Wednesday, June 03, 2020

The Byrds - Turn! Turn! Turn! (Columbia, 1965; re-issue Legacy, 1996)

The album's original liner notes talk about the troubled birth of this album, with take after take ad infinitum, and the added pressure of a couple of Beatles looking on from the sidelines for good measure. But that hothouse environment was worth it as the band avoided the sophomore slump with another excellent album of strong covers and a growing collection of original tunes to bring into the suddenly competitive California rock 'n' roll scene. At this time The Byrds were still in their original configuration with Jim "Roger" McGuinn on lead guitar, acoustic guitar and vocals, Gene Clark on rhythm guitar, harmonica, tambourine and vocals, David Crosby on rhythm guitar and vocals, Chris Hillman on electric bass and Michael Clarke on drums and the album was produced by Terry Melcher. The title song "Turn! Turn! Turn! (To Everything There Is a Season)" was a capsule version of Pete Seger's reading of scripture, and by setting it to a soaring and immediately memorable melody with wonderful harmony, it became a number one smash hit in the United States and a minor hit overseas, propelling the band into the truly big time. The rest of the album is filled with quality material, with two interesting Bob Dylan covers, the more ballad focused "Lay Down Your Weary Tune" and poppier version of "The Times They Are a Changin'" that was originally intended as a single before being shelved. On this album Gene Clark really comes into his own as a songwriter, contributing three titles, with strong vocal performances and increasingly complex collaborative music. The Legacy re-issue is very well done with liner essays and period photographs included in the booklet along with seven bonus tracks that flesh out the sessions with singles alternate versions and mixes acting as the icing on the cake of a highly recommended album and reissue. Turn! Turn! Turn! -

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