Live at Royal Albert Hall 1971

Live at Royal Albert Hall 1971

by The Byrds


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Although the original lineup of the Byrds gets the most critical attention, and to the greatest extent it probably should, the fact remains that the late-era version of this band, the one that featured founding member Roger McGuinn and Clarence White on guitars, Skip Battin on bass, and Gene Parsons on drums, was the most stable one the group ever had, and by far the best live unit. Between 1969 and 1972 this incarnation of the Byrds recorded five albums and toured relentlessly and their shows, thanks in no small part to the guitar interplay between McGuinn and the truly astounding White, were wonderfully balanced affairs that featured all of the Byrds' stylistic phases -- from folk-rock to country to bluegrass and space music and beyond -- rolled into a thoroughly professional package. This set, taken from a May 13, 1971 concert at Royal Albert Hall, captures that sound and this version of the Byrds at a peak, and it is perhaps the finest live recording of this particular unit to surface yet. Anchored by a monstrous, nearly 20-minute version of "Eight Miles High" Live at Royal Albert Hall 1971 finds White and McGuinn channeling John Coltrane, ragas, free jazz, and all points in between into a complete tour of the then known musical universe. Although McGuinn is solid as a guitar player throughout this set, it is White who really amazes. He sounds like absolutely no one else before or since on guitar, and his playing is so fast, fluid, and ever shifting that one can't help but listen in astonishment. Everything here has a constant spark of energy that all too often was missing for the Byrds in the studio. The blistering pace of the instrumental "Nashville West" here has so much energy that it seems like it ought to lift out of the speakers and blast on through to the stars. Not everything in this set flies quite that high, though, and the earlier Byrds hits like "My Back Pages" and "Mr. Tambourine Man" sound a bit old and creaky, but they're never less than professionally rendered, and this show does a very good job of spotlighting the finest live configuration this historic band ever had.

Product Details

Release Date: 06/17/2008
Label: Sundazed Music Inc.
UPC: 0090771117724
catalogNumber: 11177
Rank: 32437

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Live at Royal Albert Hall 1971 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I found this disc in a store about ten days before it was to be released. I bought it and have really enjoyed it ever since. I have been a fan of the Byrds since 1965 and this is the best overall live performance I have heard on disc. The set listing is not unfamiliar for those who know their music at this time. There is a sense of enthusiasm one can detect from the banter among the group. The acoustic "mini-set" is quite good. Clarence White gets proper recognition for singing Truck Stop Girl and Jamaica Say You Will. The reworked version of Mr. Tambourine Man is one of the highlights for me. Also the differences in the extended version of Eight Miles High make this version much more interesting than that on Untitled. This set promoted the Byrdmaniax album but also includes a nice mix of "the original Byrds" with the later work of the group. This is not to say the disc is perfect. I thought Clarence White's guitar was underplayed in the opening Lover of the Bayou and this version of Mr. Spaceman seemed a bit lethargic. Still, this is a very good representation of a Byrds concert at this time. I enjoy it much more than the concert parts of Untitled or Live at the Fillmore. Highly recommended!!