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The Byrds - Dr. Byrds & Mr. Hyde

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The Byrds - Dr. