Deep Dive: The Byrds, THE BYRDS
Today we celebrate the birthday of one of the jangliest guitarists in the history of rock ‘n’ roll: Roger McGuinn, best known for his work with The Byrds. To commemorate the occasion, we’re taking a deep dive back to 1973 and delving into the self-titled reunion album that – unless you know something we don’t – remains the final studio LP ever released by McGuinn’s best-known band.
Prior to 1972, the five original members of The Byrds – McGuinn, Gene Clark, David Crosby, Chris Hillman, and Michael Clarke – hadn’t played together on an album for more than half a decade, and although they’d tentatively discussed the idea of a reunion in 1971, nothing had materialized. That situation changed when David Geffen, best known at the time for having founded Asylum Records, offered each of the five members a decent chunk of change to get back together and record a new album for his label. Apparently, whatever figure Geffen flashed in front of them, it was truly an offer they couldn’t refuse, resulting in the boys getting the band back together and entering Wally Heider Studios in Los Angeles in mid-October of ’72.
Unfortunately, when the album hit stores in March of the following year, the critics were not consistently kind, and although the sales figures were relatively solid - it hit #20 on the Billboard 200 – the end result was that the band members decided that they weren’t as enthused about supporting the album with a tour as they’d thought they were. Possibly not coincidentally, McGuinn released his self-titled solo album only three months later, which effectively ended whatever Byrds reunion might’ve still technically been going on at that point.
Despite what critics may have said at the time, THE BYRDS isn’t actually a bad album, it just doesn’t reach the standards of the Byrds albums that preceded it. In fact, it’s actually quite good, so if you’ve never heard it because of what you’d heard about it, now’s the time to listen to it for yourself.
Plus, we’ve also added several McGuinn-centric tracks to the playlist, including tunes by Judy Collins, Elvis Costello, Tom Petty, Crosby, Stills & Nash, and Wilco which feature McGuinn’s signature string-slinging, along with several covers of McGuinn-penned tunes!
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