This debut album features Jim (Roger) McGuinn, Gene Clark, David Crosby, Chris Hillman and Michael Clarke. The line-up of the Byrds changed regularly but some of these musicians also achieved success with other groups, too numerous to mention here. The style is generally described as folk-rock, but there is more to it than that.
The title track of this album was their first and biggest hit, going all the way to number one on both sides of the Atlantic. The follow-up, All I really want to do, was also a massive hit despite having to compete with a version of the same song by Cher. Both versions of the song made the UK top ten, though the Byrds' version charted higher. The single version of All I really want to do differed from the original album version, but both are included in this set.
The two hits are from the songbook of Bob Dylan, one of the finest songwriters of his generation. The Byrds recorded many of his songs during their career. This album contains two other Dylan songs, Chimes of freedom and Spanish Harlem incident. Don't doubt yourself babe is a song by Jackie De Shannon, another excellent songwriter, who was one of the first music professionals to recognize the Byrds' talent. The bells of Rhymney (about a Welsh mining disaster) is a cover of a song that Pete Seeger based on an Idris Davies poem. The most surprising inclusion is We'll meet again is the signature tune of Dame Vera Lynn, the British forces' sweetheart of World war two. Apparently, the song was featured at the end of the move, Dr Strangelove, and it was this that brought the song to their attention. Gene Clark wrote all the remaining songs here, often with the help of Roger McGuinn.
This was a fine album in its original form. The excellent bonus tracks make it more desirable than ever to anybody who enjoys sixties pop, rock and folk music.
Though not too obvious for many years, The Byrds' debut album can now be regarded as a huge influence on the development of rock music. 12-string playing in general during the last twenty years or so seems to take its cue from here, though no one has replicated those wonderful delicately-layered vocal harmonies. The Byrds and Bob Dylan owe a mutual debt, they for Bob providing them with ammo, Bob for having his material popularised. It's already clear here though that Gene Clark was a fine writer in his own right. Dylan has the words, but Clark has the dynamic tunes, not only 'Feel A Whole Lot Better', but the faintly Beatlesque 'You Won't Have To Cry' and 'It's No Use'. 'Here With You' has a great moodiness to it too. I can forgive them 'We'll Meet Again', though I usually skip it and, besides, 'She has A Way' is a great bonus track. Though only forty-five minutes, including nearly ten of alternative versions, 'Mr Tambourine Man' packs quality.
on 29 April 2009
Earlier Byrds music has been released, but this is where it really starts.
The odvious influences were The Beatles and Bob Dylan, but I always felt The Searchers should have received more credit for their melodic recordings from 1963 onwards.
There are Bob Dylan songs such as the title track, there's All I Really Want To Do and Chimes Of Freedom.
Gene Clark provides some top songs too and it equals one of the best debut albums ever recorded.
Mr Tambourine Man fired The Byrds to world attention and they went on to influence, well The Beatles, Bob Dylan and everyone else.
The Jingle Jangle sound will always be the Byrds signiture tune and history tells us there was much more than this outstanding folk rock debut to follow.
on 18 January 2013
I first discovered the Byrds in the mid 80's,i preferred them to the beatles,i love the sound of the guitars in the album.i can't remember of any particular song in the beatles catalogue wiche stands out for a guitar part,except from while the guitar gently weeps and come togheter
on 30 September 2010
This gets 5 stars because it is one of the greatest debut albums in rock history, a true groundbreaker which redefined how rock & pop could sound thereafter. The Byrds were the band who wanted to be America's version of the Beatles & it has to be said that no band before or since possessed a better creative understanding of what their mentors were up to. This band realised from the start that the Beatles offered a musical template that they first tried to imitate & in doing so discovered that it was open to what they thought to introduce into the mix. The sound is by turns fresh, exuberant, magical, exciting & at times positively joyful- but always intelligent & in Jim (or Roger as he is now known) McGuinn they had a genius arranger who had previously worked with Bobby Darin & Judy Collins in that capacity, among others. I could write a short book about this brilliant record, but not here. Suffice to say that this album has to be a prominent feature on heaven's jukebox.
