Review Summary: The Byrds kick off their career with one of the most fundamental and influential albums of the '60s.
Back in 1964, a very special band was formed out of Los Angeles by the name of The Byrds; a band whose importance in music remains undeniable to this day. Although their main inspirations were The Beatles and Bob Dylan, their decision to mix traditional folk with rock music was unheard of at the time and would go on to influence countless bands for years to come. However, it’s not just their impact on music that makes them significant, it’s their genuine talent and charm.
There’s just something instantly likeable about The Byrds. The band’s subtle, yet alluring vocal harmonies add the extra charisma to their folk-rock sound; factor in Gene Clark’s knack for songwriting and you have quite the winning crowd pleaser. Although Bob Dylan is partially responsible for the album’s success (he wrote three of the songs including the title track), The Byrd’s also wrote original material that was quite substantial in its own right. The second track ‘I’ll Feel a Whole Lot Better’ was written by Clark and is a prime example of the band’s appeal to the masses --the jangly 12-string guitar tones and sing-along choruses being prevalent throughout.
However, it’s also worth mentioning their first single, ‘Mr. Tambourine Man’ and the impact it had on the band’s success. After the song reached number one on the charts it launched them into a successful career that would spawn some of the most impressive albums of the ‘60s. And even though “Mr. Tambourine Man” isn’t The Byrds’ most experimental album, its seamless blend of folk and rock is like candy to the ears. Due to the fantastic vocal tradeoffs of Clark, McGuinn, and Crosby, each song feels like a home run as they completely kill it behind the microphone. Some songs have a much softer vocal style, while others sound strikingly similar to Bob Dylan. Either way, they manage to hit all the right notes on their impressively consistent debut.
Whether you’re a rock junkie or folk is your usual cup of tea, you really can’t go wrong with “Mr. Tambourine Man”. Its influence on music is inescapable and it has aged like the finest of wines. What listener’s will find here are twelve tracks with no shortage of witty lyricism or complex vocal harmonies. So sit back in your favorite chair, kick up your tired feet, and prepare to be transfixed by an album that had a huge role in the creation of folk rock. A true ‘60s essential.