight Miles High' that this short-lived Swedish TV appearance is most notable for. With their low budget - only one camera in black and white - the production team make a good job at trying to create psychedelia, mergeing from a single unbroken shot of the band (mocing up and down the row of them playing) with some shots of space and the universe forming. Cosmic, man. 'So You Want To Be A Rock and Roll Star?' - the one 'new' song in the set - replaces the space imagery with a 'negative' lens that turns white into black and vice versa (very Byrds!) Once again McGuinn is barely seen and the one time he is he seems to be throwing something in the air, although the crazy effects are too fuzzy to make out what it is. By contrast, the band mime 'Mr Tambourine Man' straight, without any effects and given the clothes and hairstyles it already seems like it came from a lifetime ago, not just two years.

21) Monterey Pop Festival (USA) June 17th 1967 (Renaissance Fair/Have You Seen Her Face?/Hey Joe (Where You Gonna Go?)/He Was A Friend Of Mine/Lady Friend/Chimes Of Freedom/So You Want To Be A Rock and Roll Star?)

David Crosby is fully in charge of the band's last appearance as a quartet too, seemingly in charge of the Crosby-heavy setlist and making all the on-stage announcements in front of the biggest crowd the Byrds every played to. That didn't go down well with the rest of the band, who resented his raps about legalising drugs ('Your mother gets high and you don't know it!') and the Kennedy cover-up almost as much as they resented his decision to make a guest appearance with his new friend Stephen Stills in the Buffalo Springfield's set the following day. Crosby's time in the band is coming to an end (he'll be thrown out by September, just three months down the line) and all the band have gone on record about saying what a sorry show this under-rehearsed hits-lacking performance was. Yes The Byrds have done better, but I've always been rather fond of this show which has some great versions of some fantastic songs The Byrds didn't play live very often. Reduced effectively to a singing duo against a quartet, there's a raw power and energy The Byrds hardly ever had again. While the band is rough and clearly playing songs they barely know, it's McGuinn who seems least at ease - by contrast Crosby has never seemed happier than singing to a crowd this size and certainly doesn't turn in an 'un-rehearsed' performance. A spine-tingling  'He Was A Friend Of Mine', prefaced by Crosby's complaints about the Warren Commision's shelved report on JFK's murder, is also far from the travesty many fans assume - instead it's exactly the political backbone a hippie show should be presented against (note that Crosby never made these remarks anywhere else, simply where he knew most people would hear them). Perhaps the most resonant moment of the set, this clip deservedly made the the 'Monterey Pop Festival' box set, making this the earliest Byrds footage officially available. It went alongside the only song kept in the setlist from the band's Gene Clark days (Dylan cover 'Chimes Of Freedom', a very hippie song in retrospect) and a frenetic version of 'Hey Joe' which Crosby dedicates to 'a cat that's going to perform here named Jimi Hendrix'. For the moment his announcement is greeted with silence, but a mere 24 hours later the unknown Hendrix will be the talk of the festival! Alas, while the other clips still exist, these are the only three songs made widely available. The choice of tracks is interesting in itself because at the time the missing finale 'So You Want To Be A Rock and Roll Star?' was the talking point of the show, both for it's sideswipes at the fake side of the music business (a talking point with two of The Monkees at the festival and various bands' reputations hurt forever when they didn't play like The Beach Boys) and for the guest appearances by two of Crosby's new friends, Hugh Masekela and his drummer Big Black. All in all essential for any Byrds but, especially those with a soft spot for David Crosby.

22) The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour (USA) October 22nd 1967 (Mr Spaceman/Goin' Back)

Has there ever been a comedy act less funny than The Smothers Brothers, the American equivalent of The Chuckle Brothers? Luckily compared to some AAA clips I've sat through for the processes of making this site, they aren't on screen very long. Anyway, ignore all that because what you really need to know is that David Crosby has gone and been replaced by...Gene Clark. Looking even more out of place than he did in 1965, Gene's face is one of shock as he tries hard to integrate himself back in the band and it's no surprise watching him here that he'll be out the band again after six weeks. Not that the others look any more comfortable: the band leaning against wooden struts for 'Goin' Back' must be the single most boring set The Byrds have yet had to perform to and only a newly moustached McGuinn (whose new look rather suits him) seems that comfortable. Oddly enough Gene is the only Byrd who doesn't get a seat - is this another example of the slights against his character, or was he added to the line-up so late in the day that they just didn't have one ready? Given the circumstances this is the only 'Notorious Byrd Brothers' song that was ever plugged on TV, although the revival of 1966's 'Mr Spaceman' seems an odd idea: yet another song Gene didn't know and had to learn to mime to! Perhaps it was chosen so the production team could have fun with their latest gimmick, which allowed the band to look as if they were whizzing through space - the effect is about as convincing as the miming.

