cream of the crate cd review #13: compilation – girl groups of the 60’s
cream of the crate cd review #14: the byrds – there is a season
Box Set Cover – [CLICK to enlarge]

 

  This review was originally posted on the first Toorak Times web site where publications ceased on that site in March 2017. The old site will be permanently closed in 2020 and these reviews are being re-published in order to preserve them on the current Toorak Times/Tagg site.

 

 

 

 

"The Byrds are immortal because they flew so high." - [Rolling Stone] _ "Terms like “country rock” and “folk rock” are contributed to what the Byrds set in motion. " - [The Byrds Biography]

Cream Of The Crate Reviews 1 to 50 were vinyl album reviews.  
The following fifty reviews (51 - 100) were originally marked as CD Reviews 1 - 50
and this numbering has been kept to keep consistency with the published CD reviews.



This is number fourteen in the series of albums I’m featuring as part of an on-going retrospective of CD’s in my personal collection.

The series is called, “Cream of The Crate (CD’s)”, and they represent CD albums that I believe are of significant musical value, either because of their rarity, because they represent the best of a style or styles of music or because their is something unique about the group or the music.

Another boxed set format, and what a beauty!

I have raved about some of the boxed sets I have reviewed and with good reason. This one is a strong candidate for the best!

The Byrds boxed set titled There Is A Season was released in 2006 on the legacy recordings label (CK 86345).

cream of the crate cd review #14: the byrds – there is a season
CD label – [CLICK to enlarge]

 

The label is Sony Music Entertainment’s catalog division. It was founded in 1990 by CBS Records under the leadership of Jerry Shulman, Richard Bauer, Gary Pacheco and Amy Herot to handle reissues.

Released September 26, 2006
Recorded Mid-1964 – January 1973
August 6 – August 8, 1990

 

cream of the crate cd review #14: the byrds – there is a season
Inside the Box set with CD’s removed: Picture of the Byrds and track listing where each Cd sits – [CLICK to enlarge]

 

Although they might be considered as one of the most well known groups in the world, it is worth recalling the early history and the line-up of this magnificent group.

The group formed in early 1964 as a trio consisting of Jim McGuinn (aka Roger McGuinn), Gene Clark and David Crosby.

With McGuinn taken by the emerging sound of the Beatles in 1964 he began to mix their songs into with his folk music songbook and it was because he was singing some of those early Beatles numbers, that Beatles fan Gene Clarke approached him and they quickly formed a duo playing Beatles numbers.

It was whilst they were playing at the Troubadour Club that they in turn were approached by David Crosby. He joined them singing some of the harmony parts to their covers. All three were taken by the quality of those harmonies so they formed a trio called “The Jet Set“.

Accessing World Pacific Studios through an associate of Crosby’s, they began to rehearse this embryonic folk rock sound.

Then in mid 1964 drummer Michael Clarke joined The Jet Set, albeit he didn’t own a drum kit and played on a makeshift cardboard box kit.

It was during this time when trying to emulate the British sound that they changed their name to the Beefeaters, and they recorded “Please Let Me Love You” on Elektra – it failed to chart!

cream of the crate cd review #14: the byrds – there is a season
Plate from the book – [CLICK to enlarge]

 

In August 1964 they were given an acetate of the then un-released Bob Dylan track, Mr Tambourine Man. Although the group was unimpressed with it, they began rehearsing it with a ‘Rock’ arrangement moving from the folksy 2/4 time to a rock 4/4 beat.

To boost their confidence their then Manager Jim Dickson, invited Dylan in to listen to the group and Dylan actually liked what he heard and gave it a ringing endorsement. This totally erased the groups doubts about the track.

Then “A Hard Days Night” was released and the group decided to re-equip with similar gear, giving rise to McGuinn purchasing the twelve string Rickenbacker.

Then in November 1964 the group signed with Columbia and changed its name to The Byrds, a deliberate misspelling to reflect what the Beatles had done.

cream of the crate cd review #14: the byrds – there is a season
Plate from the booklet – [CLICK to enlarge]

 

What is generally not appreciated is that the group still had not really gelled, and that only McGuinn played his actual instrument on Mr Tambourine Man, the rest of the music being played by top studio artists known as The Clique [aka The Wrecking Crew].

