The Essential Byrds

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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Lydia Vanderloo
Both timeless and distinctly of its time, the music of the Byrds laid the groundwork for much that followed their hit-filled reign from the mid'-60s to the early '70s. You hear their influence in the jangle-rock of R.E.M. and Tom Petty, in the country-rock of the Eagles and Uncle Tupelo, in the roots rock of the Band, in the rootsy country of Emmylou Harris and Lucinda Williams. The Byrds' career path mirrored rock's own developing history: They debuted as plugged-in folkies with transcendent three-part harmonies "Turn! Turn! Turn!", then turned psychedelic-rock experimentalists "Eight Miles High" and country revivalists "Hickory Wind". And the music of the band's ...
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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Lydia Vanderloo
Both timeless and distinctly of its time, the music of the Byrds laid the groundwork for much that followed their hit-filled reign from the mid'-60s to the early '70s. You hear their influence in the jangle-rock of R.E.M. and Tom Petty, in the country-rock of the Eagles and Uncle Tupelo, in the roots rock of the Band, in the rootsy country of Emmylou Harris and Lucinda Williams. The Byrds' career path mirrored rock's own developing history: They debuted as plugged-in folkies with transcendent three-part harmonies "Turn! Turn! Turn!", then turned psychedelic-rock experimentalists "Eight Miles High" and country revivalists "Hickory Wind". And the music of the band's members would resound for years to come: David Crosby with Crosby, Stills & Nash, Gram Parsons and Chris Hillman with the Flying Burrito Brothers, and Roger McGuinn on his own after the Byrds finally called it quits. This two-disc set offers fans a broad overview of the Byrds' fruitful flight, culling tracks from each of their 11 proper albums, plus a couple of singles, leaning most heavily on their first 4 albums from 1965 and '66. Those are chronicled on Essential's first disc, an embarrassment of riches highlighted by the group's inspired Dylan covers -- among them their inaugural single and hit, "Mr. Tambourine Man." Disc 2 condenses the band's influential Sweetheart of the Rodeo a little too succinctly, with only two songs the definitive version of Dylan's "You Ain't Goin' Nowhere" and Parsons's signature tune, "Hickory Wind", but it does make space for Crosby's soaring single "Lady Friend," four gorgeous tunes from The Notorious Byrd Brothers including a country-tinged take on the Goffin-King reflection "Goin' Back", and late-period favorites such as "Ballad of Easy Rider" and "Chestnut Mare." As a distillation of a truly transcendent rock career, The Essential Byrds achieves lofty heights.
All Music Guide - Richie Unterberger
While the all-killer no-filler single-disc The Byrds' Greatest Hits remains the best distillation of their classic songs, The Essential Byrds is a smartly assembled double dose, including all 14 of the 1965-1967 tracks on Greatest Hits, but expanding its reach into their entire Columbia output, going as far as the early '70s. Inevitably, that means that disc two -- which goes, roughly, from mid-1967 to 1971 -- isn't as good as the first half, and that the last four tracks in particular are by far the least impressive, tagged on mostly so that the release spans the Byrds' entire Columbia catalog. That's a small reservation considering that the two-fer adds many first-rate songs not on Greatest Hits, from non-hit singles like "Lady Friend" and "Goin' Back" to standout album cuts like "Renaissance Fair," "Natural Harmony," "Jesus Is Just Alright," and "Chestnut Mare." There are no surprises here; even the songs that eluded inclusion on albums for many years, like the early B-side "She Don't Care About Time" and "Lady Friend," have been commonly available in the CD era. And it's true that this misses some other fine album tracks that could have stood with pride alongside those selected, like "I Knew I'd Want You," "John Riley," and "Dolphin's Smile." Within the confines of the two-CD format, though, it's a very well-chosen career overview. [The 2011 3.0 edition adds a third disc with six additional tracks: "Spanish Harlem Incident," "I Knew I'd Want You," "The World Turns All Around Her," "I See You," "Change Is Now," and "One Hundred Years from Now."]
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 4/22/2003
  • Label: Sony
  • UPC: 696998911024
  • Catalog Number: 89110
  • Sales rank: 27,873

Album Credits

Performance Credits
The Byrds Primary Artist
Technical Credits
Clarence White Composer, Contributor
Chris Hillman Composer, Contributor
Pete Seeger Composer
The Byrds Producer
Gene Clark Composer, Contributor
Bob Dylan Composer
Carole King Composer
Gram Parsons Composer, Contributor
Skip Battin Contributor
Rick Danko Composer
Gerry Goffin Composer
Terry Melcher Producer
Bob Buchanan Composer
Michael Clarke Contributor
David Crosby Composer, Contributor
Jim Dickson Producer
Chris Hinshaw Producer
Bob Johnston Producer
Kevin Kelley Contributor
Jacques Levy Composer
Roger McGuinn Composer, Contributor
Allen Stanton Producer
Gary Usher Producer
C.C. White Arranger
Howard Fritzson Art Direction
Vic Anesini Mastering
Pat Seeger Adaptation
Harvey Gerst Composer
Traditional Composer
Mark Unterberger Packaging Manager
John York Contributor
Arthur Reynolds Composer
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    Posted February 13, 2010

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