23) Where The Girls Are (USA) April 23rd 1968 (Mr Spaceman/Good Day Sunshine)

We're back to black-and-white one last time as The Byrds mime their old song again even though these production effects are less than space-age. The band start by playing atop lots of wooden panelling (you know the sort of thing, what The Beach Boys used to stand on while surrounded by California Girls although The Byrds are on their own here). Sadly what looks like an interesting performance, with Gene's, Chris' and Mike's very last TV appearance with the band until the 1990s, keeps being interrupted with awful comedy gimmicks, Monkees-style romps that involve a painted car and a strange gadget that makes girl's dresses fall off (Operation Yewtree might want to get involved...) The Beatles cover (by now almost two years old) is another odd choice, again sung by a whole range of guest stars rather than just The Byrds. Chris Hillman and Michael Clarke is missing, perhaps angry at yet more comedy antics when the band are by now an established respected act, replaced by roadie Jimmy Seiter and an unknown drummer (and very uncomfortable the four of them - including Roger and Gene - look too!)

24) Playboy After Dark (USA) September 28th 1968 (You Ain't Goin' Nowhere/This Wheel's On Fire)

Sadly no footage exists of the Gram Parsons era country Byrds. However more than I expected from the White/Gene Parsons era of the band exists, starting with this rather good attempt to re-invent the band's image. Playboy After Dark was a reather daft and stilted series run by Hugh Heffner and featuring lots of bored looking extras and fake furniture. To eb fair, though, they had all the best guests, even those who were deemed by most shows of the day to be either 'dangerous' or 'past it' (regular AAA readers may recall the fun the Grateful Dead had on this show, spiking the cameramen's drinks so it would 'look better'...) This new look Byrds with a surprisngly tall John York (height is always hard to judge from record covers!), a pre-beard Clarence White and a pre-moustache Gene Parsons look like a whole new band, while Roger in particular looks very different with his hair cropped very short indeed. Perhaps wanting to re-establish that they really are The Byrds, honest guv, the band play two Dylan covers from their last two respedctive albums and play them rather well: Gene Parsons is on terrific form, pushing the songs forward while the heavy rock/feedback sound on Clarence's guitar was never better. What's more this line-up of the band have no trace of nerves, even McGuinn it seems, suggesting either that they were more 'at ease' on this set or that this later incarnation of the band were just better at covering them up! Sadly this is the only known TV clip with John York on bass and Skip Battin will replace him from the next entry on.

25) Newport Folk Rock and Jazz Festival (UK) June 20th 1969 (You Ain't Goin' Nowhere/Old Blue)

A rare and rather poor quality clip from one of Britain's regular festivals has amazingly survivied the years tacked onto the end of a news-reel about the festival. The Byrds are clearly going back to the bottom of the bill: the rather bored audience are too busy chatting to themselves to listen and one of them even clambers on stage during the beginning, although interestingly they pay more attention during shaggy dog story 'Old Blue'. The Byrds put on a good show, with some more excellent playing and Roger seems in a good mood, even uncharacteristically talking to the crowd at one point commenting on all the speakers and lighting paraphenelia to his left: 'Hey it's really groovy up here...feel like I'm in a greenhouse or something!' For those keeping tabs with facial hair, Gene now has his moustache (as does Roger) but Clarence doesn't have his familiar beard yet!

26) Talent Party (USA) January 16th 1970 (Mr Tambourine Man/Jesus Is Just Alright)
A very, very late appearance for this old classic which appeared on a 'local' TV show in Memphis that showed off the figures of the day. McGuinn is having fun, playing with the camera and wearing round Lennon-style sunglasses in place of his usual granny specs. However the rest of the band (Including Clarence with a beard at last) look bored out of their minds and don't even mime along to David and Gene's old parts! What must have Roger's old colleagues have made of it all? The band look happier miming along to 'Jesus' and Roger even takes his glasses off so we can see his eyes. Hilarious, if stilted, stuff.

