Album no. 57/1001
The Byrds were an American band – David Crosby (of Crosby, Stills & Nash fame) was one of the founding members – who pioneered ‘folk rock’. And it’s pretty easy to hear their influence on all popular music that came afterwards.
While never reaching the popularity of The Rolling Stones or The Beatles, The Byrds are considered one of the most influential bands of the 1960s. They’re also clearly a favourite with the 1001 Albums editors – they have 4 other albums on this list. Which might be a bit of overkill – it’s too early to tell.
Have you listened to this album before?
CL: I had never heard anything by The Byrds before. I actually thought we were talking about The Yardbirds. Turns out that’s a very different band. They still make an appearance on this list at number 74 though, so, easy mistake to make.
NK: Bring on The Yardbirds, this sucks. I have only heard The Byrds’ best of, but it’s the same as this; a bunch of mediocre Dylan covers with the interesting edges rounded off.
CL: I know ‘Mr Tambourine Man!’ – poor Bob Dylan, having so many of his songs turned into far better versions by other people. These are the guys that do ‘Turn Turn Turn’ as well! (That’s not on this album though). But WOW. I AM LOVING THIS. That guitar sound is absolutely up my street. The harmonies are awesome as well – so tight! OH, ‘It’s No Use’ is definitely a standout, so is ‘You Won’t Have To Cry’. All the songs are short, sharp and sweet.
NK: I have never liked this version of Mr Tambourine Man. They only sing one of the verses for crying out loud! Their ‘All I Really Want To Do’ sucks as well.
CL: I can’t believe you don’t like this!
NK: The thing about the harmonies is that they’re basically constant, the two of them singing together. There’s no light and shade, it’s just constant two blokes singing. I don’t know how you don’t get sick of their voices halfway through the second song. ANYWAY, I like the beginning of ‘Chimes of freedom’ when it’s just one of them singing, but then as soon as the other guy comes in I can’t bear it. If I absolutely had to pick a song I think it would be ‘Spanish Harlem Incident’. What was that? That’s the shortest track on the album? What a coincidence.
When would be the best time to listen to this?
CL: On a sunny afternoon in your bedroom, when those rays just come creeping through your window and you just need a little quiet time. It’s a really wistful, nostalgic record. My mind is BOGGLED that these guys aren’t from the UK. This sounds like such a fundamentally british sound, almost like The Stone Roses without the baggy percussion. There isn’t a dud track on here. LOVING IT.
NK: ‘The Balls of Rhymney’ is a dud track for sure, but that’s not the question. If you find Dylan a little bit too edgy and exciting for you, this is the go. If you’re a big fan of mainstream, middle of the road pop without anything sexy about it, this is absolutely the album for you. Listen to this album in the car on the way to Sunday school, or when you’re getting ready to play golf. Drink a glass of milk at the same time if you want to get really wild.
CL: That is such rubbish. How is this worse than the album in French? It doesn’t make sense.
Why has this album been included on the list?
CL: Because it is absolutely wonderful? It’s like a balm for my ears! Sunshine in record form. The jangly Rickenbacker guitar sound, the harmonies – this is perfect guitar pop music, and I can’t believe I’d never heard it before. I feel like a large part of my life has been wasted. I can’t wait until we get to the other 4 albums on this list.
NK: God this version of ‘We’ll Meet Again’ is fucking awful. When old mate Vera Lynn does that song it will absolutely break your heart. Admittedly The Byrds make you cry when they play it, but that’s because it’s abhorrent. How the ever loving fuck do they have 5 albums on this list?
CL: Look. I’ll agree with you about that song. That probably is the dud. But it’s at the end so just turn it off before you get there!
Will you be listening again?
CL: I’ve already listened to it about 5 times. This is absolutely one of the best records we’ve heard on the list. I’d even go so far as to say it’s one of the best I’ve heard in a really long time.
NK: 5 TIMES!?!? What the hell is wrong with you? Did you suffer some sort of horrific head trauma that you didn’t tell me about? Will I be listening again? My answer is: ahahahahahaha no.
CL: I REALLY LIKED IT.
CL: If you have even a passing fancy for jangly guitar pop, give it a listen – you won’t be disappointed.
NK: This album will disappoint you no matter what sort of music you like.
CL: Get stuffed.
Listen to Mr Tambourine Man on Spotify or buy it in iTunes.