MP3 Timeless Flyte - Full Circle - A Tribute To The Byrds
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ROCK: Country-Rock, POP: Jangle Pop
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TIMELESS FLYTE-A TRIBUTE TO THE BYRDS!
The largest tribute EVER to the Byrds, this is Volume 4- "Full Circle" in a four volume series featuring great artists of today's Rock, Jangle Pop, Country and Alternative contemporary scene interpreting great Byrds classic songs.
John Einarson, author of "Mr. Tambourine Man-The Life And Times Of Gene Clark, writes:
Imagine a world with no Byrds.
What if the Byrds had never existed?
How would the course of popular music have unfolded had Kansas country boy Gene Clark, fleeing the narrow confines of the New Christy Minstrelsâ homogenized folk-pop in early 1964, not chanced upon another ex-folk acolyte, Chicago-born Jim (Roger) McGuinn formerly with the Limeliters and Bobby Darin, at the Troubadour?
And if yet another folk music refugee, LA brat David Crosby, had not chipped in a harmony part to their Peter & Gordon-style duo? Or die hard bluegrass aficionado Chris Hillman had remained with The Hillmen, content to peel off rapid fire mandolin solos; or if Michael Clarke had not been walking down that street or that beach (depending on whoâs telling the story) and not been spotted by Crosby?
How would the music world, both then and now, have suffered from the absence of this seminal California group?
While a handful of folkies had already begun testing the uncharted electric folk waters once the Beatles hit these shores, it was the Byrds who defined the signature sound universally identified as folk-rock â that chiming jingle-jangle Rickenbacker electric 12-string and rich harmonic blend. They were the avatars of a new style, direction and substance, popularizing a wholly original genre of rock music for the plethora of artists who followed in their wake. Their sterling electric Donât Worry Baby-inspired rendition of Dylanâs rambling folk chestnut Mr. Tambourine Man gave courage to its creator to dive headfirst into the uncharted folk-rock waters himself.
With Mr. Tambourine Man and Turn! Turn! Turn! The Byrds shifted rock ânâ roll away from pedestrian boy-girl, cars, surfing and beach bunny themes giving it a truly literary sensibility, a marriage of poetry to a British Invasion beat. Theirs was the new sound of California, steeped in folk roots pumped through Fender Dual Showmans to gyrating patrons at Ciroâs on the Sunset Strip. In doing so they influenced the kingpins themselves, The Beatles, who were unabashed Byrds fans (just listen to If I Needed Someone).
Virtually every recording artist since (not just those who wear their Byrds influences on their sleeves like REM, the Stone Roses and Tom Petty) owes a debt of gratitude to the Byrds for turning rock ânâ roll into a true art form. âI remember a promotion guy asking me for the lyrics to Mr. Tambourine Man so he could give it to a disc jockey in San Francisco,â recalls CBS promo man Billy James. âIt was poetry, it wasnât Sheâs So Fine.â
Not content to rest on these extraordinary accomplishments, the Byrds turned folk-rock on its ear in 1966 with Eight Miles High, an aural assault on the senses like nothing heard or conceived before or since. This was music without context, without borders, and, like a year earlier with folk-rock, without a name or label. Boldly integrating John Coltrane freeform jazz with Ravi Shankarâs hypnotic Indian ragas in the fluid guitar lines of McGuinnâs Rickenbacker, once again it was the Byrds pointing the way to what would be known variously as raga-rock, acid-rock, and ultimately psychedelia a full year before all those San Francisco groups became synonymous with that epithet. âThe guitar break was obviously a tribute to John Coltrane,â McGuinn acknowledges. âThatâs one of my favorite guitar things Iâve done.â
Even before the psychedelic wave crested, it was the Byrds again at the forefront bringing it all back home to a simpler roots-based American music, daring to bridge the deep cultural divide that separated rock music and country music by embracing both Nashville and Bakersfield on an album that marks ground zero for country-rock and later alt.country and Americana: 1968âs landmark Sweetheart of The Rodeo. While others were content to wet their feet in country music, dabbling in its familiar textures, the Byrds dove in all the way.
With Sweetheart of The Rodeo and the albums that followed it, the Byrds became the first top echelon group to wholly embrace and legitimize country music making it hip for the hippies and leading the way for all the SoCal A&M/Asylum Records stable to follow. âIt all begins with the Byrds,â asserts Hillman on the roots of country-rock, âand I will argue that point with anybody. We took the ball downfield and the Eagles took it into the end zone for ten touchdowns.â
This time though it wasnât McGuinnâs Rickenbacker but newcomer Gram Parsonsâ heart-on-his-sleeve voice and Clarence Whiteâs distinctive stringbender twang defining an entirely fresh, innovative sound that propelled the group through several albums. Todayâs crop of country music artists werenât weaned on Hank, Lefty and Buck but on the Byrds and their many offshoots, and through them connected the dots back to their traditional roots.
So where would popular music be today without the Byrds? Folk-rock? Acid-rock? Psychedelic-rock? Country-rock? Alt. country? And all those inspired and influenced by their music, including the artists on this tribute? Enough said.
