CD Review: The Byrds

The Byrds
There is a Season
Columbia/Legacy
By David Chiu

You might be wondering: Wasn’t there a previous Byrds boxed set before this entitled There Is a Season? Yes there was, but that came out in 1990. Since the Byrds’ stature and continues to grow and can be traced in the sound of some of today’s groups, the Byrds music deserves another comprehensive reevaluation of sorts in the form of There Is a Season. Los Angeles’ answer to the Beatles and the British Invasion in the mid-‘60s, the Byrds in their classic incarnation crafted some great pop and folk rock music augmented by Roger McGuinn’s distinctive Rickenbacker guitar sound and the harmonies of McGuinn, David Crosby and Gene Clark. The group’s two major chart successes came from interpretations of Pete Seeger (“Turn! Turn! Turn!”) and Bob Dylan (“Mr. Tambourine Man”), but let’s not forget original gems such as Gene Clark’s “I Feel A Whole Lot Better,” the experimental “Eight Miles High,” and “So You Want to Be a Rock and Roll Star,” that showed the band evolving stylistically. With line-up changes, the Byrds entered the next phase of their career: country rock the culminated in the masterpiece Sweethearts of the Rodeo; the album featured the first and only contributions of the legendary Gram Parsons (“One Hundred Years From Now”). While all the members from the original classic lineup gone, McGuinn held fort on the remaining Byrds albums through the early ‘70s (and featuring the contributions of the guitarist Clarence White). Book ended by pre-Byrds songs and a 1990 “reunion” track, with previously unreleased tracks and live numbers in betweens, There is a Season soars as what a meticulously assembled boxed set should be. (There is also a DVD containing performances by the original band including “Mr. Tambourine Man” and “I Feel A Whole Lot Better”) When it comes to a legacy from an influential band such as the Byrds, one doesn’t expect any less.

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