I'll Feel a Whole Lot Better - The Byrds, Clark, Gene 
All I Really Want to Do [LP Version] - The Byrds, Dylan, Bob
Turn! Turn! Turn! (To Everything There Is a Season) - The Byrds, Seeger, Pete
5D (Fifth Dimension) - The Byrds, McGuinn, Roger
Eight Miles High - The Byrds, Clark, Gene 
Mr. Spaceman - The Byrds, McGuinn, Roger
So You Want to Be a Rock & Roll Star - The Byrds, Hillman, Chris 
Have You Seen Her Face - The Byrds, Hillman, Chris 
Lady Friend - The Byrds, Crosby, David 
My Back Pages - The Byrds, Dylan, Bob
Goin' Back [LP Version] - The Byrds, Goffin, Gerry
The Ballad of Easy Rider - The Byrds, McGuinn, Roger
Jesus Is Just Alright - The Byrds, Reynolds, Arthur
Chestnut Mare - The Byrds, Levy, Jacques
I Wanna Grow up to Be a Politician - The Byrds, Levy, Jacques
He Was a Friend of Mine - The Byrds, McGuinn, Roger
Paths of Victory - The Byrds, Dylan, Bob
From a Distance - The Byrds, Gold, Julie
Love That Never Dies - The Byrds, Lynch, Stan
During the '60s, the Byrds were one of the consistently interesting groups that expanded and changed their sound with nearly every record. This 20 track sampler of the admirable 4-CD boxed set features a good chunk of what... more » made the Byrds an impressive bunch. From the first chiming 12-string guitar notes of "Mr. Tambourine Man" and "Turn! Turn! Turn!" to the hyper-real psychedelia of "Eight Miles High" to the country rock of "Goin' Back" and "Chestnut Mare," they always found their footing. The four tracks from their 1990 reunion are for fanatics only and the absence of any excellent Gram Parsons material is disappointing. However, the rest is simply life changing. --Rob O'Connor« less
During the '60s, the Byrds were one of the consistently interesting groups that expanded and changed their sound with nearly every record. This 20 track sampler of the admirable 4-CD boxed set features a good chunk of what made the Byrds an impressive bunch. From the first chiming 12-string guitar notes of "Mr. Tambourine Man" and "Turn! Turn! Turn!" to the hyper-real psychedelia of "Eight Miles High" to the country rock of "Goin' Back" and "Chestnut Mare," they always found their footing. The four tracks from their 1990 reunion are for fanatics only and the absence of any excellent Gram Parsons material is disappointing. However, the rest is simply life changing. --Rob O'Connor
"Known as that folk-rock group that electrified Dylan's songs with that Rickenbacker guitar, and who were further influenced the Beatles and vice-versa, the Byrds took "Mr. Tambourine Man" to the UK and US #1 post. Apart from that Rickenbacker, McGuinn's lead vocal, and harmony vocals by Dave Crosby and Gene Clark make this song memorable. There are three other Dylan songs here. "All I Really Want To Do," their second single, which was also covered by Cher, whose version did better than theirs. And then there's "My Back Pages," which was originally written as Dylan's repudiating his militant past, but here, as the Byrds' repudiation of the music hitmaking machine. It also turned out to be one of their last top twenty hits. Other highlights:"I'll feel A Whole Lot Better" has definite Beatles influences, while their cover of Pete Seeger's Ecclesiastes-adapted prayer "Turn! Turn! Turn!" is probably their best song ever, taken from the album of the same name. This was anthemic of the ongoing civil rights movement: "a time to rend, a time to sow, a time for love, a time for hate, a time for peace, I swear it's not too late."The waltz-time "5D", recorded after Gene Clark's departure, signalled their entry into psychedelia. And "Eight Miles High", a clear influence on the raga and jazz, as well as acid rock, was wrongfully lambasted and banned as being a drugs song, whereas it was about aeroplane jitters during the group's 1965 tour. The catchy "Mr. Spaceman" should've made more of an impression, and I wonder if Neil Innes' "Urban Spaceman" was partly influenced by this song."So You Wanna Be A Rock And Roll Star?" is a satiric rip on the process that had put them as a hitmaker. It features South African jazzman Hugh Masakela, as well as live audience cheers. Tom Petty later covered this on his Pack The Plantation album.They do a nice rendition of "Goin' Back" the nostalgic song of yearning written by Carole King and Gerry Coffin, and their version is more uptempo than Dusty Springfield's melodic ballad. It features a pedal steel guitar by Red Rhodes.The melancholy but rhythmic "The Ballad of Easy Rider" rivals "Turn! Turn! Turn!" as one of their best songs, maybe because of tis juxtaposition at the movie's denouement: "all he wanted is to be free/and that's the way it turned out to be/flow river flow.""Chestnut Mare" was one of the first Byrds song whose video I saw on MTV's closet classics, featuring a monologue about catching the title animal and wanting it to be a friend.The country-folkish politically barbed send-up "I Wanna Grow Up To Be A Politician" is a cynical reflection the Nixon years.be the USA's man "I'll always be tough but I'll never be scary, I want to shoot guns." "And take over this beautiful land?" Yeah right!The last four songs were songs done by Hillman, McGuinn, and Crosby which were included on the box set that this CD is a very trimmed down version of. "He Was A Friend Of Mine" is a remake of a song they did after JFK's assassination, while "Paths Of Glory" is another Dylan song from The Times They Are A Changin'. And they cover Julie Gold's "From A Distance." The songs by this core trio make apparent those members who are now gone, such as Gene Clark and Michael Clarke, who died in the 90's, and Clarence White and Graham Parsons who died tragically in the 1970's. Be it in their many incarnations or as a reunited trio with backing band, the Byrds made their mark in the era of Dylan and the Beatles, and this collection proves just that."
