The Byrds: A selected discography
The Byrds: A selected discography
Here is a look at some of the more interesting Byrds and Byrds-related albums I've come across.
I've excluded most of the current Sony reissues because they'll be made obsolete when the remastered
reissues begin appearing in late spring. This isn't meant to be a complete discography, just a very selective one. (Note: This page is about five years old and much of the information about upcoming releases has long since passed. But we thought our reviews here might still be of interest.)
- The Byrds (Boxed set) (Columbia/Legacy): This one goes without saying, though the upcoming reissues could make this less of a necessity. Right now, it's an absolute must. It's too bad
the live tracks with Dylan haven't been released on video (they were televised). Maybe they could be included with the Byrds video retrospective we all hope (and pray) will happen someday.
- The Byrds: 20 Essential Tracks From the Boxed Set 1965-1990 (Columbia/Legacy): You'd probably assume you could pass on this one without buying it, especially if you own
the boxed set, but the version of "Mr. Tambourine Man" here includes a longer fade (about 10 seconds) than previously released. The sound quality on these tracks is excellent, by the way, and it'll be interesting to see how the upcoming reissues match up.
- The Byrds: Definitive Collection (Columbia/Holland): The nicest thing about this is the cover. The two CDs contain a total of 29 tracks, and although some tracks ("Eight Miles High," "Mr. Spaceman," "5D (Fifth Dimension), "So You Wanna Be a Rock 'n' Roll Star," "Have You Seen Her Face," "Goin' Back", "Lady Friend," "Lay Lady Lay" and "My Back Pages") are listed as remastered using "20-bit technology", the sound quality, especially on the early tracks, doesn't seem much better than the old American issues. Definitive, maybe, but not essential.
- Gene Clark: Echoes (Columbia/Legacy): A wonderful disc for three reasons. First, it reissues Clark's "Gene Clark and the Gosdin Brothers" album, which Clark released shortly after leaving the Byrds. It includes three previously unreleased demos from the album as well. Finally, it also includes a handful of remastered Byrds tracks that weren't on the boxed set ("I Knew I'd Want You" and "Set You Free This Time," to name two). But "Gene Clark and the Gosdin Brothers" is a great album in its own right.
- McGuinn, Clark and Hillman "Return Flight" and "Return Flight Vol. 2" (Edsel/UK): These two discs combine reissues of three albums -- the first McGuinn, Clark and Hillman album, the followup, "City", plus the album titled "McGuinn-Hillman," with the track orders for each all jumbled and in absolutely no order, which doesn't make any sense. (As this is written, "City" and "McGuinn-Hillman" are about to be reissued by One Way.) There are flashes of brilliance here, but these albums were too often attempts to be commercial -- attempts that failed.
- Roger McGuinn "Back From Rio" (Arista):
One of rock's biggest mysteries of the '90s is why this album wasn't a HUGE smash. If you don't have it (and shame on you if you don't), it's readily available....in bargain bins, of all places. Hardly where it belongs.
- The Byrds "In the Beginning" (Rhino):
An expanded version of what was originally released as the "Preflyte" demos. This is the Byrds as a raw studio band before developing a number of characteristics that would make them world famous. It also includes a couple of songs they never recorded for Sony, including "Tomorrow Is a Long Ways Away" and my sentimental favorite, "Boston."
- The Byrds "Never Before" (Murray Hill):
It would seem this much sought after disc will be rendered unnecessary when the full complement of Sony/Legacy reissues hits the streets. But the pictures here are wonderful (especially the cover pic) and the sound is magnificient. If you see it, grab it.
- The Byrds "The Byrds" (Asylum 7559-60955-2/Germany):
An album that has aged surprisingly well. I know I didn't like it when it first came out because it lacks so much of the "Byrds" sound. But the selection of tracks and the mainly acoustic performances have made this one hold up well. For some odd reason, it's available only on a German CD. I haven't seen a recent list of discs that music fans want on CD, but I'd think this would be near the top of the list. Get with it, Asylum! I've included the disc number to help in trying to track it down. Good luck! Added note: Laura Theobald emailed me that she has a Japanese version of this disk on the Elektra label that includes lyrics and a bio in Japanese. The disk number is WPCP-4158. (Thanks, Laura!)
