Thursday, August 2, 2012

The Byrds - The Notorious Byrd Brothers (1968)

The Byrds  - The Notorious Byrd Brothers (1968)

The recording sessions for the Byrds' fifth album, The Notorious Byrd Brothers, were conducted in the midst of internal turmoil that found them reduced to a duo by the time the record was completed. That wasn't evident from listening to the results, which showed the group continuing to expand the parameters of their eclecticism while retaining their hallmark guitar jangle and harmonies. With assistance from producer Gary Usher, they took more chances in the studio, enhancing the spacy quality of tracks like "Natural Harmony" and Goffin & King's "Wasn't Born to Follow" with electronic phasing. Washes of Moog synthesizer formed the eerie backdrop for "Space Odyssey," and the songs were craftily and unobtrusively linked with segues and fades. But the Byrds did not bury the essential strengths of their tunes in effects: "Goin' Back" (also written by Goffin & King) was a magnificent and melodic cover with the expected tasteful 12-string guitar runs that should have been a big hit. "Tribal Gathering" has some of the band's most effervescent harmonies; "Draft Morning" is a subtle and effective reflection of the horrors of the Vietnam War; and "Old John Robertson" looks forward to the country-rock that would soon dominate their repertoire. [The CD reissue adds six bonus tracks, including different versions of "Goin' Back" and "Draft Morning," a few instrumentals, and David Crosby's controversial "Triad"; unlisted on the sleeve is a rehearsal outtake which captures comically vitriolic arguments among the band.]

01 - Artificial Energy
02 - Goin' Back
03 - Natural Harmony
04 - Draft Morning
05 - Wasn't Born To Follow
06 - Get To You
07 - Change Is Now
08 - Old John Robertson
09 - Tribal Gathering
10 - Dolphin's Smile
11 - Space Odyssey
12 - Moog Raga (Instrumental)
13 - Bound To Fall (Instrumental)
14 - Goin' Back (Version One)
15 - Draft Morning (Alternate End)
16 - Universal Mind Decoder (Instrumental)
17 - Old John Roberston (sg)
18 - Triad
19 - It Happens Each Days
20 - studio chatter

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