Album of the Day 12/2/11: The Byrds - The Notorious Byrd Brothers

MusicEntertainmentBob DylanThe Beatles (music group)Pete SeegerThe Beach BoysGram Parsons

There are certain bands that I'm a fan of that have long and winding careers marked by, sometimes several, changes in musical direction.  Often times because of the length of their careers combined with the shifts in musical aesthetics some real good albums get lost in the shuffle.  This is one of those records.

Everyone has some type of vision of who The Byrds are and what their sound was all about.  Some people will forever remember them solely for their mid-60's, mop-top wearing explosion onto the music scene made famous by Bob Dylan and Pete Seeger covers.  Some people will remember them as the country rock pioneers who gave Gram Parsons his big break and others will think of them as key in the development of the psychedelic and raga rock movements.  The correct answer is "all of the above".  However because of these varying opinions from both non-fans and fringe fans there are certain albums that history hasn't been as kind to as say their Turn! Turn! Turn!, Fifth Dimension, or Sweetheart of the Rodeo albums.   I feel that The Notorious Byrd Brothers album is definitely one of those albums.

Released early in 1968 this is the bands fifth full length studio album and the last one to feature original members David Crosby and drummer Michael Clarke.  The band went into this album as a four-piece and emerged from the studio as a duo with only Roger McGuinn and Chris Hillman remaining.  This could explain the somewhat frenetic nature of this album.  It moves in and out of styles from psychedelic rock to folk to country rock, sometimes all within one song, like someone trying to find the right outfit to wear before a big night out.  There are elements here that hearken back to the early days of the band such as horns and studio modifications that put it in the same musical category as The Beatles Sgt. Pepper album or The Beach Boys Smile album.  There are also visions into the future of this band as things like the pedal steel guitar once again make appearances throughout the record.  But in a way this record, along with its predecessor, Younger Than Yesterday, are the perfect bridge between two very distinct periods of this band's history. It's all a natural progression really.  However if you are a fan of The Byrds, their famous harmonization, their exceptional songwriting, etc. then this album is essential to own.              

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