Some say it is difficult to pinpoint Gene Clark's sound, but that is a pretty rediculous statement. Even on the earliest Byrds recordings, it's pretty obvious the man had a gift that set him high above his own fellow bandmates. Sure, he's known for moody and prolific songs, but they also had a compelling quality that so few introspective songwriters could grasp, and had a tendency to verge on commercial. Now, my favorite of his albums is the Roadmaster sessions--definitely a matter of personal appeal--but you would be wrong to dismiss Firebyrd as a sellout. It didn't work, did it?
With a strong country rock sound, and very short playing time of slightly over half an hour, Firebyrd is sure to appeal to the most livid Gene Clark fan and also to anyone who likes Poco or the Eagles. There is a fabulous, pop-rock reproduction of "Mr. Tambourine Man" here in its entirety, a more southern flavored version of "Feel a Whole Lot Better," and an interesting take on Gordon Lightfoot's "If You Could Read My Mind" which I admittently didn't like at first.
Standouts here are his ode to cowboys, "Rodeo Rider" and it's absolutely catchy chorus, an interesting, dark blues cover of "Vanessa," and my personal favorite, the romantic and winsome "Rain Song." In fact, the only two things I have to complain about are the fact that the album is too short, and the flute on "Blue Raven" (His post-divorce song to former wife Carly) is very excessive and annoying. Other than that, I highly recommend this album. Gene was a very talented and underrated songwriter with a strong, beautiful voice. You need to get this for that fact alone.