Posts Tagged The Byrds
The eponymous debut album by British prog-rockers Yes is considered to be the first progressive rock album. And Yes the band (for their playlist, click here) is considered to be the most venerable and commercially successful prog-rock band. Their debut album was released on October 15, 1969 in the waning days of psychedelic rock, and just ahead of the big splintering of rock music into a multitude of sounds and genres that made the 70s the best decade for rock music. With their next three albums, Yes became a major and defining force on the progressive side of rock music. But the debut LP didn’t fare well, even though it’s a decent collection of early Yes songs. The biggest reason: Yes was released within a few weeks of several notable late-1969 rock albums by the heavy hitters of the time, including Tommy by The Who, Led Zeppelin II, and the Stones’ Let It Bleed. By 1973, that would all change.
By the way, Yes includes two very ambitious and interesting covers of songs by the Beatles (“Every Little Thing”) and the Byrds (“I See You”). To download Yes from iTunes or for a CD from Amazon, click here.
5th Dimension (released July 18, 1966) was The Byrds’ third album after their blockbuster debut and sophomore releases, Mr. Tambourine Man (June 1965) and Turn! Turn! Turn! (December 1965). While not a commercial success on the level of its predecessors, 5th Dimension marked the band’s innovative shift from electrified folk-rock into a neat blend of psychedelic rock and nascent country-rock.
The standout track and rock classic, “Eight Miles High” was written by original Byrd Gene Clark, who would exit the group before 5th Dimension was completed. Clark’s departure left Roger McGuinn and David Crosby to assume the primary songwriting role, and they responded with a mix of picks and pans (with Crosby’s “What’s Happening?!?!” being dead center in the latter category). At its best, 5th Dimension is uneven, but it remains one of the mid-60s best examples of the coming diversity of folk, country and psychedelic rock (and all the mixtures thereof). The ethereal title track, the astral “Eight Miles High” (with no lead vocals and loads of spacey McGuinn/Crosby guitar work), the abstract “I See You,” the experimental “2-4-2 Foxtrot (The Lear Jet Song)” and Crosby’s aforementioned flopper are the earliest of the psych-rock genre. They’re balanced by decent folk-rock covers in “Wild Mountain Thyme” and “John Riley.” Then there’s that jaunty “Mr. Spaceman,” a sing-along country-rock gem that’s a bit dated but still has a fond 60s trippy feel.
A transitional album from a band that is now recognized for its influence on 60s and 70s psychedelic and country-rock, 5th Dimension spent half a year on the album charts and peaked at #24. Some call it a precursor and challenger to Sgt. Pepper’s as the top psychedelic rock LP. I think it’s a classic, but not that high. 5th Dimension is available for purchase as a CD or individual mp3 files on Amazon, or as iPod tracks on iTunes. The Byrds are in Dr. Rock’s Playlist Vault.
An instant classic upon its release 40 years ago, super trio Crosby, Stills & Nash’s self-titled debut LP featured their trademark close, rich harmonies and each member’s unique songwriting talents in nearly equal doses. Timely social and political statements mark each track, and the whole is one melodic celebration of late-60s folk-rock.
Crosby, Stills & Nash spawned two singles, the somewhat bubblegum-ish “Marrakesh Express” (backed with “Helplessly Hoping”) and the perennial “Suite: Judy Blues Eyes” (b/w “Long Time Gone,” David Crosby’s lament to the Robert Kennedy assassination a year earlier), but neither made it into the Top 20 (the album itself hit #6 in the U.S.). Add the sweet ballad of “Guinnevere,” the mystic “Wooden Ships” (co-written by Crosby, Stephen Stills and Paul Kantner of the Jefferson Airplane), Stills’ warbling electric guitar in “Pre-Road Downs” and the toe-tapper “You Don’t Have To Cry,” and it’s not surprising that Crosby, Stills & Nash is one of the top debut albums of all time (it’s #4 on my Top 25 Debut Album list) and a quintessential example of the flourishing light country-folk-rock of the time (along with the Byrds’ Sweetheart Of The Rodeo and The Grateful Dead’s Workingman’s Dead, among others).
Bob Dylan (click here for Dr. Rock’s playlist) wrote “Mr. Tambourine Man” in 1964, recorded it in January 1965, and released it on Bringing It All Back Home in March 1965. The Byrds (click here) released their version as a single on April 12, 1965. It quickly shot to #1 on both the U.S. and U.K. singles charts and eventually settled at #79 on Rolling Stone magazine’s Top 500 songs of all-time. Click here for a Vintage Video of the Byrd’s lip-synching and fake-playing their way through “Mr. Tambourine Man” on the Ed Sullivan Show in 1965.
