Byrds (album) explained

Artist:The Byrds
Released:March 5 1973
Recorded:Autumn 1972
Producer:David Crosby
Last Album:
This Album:Byrds
Next Album:The Byrds Play Dylan

Byrds is a rock music album by American band The Byrds from 1973. In late 1972, for the first time since early 1966, the original Byrds quintet of Roger McGuinn, Gene Clark, David Crosby, Chris Hillman, and Michael Clarke reunited to record an album. Featuring songs from the four songwriters in the band, Byrds also contains a Joni Mitchell cover and two songs by Neil Young.

In 1972, Roger McGuinn, the only band member constant through every incarnation, had grown dissatisfied with the Byrds as they existed then, and had just dissolved that quartet. Coincidentally, all four of the other original Byrds were to an extent also at loose ends: Crosby had just finished a tour and album with Graham Nash but the pair had yet to engage that partnership full-time; Hillman's Manassas band with Stephen Stills had stalled creatively, although they were still a popular draw on the concert circuit; Clark's critically-lauded solo career had netted him very little financial remuneration because of his reticence to actively promote albums through touring; and Clarke had been searching for a gig since the demise of the Flying Burrito Brothers. Furthermore, all of those pursuits, except for those of Crosby and to a lesser extent those of Hillman, had not been as financially rewarding as their time in the Byrds. David Geffen, heading up Asylum Records, managed to pry the Byrds' contract away from Columbia with relative ease, as the band had never recaptured the commercial pull from its mid-1960s folk-rock glory years. At that same time, Geffen and business partner Elliot Roberts, manager of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, had been thwarted in their attempts to bring new and highly lucrative CSNY product to the market owing to that group's lack of cohesion. Given the timing of the album, the fact that it was credited to the individual names of the band members CSNY-style, that Crosby produced it, and the nature of the songs, make a case for this album as a CSNY reunion stand-in. The link below describes this conjecture in greater detail.

In Crosby's defense, it is worthwhile to note that Hillman's Manassas was actively touring between sessions, while the latter-day Byrds had tour and contractual obligations lasting well into 1973. With attendance from two of the four creative parties sporadic at best, the brunt of assembling the album was left to the otherwise unengaged Crosby and Clark, which could account for the preponderance of Clark vocals and the CSNY-esque production.

Additionally, none of the parties were willing to sacrifice material from their solo projects; this has been confirmed by McGuinn and Hillman in various interviews. "Full Circle" had already been released in Europe on the unauthorized by Clark (though label approved) Roadmaster album; McGuinn's songs were leftovers from 1971; Hillman's songs were extremely short and in the opinion of many critics lacked the depth of his contemporaneous material; a rendition of Crosby's "Laughing" was available on his 1971 solo debut, and three of the eleven songs were covers (although it had long been a common practice for the Byrds to include a number of cover songs on their albums).

Despite lackluster reviews, Byrds sold reasonably well, reaching #20 on the Billboard Top Pop Albums chart, the group's highest charting album of new material since Turn! Turn! Turn!, and going to #31 in the United Kingdom. The album was reissued for compact disc on June 30 1998 by WEA in Europe, and in the States on September 21 2004, on Wounded Bird Records.


Track listing

  1. "Full Circle" (Clark) – 2:43
  2. "Sweet Mary" (McGuinn/Jacques Levy) – 2:55
  3. "Changing Heart" (Clark) – 2:42
  4. "For Free" (Joni Mitchell) – 3:50
  5. "Born to Rock'n'Roll" (McGuinn) – 3:12
  6. "Things Will Be Better" (Hillman/Dallas Taylor) – 2:13
  7. "Cowgirl in the Sand" (Neil Young) – 3:24
  8. "Long Live the King" (Crosby) – 2:17
  9. "Borrowing Time" (Hillman/Joe Lala) – 2:00
  10. "Laughing" (Crosby) – 5:38
  11. "(See the Sky) About to Rain" (Young) – 3:49


  1. "Full Circle" b/w "Long Live the King" (Asylum 11016) February 1973
  2. "Cowgirl in the Sand" b/w "Long Live the King" (Asylum 11019) April 1973


External links