Beware 1980s overdubs
Alien Reg | Japan | 05/10/2010
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Am I the only person who cares about this? I love The Byrds' music so much, and yet it disturbs me deeply that There Is A Season includes It Happens Each Day and Triad, complete with the 1980s overdubs that have been there since these tracks first appeared on the Never Before collection. They were also included on the expanded Younger Than Yesterday and Notorious Byrd Bros, but at least there the booklets acknowledged the overdubs. In this box set, unless I am missing some very small print indeed, the two tracks are now being passed off as authentic 1960s recordings. Either the original unadorned recordings should have been included instead, or nothing. (At least Never Before's main crime, Lady Friend with re-recorded stadium rock type drums, has been consigned to history's trash can.)
If you are wondering what the fuss is about and why this matters, imagine one of Orson Welles' lost classics being reassembled but with Brad Pitt's voice superimposed where Welles' voice is a bit indistinct. Or the newly restored Metropolis being reprocessed in colour. Or someone going through Salinger's Catcher in the Rye and "correcting" the grammar. (One of these three things actually happened - guess which.)
The story of the reissue of 60s music on CD is riddled with such cases - recordings where modern tampering gets quietly smuggled in and becomes part of the canon. Future generations will have little clear idea of what is the genuine article.
Coming back to the Never Before tracks, I have never been satisfied that the above three titles were the only ones to feature overdubs. The Day Walk and Psychodrama City sound suspicious to me. There is also a live Lover of the Bayou, only available on the 1990 Box Set, that features what sounds like an overdubbed Rickenbacker - it is quite obvious on headphones - crystal clear when set against the grungy live recording.
I hate to complain - I just wish we could be more certain of what we are listening to."