And what of the Byrdsâ offspring? Without their success as his springboard Crosby might never have hooked up with Stills & Nash (and sometimes Young â and maybe no Stills and Young either as the Buffalo Springfield got their earliest breaks via the patronage of the Byrds). Master of the minor key melancholy ballad, Gene Clark would never have teamed up with Douglas Dillard in their trailblazing Expedition, nor duet with Carla Olson on their seminal â80s roots album. âNew Countryâ would not have been transformed by Chris Hillmanâs hit making Desert Rose Band. Country-rockâs own ill-starred Hank Williams, Gram Parsons might have continued to toil in the woefully neglected International Submarine Band. Nor would he and Hillman have hitched their wagons as revered country-rock renegades the Flying Burrito Brothers. Clarence White may have remained a respected yet largely anonymous session player; not to mention Firefall, McGuinn, Clark & Hillman, CPR, Thunderbyrd, Firebyrd and on and on.
The Byrdsâ body of work remains both influential and essential, not preserved in amber or trapped in some nostalgia time warp, as vital today as it was some 40 years ago. Their music continues to resonate across generations, eras, timelines, and cultures. âThat music is greater than any of us,â notes latter day Byrd John York on the bandâs legacy, âbecause when weâre all gone people will still be playing Turn! Turn! Turn!â
âThe thing that [manager] Jim Dickson drilled into our heads,â offers Hillman, musing on the enduring impact of the Byrds, âwas, âGo for substance. Go for depth in your material.â And he was absolutely right. He used to tell us, âDo something youâre going to be proud of in ten years.â Thatâs a very important concept to instill in nineteen or twenty year old kids.â
McGuinn concurs. âIâm very proud of our work together. Like Dickson said we did work that not only stands up ten years later but forty years later.â
John Einarson is author of âMr. Tambourine Man: The Life and Legacy of The Byrdsâ Gene Clarkâ (Backbeat Books, 2005)
SOME LINER NOTES ON THE SONGS AND ARTISTS ON "FULL CIRCLE"-
ERIC SORENSEN, noted "jangle" rock journalist and Project Manager for this disc offers a track by track commentary for this Fourth Volume of TIMELESS FLYTE- A Tribute To The Byrds (Full Circle):
"Wasn't Born To Follow" - Les Fradkin. Executive producer Les Fradkin showcases his sonic production sounds again on the opening track of the final disc in the four-volume "Timeless Flyte" series. Unlike the original Byrds version of this Carole King/Gerry Goffin song, Fradkin's version jumps out at the listener like the revved-up motor noise of Fonda's and Hopper's choppers, with some mid-60s psychedelic tones added for good measure. Put this track on your IPOD clock radio, and you'll never have to worry about over-sleeping again!
âMessage From Michaelâ â The Woodys. What a treat it is to include another husband/wife duet song â¦ that is dedicated to the memory of the Byrdsâ original drummer Michael Clarke. Dyann and Michael Woody blend Everly Brothers-inspired vocal harmonies with a chiming Rickenbacker 12-string â¦ to create a very Byrdsian homage to Michael Clarke. The lyrics of this poignant song, which first appeared on the Woodysâ Teardrops & Diamonds album, are based on an open letter that Michael Clarke wrote to young people prior to Michaelâs own alcohol-related death. If the 12-string riffs sound familiar, that may be because itâs studio musician Cam King fingering the strings. Cam can also be heard playing his Rickenbacker 12-string on the Freddie Steady 5 track that appears on this four-disc set.
âFull Circleâ â Walter Clevenger & The Dairy Kings. Once Executive Producer Les Fradkin became familiar with Walterâs work, Les knew that Walter could ânailâ any Gene Clark song that he chose to record. âFull Circleâ was tailor-made for Walter and his bandmates. I have heard some wonderful versions of âFull Circleâ in the past two decades, but this version tops them all.
âOne Hundred Years From Nowâ â Bye Bye Blackbirds. Jim Huie encouraged me to contact this young San Francisco band to invite them to contribute a track for this compilation. Much like their contemporaries, the Beachwood Sparks and Maplewood, the Bye Bye Blackbirds are right at home with the âcanyon rockâ sound of the late 60s.
âDrug Store Truck Drivinâ Manâ â Jason Walker. From my perspective, this song will always be more associated with âWoodstockâ than with the Byrds. Jason Walker, another Michael Carpenter Aussie recruit, turns in a fine version of this song.
âChange Is Nowâ â The Dixie BeeLiners. Buddy Woodward is as hardworking and knowledgeable as an indie musician can be. I first met Buddy when he was a member of the country-pop band the Ghost Rockets. Buddy subsequently organized a terrific Byrds tribute show at the Bottom Line in 2000, and he performed in a similar show at the Birchmere later that year. Several years ago, he paired up with Brandi Hart as the Dixie BeeLiners. Buddy, Brandi and their studio colleagues give âChange Is Nowâ a very fresh and appealing bluegrass treatment.
âHickory Windâ â The Living Room Legends. This is one of several male/female duets featured on this set of discs. This track was recorded by husband and wife, Ken and Mindy Stevens, and their bandmates. Ken and Mindy have a strong affection for the âSweetheartâ-era Byrds material; so much so, that they even performed all of the songs from that album at a show last year. When I first discovered the Living Room Legends on CDBaby, their music reminded me of the Kennedys. What a treat it is for me to be involved in a project that includes both of these husband/wife duos!
âLover of the Bayouâ â Starbyrd. Horst-Peter Schmidt and Graham Allman Talbot reunited as Starbyrd to record this track. I once referred to Horst-Peter as the âCrown Prince of 12-Stringâ â¦ because Horst-Peter wrote a song about Roger McGuinn, entitled âKing of 12-Stringâ and Horst-Peter sounds quite a bit like Roger McGuinn. Graham has teased Horst-Peter about his âroyalâ status ever since then. On this track, Horst-Peter proves again that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.
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