Saturday, December 23, 2006
The Byrds-There is a Season
My friend the notorious Klaus Kinski, Jr. informed me recently that there was a new CD box set of the Byrds. My first reaction was "Why?" as the 4 disc 1990 Byrds box set was relatively definitive for all but the most die-hard fans. Still, the next time I was out I looked at a copy. Seemed like a lot of repeats from the first, some new stuff with which I wasn’t familiar and a DVD of a handful of mid-sixties TV appearances. At nearly sixty bucks, I opted to pass. Then a few days later I was at a big national chain when I happened on a stray copy. I looked at it again and noticed that this copy was labeled at 29.99! The other copies they had in the correct section were 44.99! Knowing a sign when I see it, I called my wife and asked if she would like to consider this my birthday present (even though said birthday is still a couple weeks away). At that price, I took the box set home.
I STILL think the first box set was better. Trying not to compare, however, I find myself enjoying this one immensely. As most of my readers undoubtedly know, the Byrds were arguably the most artistically successful American group of the British Invasion. Their biggest problem, by their members’ own admission, was that they were a group of "out for themselves" individuals rather than a real team like the Beatles. Thus, their members tended to come and go with only Roger McGuinn’s trademark jangly twelve-string and distinctive (if somewhat slight) vocals being the group’s only real constant. They were known in the beginning for their soaring harmonies (courtesy of relatively skinny young David Crosby) and later for practically inventing country rock (I say practically because you could make a darn good case for a half dozen other bands including Buffalo Springfield and Mike Nesmith and the Monkees). They were also known for their squabbles and for making electrified folk music (particularly Dylan’s) into massive hit records. If you’re a fan of the Byrds and already have the original box set, unless you also find this one at a bargain…or really like watching go-go dancers frug to MISTER TAMBOURINE MAN…I’d seriously consider giving this one a pass. What’s on it is choice, but when we already had a definitive collection, I still find myself asking "Why?"