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Sweetheart of the Rodeo: Legacy Edition
Byrds
Sweetheart of the Rodeo: Legacy Edition
Genres: Country, Pop, Rock, Classic Rock
 
  •  Track Listings (19) - Disc #1
  •  Track Listings (20) - Disc #2

Generally reckoned to be the most important & greatest country-rock album of all time, 1968's Sweetheart of the Rodeo is back in a deluxe reissue that really brings to light the genius of Gram Parsons & the Byrds themse...  more »

     
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CD Details

All Artists: Byrds
Title: Sweetheart of the Rodeo: Legacy Edition
Members Wishing: 12
Total Copies: 0
Label: Sony
Original Release Date: 9/2/2003
Release Date: 9/2/2003
Album Type: Original recording remastered
Genres: Country, Pop, Rock, Classic Rock
Styles: Oldies, Folk Rock, Country Rock
Number of Discs: 2
SwapaCD Credits: 2
UPC: 696998718920

Synopsis

Album Description
Generally reckoned to be the most important & greatest country-rock album of all time, 1968's Sweetheart of the Rodeo is back in a deluxe reissue that really brings to light the genius of Gram Parsons & the Byrds themselves. Disc one reprises the original album with the vocals Roger Mc Guinn substituted for Parsons due to contractual entanglements, then offers the songs with the original Parsons vocals that first surfaced on the now out-of-print Byrds boxed set. The disc ends with an unreleased Kevin Kelley vocal on 'All I Have Is Memories, presaging the glorious run of rarities on disc two, beginning with the International Submarine Band's lone single for Columbia & three tracks in stereo from their Safe At Home album, then turning to 14 previously unreleased rehearsal & alternate takes from the Sweetheart of the Rodeo sessions. Plus revealing studio chatter that portrays a masterpiece in the

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CD Reviews

TWO SWEETHEARTS
Mark | Santa Monica, CA | 02/19/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"A couple of things up front....

For most people, the excellent single disk "Expanded Edition Sweetheart" is just fine. If you own it, you really don't need to buy this one. If you are thinking about buying "Sweetheart", you will not go wrong with the single disk version.

If you're a serious Byrds fan or collector you'll almost certainly want this lavishly presented 2 disk Legacy Edition with a substantial amount of new material. But you will still need the single disk as well, as some things remain unique to it.

For example, I really like the instrumental 'All I Have Are Memories', but the Legacy Edition places Kevin Kelley's vocal over this track. Two instrumental alternate takes are on the bonus disk, but both are to my ear inferior and in any case are on the wrong disk. So when I just want to hear "Sweetheart" for listening pleasure, I often still choose the 1-disk edition.

Some other outtakes and studio talk are only on the single disk; e.g., McGuinn, Parsons, and producer Gary Usher before 'The Christian Life,' and the exchange between Parsons and Usher after 'One Hundred Years'.

You will also need that edition for its booklet's notes on individual songs, and a reproduction of the back cover of the original vinyl album (only the back cover artwork is on Legacy).

That having been said...

The Legacy Edition has many good things for serious Byrds fans, even if you're not a serious Parson's fan:

(1) Legacy's Disk 1 is clearly intended for listening pleasure, with no false starts or studio talk to interrupt the experience. The original 11 track "Sweetheart" album is presented in its entirety, followed by four songs that failed to make that album, followed by three clean Gram Parsons vocals that had to be replaced by McGuinn/Hillman due to Parsons' contractual dispute with another label. The radio spot for "Sweetheart" which closes the 1998 single disk as an unlisted "hidden track" closes this one as a listed track.

(2) Sound quality is noticeably improved -- even over the excellent 20 bit sound of the single disk. This one plays louder, and with exceptional clarity.

(3) Gram Parsons' vocal for `You Don't Miss Your Water' is here. It was omitted on the single disk, and is otherwise available only on the Boxed Set.

(4) And of course Kevin Kelley's vocal on 'Memories'. I didn't know one of my favorites had lyrics, so I was glad to find this even though I prefer the instrumental.

(5) My favorite of Disk 2's bonus tracks is a completely different version of 'Pretty Polly' that has to be one of the mysteries of life.

This is not just an alternate take -- lyrics and instrumental interpretation are dramatically different. The words sound at times like Old English, despite a reference to Tennessee and expressions like "up tight". Instrumentally it is closer in feel to 'Pretty Boy Floyd', with an opening countdown and cold ending adding to its charm.

The singer seems to be some sort of court reporter, putting down on public record for his township the incident of "Pretty Polly". Despite intriguing snatches of dialogue between Polly and gambler Willie, obscure and fragmented lyrics leave it tantalizingly unclear what has actually happened. It is not even clear that there was a murder -- though one gathers whatever happened was not good.

Both versions of `Pretty Polly' are first rate polished performances and I can't choose between them, but trying to figure out what to make of them has been fun. Legacy "Sweetheart" attributes both to McGuinn-Hillman, but the single disk booklet says the first is "the traditional crime of passion song 'Pretty Polly'". McGuinn covered this version in "Cardiff Rose" where he attributes it, "Traditional, arranged and adapted by Roger McGuinn". It is a straight forward narrative tale of reckless youth, passion, and murder that nails you between the eyes.

The other - well, doesn't. It certainly sounds traditional. But is it a complete song? An abandoned attempt at an earlier traditional version? I don't think it's a joke. I suspect it is abridged fragments of a much longer song. Whatever this is, it's a thoroughly enjoyable performance that confounds only if you try to follow the lyrics.

