Monday, April 18, 2011

Turn! Turn! Turn! - The Byrds

Turn! Turn! Turn!
The Byrds
Columbia CS 9254

I nicked this from my stepmother's record collection.  I don't feel too guilty about that, if anything I feel bad I didn't take her vintage copy of "Surrealistic Pillow" as well which is probably sitting in a landfill somewhere.  I can't recall her ever actually playing a record the whole time I knew her, but she had a small and mildly interesting collection, a lot better than the stuff my father had.  I was fascinated by the cover, particularly the fashion styles of the band.  They looked really cool to me, well except for David Crosby, he just looks like a dork.  I tried to get my hair to be like Michael Clarke's but I never quite managed it, Gene Clark's was easier to emulate.  This was the Byrds' second album and it follows the folk-rock formula of the first one.  The title song is a classic and the two Dylan covers are enjoyable, but my favorite cuts on this record are the Gene Clark songs, especially "The World Turns All Around Her" which I used to play over and over.  I rank it among the Byrds' best songs ever.  Clark's other contributions "If You're Gone" and "Set You Free This Time" are also first rate.  Amazingly considering how short this record is, Clark's "She Don't Care About Time" was omitted from the record, it would have been one of the best songs on there.   Maybe that's why it was left off, the group's jealousy of Clark is well-documented.  That is just typical of the shabby treatment that helped drive Clark from the group.  I consider Gene Clark the best songwriter the band ever had including Gram Parsons.  I would not trade Clark's songs with the Byrds for every song that David Crosby ever wrote.  The Crosby/McGuinn tune "Wait and See" is pretty decent and McGuinn's hook-laden "It Won't Be Wrong" is a lot more than decent.  On the other hand I find the band's adaption of "He Was A Friend Of Mine" to be dreary.  The lyrics of this traditional song were changed to make it about the assassination of John F. Kennedy.  The group's cover of Porter Wagoner's big hit "Satisfied Mind" is better thanks to the band's fine harmonizing.  It foreshadows the bands eventual move into country-rock later in the decade as does the closing cover of "Oh Susannah" which is more engaging than one might expect but still pretty useless.  Despite its flaws this album remains a significant folk-rock landmark that should be in every 1960s music fan's record collection.  Recommended for people who wish Dylan had gone electric earlier.

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