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Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The Byrds - Preflyte (1964 us, astonishing psychedelic folk rock, 2012 Retro World double disc release with extra material)



The Byrds came along at a time when American rock needed a shot in the arm which would raise the music to the levels attained by the British groups and allow it to meet the emerging head culture. The Byrds did it; but the subtlety and aversion to gimmick that is found in their music and in themselves doomed them as a sleeper group, always popular and musically influential, but denied the superstardom conferred on more pretentious, melodramatic personalities by an industry geared to the Image. That they have survived at all (in whatever form, despite their own internal storms) is one of those joyous accidents for which we should all be grateful.

This album was recorded in August, 1964, at the very beginning of the Byrds' career and prior to their contract with Columbia. Slightly rough and sounding a bit dated, it still overflows with that unique unschmaltzy beauty and lyricism that has been the Byrds' trademark. Four of the eleven songs appeared on Mr. Tambourine Man, and they sound like less focused takes of something that later became masterful and transporting. But place this music in perspective: suppose it had been released in late 1964. Aside from the first two or three albums by the Beatles or the Stones, there was absolutely nothing out as good, as aurally visionary, as unpackaged as this.

By the time the Byrds were released to the public, several other groups — the Yardbirds, the Kinks, the Spoonful — were working toward the same shift in the system, and few people realized what an innovation the Byrds were, both spiritually and musically. They took the basic lessons of the Beatles and the Stones, filtered them through Dylan and the less pretentious aspects of the folk scene, and came up with a big, new, visionary sound. 

Propelled by the ringing grandeur of McGuinn's electric twelve-string and Hillman's incredibly advanced bass playing, they created a stately, transcendent sound of magnificent brilliance, lifting listeners into bold new realms of dream, turning the stoned hordes from preachy, flatulent folk music to the vibrant new and old sounds of rock. And the Byrds' influence, in the years that followed, on everybody, from the Beatles to the Velvet Underground, is simply an undiminishing fact of life.

Preflyte: an album marking the beginnings, but an album of fine and fascinating music as well. Gene Clark's songs abound, and though Clark seemed for the most part a formula composer, all his songs had a certain lovely feeling that seldom palled. Declasse influences like Johnny Rivers turned to lucid, beautifully methodical harmonies in Clark's mind. She Has a Way, for instance, utilized the Spanish Harlem Incident guitar lead and early Beatles composition, but like everything else the Byrds have ever done, it glided effortlessly over the puerility and crass, mindless imitation which dominated the scene in '64, to emerge as a shining, deeply felt piece of music.

Preflyte recalls the inception of a genius outfit that has contributed more to rock than anyone else on this side of the Atlantic. Even if you're not a hardcore Byrds freak, I hope you'll buy this album for that reason. At this late date, they deserve all we can give them.
by Lester Bangs, October 18, 1969


Tracks
Disc One
1. The Reason Why (Version #2) (Gene Clark) - 2:38
2. You Won't Have To Cry (Electric Version) (Jim McGuinn, Gene Clark) - 2:17
3. She Has A Way (Version #4) (Gene Clark) - 2:29
4. You Showed Me (Electric Version) (Jim McGuinn, Gene Clark) - 1:53
5. Here Without You (Version #2) (Gene Clark) - 2:28
6. Don't Be Long (Jim McGuinn, Harvey Gerst) - 1:58
7. I Knew I'd Want You (Electric Version #2) (Gene Clark) - 2:14
8. Boston (Version #2) (Gene Clark) - 2:15
9. Tomorrow Is A Long Ways Away (El. Version) (J. McGuinn, G. Clark, D. Crosby) - 1:59
10.For Me Again (Version #2) (Gene Clark) - 2:39
11.It's No Use (Version #2) (Jim McGuinn, Gene Clark) - 2:20
12.You Movin' (Version #3) (Gene Clark) - 2:08
13.Please Let Me Love You (G. Clark, J. McGuinn, H. Gerst) - 2:25
14.The Airport Song (Jim McGuinn, David Crosby) - 2:03
15.Mr. Tambourine Man (Electric Version) (Bob Dylan) - 2:25
16.She Has A Way (Version #3) (Gene Clark) - 2:33
17.I Knew I'd Want You (Electric Version #1) (Gene Clark) - 2:31
18.Boston (Instrumental Track) (Gene Clark) - 2:15
19.You Showed Me (Instrumental Track) (Jim McGuinn, Gene Clark) - 2:06
20.The Times They Are A-Changin' (Instrumental Track) (Bob Dylan) - 2:26


Disc Two
1. The Only Girl I Adore (Jim McGuinn, Gene Clark) - 2:26
2. Tomorrow Is A Long Ways Away (Acoustic Version) (Gene Clark) - 2:01
3. You Showed Me (Acoustic Version) (Jim McGuinn, Gene Clark) - 2:04
4. I Knew I'd Want You (Acoustic Version) (Gene Clark) - 2:18
5. You Won't Have To Cry (Acoustic Version) (Jim McGuinn, Gene Clark) - 2:21
6. Mr. Tambourine Man (Acoustic Version) (Bob Dylan) - 2:14
7. Willie Jean (Hoyt Axton) - 2:08
8. Come Back Baby (Ray Charles) - 2:26
9. Jack Of Diamonds (Traditional, Arranged David Crosby) - 1:46
10.Get Together (Dino Valenti) - 2:34
11.She Has A Way (Version #1) (Gene Clark) - 2:23
12.Here Without You (Version #1) (Gene Clark) - 2:29
13.For Me Again (Version #1) (Gene Clark) - 2:32
14.It's No Use (Version #1) (Jim McGuinn, Gene Clark) - 2:17
15.You Movin' (Version #1) (Gene Clark) - 2:10
16.Boston (Version #1) (Gene Clark) - 2:09
17.She Has A Way (Version #2) (Gene Clark) - 2:32
18.You Movin' (Version #2) (Gene Clark) - 2:12
19.The Reason Why (Version #1) (Gene Clark) - 2:31
20.It's No Use (Version #3) (Jim McGuinn, Gene Clark) - 3:38
21Tomorrow Is A Long Time (Demo, Previously Unreleased) (Gene Clark) - 2:02
22.You Wont Have To Cry (Prev. Unreleased) (J. McGuinn, G. Clark) - 2:22
23.You Showed Me (Demo, Previously Unreleased) (J. McGuinn, G. Clark) - 2:06
24.I Knew I’d Want You (Demo, Previously Unreleased) (Gene Clark) - 2:19
25.Mr. Tambourine Man (Demo, Prev. Unreleased)  (Bob Dylan) - 2:14
26.Shes The Kind Of Girl (Demo, Previously Unreleased) (Gene Clark) - 3:02
27.I’m Just A Young Man (Demo, Previously Unreleased) (David Crosby) - 2:07
28.Everybody Been Burned (Demo, Previously Unreleased) ( David Crosby) - 3:02
Tracks 7-10 (of Disc Two) were recorded prior to the formation of The Byrds and are performed by David Crosby with backing musicians Tommy Tedesco (electric guitar), Ray Pohlman (electric bass) and Earl Palmer (drums).

The Byrds
*Gene Clark - Guitar, Vocals
*Michael Clarke - Drums
*David Crosby - Guitar, Vocals
*Chris Hillman - Bass, Mandolin, Vocals
*Jim "Roger" McGuinn - Banjo, Guitar, Vocals

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