The Notorious Byrd Brothers

The Byrds

Epic Records, 1968



Gobble! Gobble! Being Thanksgiving and all, it would be wise to feature The Byrds today.

By the time this album released in 1968, The Byrds were going through major changes in personnel: David Crosby left to join Crosby, Stills, Nash and/or Young. Gene Clark was gone, due to differences with Roger McGuinn, and his fear of flying. The remaining original members, Roger McGuinn, Chris Hillman and Michael Clarke put together The Notorious Byrd Brothers, which is considered to some critics as a masterpiece; however the record buyers did not buy the album at the time of release.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

With this album, The Byrds were starting a change -- getting away from the folk-style sounds like "Mr. Tambourine Man" and the psychedelic "Eight Miles High." However, these styles are still there in this album, but the sound is definitely unique -- heading towards country. Bob Dylan said it best: The Times They Are A'Changing. And it was changing for The Byrds. One of the tunes, entitled "Change Is Now," it's quite obvious that you knew a change was in the works for the band.

In listening to this album, the psychedelic sound is definitely there: "Artificial Energy," "Natural Harmony," "Draft Morning" -- they all have that psychedelic 60s touch. Not the psychedelic style of say, Jimi Hendrix, but a slow-paced psych trip, especially the tune "Space Odyssey": Imagine the world at full speed, and you are moving very, very slowly....

The fourth song, "Goin' Back" is probably the one song from this album that stood out in my mind. It's a great tune, in familiar Byrds-folk style. The fifth song, "Wasn't Born To Follow," produces a sudden change: Country! "Get To You" is somewhat country, yet it has that late-sixties sound. Speaking of which, the rest of the album you can definitely tell country was on the minds of the band, yet each song has a psychedelic touch to them.

This is definitely a different sounding album for The Byrds. It really makes you wonder what The Byrds would come out with next. More personnel changes occurred, leaving Roger McGuinn the only remaining member of the group. For the next four years, he would recruit new members of The Byrds, as their music would mix country with rock, rather than mixing folk with rock.

In 1973, the original members reunited for a one-shot album, and soon afterward, the tight "sounding" nest they had once built, was now blowing away. The Byrds were laid to rest, leaving behind a great legacy and a great library of music.

Here's a sudden comparison: The Beatles were changing with the times by the late sixties with their music, so did The Byrds.

Rating: B+

User Rating: A


This is a great album. It was a revelation when issued in early 1968, and it continues to entertain and to amaze to the present day. Gary Usher should have won an award for his outstanding production job, as well as his ability to keep the Byrds (at least the ones that remained) focused on finishing their masterpiece. The "Legacy" version with the outtakes adds to one's appreciation of "The Notorious Byrd Brothers," but the original version itself is truly the Byrds' high point.

© 1997 Eric E5S16 and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Epic Records, and is used for informational purposes only.