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Easily the best popular music biography I have ever read
on 2 December 2011
The Byrds are an uncommonly fortunate band. Not only has their entire back catalogue been presented several times in a remastered, expanded and fully documented form, they have also featured prominently in the writings of some of the finest historians of popular music. All of this reflects both the profound influence that they had on other bands (including The Beatles) during the 60s and 70s, and the inspiration they have provided for subsequent generations. They are quite simply, timeless.
If you are in any way, interested in The Byrds and their magnificent legacy, then you will be truly fascinated by Johnny Rogan's epic biography. It provides the most thorough analysis ever written about them or indeed any group. What exactly was that mid 60s ferment that enabled The Byrds to become such an important force? Why do five of their first six albums feature in 1001 ALBUMS TO HEAR BEFORE YOU DIE? How did their music come to evolve as quickly as it did and why was it so difficult for the wonderfully diverse talents of the individual members to remain harnessed within the group for very long? You'll be able to reflect upon these and a myriad of other questions as you make your own journey through a very special world.
If you are already familiar with Rogan's previous work, you'll be aware that we have already seen three editions of 'Timeless Flight', each more informative than the last. But I would urge the prospective reader to think of 'Requiem For The Timeless' as being much more than a mere fourth edition. Its 1200 pages compare spectacularly with the 720 of 'Timeless Flight Revisited' from the late 90s and we see amongst many other jewels, an even more detailed and insightful examination of the music. We gain an ever deeper appreciation of an amazing paradox. How was it that the very forces that broke up the original band during 1967-68 also helped to make their music from that time so innovative and visionary? And what exactly went wrong with the largely unloved Byrdmaniax and Farther Along. Recently acquired observations from Kim Fowley on that are especially absorbing. And the best of it all is that what we have here is merely Volume 1! A sequel is promised in which the focus will be on the biographies and solo careers of the individual group members. As the author reminds us in two especially affecting chapters, 'Fatalities' and 'The Reaper's Blade',
the majority of these are no longer with us. And it is this, of course that gives added resonance and poignancy to the very title of this wonderful book.