I must admit to one particular disappointment with the remastered version & that concerns the stereo mix of the title track, in which McGuinn's legendary opening guitar motif is restricted to just the one stereo channel- a poor decision in that it diminishes its impact. Perhaps Sony/Columbia might like to consider remastering the mono singles (previously assembled on 2 albums issued in the early 1980s) in order that we might all appreciate just how remarkable 'Mr. Tambourine Man' sounded back in 1965 when the full force of that guitar figure came over the radio. I wish . . .
A lot has been said about the importance to the development of the album format regarding 'Mr. Tambourine Man' but for all its merits I don't find it to be a particularly strong collection of songs or to sound as if its a set which has been deliberately crafted to sound more like an album than a collection of single cuts. To this end I am therefore rather confused as to exactly what it is about the album which gives rise to this belief? Maybe, this is something of folklore and you had to be there at the time to appreciate how true such a statement is, I don't know?
For me, however, listening to it now in 2015 I hear only a good selection of uniquely Byrds 'jingly-jangly' songs that is a pleasant but not particularly essential diversion from the horrors of the modern world. 'I'll Feel A Lot Better' for example sounds suspiciously like 'Needles And Pins' by The Searchers and 'Chimes Of Freedom' has definite echoes of Donovan. Because of this I find it rather baffling that the sleeve notes on the back of the CD describe the album as one of 'inspired magic'?
Don't get me wrong, I DO like the album and the plethora of extra tracks and EXCELLENT, informative booklet all add up into making this an exciting package for fans and collectors I just don't quite buy into the 'classic/legendary' status side of things concerning its quality, that's all.
Obviously, 'Mr. Tambourine Man' is a bona-fide 60's classic song and there is no doubting either that the group had a fresh and unusual style for the time but Bob Dylan wrote both 'Mr. Tambourine Man', the follow-up hit, 'All I Really Want To Do' and other songs on the album as did other outside song writers so to call this a 'carefully crafted' record doesn't cut much ice with me, I'm afraid.
Still, that's what a review is for - to express and opinion - and I fully expect there to be plenty of you who will disagree with mine.
Regardless of whether I see it as a classic or not, the Byrds debut album is a good choice if you want to transport yourself back in time to the days of your youth and when making good pop singles was all the rage.
Released in 1965, this highly influential folk-rock album was The Byrd's first LP, and it remains my personal favourite from this top American band. Though, of course, not every song on it was actually released as a single, every one of them is a hit.
The Byrds heavily covered tracks which were written by Bob Dylan throughout their recording career (in which they were able to bring their own special brand of harmony to one of the greatest song writing talents of all time), and four of them appear on here, including 'Mr. Tambourine Man', which both the British and American public took to the top of the charts, and the follow-up single: 'All I Really Want to Do', which peaked at no.4. It's success was made all the more respectable when you consider that it was having to compete against another version by an up and coming girl singer known as Cher.
For me though, the album's real highlight is an original: 'I'll Feel a Whole Lot Better', written by the band's founding member Gene Clark, and one of The Byrd's greatest songs. It doesn't sound all that too dissimilar to 'Needles and Pins', a song which was a hit for The Searchers, and released a year previously.
If you enjoy folk-rock music which peaked in 1960s, this magical debut will complement any such CD collection, and transport you back to this marvellous era.
Like all of the other CD re-issues of 1996 by Sony, this edition contains a bumper batch of previously unissued collectables (including alternative versions of three of the songs on the original), and a booklet containing the original liner notes, some cool vintage photographs, information about each track, and an essay by Billy James.
The single bearing this name was an absolute whopper, not so much in terms of sales at the time but in both longevity and influence. It came out only a month after the original had appeared on Dylan's "Bringing it all Back Home" album. Although this album was half acoustic and half electric tracks, Bob was still largely in the folk/intellectual ghetto until "Highway 61", later that year, brought him to the rock market (with all the attendant controversy). "Tambourine Man" was from side 1, the acoustic half of the Dylan album. In fact, Jim Dickson, their first manager had gotten hold of an early demo which he gave to the band. This first recording as the Byrds - they were previously named the JetSet, then the Beefeaters - was famously recorded without instrumental contributions from the majority of the group. Jim (later Roger) McGuinn was the only person to play his instrument on the record (and its flip). But it has to be said that it was his instrument, the 12 string Rickenbacker guitar, which really characterised the single. It gave it the "jingle, jangle sound" beloved of critics. (Actually this was a paraphrasing of Dylan's "In the jingle, jangle morning I will follow you.")
