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The Byrds

Byrds

Review by Gary Hill

This 1973 album is being presented in a great remastered CD version here. The sound of this album ranges from bluegrass-driven to more mainstream rocking. There are plenty of comparisons to be made to Crosby, Stills and Nash, but when you consider that David Crosby is part of the band, that makes sense. This is an album that's makes for a satisfying experience from start to finish.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2019  Volume 3 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Full Circle
Folk and bluegrass seems to merge on the opening of this cut. The vocals reinforce that mix. The harmonies are classic, and the musical elements bring a lot of that bluegrass texture. This sounds quite a bit like CSN.
Sweet Mary
Slower and more somber, what this lacks in fun compared to the opener, it gains even more with drama and emotion. This is such a pretty cut. It's also even more like CSN.
Changing Heart
With harmonica on the opening, this piece feels so much like the folk rock of the era in which it was released. Mind you, without the influence of these guys in the 1960s, that whole era of bands might never have existed. 
For Free
A slower, dramatic folk based tune, this is powerful and dramatic. It was written by Joni Mitchell and really feels like something that would fit very well on a CSN album. 
Born to Rock N' Roll
An electric rocker, this cut has a real classic texture to it. Comparisons to the Grateful Dead aren't out of the question here.
Things Will Be Better
Another electrified rocker, this has a more mainstream 70s rock vibe to it. This is the kind of thing that was obviously a big influence on Tom Petty. It's a fun tune. The Grateful Dead references are not completely gone here.
Cowgirl in the Sand
Here they turn their attention to a song written by Neil Young. For obvious reasons this is another that feels like CSN, but add the "Y" to that equation. There is a cool little reprise at the end of this.
Long Live the King
Now, this rocker is harder edged than anything else here. I can still hear some of that Grateful Dead thing here. This also feels quite a bit like CSN&Y. The vocal harmonies are solid, and this cut just works really well. This gets into some seriously rocking territory further down the road, and the guitar fills are trademark Byrds. This is one of the highlights.
Borrowing Time
Coming in acoustic and more lighthearted, there is plenty of folk and some bluegrass here. The vocal harmonies call to mind CSN.
Laughing
Electric instrumentation brings this into being. There is a psychedelic edge to this slow moving piece. It feels very much like something that could have landed on CSN&Y's Déjà Vu album, but then again Crosby wrote the tune.
(See the Sky) About to Rain
The closer is another that's more based in acoustic folk music veins. Country music is in the mix here. This one calls to mind both the Dead and CSN. The cut drives forward for a time and then seems to turn into a different, but related tune at the end. It gets some electric instrumentation added to that closing section.
 
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