However, the vocals were sung by McGuinn, Crosby and Clark. Within 3 months of release the track became a #1 and the rest of the story is history.

Band Membership

Original members
  • Roger McGuinn – lead guitar, banjo, Moog synthesizer, vocals (1964–1973, 1989–1991, 2000)
  • Gene Clark – tambourine, rhythm guitar, harmonica, vocals (1964–1966, 1967, 1972–1973, 1991)
  • David Crosby – rhythm guitar, vocals (1964–67, 1972–73, 1989–91, 2000)
  • Michael Clarke – drums (1964–1967, 1972–1973, 1991)
  • Chris Hillman – bass guitar, rhythm guitar, mandolin, vocals (1964–1968, 1972–1973, 1989–1991, 2000)
Subsequent members
  • Kevin Kelley – drums (1968)
  • Gram Parsons – rhythm guitar, piano, organ, vocals (1968)
  • Clarence White – lead guitar, mandolin, vocals (1968–1973)
  • Gene Parsons – drums, banjo, harmonica, pedal steel guitar, rhythm guitar, vocals (1968–1972)
  • John York – bass guitar, vocals (1968–1969)
  • Skip Battin – bass guitar, piano, vocals (1969–1973)

 

cream of the crate cd review #14: the byrds – there is a season
Early birds – [CLICK to enlarge]

 

There Is A Season consists of four CD’s with a total of 99 tracks.

This compilation was produced by Roger McGuinn and Bob Irwin. It also comes with a bonus DVD consisting of 10 video performances by the group.

cream of the crate cd review #14: the byrds – there is a season
DVD Cover – [CLICK to enlarge]
cream of the crate cd review #14: the byrds – there is a season
Rear of the DVD Cover – [CLICK to enlarge]

 

If that is not enough, it also comes with a truly brilliant booklet.

cream of the crate cd review #14: the byrds – there is a season
Booklet Cover: Note: The picture was printed slightly out of focus deliberately – [CLICK to enlarge]

 

It is solid, well presented and has 48 double pages of magnificent pictures, discussions about the tracks and some wonderful discourses on the group and their adventures.

cream of the crate cd review #14: the byrds – there is a season
Rear of the booklet – [CLICK to enlarge]

 

This booklet sets the bar for all others. Even the way the material in the box is set out quite obviously reflects a lot of consideration and care taken.

It has the four CD’s laid out two to a side and the booklet and DVD fitting into the right hand side. I really like the box, it is solidly made and has a material feel about it. The red colour means the gold lettering stands right out and screams, “CLASS”!

cream of the crate cd review #14: the byrds – there is a season
CD’s laid out in the box – [CLICK to enlarge]


The booklet is, as I previously indicated, 48 double pages and it is a decent size and is on gloss paper.

 

It features a plethora of black and white and colour photos. I can’t tell you how many have been used in previous publications because that could only be determined by someone who has read everything there is to read about this group.

The booklet commences with the Contents, which lists:
* Discography (9 double sided pages)
* Thoughts on the Byrds (7 double sided pages)
* Liner notes (32 double sided pages)
* Production Credits (a single sided page)

The term ‘Discography’ usually means all the published work by an artist, but in this case it means a listing of all the tracks on the four CD’s.

cream of the crate cd review #14: the byrds – there is a season
Plate from the book

 The discography is well set out and provides for each track, the name of the track, it’s time, who wrote it or arranged it, the producer, the master catalog number, the record date, the release details including the single number where appropriate.

So for the 99 tracks contained within this set that is a lot of detail.

One of the fantastic things about the track selection is that material that pre-dates Mr Tambourine Man has been included.

This was the groups debut single, and what a debut single, reaching #1 in 1965 on Billboards top 100.

So we are privy to the development of material that led to the release of this masterful version of Bob Dylans composition. I guess what most of us always recall is Roger McGuinn’s distinctive 12-string Rickenbacker jangle and the band’s beautiful harmonies.