One of the seminal bands' seminal songs.
P. Nicholas Keppler | 08/12/1999
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The Byrds had a sound in the early '60s (before David Crosby left) that drew many, many immitators. For my own part, "All I Really Wanna Do" and "My Back Pages" are simply wonderful vocal extravaganzas, and what could have been a gimic -- the 12-string sound -- is a perfect compliment to a band that could really SING! This wasn't the Rolling Stones or The WHO, but a bunch of fellows who saw vocalizing as the point of the song. Wow. I love it (including the 1990 remake by three reunited ex-Byrds of "He Was a Friend of Mine," another haunting melody -- even if you don't much care for John Kennedy). A few of these tracks are unworthy of a listen, IMO, but that's why cd players are programmable. There's enough variety of styles here to please most rock/pop/'60s fans. Good stuff."
P. Nicholas Keppler | Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania United States | 01/29/2002
(3 out of 5 stars)
"The Byrds represented all that was good about the sixties. In this single band one can find vibrant examples of the free spirit of the folkies, the irresistible melodies of the poprock bands and the wavy psychodelia of the hard rockers. The Byrds' music has been repackaged countless times but there has yet to be a definitive best-of collection for this monumental band. The Byrds should have a solid greatest hits package to act as a good starting point for new fans and, because they were predominantly a singles band like the Beach Boys, the Kinks or the early Beatles, an uninterrupted collection of their finest classics to be placed under a list of essentials for any record collection. 20 Essential Tracks is much too spotty and ill-compiled to serve either of these purposes. The collection does a somewhat acceptable job of collecting the Byrds' early hits, including their fantastic, groundbreaking covers of Bob Dylan's "Mr. Tambourine Man" and Pete Seger's "Turn! Turn! Turn!," their hair-raising psychedelic classic "Five Miles High" and "I'll Feel a Whole Lot Better," a tune that stands as one of the best break-up songs in pop music history. Still, the absences of "Chimes of Freedom" and "It Won't Be Wrong" are inexcusable. Moving on to the middle years, 20 Essential tracks includes such fine songs as the windy "Goin' Back" and the gorgeous Mother Earth anthem "The Ballad of Easy Rider" but absolutely ignores their entire 1968 country-rock masterpiece, Sweetheart of the Rodeo. Aside from the relatively weak "I Wanna Grow Up to be a Politician," the latter years are completely overlooked (No "Tiffany Queen?" No "Citizen Kane?"). The disc ends with four good, but certainly not "essential," tracks from a reunited 1990 version of the Byrds. It stops at 57:53, leaving more than twenty unused minutes that could have been used to fill 20 Essential Tracks' numerous gaps. The woefully measly Super Hits fares even worse than 20 Essential Tracks and their two-volume Greatest Hits albums is a outright rip-off, considering it includes enough music to be placed on one disc for the price of two. In the wake of the impressive success of the Beatles' 1, music stores and television commercial breaks are being raided by new, remastered, 70+ minute compilations of such noteworthy bands as the Doors, Pink Floyd and the Doobie Brothers. Let's hope the Byrds are next."
Could've been much better, but still a decent compilation
P. Nicholas Keppler | 01/05/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The four new tracks aren't bad at all (though "From A Distance" makes me cringe a bit; it's the cover of a big 80's pop hit that has since faded in the public's memory). However, they aren't the Byrds' best work, and it's frustrating that they would include those tracks and leave out such essential work as "Chimes of Freedom," "Bells of Rhymney," "She Don't Care About Time," "100 Years From Now," and many others in what could have been a definitive overview of their entire career. Furthermore, the CD clocks in well under an hour, which means they could've fit at least half a dozen more songs on it.While it's not a bad introduction to the band, hitting most of the highlights, as a career summation, it doesn't do them justice. "Notorious Byrd Brothers" and "Sweetheart of the Rodeo" are both two of the finest albums every cut in rock history, some say the band's best, but the former is represented by one tracks and the latter by none!The new, expanded edition of Greatest Hits may have 14 songs compared to the 20 here (though like I said, the four new tracks aren't their best work, so only 16 can be considered Byrds classics), but it's a better compilation. For one thing, it focuses on the first few years of their career, so those early albums get better representation. Furthermore, the sound on that disc is remastered in 20-bit sound from the original tapes. There's nothing bad about the sound on "20 Essential Tracks," but audiophiles will be drawn by the better definition and depth of the "Greatest Hits" CD."Greatest Hits" is especially a better choice if you're going to pick up a CD or two of their later albums. However, if you really had to pick just one CD covering their entire career and you're not too big on the best possible sound, then by all means pick "20 Essential Tracks.""