Monday, March 11, 2013

117. Sweetheart of the Rodeo. Bad little Byrdie

Album: Sweetheart of the Rodeo
Artist: The Byrds
Year: 1968
Genre: Country


  1. You Ain't Goin' Nowhere
  2. I Am a Pilgrim
  3. The Christian Life
  4. You Don't Miss Your Water
  5. You're Still on My Mind
  6. Pretty Boy Floyd
  7. Hickory Wind
  8. One Hundred Years from Now
  9. Blue Canadian Rockies
  10. Life in Prison
  11. Nothing Was Delivered

There is too much of The Byrds on this countdown, there really is. They obviously need to be here in some format or another but the four albums that they have on the revised chart is too much. Their best compilation should probably linger around the lower reaches so their great songs could be represented but we don't need four original albums and we certainly don't need Sweetheart of the Rodeo. Nobody does.

This album was recorded based on a deceit. It was essentially a lie from start to finish and isn't really a Byrds album anyway. I'll try and explain without getting angry.

After they recorded the commercially successful, but not very interesting, Notorious Byrd Brothers the band effectively broke up. David Crosby (the talented one) and Michael Clarke (the drummer) left to pursue other endeavours (Crosby became part of supergroup CSN and helped record two magnificent albums, both of which should be much higher than this is and Clarke became the captain of the Australian Cricket team 40 years later, at least I assume it's the same one, I should probably check).

Remaining members Roger McGuinn (the other talented one) and Chris Hillman (the bass player) needed some replacements and while finding a drummer was easy enough (they're not hard to find) it was trickier to find someone to fill Crosby's shoes (not that he wore them much- Hippie). McGuinn wanted a guy who could play jazz piano and auditioned Gram Parsons who played a mean set of ivories and eventually became the replacement.

But here's the thing: Parsons had no intention of playing jazz piano! He lied his way into the band in order to become an established member even though he had insidious plans for the group that he never let on.

Once the new line up was established McGuinn wanted to record a double album which would act as a history of American music. It would start with old folk tunes and take in every kind of genre before ending with electronica which would no doubt sound futuristic in 1968 but dated by late 1969. It was an interesting plan and he presented it to his bandmates including his jazzy piano player and they all liked it except Parsons who said "We could do that I suppose... or we could record an album of country music." No doubt he said this as if they idea had just struck him that minute when in fact it was always his intention. He conned the others into letting him join their band with the intention of converting them into a country-rock outfit at the first available opportunity. How evil is that?

So instead of an interesting historical overview, the Byrds went to Nashville and recorded this nonsense: faux country churned out by a few ex-hippies. It sounds like a bad idea and it really is. It's bad country music and even worse sixties music. There's nothing that made the sixties great but lots that makes bad country bad. Not even the obligatory Dylan covers could redeem the album which is dull and irritating in equal doses.

I'd really like to enjoy this. I like the idea of Gram Parsons and I respect him as a person but Lord help me is music is tedious. This list needs a bit of an overhaul. The first album by CSN and CSNY need to be boosted up the countdown by more than a 100 places and we should cull some Byrds in order to make room. This Tyrkey should be the first Byrd on the chopping block.

Highlight: You Aint going Nowhere (but the original is better)
Lowlight: Hickory Wind

Influenced by: Country and Dylan
Influenced: Alt country

Favourite Amazon Customer Review Quote: "Wish I could see what the others see in this. For a groups that got it right, I'd choose New Riders of the Purple Sage and Souther-Hillman-Furay [and some Grateful Dead]--which treated us to original compositions branded with distinctive sound and conviction."

-Once again someone has summed up my review in a sentence or two.

So is this a Byrd you've heard? If so what's the word? Let me know below.

1 comment:

  1. Maybe this album could have used a few more Australian cricketers on it to make it better.