Search - Byrds :: Live at Fillmore - February 1969

Live at Fillmore - February 1969
Live at Fillmore - February 1969
Genres: Country, Pop, Rock, Classic Rock
  •  Track Listings (16) - Disc #1

Recorded at Bill Graham's legendary San Francisco concert hall during two shows in February 1969, this disc sounds like a practice session recorded in the morning after a particularly long, rough night. The vocals fall fla...  more »


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CD Details

All Artists: Byrds
Title: Live at Fillmore - February 1969
Members Wishing: 2
Total Copies: 0
Label: Columbia Europe
Release Date: 2/1/2000
Album Type: Import
Genres: Country, Pop, Rock, Classic Rock
Styles: Folk Rock, Country Rock, Psychedelic Rock
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaCD Credits: 1

Recorded at Bill Graham's legendary San Francisco concert hall during two shows in February 1969, this disc sounds like a practice session recorded in the morning after a particularly long, rough night. The vocals fall flat too often and rhythmic cohesion is always one measure away--too many noodly, irrelevant notes are slathered atop every song. Some of this can be explained by the absence of one former Byrd. In turning the band towards their country-rock bent and then splitting after less than a year, Gram Parsons left a hole that could never really be filled, not even by the nimble-fingered Clarence White. Their take on the Louvin Brothers' classic "Christian Life," for instance, is ragged, but not right. But the CD certainly has merit for more than just archivists and obsessives: the straight-ahead folk-rock material does shine with the "Nashville West" flavorings. There's a fiery "King Apathy III"; a revelatory, subtle version of "Bad Night at the Whiskey"; and a truly emotional take of "He Was a Friend of Mine," especially poignant a year after the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and Bobby Kennedy. --Mike McGonigal

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CD Reviews

running_man | Chesterfield Twp., MI | 06/03/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)

"The Byrds 'Live at the Fillmore West ~ February 1969' is a wonderful companion disc to the other live Byrds venture, 'Untitled/Unissued'. Together, these three discs offer a rich compendium of The Byrds live persona in the late 1960's and early 1970's. Still missing in action, and presumably not available, are live recordings of the first incarnation of the band, featuring Chris Hillman and David Crosby. With John York on bass, this recording features one of the shorter-lived Byrd's line-ups.

Compared with 'Untitled/Unissued', the Fillmore West disc is much more heavily steeped in traditional country and the burgeoning country-rock sound pioneered by The Byrds. But if you're a fan of the band's pop, rock, and psychedelic offerings, there is plenty of that fare to be had as well. In fact, although ten of the sixteen tracks would have to be categorized as basically country, five of those tracks are under 2:10 in length. The lengthier rock tracks (especially the 9:47 medley of classic Byrd tracks offered on track five) consume about an equal amount of time on the disc as the country offerings. The country offerings are also collected at the beginning of the disc, so whatever your interest may be, you can easily select that portion of the recordings to hear.

The first four tracks on the disc are hard-core country music, beginning with a rendition of 'Nashville West' which blows away the version offered on 'Untitled'. 'You're Still On My Mind' features a nice slide guitar sound from Clarence White, as do many of the country tracks, and 'Pretty Boy Floyd' is a 'Ballad of Bonnie and Clyde' clone from Woody Guthrie. 'Drug Store Truck Driving Man' is a send-up of a down-home redneck, ironically using redneck music to roast him. Tracks six through ten return to the country sounds. 'Buckaroo' is a country-rock instrumental, while 'The Christian Life' is a slowed-down country-gospel track. I would also classify track 13, 'Sing Me Back Home', a melodious prison ballad from Merle Haggard as country, as well as the worthy version of 'He Was a Friend of Mine' (perhaps more folk oriented), the slowed-down melodic dirge for JFK, RFK, and MLK.

The main attraction on the disc, however, is one of the finest medley's I've ever come across. Excellance in musicianship combines with classic compositions and seamless segue's on track five, a suite featuring nearly full performances of 'Turn, Turn, Turn', 'Mr. Tambourine Man' and 'Eight Miles High'. White's guitar runs contain more notes per second than many elite axemen can hope to generate, and his skill is highlighted in a remarkable working relationship with Roger McGuinn's familiar 12-string Rickenbacker. A mind-blowing fuzz-tone guitar bridge from White puts the icing on 9:47 of sheer musical bliss.

More rock highlights include the crunching psychedelic rock of 'King Apathy III', the slowed-down rock of 'Bad Night At the Whiskey', and the mid-tempo Bob Dylan/Rick Danko composition 'This Wheel's On Fire', which manages somehow to combine both Dylan and The Band's traditional sounds. The remaining two tracks rival the intensity of the earlier Byrds medley. The rendition of 'So You Want To Be a Rock 'N' Roll Star' burns with intensity, rocking all over the 'Untitled' version, which is no slouch in itself. And the closing track, 'Chimes of Freedom' comes off as a modern day 'Star Spangled Banner'. It could be perhaps a more fitting substitute for the national anthem than 'God Bless America'.