Happy Birthday this week to:
1933 ● John Mayall → Bluesbreakers
1940 ● Chuck Mangione → Jazz trumpeter
1940 ● Denny Doherty → The Mamas & The Papas
1941 ● Jody Miller → Queen Of The House
1944 ● Felix Cavaliere → The Rascals
1947 ● Ronnie Montrose → Edgar Winter Group, Montrose
1954 ● Barry Goudreau → Boston
1958 ● Michael Dempsey → The Cure
1965 ● Wallis Buchanan → Jamiroquai
1968 ● Jon Knight → New Kids On The Block
1968 ● Martin Carr → Boo Radleys
1915 ● Walter “Brownie” McGhee → Blues guitarist
1929 ● Dick Clark → TV Host, “American Bandstand”
1937 ● Frank Ifield → “I Remember You” (1962)
1937 ● Paul Stookey → Peter, Paul & Mary
1944 ● Leo Lyons → Ten Years After
1944 ● Rob Grill → The Grassroots
1945 ● Roger Glover → Deep Purple
1953 ● Johnny “Shuggie” Otis, Jr. → Wrote “Strawberry Letter 23” (1977)
1953 ● June Pointer → Pointer Sisters
1954 ● George McArdle → Little River Band
1955 ● Billy Idol (William Broad) →
1958 ● Des’ree (Desiree Annette Weeks) →
1934 ● Billy Paul (Paul Williams) → “Me & Mrs. Jones” (1972)
1936 ● Lou Rawls →
1938 ● Sandy Nelson → Drummer, “Teen Beat” (1959)
1944 ● Eric Bloom → Blue Öyster Cult
1944 ● John Densmore → The Doors
1945 ● Bette Midler →
1946 ● Raymond “Gilbert” O’Sullivan → “Alone Again Naturally” (1972)
1951 ● Jaco Pastorius → Weather Report
1941 ● Tom McGuinness → Manfred Mann
1942 ● Ted Bluechell → The Association
1952 ● Michael McDonald → Doobie Brothers, solo
1960 ● Rick Savage → Def Leppard
1968 ● Jimi Haha → Jimmie’s Chicken Shack
1968 ● Nate Mendel → Foo Fighters
1970 ● Treach (Anthony Criss) → Naughty By Nature
1940 ● Jim Freeman → Five Satins
1948 ● John “Ozzy” Osbourne → Black Sabbath, solo
1949 ● Mickey Thomas → Elvin Bishop Group, Jefferson Starship
1951 ● Nicky Stevens → Brotherhood of Man
1952 ● Duane Roland → Molly Hatchet
1940 ● Freddie “Boom-Boom” Cannon (Frederico Picariello) → “Tallahassee Lassie” (1959)
1942 ● Bob Mosley → Moby Grape, Frantics
1944 ● Chris Hillman → The Byrds, Flying Burrito Brothers, Souther Hillman Furay Band
1944 ● Dennis Wilson → Beach Boys
1948 ● Southside Johnny (John Lyon) → Asbury Jukes
1951 ● Gary Rossington → Lynyrd Skynyrd, Rossington-Collins Band
1959 ● Bob Griffin → BoDeans
1962 ● Vinnie Dombroski → Sponge
1899 ● Sonny Boy Williamson (Aleck Ford Miller) → Blues singer/songwriter
1932 ● Little Richard (Richard Wayne Penniman) →
1938 ● Jean W. “J.J.” Cale → “Cocaine” (1974)
1945 ● Eduardo Delgado Serrato → ? and The Mysterians
1946 ● Andy Kim (Andrew Youakim) → “Rock Me Gently” (1974)
1947 ● Jim Messina → Buffalo Springfield, Poco, Loggins & Messina
1965 ● John Rzeznick → Goo Goo Dolls
Stephen Stills had already attracted considerable attention to his songwriting and musicianship skills before his first solo album was released on November 16, 1972. As a founding member of Buffalo Springfield, Stills was a central figure in the highly-regarded and influential late 60s folk-rock and country-rock pioneers. He authored several of their important songs, including the hit “For What It’s Worth, “Blue Bird” and “Rock & Roll Woman.” Following the break-up of the band in 1968, Stills teamed up with Al Kooper (of Blood, Sweat & Tears) and Mike Bloomfield (Electric Flag and top session man) in a one-off project, Super Session (highly recommended album, buy here) in June 1968. Stills then joined with David Crosby (The Byrds) and Graham Nash (The Hollies) to form the folk-rock supergroup Crosby, Stills & Nash, whose 1969 debut LP (with the Stills-penned “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes”) and its follow-up, 1970’s Déjà Vu (with Neil Young on the team) were instant and lasting classics.
Stephen Stills was Stills’ debut in the solo limelight. It’s a blend of different genres (all songs were his originals) with backing vocals by Crosby, Nash, Cass Elliott and others, plus guitar work from Eric Clapton and Jimi Hendrix (to whom the album’s dedicated). Interestingly, it’s the only album in history on which Clapton and Hendrix appear simultaneously, although on different tracks. It also features the #14 pop-rock hit, “Love The One You’re With” and the #37 single “Sit Yourself Down.” Stephen Stills briefly hit the Billboard Top 5 in December 1970 and is available as download tracks from iTunes (click here) and as a CD from Amazon (click here).
The original line-up for the Byrds lasted just three short years, from 1965 through mid-1968, long enough to produce the timeless tracks “Mr. Tambourine Man” and “Turn! Turn! Turn!” (among a dozen others), plus four great folk-, psychedelic- and early country-rock albums. But guitarist Roger (nee Jim) McGuinn was forced to reconstitute the band when, over an 18-month period, original members Gene Clark quit, David Crosby left for Crosby, Stills & Nash, and Michael Clarke and Chris Hillman left for the Flying Burrito Brothers. From 1968 to their eventual breakup in 1972, McGuinn and the in-name-only Byrds underwent several other rounds of personnel changes, the middle of which led to the October 29, 1969 release of The Ballad of Easy Rider. The album has (obvious) close ties to the terrific July 1969 cult counterculture movie, Easy Rider, starring Peter Fonda and Jack Nicholson. The film soundtracked several Byrds tunes, including the title track and the wonderful, rambling, spacey, folk-rock gem “Wasn’t Born To Follow.” Interest in a revitalized Byrds peaked after the movie’s summer release, and the working title of the album was originally Captain America (after the film’s anti-hero character). Despite all the hype, The Ballad Of Easy Rider peaked at just #36 in the U.S. Nonetheless, it’s a great late-60s country-rock album.