Many other artists had recorded Dylan covers before but few from the world of rock. Most notable were the English group, the Animals (from Newcastle) who had taken, "Baby let me follow you down" and "House of the Rising Sun" from the first album and given them both an R&B makeover - Eric Burdon of the Animals was an early white blues shouter. Dylan himself was known to be impressed. But "Tambourine Man" was different. At it's base is a yearning, folky melody. The Byrds interpretation was drastically different and probably succeeded beyond all expectation. They produced the version of "Tambourine Man" that the worlds knows today.
I should state that there's no evidence of a significant difference in performance between this this track and the others on the album. The Byrds seemingly learned very quickly how to play their instruments. Either that or the control freakery of McGuinn (possibly with some help from Jim Dickson) paid dividends in the studio
"Tambourine Man" made Jim Mcguinn, famous in his own right. But the man who actually rattled the tambourine in the band was the late, much lamented, Gene Clark. Clark had the other big song on the album, "Feel a Whole Lot Better". Where would Big Star and the La's have been without this one? A power pop masterpiece. It's a medium to up-tempo big production with Clark on vocals and a riff borrowed from the Drifters, and with words totally at odds with the music - "I'll probably feel a whole lot better when you're gone". I'm reminded of Buddy Holly who would occasionally sing downer , or , at best, ambiguous words over an uplifting melody line. Musically this track is reminiscent of the Searchers, another English band who'd had hits with numbers authored by Jackie De Shannon from LA. So there was a sort of LA connection.
"Feel a whole lot better" followed "Tambourine Man" as tracks number one and two. An exceptionally strong start to the album. There's no way they could have kept up that pace. And they didn't. Well, not quite for there were certainly more goodies to come.
The other Dylan covers - there were four in all - are all well done but with only one, "All I really want to do", the second single, getting anywhere near "Tambourine Man". in listenability
Two highlights, "The Bells of Rhymney" and "We'll Meet Again" closed vinyl sides, one and two respectively. Both show the jingle jangle sound adapting well to non Dylan numbers. "The Bells..." is a Pete Seeger song about a Welsh mining disaster which fits neatly in the new folk rock category. "We'll Meet Again" is known to Brits of a certain age as a Vera Lynn Second World War classic - The Byrds would have heard it in the Stanley Kubrick movie, "Dr StrangeLove". A surprising choice but it works amazingly well. A great closer which improves on repeated hearing.
Of the others, "Here without you" is another good Gene Clark number. It has Clark's default style of subdued melancholy . "Don't Doubt yourself Babe" comes from Jackie De Shannon - see reference above - with a Diddley beat during the chorus. This one, along with, "Feel a whole lot better" stand out as the poppy ones.
The bonus tracks are mainly alternate versions but "She has a way" is not without charm. Another version of this song turns up the "Preflyte" album.
In summary, the new Byrds sound, derived from Bob Dylan and the English groups (not just the Beatles) plus a soupcon of 12 string guitar, holds up remarkably well over an entire album. As indeed it also did for a further album. Was this the birth of Folk Rock? It has more going for it than most other contenders. Dylan's own first electric attempts were often more in an up tempo blues mode rather than his earlier folk oriented style though songs like "Desolation Row" could perhaps be labelled folk rock - personally I'd rather call that song totally remarkable and leave it at that. For the moment the Byrds had conquered the world and had even given the Beatles something to think about. For a first album this was a stunner.
With regard to star rating I have to admit to more subjectivity than usual; I've lived with the first six Byrds albums for many years. Each of these has much merit and I'd rate them between four and five stars but, as to individual albums, my view does tend to fluctuate.
on 13 March 2004
What can i say?
You NEED these albums, these are there best albums done by the byrds with Mr Tambourine Man and Turn, Tuwn, Turn being the more stronger albums. The Bryds are very underated, kind of tucked away for the more appealing bands from that era.
BUY BUY BUY!
This box is a bargain: the three first Byrds albums, all remastered with extra tracks, detailed liner notes and photographs. Here is some of the most joyous and uplifting music ever produced - particularly the songs of Gene Clark which grace the first two collections. Also listen to the singing: Clark's especially. Soulful as well as beautifully harmonious. Here is where the sixties really took off. Enjoy the Timeless Flight!