I believe this disc is seriously underrated. I've read many reviews that criticize this recording as uninspired, weak performances, poorly recorded. I found none of those criticisms to be valid. The liner notes from David Fricke aren't terribly extensive, but do give sufficient background on this particular performance, and how the band had been evolving in the late 1960's and early 1970's. The graphics and photographs of the band are also not extensive, but what is offered is illuminating. 'Live At the Fillmore West' is certainly essential for any serious Byrd's fan, and may well supplement the collection of more casual fans of the Byrd's diverse musical forms. Four stars only because I'm not a big country music fan."
Mark | Santa Monica, CA | 08/26/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)

This recording was made shortly after release of the "Dr. Byrds" album and showcases that lineup as a solid live band. I was especially impressed with the `Eight Miles High' segment of the `Hits Medley', which displays more creative originality and spontaneity than anything in the entire 16 minute 'Eight Miles Jam' on "Untitled".

When first released this also featured Byrds performances of three songs not previously recorded: 'Buckaroo,' 'Sing Me Back Home,' and 'Close Up the Honky Tonks'. The first two are now on the 2006 Boxed Set, but 'Honky Tonks' remains available only here.

While the sound quality is good, it is inconsistent due to the fact these recordings were a Columbia sound test for a live Mike Bloomfield album. The mixture of country and rock may also have been a problem, as it seems to me country sometimes requires a more intimate sound setup than rock. Clearly the sound here is prejudiced toward rock, though it varies from excellent to acceptable.

Other reviewers below have covered these tracks quite well, but I would like to suggest still another reason to buy this:

If you own "Live at Fillmore" [FILL], plus "Untitled" [UT], "Byrds Play Dylan" [BPD], the 1990 Box [BX90], and 2006 Box [BX06], you have a good selection of material from which to compile your own "Byrds Fantasy Concert" CD.

Some hints:

(1) Those skilled at editing can use "0" seconds between tracks and sometimes make transitions during applause near undetectable. But I've found it far easier and faster to put a "3 second fade" on ending applause of tracks and use a "one second pause" between the tracks. Surprisingly, the result is not distracting and sounds fairly natural.

(2) Also I've found you can get away with occasionally sneaking in a "studio live" track (i.e., no effects) to widen your song choice -- just tack a little applause to the end of it.

I've had good success slipping in the alternate `Back Pages Medley' from "Dr. Byrds", and the version of `Just Like A Woman' exclusive to the 1990 Box (in which smoky guitar replaces piano on the instrumental break).

Applause following "Fillmore's" `Chimes of Freedom' is a good place to steal for the above. Pick a segment of applause and add a 3 second fade out.

If you want to take a quick stab at this, just print the program below and follow the hints.


Audio Normalized at 20 except where noted.
1 sec pause between all tracks including inserted applause.

(1) Lover of the Bayou [UT] = fade out 3 sec

(2) Chimes of Freedom [FILL] = shorten applause and fade out 3 sec.

(3) Medley: Turn! Turn! Turn!/Tambourine Man/Eight Miles High [FILL] = shorten applause to omit "glad you liked that" and 3 sec fade out.

(4) Bad Night at the Whiskey [FILL] = applause 3 sec fade out

(5) My Back Pages [UT] = shorten applause to omit "Take a Whiff" intro, then fade out 3 sec.

(6) Ballad of Easy Rider [UT] = fade applause 3 sec.

(7) Pretty Boy Floyd [FILL] = shorten applause to omit "Drug Store" intro and fade 3 sec.

(8) Just Like A Woman [BX 90] (studio live cut)

(8A) Insert applause for "Woman" from end of FILL "Chimes," fade out 3 sec.

(9) Black Mountain Rag [BX90] (this track has a fade)

(10) Baby What You Want Me to Do [BX 06] = shorten applause to omit "are we hot tonight?" and fade out 3 sec.

(11) Take A Whiff on Me [BX06] = use the BX06 because the intro is included in the cut. Fade applause 3 sec.

(12) Positively 4th Street [BPD] = this cut has nice intro and its own fade.

(13) This Wheel's on Fire [FILL]= applause is a little too short; add some from "Chimes" and fade out 3 sec

(14) Mr. Tambourine Man (with Bob Dylan) [BX 90] [Audio = 21]

(14A) FINALE: as applause for above fades, tack on the finale and Bridge song from end of UT's `Eight Miles High" jam. I start this clip just as the final drawn out note of jam bleeds into the bridge song -- it runs about 1:40 including dead air at end of fade.

Clarence Hendrix
Jack | Doylestown, Pa. | 06/02/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)

"If you've ever wondered why Jimi Hendrix was a huge fan of Clarence Whites, just listen to this live Byrds cd. In particular, check out the songs from Dr. Byrds and Mr. Hyde - Bad Night At The Whisky, King Apathy, Wheels On Fire - on these tracks Clarence White's Fender Telecaster snarls and crackles through some of fiercest solos in rock music. It wasn't just Hendrix who admired Clarence's style: former Byrd bassist, John York (who appears on this cd), has described Byrds' concerts during this time as always including numerous guitarists standing on the sidelines studying Clarences' technique and his use of the 7 string - string bender guitar which was invented by White's long-time friend and fellow Byrd, Gene Parsons. Somehow over the years, Clarence has only received marginal praise, yet the best musicians of the late sixties and early seventies knew Clarence was, indeed, "The Poet of Guitar." As great as the original Byrds were, when Clarence joined forces with McGuinn the Byrds became the greatest live band in America. Listen for yourself."