(6) The new booklet is completely different and lavishly illustrated in color. David Fricke interviewed McGuinn and Hillman for a much more insightful second look into the creation of the album, and has some great stories about its disastrous reception.

(7) The packaging is exceptional throughout, and as much fun to explore as the original "Sgt. Pepper" album with its paper doll Beatles cut-outs insert. Especially dazzling here is a two panel panorama of the "Sweetheart" Byrds silhouetted in performance on stage, with a couple of psychedelic logos ("The Byrds") floating like wisps of smoke across a screen behind them

And finally, for those serious Gram Parsons fans... Even if you have the monaurel Parsons singles and stereo "Submarine" cuts, you've probably never heard them sound this good. Then there are a few more of his "Sweetheart" outtakes with false starts and studio talk. Those interested in listening to these will find the muscians really do try different things, and there are a number of awfully good moments and musical ideas one wishes could have survived into a final polished track.

Bottom line:

Anyone who buys this will easily get their money's worth, and it is a delicious treat for serious Byrds fans.

But not everyone needs to go that extra mile..."
A masterpiece!
R. A. Kett | Ann Arbor, Michigan United States | 01/08/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Though it might be overkill to some, and shine a bit more light on Gram Parsons than some may care for, it's still a great album not to be overlooked. Go with the single CD set if you're not a huge GP fan, though."
Exemplary Remaster
Laurence Upton | Wilts, UK | 06/13/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Since the extensive remastering project of the Byrds' entire Columbia catalogue that begun to appear in the shops in 1996, Sweetheart Of The Radio is the only Byrds CD to have been subsequently revised and expanded into this 2CD Legacy Edition. This says something of the importance and stature that this album has gradually acquired over the four decades since its release, to the point that it could be argued to be their most important release. Ironically, when released in 1968 it was widely reviled and nearly brought about the destruction of what was left of the band. Half of them had left during the recordings of the previous album, Notorious Byrd Brothers, leaving only Roger McGuinn and Chris Hillman from the original line-up.
Even the magnificent single You Ain't Going Nowhere (with a safer B-side, Artificial Energy, drawn from Notorious Byrd Brothers) faltered at no. 74 in the US charts and did hardly any better in the UK, just nudging the Top Fifty; this despite being one of their famous interpretations of a new Dylan song, culled, like the album closer Nothing Was Delivered, from the unreleased Basement Tapes. Its follow up, Pretty Boy Floyd/I Am A Pilgrim, sunk without trace.
The new members were drummer Kevin Kelley and singer-guitarist Gram Parsons, fresh from the International Submarine Band, and it was his love of country music, widely regarded at the time to be the exclusive provenance of Southern rednecks, that had led to the startling new direction of the band - a fusion of rock music, country, bluegrass, Southern soul (filtered through William Bell and Otis Redding) and folk - at a time when country rock had not previously existed.
Furthermore, the new band had relocated from Los Angeles to Nashville and added a collection of top session men including honky tonk pianist Earl Ball and steel guitarist Jaydee Maness (Lloyd Green plays steel on One Hundred Years From Now, one of six tracks recorded later in Los Angeles), and they were unusually given license to play freely throughout, adding whatever they wished as the band played live in the studio. The country audience thought the band was a parody, and jeered at them on a Grand Ole Opry radio appearance to promote the new album, whilst previous Byrds fans could not connect with the new material, and the album stiffed.
Gram Parsons was still under contract to the Lee Hazlewood-owned label with whom he had recorded with the International Submarine Band and this led to all but three of his vocals being removed or buried, and replaced by those of Roger McGuinn (with Chris Hillman's help on One Hundred Years From Now). As he points out in the liner notes, he was embarrassed by the lyric on The Christian Life, and his version sounds sardonic and insincere, which can't have helped at the time, but by the time the album was released Gram Parsons had left the band anyway, so at least the new vocals gave a more accurate representation of the band that was to tour the record. Three Gram Parsons masters that were replaced are included as bonus tracks on disc one of the Legacy Edition (rehearsal takes were included on the 1997 special collector's edition), making it possible to program the record the way it had been originally intended. Four outtake masters are also included, including Pretty Polly, Lazy Days, later to be revived by Gram Parsons in the Flying Burrito Brothers, and the previously unreleased All I Have Are Memories featuring a vocal by Kevin Kelley (an instrumental version was included in the 1997 edition).
The bonus disc includes fourteen previously unreleased working demos, outtakes and rehearsal versions (there are four others on the 1997 disc that are not found here) including a radically different arrangement of Pretty Polly, and these make an insightful addition into the workings of making the album, and all the rehearsals, though flawed, have unique elements within them that are fascinating to hear. Although all the rehearsal takes are numbered, what other take was used as the final master is not disclosed, nor how many of each song were made, though apparently sixty attempts were made at You're Still On My Mind in Los Angeles before Take One was used on the record.
The clincher over the single disc version, apart from the improved, phenomenal sound quality throughout, is the inclusion on the second disc of six tracks by proto-country rock band the International Submarine Band, showing how much Gram Parsons brought to the Byrds. Three tracks from the album Safe At Home include an embryonic version of Luxury Liner. This was released as a single in 1967 with Blue Eyes on the flip, and was later famously taken up by Emmylou Harris and Albert Lee; whilst the other three, making their CD debut, comprise both sides of their second single, and, showing where it all began, Truck Drivin' Man, the B-side of their first single in 1966. Whereas I would recommend this over the single disc version, collectors will doubtless need both, whilst the single disc will suffice perfectly for those less given to scrutiny."