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Monday, July 7, 2014

Roger McGuinn - Roger McGuinn (1973 us, amazing folk country classic rock, 2013 edition)

Roger McGuinn's 1973 self-titled solo debut was in most respects a breath of fresh air after the final days of the Byrds, in which the group was floundering in directionless mediocrity. In a sense, it's a back-to-basics album that emphasizes much of what McGuinn does so well: his forceful reedy vocals, his guitar playing, and his skills at both writing earnest folk-rock material (usually with future Bob Dylan collaborator Jacques Levy here) and interpreting unusual traditional and contemporary songs. Never was it folkier than on the acoustic "I'm So Restless," which benefited from harmonica by Dylan himself (about whom the song was partially about). 

All four of the other original Byrds play on "My New Woman," which is virtually a reunion of the original quintet, with the addition of saxophone by jazzman Charles Lloyd; David Crosby makes unobtrusive cameos on some other tracks. As likable as it is, however, the album isn't an unqualified triumph. Some of the songs aren't so hot, some of the Moog synthesizer (by McGuinn) is unnecessary, his vocals sometimes seem to have been recorded with too much brittleness, and none of this is as good as the best of the Byrds. Unexpected influences make themselves heard in the Beach Boys harmonies of "Draggin'" (with Bruce Johnston of the Beach Boys on piano and backup harmonies), the Vietnam blues of "Hanoi Hannah," and the gospel-rock of "Stone." 
by Richie Unterberger

1. I'm So Restless - 3:05
2. My New Woman - 3:10
3. Lost My Drivin' Wheel (David Wiffen) - 3:27
4. Draggin' - 3:36
5. Time Cube (McGuinn, R. J. Hippard) - 3:15
6. Bag Full Of Money - 3:19
7. Hanoi Hannah - 2:50
8. Stone (Spooner Oldham, Dan Penn) - 2:59
9. Heave Away (Trad., Arranged By McGuinn) - 3:03
10.M' Linda - 2:42
11.The Water Is Wide (Trad. Arranged by McGuinn) - 3:05
All compositions by Roger McGuinn and Jacques Levy except where noted.

*Roger McGuinn - Vocals, Guitar, Banjo, Moog Synthesizer, Harmonica
*Buddy Emmons - Pedal Steel Guitar
*Chris Hillman - Bass
*Bob Dylan - Harmonica
*Jerry Cole - Guitar
*Bruce Johnston - Piano, Voices
*Jim Gordon - Drums
*Hal Blaine - Tambourine
*Michael Clarke - Drums
*Chris Ethridge - Bass
*John Guerin - Drums
*Spooner Oldham - Organ, Piano
*David Vaught - Bass
*Spanky McFarlane - Vocals
*Charles Lloyd - Saxophone
*Leland Sklar - Bass
*David Crosby - Guitar, Harmony Vocals
*Graham Nash - Guitar, Harmony Vocals

1964 The Byrds - Preflyte (2012 Retro World double disc release)
1971  The Byrds - Live At Royal Albert Hall (2008 issue)

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