Lost Classics! The Byrds
When the hype arrived in 1972, it was almost too much to believe: the five original Byrds were going to reunite for a new album. For years the group had limped along under the Byrds banner, with original member Roger McGuinn heading a lineup that was sometimes brilliant (Gram Parsons, Clarence White) and sometimes shaky (Skip Battin).
After having not played together since 1965, The Byrds’ original lineup – McGuinn, Chris Hillman, Gene Clark, Michael Clarke and David Crosby – came together at the urging of Crosby, who was hot at the time (Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young) and wanted a chance to lead his former band. The resulting album, simply titled Byrds, came out in 1973 on Asylum Records, run by up-and-coming mogul David Geffen.
The album was horrible: for one thing, it had very little of the trademark Byrds sound. And everybody’s songs were really outtakes from their respective solo careers. Clark’s stuff (“Full Circle,” “Changing Heart”) were easily the best songs on the album, and Hillman’s material (“Borrowing Time” and “Things Will Be Better”) was originally intended for his then-current group Manassas (with Stephen Stills). The rest of the songs were covers, written by Joni Mitchell and Neil Young.
Byrds was the final nail in the coffin. The five original members would reunite only once more, in 1991 for their Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction. Clark would die shortly after, and Michael Clarke passed away two years later. This half-assed effort is an unworthy epitaph to a classic American band.