As a historical document, this record is priceless. Just as some parents are wont to gauge their children's development by posing them yearly with a department-store Santa Clause, fans can witness both the development of this seminal Southern California band and the evolution of what was to become called folk rock by listening to them tackle the various stages and permutations of Bob Dylan--sometimes even, as with "Mr. Tambourine Man," before Dylan released the songs himself. Urged originally by their then manager and producer Jim Dickson to interpret the folk bard's work, the Byrds never seemed to grow weary of the exercise, even recording the rather simplistic and anachronistic "Paths of Glory" when they reunited briefly in 1990. However, the bulk of the recording was done between 1965 and 1971, and not only shows the Roger McGuinn-led band arching toward psychedelia on their dark and gothic rendition of Dylan and Rick Danko's "This Wheel's on Fire," but also documents the apex of their flirtation with country music during Gram Parson's tenure with the band in 1968. Both their choice Dylan covers--"Nothing Was Delivered," and "You Ain't Goin' Nowhere"--and the buttons, bows, and leather chaps that they dressed the songs up in during Parsons time with the band is a revealing snapshot of the Byrds in transition. After all is said and done, the debate is still running on who got more out of this synergistic relationship. After listening to this collection, one is tempted to believe Dylan did. Were it not for the Byrds taking their fey and poppy version of "Mr. Tambourine Man" to the top of the charts in 1965, the man some of us refer to as Mr. Jones would have not come to the public's attention quite so soon. But the Byrds did much more than merely interpret Bob Dylan songs. Really, the band soared much higher performing their own material, and whether they melded jazz, raga, country, or psychedelic rock, they showed a fearlessness, an agility, inventiveness, and purpose that belied the constant personnel shifts. --Jaan Uhelszki
Similarly Requested CDs
The times they have changed
Enrique Torres | San Diegotitlan, Califas | 04/23/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I'm not a big folk music listener but do listen occasionally to the wispy reflexions of poets. I like Dylan so I thought I'd give this disc a try and found it to be pretty good within it's genre. I used to like the Byrds when they were popular a gazillion years ago so I was tempted even more. The Byrds are the perfct vechicle for Dylan songs. With the 12 string guitar constantly wailing and the harmonic vocals the disc captures the times of the popularity of these songs. Most of the interpretations are right on with the exception of "Lay Lady Lay" which unfortunately has two versions on this disc; for the record, the single version is worse IMO than the alternate take! The alternate take is not half bad. Some of the songs were recorded live at the Fillmore West during the height of flower power. Now for the live versions. "Positively 4th Street" is very Dylanesque in that the vocals have that Dylan twang plus the extended guitar solo is a nice touch. "Mr. Tambourine Man" is very good but way too short at 2:30."Chimes of Freedom" has a country vibe because of the plucking on guitar for a pretty nice version. I'm not really nostalgic but I think what I like about these familiar songs is the ability to actually remember the lyrics and sing along(in my head)to these tunes. If you were alive during the sixties than you will probably like these songs. Otherwise they might strike you as lame, corny time-capsules by some folk-rockers."