24 February 2019 (released)
15 June 2019
This was The Byrds reunion album, reuniting their original lineup and was recorded in 1972 before release in 1973.
In many ways it is an oddity, not least because the five original members had all gone in different musical directions over the years and because the old strains on relationships between the artists were still, largely, unresolved.
However, from a pure musical point of view, it works on many levels and satisfies anyone looking for those sublime harmonies and sweet sounds.
8 of the tracks here are composed by 4 members of The Byrds with 2 each from Gene Clark, Roger McGuinn, Chris Hillman & David Crosby plus a couple from Neil Young and one from Joni Mitchell.
Musically, the songs move between Folk/Rock, Country/Rock and a wistful West Coast Laurel Canyon vibe and you can hear the different strands of the band clearly identified.
The opener ‘Full Circle’ is a Gene Clark song with a strong country groove. Chris Hillman’s mandolin is gorgeous in the chorus while the harmonies are spot on. It really seems to sum up the whole Byrds experience from 1964 to 1972.
Roger McGuinn/Jaques Levy composed ‘Sweet Mary’ and it has a more folk based sound – we begin to see the different elements and the divergence of the different members showing through. The other McGuinn song ‘Born To Rock ‘n Roll’ shows more of the direction that the last Byrds incarnation had gone in, rock with touches of country and very much in the Eagles mould.
‘Long Live The King’ by David Crosby is harder, more aggressive, and probably shows Crosby’s direction as a member of CSN&Y. ‘Laughing’ again is miles away from the lightness of much of the Byrds material but really strong and with a sense of lost opportunities.
Both the Chris Hillman compositions are collaborations, ‘Borrowing Time’ was written with Joe Lala and brings a light and sweet flavour to the album, very much in the way of Simon & Garfunkel, with beautiful harmonies and mandolin whisking the song along. ‘Things Will Be Better’ written with Dallas Taylor, is a little inconsequential but hearkens back to the psychedelic moods of the early Byrds material.
The album is one that I found very easy to enjoy, different tracks grabbing my attraction at different times, and it is fascinating to hear how the original five members went their own ways and brought all that experience back into the band.
It probably points to what might have been but really, it was just a full stop on the original lineup.
As always, a really good remastering by Esoteric and a top quality release.