27) Kralingen Pop Festival (Netherlands) June 28th 1970 (Old Blue)

Another summer, another music festival - this one in Holland. Thankfully this one is actually filmned from the stage so we get a good look at the band in action and they're on fire for this performance, with an extra 'growl' from the guitars the studio version of this song doesn't have (they clearly know it well now a year on from release). The director is clearly a music fan as a good half the shots are close-ups of the various players' hands playing solos/thrashing cymbals - all four Byrds of this era had such distinct personalities that you can clearly tell which is which. What a shame that only one song from this festival seems to exist - and even that is sadly cut short during the last Gene Parsons cymbal bash.

28) Fillmore East (USA) September 23rd 1970 (Jesus Is Just Alright/Eight Miles High)

A great mini-concert which starts with the band walking down the steps to the stage and Bill Graham walking up to the mike to introduce the band. A fiery 'Jesus' features Gene Parsons especially prominently , while funnily enough Roger seems to be the one 'outside' the band here, standing about as far stage left as he can (have they had a row? What am I saying - it's The Byrds, of course they probably had!) A cracking version of 'Eight MIles High' follows, with some terrific bass playing from Skip Battin similar in style and feel to the extended workout from the 'Untitled' album though not quite as long (this version still reaches an impressive nine minutes though!) Alas these two songs are about all that seem to exist from this concert and nothing I've read will tell me if the rest still exists or why it was taped at all - truly a Byrdsian mystery!

29) That's For The Byrds: Live At The Forest National Hall (Belgium) May 18th 1971 (Lover Of The Bayou/You Ain't Goin' Nowhere/Truck Stop Girl/Baby What You Want Me To Do?/Soldier's Joy/Pretty Boy Floyd/Take A Whiff On Me/Jesus Is Just Alright/Mr Spaceman) 
Hit it Roger! The quality might be so poor my DVD player has trouble reading it, the band might fluff the odd note, the title pun might bex excruciating and the running time is still presumably a few songs short of a full concert, but the fact that this little gem exists at all is terrific. This is the second-era Byrds unadulterated, complete with pauses between songs and off-the-cuff remarks to each other between tracks ('stop that' Roger grins as Clarence picks out a tune under his introduction), not to mention Roger trying - and failing - to speak to the crowd in French! ('Chanton de la Bob Dylan...You Ain't Goin' Nowhere!') It's this era of The Byrds at their best, the band truly cokking on this show and arguably the friendliest they are for the whole of this list. And why not? With the superb 'Untitled' in the works and a stable line-up at last, the world is their poyster here - and they know it. Roadie Jimmy Seiter stays on stage for most of the set, adding a bit of percussion next to Gene's drumming and whether because of that or not this is a very nicely raw and rocky Byrds tonight, with 'Bayou' particularly electrifying. However the real highlight is an unexpected acoustic coupling, The Byrds going 'unplugged' 25 years before it was in fashion, with Gene Parsons getting out the banjo on the jaw-dropping instrumental 'Soldier's Joy' (taken at about twice the speed of normal) and an unexpected 'Pretty Boy Floyd'. Roger clearly hasn't had his hair cut in a while (Playboy in 1968?) and it's now past his shoulders, while he's grown a full beard to keep up with Clarence and Skip.

30) Country Suite (USA) January 17th 1972 (Roll In My Sweet Baby's Arms/Soldier's Joy/Black Mountain Rag/Mr Tambourine Man/Farther Along)

By this point, though, The Byrds are clearly becoming a drag to all concerned. The band are having far less fun, but then again perhaps they're not meant to - this is a show for serious country musicians not just yahoo rock and rollers and it's actually quite a coup for the band to be asked (their name was mud in 1968, although having Clarence in the band no doubt helped their country credentials). Gene Parsons sticks to banjo and harmonica throughout (there are no drums on this gig) and the only 'plugged' musician is Skip on bass. He takes the lead vocal on opening song 'Roll In My Sweet Baby's Arms', a traditional American standard the band never did on record (although it would have fitted nicely onto 'Farther Along'). Lots of tricky instrumental 'fancy finger-pickin' comes next, before a sleepy countryfied 'Mr Tambourine Man' that's much closer to Dylan's original version (just in tune!) and for the first time features the extra verses cut from The Byrds' single. Finally Roger gets interviewed - or is that grilled? - about his country background before Clarence (a genuine country boy) comes to his rescue. Alas my copy is missing the finale, listed in 'Timeless Flight' as the gorgeousd traditional hymn 'Farther Along'. Roger has by now shaved his beard off.

