Friday, February 15, 2013

124. Younger than yesterday. The highest flying byrds



Album: Younger than Yesterday
Artist: The Byrds
Genre: Folk
Year: 1967

Tracks

  1. So You Want to Be a Rock 'n' Roll Star
  2. Have You Seen Her Face
  3. C.T.A.-102
  4. Renaissance Fair
  5. Time Between
  6. Everybody's Been Burned
  7. Thoughts and Words
  8. Mind Gardens
  9. My Back Pages
  10. The Girl with No Name
  11. Why
Younger than Yesterday is the Byrds best release by a considerably margin. It's a maturing of their sound, a development of their songwriting and their last hurrah before they went country and went a bit naff. Founding member Gene Clark had flown the Byrd coop and left Roger McGuinn and David Crosby in charge of writing the songs that weren't Dylan covers. Together the two of them did a more than admirable job. McGuinn provided the pop gem So you Want to be a Rock and Roll Star and the extremely daft CTA 102 with it's alien sound effects and guest vocals by simulated extraterrestrials (it's as bad as it sounds). He also co-wrote Why and the lovely Renaissance Fair with Crosby. Crosby wrote Everybody's Been Burned and the Nick Drake-like Mind Gardens on his own and while he started to show the composing talent that would make up a third of the genius of CSN there's no doubt he's better writing with McGuinn than without him.

Emerging as a songwriting force was bass player Chris Hillman who provides three songs he wrote on his own. Have you seen her face is passable pop but Time Between and The Girl with No Name are fairly tedious proto-country (with psychedelic overtones) of the sort the Byrds would eventually make their own as they slid into irrelevance.

But the best songwriter of the bunch is Dylan who is covered only once on Younger than Yesterday. When they began, The Byrds were in danger of becoming a Dylan cover band but as the releases progressed they toned down their Bob-covers and by album three they only included one but it's a ripper.

My Back Pages is not one of the Dylan covers that everyone was having a turn with at the time so it's got a degree of freshness that an old chestnut like Blowin in the wind lacked. The Byrds don't claim it as their own in the way they did Tambourine Man but it's certainly the best song on the album.

Younger than Yesterday has a lot of what made the Byrds a great band: well written pop, perfect harmony vocals, tight guitar work but it also suffers from some experimentation which might have sounded great at the time but drags the album down. The backwards guitar on Thoughts and Words and Mind Garden and the alien effects on CTA 102 might have been nifty at the time but they're terribly dated now.

Younger than Yesterday is The Byrds finest hour but you can't help shake the fact that it could be even finer.

Highlight: So do you want to be a rock and roll star
Lowlight: CTA 102

Influenced by: Dylan
Influenced: Primal Scream

Favourite Amazon Customer Review Quote: "This album is twenty-nine minutes and eleven seconds long and was released on February 6, 1967. Younger Than Yesterday reached #24 on the US Billboard 200 Album Chart. It charted three songs from the album. They are: So You Want to Be a Rock `n' Start #29, Have You Seen Her Face #74, My Back Pages #30."

-I love a reviewer who has done their homework.

So is this album younger than it was yesterday for you or has it aged terribly? Let me know below.

2 comments:

  1. The American Beatles finest hour. ( 29m 11 secs actually )and does Roger McGwinn have the best glasses and David Crosby the best hat worn in the 60s ?

    ReplyDelete
  2. Yes. Yes they do (although there are photos of Jerry Garcia in a bowler hat which possibly rival Crosby for way out cool)

    ReplyDelete