Tuesday, February 21, 2012

232 Mr Tambourine Man.

Album: Mr Tambourine Man
Artist: The Byrds
Year: 1965
Genre: Rock


  1. Mr. Tambourine Man
  2. I'll Feel a Whole Lot Better
  3. Spanish Harlem Incident
  4. You Won't Have to Cry
  5. Here Without You
  6. The Bells of Rhymney
  7. All I Really Want to Do
  8. I Knew I'd Want You
  9. It's No Use
  10. Don't Doubt Yourself, Babe
  11. Chimes of Freedom
  12. We'll Meet Again

Bob Dylan is all over this countdown. He stands over this list like the musical God he was, casting his influence over recorded music for five decades now. He not only has his own albums scattered throughout the list (with many residing close to the top) there are a series of releases that directly show his influence and inspiration. From albums by The Beatles and The Stones (who changed their approach to songwriting after they heard Dylan) to Bruce Springsteen's first album (which was an attempt to try Bob's approach to wordy songwriting) there are releases which have Bob stamped indelibly on the vinyl. Another album which we could safely describe as Bobish is Mr Tambourine Man, The Byrds' debut release.

Columbia asked The Byrds to record an album based on the success of their debut single, a cover of Dylan's Mr Tambourine Man which to this day is still the version that most people know. It took Bob's initial arrangement and added the famous "jangly guitar" that became their signature sound along with some rich vocal harmonizing. The studio liked it so much they asked The Byrds to record more songs, preferably Dylan ones. Consequently four of the 12 tracks on Mr Tambourine Man are Bob covers and it's no leap to say they're the album's highlights. He could really write song that Dylan chap and the Byrds could really sing (and could even play their instruments, despite what the label said).

On the face of it The Byrds might look like a fairly unoriginal outfit. They steal their best songs from Dylan (or others) and they were so keen to become The American Beatles they even chose a name which was a deliberate attempt to mimic their heroes (choose a creature, misspell its name and then add "The" in front- voila! Band name chosen). But it would be wrong to write them off as one of the countless "bandwagon" bands leaping on passing trends in an attempt to cash in on a big thing. It's a mistake to dismiss The Byrds Sound and their influence in the creation of Country Rock. They helped to create a timeless genre and a unique sound that can still be heard today.

This isn't their best album but it's by no means a bad listen and it does contain some of the best Dylan covers of the sixties. You could do much worse.

Highlight: The title track
Lowlight: It's no use

Influenced by: Bob Dylan and the Beatles
Influenced: Primal Scream and The Stone Roses

Favourite Amazon Customer Review Quote: "The surviving members' belief that the young Australian tourist jailed in Indonesia on drug-smuggling charges was unjustly convicted makes this CD an essential purchase for both your ears AND your conscience."

-Wait, what? I assume this is a reference to Shapelle Corby but I couldn't find any information about any member of the Byrds lending their support to Corby. Anyone out there know anything?

So do the Byrds fly for you or just just chirp annoyingly outside your window when you're trying to sleep in? Let me know below.

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