- The Byrds Play Dylan (Sony): A nice collection that sounds good, though it's not in remastered quality. It's a very logical collection, too, considering Dylan's influence on the group. Supposedly, a Japanese version has more tracks, though we haven't seen it.
- The Byrds: Super Stars Best Collection (CR Records): One of those oddball Japanese collections. The tracks are all by the original group. The oddity is that the cover picture has a bearded Roger and a guitarist who appears to be Skip Battin, though he's not identified. Unfortunately, it doesn't include any of those great Japanese translations of English lyrics.
- Roger McGuinn "Born to Rock 'n' Roll" (Columbia/Legacy): A very good collection of Roger's solo stuff that's made essential (if you don't have a complete collection of Roger's solo albums) by "My New Woman," which also features Clark, Hillman, Crosby and Clarke.
- The Monterey International Pop Festival (Rhino boxed set): This set contains the only legitimately released (that we know of) live set by the original group. Unfortunately, it's not one of their best, as the group was on the verge of splintering. Crosby himself was hanging around with Steve Stills and Buffalo Springfield at the festival, which was a prelude to his exit from the Byrds and the formation of CSN&Y. You can almost hear the tension during the performance, which includes Crosby's famous conspiracy theory speech about the Kennedy assassination. It's too bad there isn't a better live representation of the original Byrds. Which leads us to...
- The Byrds "Live at the Boardinghouse (no label) and "Live in Stockholm 1967" (Swinging Pig): Two vintage live performances that deserved to be released commercially. The Boarding House gig was a 1978 reunion of McGuinn, Clark, Crosby and Hillman in a mainly acoustic performance which was broadcast over the radio locally (where the tape here comes from). Sound quality on the first song is a bit shaky, but it improves quickly and it's excellent the rest of the way. About half of the song list is Byrds material, with the finale on the disc being a gorgeous rendering of "Eight Miles High." I've been told the disc is not complete and there are a couple other songs not included. The Stockholm set is taken from a radio broadcast. "Roll Over Beethoven" was issued on the boxed set, but the version here is clearer than the source used on that release. The other songs ("Hey Joe", "My Back Pages", "Mr. Tambourine Man", "He Was a Friend of Mine" and "So You Want To Be a Rock 'n' Roll Star") are all heard in alternate versions from the commercial release. The main drawback with this disc is it's only 17:43. "The Bells of Rhymney" was also performed during this broadcast, but is not included on the disc.
- Various Artists "Easy Rider: Music From the Motion Picture Soundtrack" (German MCA): Far as I know, this isn't in print elsewhere. Too bad, as it contains three Byrds-related tracks: what I believe is a unique version of the Byrds' hit "Wasn't Born To Follow" that begins with some eerie howling wind sounds (which adds a bit of atmosphere to the song) plus Roger's versions of "The Ballad of Easy Rider" and "It's Alright Ma (I'm Only Bleeding)." The disc also contains tracks by Steppenwolf, Jimi Hendrix, the Holy Modal Rounders, the Fraternity of Man, Smith and the Electric Prunes -- an eclectic combination, to be sure.
- The Byrds "Full Flyte" (Raven): Nice Australian import with good sound that features a foldout with extensive notes by Johnny Rogan, author of the Byrds book "Timeless Flight", along with some great vintage pics, including a poster from the TNT show, plus a repro of an article from an old 16 magazine. The only thing on the track list that's anywhere near rare is Roger's "Ballad of Easy Rider" from the movie soundtrack.
- Various Artists "Time Between: A Tribute to the Byrds" (Imaginary): As tributes go, this is better than most of the ones I've heard, though like all of them, there are tracks you'll hate. The opening track, The Moffs' version of "Eight Miles High", is one of my favorites. Richard Thompson's two tracks, "Here Without You" and "Hickory Wind," are also recommended.
If you want to let me know about other interesting Byrds-related releases or if all you really wanna do is email me, click RIGHT HERE!