31) Beat Club (Germany) 1972 (Eight Miles High/Chestnut Mare/Black Mountain Rag/Bristol Steamboat Convention Blues/So You Want To Be A Rock and Roll Star?)

Probably the best known Byrds performances, if only because they get recycled a lot and are available on DVD (German programme Beatclub have done lots of AAA DVDs - sadly most of them only last 20 minutes or so). The Byrds are unusual in that 'camera rehearsals' for the sessions was taped, so their DVD (listed on our DVDs page) is effectively double length, although by now the band are such a well-drilled outfit the differences aren't that great. Alas somebody in Germany has just bought a very expesnive new graphics toy and is determined to use it, meaning that one of the band's last performances (even 'Timeless Flight' isn't sure of the date) mainly consists of teeny tiny Byrds playing in front of a giant screen where occasional close-ups are screened. This must have been revolutionary in the day, when video-screens weren't de reigeur at concerts, but nowadays looks rather cheap and tacky and strains the eyes (especially the 'distorted' shosts extreme left and right of frame). The Byrds have only one new song to play, the instrumental 'Bristol Steamboat Convention Blues' and with no new album to promote look back to their past with three old hits. None of the performances are classic - even 'Eight Miles High' cuts well short of the 1970/1971 epics - but it's nice to have 'Chestnut Mare' in particular, as amazingly this is the only TV footage of the band performing it. Roadie Jimmie Seiter is again a 'guest' on percussion.

32) Midnight Special (USA) February 2nd 1973 (Turn! Turn! Turn!/The Ballad Of Easy Rider/It Won't Be Wrong/The Water Is Wide/Mr Tambourine Man/Nashville West/Lover Of The Bayou/Jesus Is Just Alright/Mr Spaceman/So You Want To Be A Rock and Roll Star?)

And so we bid The Byrds farewell, surprisingly late in the day (the reunion gig was already well underway by the time this show was screened - presumably it was taped at the end of 1972 and took a long time to edit?) By this point Gene Parsons has been sacked (replaced here by session player Jim Schulz, who does a good if heavy-handed job, to be honest no better than Parsons could have done) and Skip is about to be (the bassist, always a man of few expressions, looks quite nervous by his standards here). Roger again sings his countryfied arrangement of 'Mr Tambourine Man' , which sounds particularly nice with Clarence's gruff counter-harmonies and unique to this concert a cover of traditional English folk song 'The Water Is Wide' (early evidence of the interest that will result in Roger running 'The Folk Den Project' from his website).

33) (as McGuinn Clark and Hillman) Old Grey Whistle Test (UK) 1979 (Don't You Write Her Off)

Is this The Byrds? Probably not, but it's nice to see three of them back together for the first time in eleven years all the same. Standing Clark-McGuinn-Hillman, all three are in jumpy mood for this rare UK TV appearance, with Gene particularly thrilled to be back in front of the cameras again after so many years away (there is lost of Gene Clark solo footage on youtube, but most of it's from the 1980s!) This is a live performance rather than a mimed one and is actually a lot better than the one that made the album, with a lot more energy about it. For those keeping score, this time it's Chris with the beard and the other two are clean-shaven.

34) (as McGuinn Clark and Hillman) Unknown Unknown 1979 (Don't You Write Her Off)

A grinning and smartly dressed McGuinn is clearly having fun on this show and even stops miming guitar mid-song to start clapping through 'Don't You Write Her Off' - such sponatneity is deeply rare for The Byrds!; by contrast Clark and Hillman look as if they've been up all night. A nice clip of a song that the trio seem really keen to plug during their get-together!

35) (as McGuinn Clark and Hillman) Unknown (Holland) 1979 (Don't You Write Her Off/Backstage Pass)

Evidence of growing tensions within the trio can be seen from these two videos, especially if viewed in the correct order. The opening chords to a mimed 'Don't You Write Her Off?' starts with Gene giving Roger the finger (or flipping him the 'Byrd' if you'd rather!) Thereafter Gene looks out to stage right while Roger seems more than usually interested in Chris the other side of him. Things get worse during 'Backstage Pass', a Gene solo, where Roger stands with his back towards him, sulking throughout the whole of the song. Have the pair had a row just before coming on? (Heck what am I saying, these are three of The Byrds, of course they did!)  Chris, meanwhile, does his best to look professional and even steps up to the mike for the harmonies in the latter song but even he looks uncomfortable. That's a shame because 'Backstage Pass' especially is a strong product for the trio and the band's only known TV performance deserves to be special, doubly so given that this older, more confident Gene gives an excellent performance, outsmouldering the camera in a way his younger early-twenty-something self never could.