So, before I go any further, the track listing, which is mighty long, but needs to be presented. Previously unreleased tracks are marked with an *

DISC ONE:
“The Only Girl I Adore” (by the Jet Set)
“Please Let Me Love You” (by the Beefeaters)
“Don’t Be Long” (by the Beefeaters)
“The Airport Song”
“You Movin'”
“You Showed Me”
“Mr. Tambourine Man”
“I’ll Feel A Whole Lot Better”
“You Won’t Have To Cry”
“Here Without You”
“The Bells Of Rhymney”
“All I Really Want To Do” (single version)
“I Knew I’d Want You”
“Chimes Of Freedom”
“She Has A Way”
“It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue”
“Turn! Turn! Turn! (To Everything There Is A Season)”
“It Won’t Be Wrong”
“Set You Free This Time”
“The World Turns All Around Her”
“The Day Walk”
“If You’re Gone”
“The Times They Are A-Changin'” (withdrawn version)
“She Don’t Care About Time” (single version)
“Stranger In A Strange Land” (instrumental)

DISC TWO:
“Eight Miles High”
“Why” (single version)
“5D (Fifth Dimension)”
“Wild Mountain Thyme”
“Mr. Spaceman”
“I See You”
“What’s Happening?!?!”
“I Know My Rider”
“So You Want To Be A Rock’N’Roll Star”
“Have You Seen Her Face”
“Renaissance Fair”
“Time Between”
“Everybody’s Been Burned”
“My Back Pages”
“It Happens Each Day”
“He Was A Friend Of Mine” (live) *
“Lady Friend”
“Old John Robertson” (single version)
“Goin’ Back”
“Draft Morning”
“Wasn’t Born To Follow”
“Tribal Gathering”
“Dolphin’s Smile”
“Triad”
“Universal Mind Decoder” (instrumental)

DISC THREE:
“You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere”
“I Am A Pilgrim”
“The Christian Life” (Gram Parsons vocal version)
“You Don’t Miss Your Water” (Gram Parsons vocal version)
“Hickory Wind”
“One Hundred Years From Now” (Gram Parsons vocal version)
“Lazy Days” (alternate version)
“Pretty Polly” (alternate version)
“This Wheel’s On Fire” (alternate version)
“Drug Store Truck Drivin’ Man”
“Candy”
“Child Of The Universe” (“Candy” soundtrack version)
“Pretty Boy Floyd” (live)
“Buckaroo” (instrumental/live)
“King Apathy III” (live)
“Sing Me Back Home” (live)
“Lay Lady Lay” (alternate version)
“Oil In My Lamp” (alternate version)
“Tulsa County”
“Jesus Is Just Alright”
“Chestnut Mare”
“Just A Season”
“Kathleen’s Song” (alternate version)
“All The Things” (alternate version)

DISC FOUR:
“Lover Of The Bayou” (live)
“Positively 4th Street” (live)
“Old Blue” (live)
“It’s Alright Ma (I’m Only Bleeding)” (live)
“Ballad Of Easy Rider” (live)
“You All Look Alike” (live) *
“Nashville West” (instrumental/live) *
“Willin'” (live)
“Black Mountain Rag” (instrumental/live)
“Baby What You Want Me To Do” (live)
*
“I Trust” (live)
*

“Take A Whiff (On Me)” (live)
“Glory, Glory”
“Byrdgrass” (instrumental)

“Pale Blue”
“I Wanna Grow Up To Be A Politician”
“Nothin’ To It” (instrumental)
“Tiffany Queen”
“Farther Along”
“Bugler”
“Mr. Tambourine Man” (“Banjoman” soundtrack version/live)
“Roll Over Beethoven” (“Banjoman ‘soundtrack version/live)
“Full Circle”
“Changing Heart”
“Paths Of Victory”

DVD:
“Mr. Tambourine Man”
“I’ll Feel A Whole Lot Better”
“All I Really Want To Do”
“Turn! Turn! Turn! (To Everything There Is A Season)”
“It Won’t Be Wrong”
“Set You Free This Time”
“So You Want To Be A Rock’N’Roll Star”
“Mr. Tambourine Man”
“Eight Miles High”
“Mr. Spaceman”

cream of the crate cd review #14: the byrds – there is a season
Complete listing of all tracks and details of the production – [CLICK to enlarge]

 

Now the first question that came to me, and I’m sure many others is, why only 5 previously unreleased tracks when there are 99 tracks on the four music CD’s?

Does this mean they are the only unreleased Byrds tracks left? Somehow I doubt it.

