If it wasn’t for the Byrds, Bob Dylan might never have become the musical icon he is. They were the earliest to re-cast his material into raucous rock and roll. From the opening electric 12-string lick on “All I want to Do” it’s abundantly clear why these Byrd’s versions were so popular.
Covering material from as early as 1965 through ’71 (with one bonus reunion cut from 1990) all the various personnel configurations of the Byrds are well represented on this compilation CD. From the original Byrds line-up of McGuinn, Clark, Crosby, and Hillman, through the super-guitar-slinger period with Clarence White, Dylan’s material is well-served by the Byrd’s renditions. The only clinker – a singles version of “Lay, Lady, Lay” from ’69, complete with an out-of-tune gospel choir backup – is mercifully brief.
Producer Bob Irwin, engineer Vic Anesini, and A&R supervisor Steve Berkowitz should be commended for the immaculate sound throughout the disk. Even the oldest material is clear while still preserving the essence its particular sonic character. Here you’ll find the sound of the original releases sans ticks, pops, and LP groove noise.
Even if you have all the Byrd’s previously released material, this should be a welcome addition to your collection. Getting the complete Dylan songbook, Byrds-style and on one disc, is a very good thing.
This article originally appeared in VG‘s Aug. ’01 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.