36) (as Mcguinn Clark Hillman) After Dark (Australia) 1979 (Mr Tambourine Man)

Slightly flat but with lots of charisma, this is a remarkable five minute version of the band's old warhorse, dressed up to sound rather different this time around. Not content with adding an extra verse to the song from Dylan's original, as performed during the 1971/1972 Byrds tours, Roger revives every single verse, expanding the track to some six minutes. McGuinn, Hillman and Clark take a verse each, in that order, with Gene's sleepy tempo-defying finale the show-stopper, before  the trio reunite for the more famous one from the single to finish. It's a lovely nod to the past from a trio who've spent the best part of a decade trying to forget it.

37) (Mcguinn/Hillman/Crosby/Tom Petty) Unknown 1989 (So You Want To Be A Rock and Roll Star?)

In 1989 The Byrds were popular again, thanks to a growing sense that the 1960s were finally cool again (of course they always were cool - have you seen the 1970s?!)  and a number of then-huge groups talking about how much of an influence they'd been. Tom Petty was one of them, covering 'I'll Feel A Whole Lot Better' on his 1989 album 'Full Moon Fever' (the one he cut in between the two Travelling Wilburys LPs), although all his week is in debt to McGuinn's Rickenbacker guitar sound to some extent. In 1989 he managed to do what The Byrds themselves had been trying and failing to do for ten years and got three of them (McGuinn, Crosby and Hillman) back together. This being the period right after Crosby's drug sentence, he looks ill and lost but a tanned and ahtletic looking McGuinn has never looked healthier.

38) (McGuinn/Hillman/Crosby) The Roy Orbison Tribute Night (USA) February 24th 1990 (Turn! Turn! Turn!/Mr Tambourine Man/Eight Miles High)

Roy Orbison's sudden death in December 1988 brought much of the music world together, although oddly a 'proper' televised tribute took a full 14 months to get ready (even George Harrison's was done in less). The Byrds didn't have any particular link to Roy (although McGuinn was tapped as his replacement in the Travelling Wilburys for a while - to keep Bob Dylan happy more than anything!) but McGuinn, Crosby and Hillman were happy enough with each other's company after a mini-reunion recording four songs for a 1990 box set that they took up the invitation to appear, singing three 'oldies' (oddly, not many people tries to do Roy's songs that night). The band don't sound on gresat form, but it's nice to see them back singing one last time.

39) The Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame (USA) January 1991 (Induction and Mr Tambourine Man)

Or rather, penultimate time, because against all odds all five Byrds turned up to their Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction award (this despite the fact that three of them were then suing Michael Clarke for using the band name without permission!) Thank goodness this event took part when it did: Gene will be dead four months from here, Michael Clarke in another two. Against the odds all five Byrds look healthy (even Crosby, on a rare easy year between major dramas in this period) and look genuinely delighted to be in one another'c ompany for the first time since 1973. Tom Petty is on hand to induct them and while his speech isn't great, the performance of 'Mr Tambourine Man' with all five playing is. The result is a moving coda to an eventful story and a nice place with which to end our article. 

A Now Complete Link Of Byrd Articles Available To Read At Alan’s Album Archives:
'Mr Tambourine Man' (1965)
‘Turn! Turn! Turn!’ (1965)

'(5D) Fifth Dimension' (1966)

'Younger Than Yesterday' (1967)

'The Nototious Byrd Brothers' (1968)

'Sweethearts Of The Rodeo' (1968)

'Dr Byrds and Mr Hyde' (1969)

‘The Ballad Of Easy Rider’ (1969)

'Untitled' (1970)
'Byrdmaniax' (1971)
'The Byrds' (1973)

Surviving TV Appearances
Unreleased Songs
Non-Album Songs (1964-1990)
A Guide To Pre-Fame Byrds Recordings
Solo/Live/Compilation Albums Part One (1964-1972)
Solo/Live/Compilation Albums Part Two (1973-1977)

Solo/Live/Compilation Albums Part Three (1978-1991)
Solo/Live/Compilation Albums Part Four (1992-2013)
Essay: Why This Band Were Made For Turn! Turn! Turn!ing
Five Landmark Concerts and Three Key Cover Versions