Mind you, I don’t think much would have been lost if these previously unreleased tracks were left off. Then again, I guess it’s an attempt to provide a more complete selection of their work by providing a spread of their music and in doing so, it provides the collector with almost a full musical pallet to choose from.

cream of the crate cd review #14: the byrds – there is a season
Plate from the book – [CLICK to enlarge]

 

Four CD’s and I have chosen six to play and discuss. I thought I’d start with a couple of the tracks that were recorded before they became the Byrds.

Disk #1 contains some of the biggest hits by the Byrds.

It’s hard not to start with the first track as it clearly demonstrates the desire of both McGuinn and (Gene) Clark to try and cash in on the then ‘run-away’ Mersey Sound.

Look, it is a good attempt but it was a good thing the experiment didn’t last long. It is a clean sound and it isn’t a bad emulation of the the music coming from the Mersey scene, like that was being recorded by Gerry and the Pacemakers.

Had the guys stuck to this it could be mooted that they might have become moderately famous, although the next track I’ll feature which was a more serious attempt to make a hit based on the UK sound of the day – flopped!

So we can listen back now in the knowledge that this group did go on to cement their music history based upon the development of their own sound.

Only Girl I Adore – “The Jet Set( 1964)

The track Only Girl I Adore was an attempt to cash in on the early “Mersey sound” – it even has “yer yer’s!

When they added  Michael Clarke on drums with the intention of recording a hit, we can hear the further development of the attempt to be “British”, even to taking the name of the Tower Guards- The Beefeaters.

Mind you, the ‘British Accent’ rates high on the ‘cringe factor scale’.

 

Please Let Me Love You – “The Beefeaters(1964)

cream of the crate cd review #14: the byrds – there is a season
Plate from the book

 

I’m keeping away from the plethora of known and well loved tracks – for the very reason that they are well known and I will feature a few of them in the video clips at the end of this review

This leaves me free to look at and discuss some of the other tracks.

Times Are They Are A-Changing is one of the many Dylan covers by the group, and this track was featured on the album “Turn, Turn,Turn“.

However, on this CD we are provided with a version (mono) that was a withdrawn version.

By late 1965 the Byrds could no longer be considered as ‘imitators’ of the Beatles or Dylan, with legitimate #1’s under their belt.

Having performed with Dylan, they were moving away from an accidental coming-together of ego’s and talent, into a ruthless, focused group.

The downside being that while it was easy to see that the members of groups like the Beatles were friends, members of the Byrds were anything but.

Times They Are A Changing (January 1965 – withdrawn version)

There are many excellent tracks on CD#2, and a few not so often played, but I am dropping into track number sixteen, written by Roger McGuinnHe Was A Friend Of Mine.

It was recorded during a live performance on Swedish Radio in April of 1967.

By 1967 Jim McGuinn had changed his name to Roger McGuinn, but whether that was some how to help the group in some way is dubious, but the writing was on the wall for them.

With the departure of both Clark and Crosby on one hand it did give the group a chance to ‘refresh’, but somehow the Byrds without these two in it just didn’t seem right.

This track was one of the last recordings with Crosby in the group. He ostensibly left in order to seek more creative freedom, which he certainly found with Crosby Stills & Nash, but there were many simmering tensions within the group, and David Crosby’s strong political leanings did not go down well with McGuinn.

This track was previously unreleased.

He Was A Friend Of Mine (1967)

Post 1967 was the end of the ‘psychedelic/folk’ experimentation and a new Byrds emerged with Kevin Kelly on drums, and Gram Parsons, initially on keyboards but quickly moving to guitar.

Now the Byrds were at the opposite end of the universe musically, recording a country album in the anti-rock capitol of Nashville.

In fact Parsons talked McGuinn out of an ambitious project for a double album that would track the history of American music from traditional folk to space age rock, not easy given McGuinn was completely taken by a new Moog he had purchased and was desirous of using it.

Parsons got his way and the album “Sweetheart of the Rodeo” was released.

Parsons contributed a number of songs including “Hickory Wind” and “One Hundred Years From Now“, but threatened litigation from LHI Records who had Parsons under contract, saw the Byrds having to wipe most of Parsons vocals and re-record them with McGuinn.

