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Very Best of: The Byrds

The Byrds

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Album Review

Although they are every bit as influential as fellow 1960s innovators the Beatles and the Beach Boys, compilations of classic material by the Byrds have been less frequent. When they have popped up, these albums have tended to focus on specific periods and rarely attempted a definitive retrospective. However, this welcome compilation from the British arm of Columbia Records remedies those problems by collecting a top-shelf array of material from the group's Columbia recordings on a single, comprehensive disc. From early folk-rock hits like "Mr. Tambourine Man" to the Indian-flavored psychedelia of "Eight Miles High" to the mellow country stylings of "Ballad of Easy Rider," all of the group's trendsetting hits are covered. These obvious choices are counterbalanced with the kind of album track favorites that the group's fans adored: notable picks include "Hickory Wind," a wistful slice of country-pop from the pen of Gram Parsons, and "Wasn't Born to Follow," the psychedelic country-rock classic that is best known for its appearance on the soundtrack of Easy Rider. The compilers of The Very Best of the Byrds also added a nice touch by including the original liner notes from the 1967 The Byrds Greatest Hits album. These notes lend an interesting perspective on how seriously the tastemakers of the day took the group, and also include some interesting biographical material about the group's days as Los Angeles club band. A few notable rarities are missing (it would have been nice to include the group's original version of "You Showed Me," which was successfully covered by the Turtles) but this is a minor quibble when the consistently stellar array of material on display is considered. All in all, The Very Best of the Byrds is a great starting place for novice listeners and a solid, convenient disc of high points for the group's fans. ~ Donald A. Guarisco, Rovi

Biography

Formed: 1964 in Los Angeles, CA

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s

Although they only attained the huge success of the Beatles, Rolling Stones, and the Beach Boys for a short time in the mid-'60s, time has judged the Byrds to be nearly as influential as those groups in the long run. They were not solely responsible for devising folk-rock, but they were certainly more responsible than any other single act (Dylan included) for melding the innovations and energy of the British Invasion with the best lyrical and musical elements of contemporary folk music. The jangling,...
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