All in all the Parsons stay wasn’t really that successful, and was incredibly short with him departing mid 1968, citing the decision of the Byrds to tour apartheid ridden South Africa as his reason, although McGuinn claims it was to take up an offer to work with Mick Jagger.

In essence CD #3 has material from 1968 and 1969 and four tracks from 1970 and best represents that country period for the group.

One Hundred Years From Now – Vocal featuring Gram Parsons (1968)

CD #4 is interesting, not because it contains any real ‘hits’, but rather in some ways represents a kind of return to the early days.

It has a number of Dylan compositions, McGuinn compositions and even work by Parsons. Another way of considering this period is, that it was the Clarence White period.

McGuinn and Hillman decided to session guitarist White a permanent member of the band, as he had played on every album from the 1967 “Younger Than Yesterday” album onwards.

Shortly after Hillman left and it meant McGuinn was the only original member left. I guess if you are on a good thing, you stick to it – but that’s not always the best way to deal with situations and I believe any semblance of the Byrds was just about gone!

Mind you, it was the period that gave rise to the track Ballad Of Easy Rider, a track written by McGuinn, and slated to be one of the great tracks from the film by the same name.

McGuinn refused permission for this version to be used citing concerns, that given the nature of the film, it would incite riots.

Bad call Roger!

This is a live version recorded in March 1970 at The Felt Forum, later to be renamed, Madison Square Garden!

Ballad Of Easy Rider (1970)

It has been said that modern American rock started with the birth of the Byrds.

It was a period dominated by the British Invasion who held the ‘rock world’ in their hands. Yet, despite an early dalliance with that British Sound, the Byrds quickly and successfully developed their own style, and in doing so set the pathway for many American groups with their ‘new’ electrified sounds.

cream of the crate cd review #14: the byrds – there is a season
Plate from the book

 

Not satisfied with repeating their successful formula they constantly experimented and were great innovators.

This can be demonstrated by the they recorded four versions of There Is A Season, broke new ground with their version of Mr Tambourine Man and gained many new fans with their rockin’ space cadet Eight Miles High and Universal Mind Decoder“.

As we became accepting of their direction, they changed yet again moving into the country-rock sound with Gram Parsons.

They even demonstrated a magnificent grasp of the music so desired by the folk/traditionalists, such as shown with the track Black Mountain Rag.

Many reviews were written on this boxed set when it was first released, and while some were complimentary, many were not.

Thirteen years later I am comfortable in adding to the debate and declaring that not withstanding the obvious ‘grab’ for money in releasing such a boxed set, it has been released with love and care.

It stands out as a quality presentation and while we can endlessly debate what tracks might have been included, and what tracks might have been left out, it does represent the broad spectrum of styles and compositions that made up the magic that was known as The Byrds.

There are many, many Byrds releases. Yet I am happy in declaring that the quality of the recording and production is second to none.

Over the four CD’s in the set we have 99 tracks that span the period of the groups existence, being 1964 to 1990.

The set covers every hit by the group and includes many of the major tracks from their albums including previously unreleased tracks as well as various alternate takes.

The care taken in assembling and presenting accompanying booklet, even the quality of the box itself, lends itself to the obvious conclusion that this is QUALITY and highly desirable in anyone’s collection.

Let us not forget the bonus DVD with its 10 tracks and although nothing dates a group like old video the music is certainly not dated.

One note of warning, it has been re-released and appears in a ‘book’ format in the later version.

I cannot vouch for the quality of this production or indeed even be certain that the booklet that I refer to in this review is of the same quality as in the original boxed set.

The boxed set I am reviewing is available second hand through Discogs for around Au$45.00 – $60.00 inc postage but will cost you just over Au$100 on Ebay.

On January 16, 1991, the five original members of the Byrds put aside their differences to appear together at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City for their induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

The ceremony honored the original line-up of Roger McGuinn, Gene Clark, David Crosby, Chris Hillman, and Michael Clarke

cream of the crate cd review #14: the byrds – there is a season
From the book – [CLICK to enlarge]

VIDEOS:

As you might expect Youtube is awash with video clips.

 

Mr Tambourine Man

 

8 Miles High

 

You Ain’t Going Nowhere & This Wheel’s On Fire (with Clarence White)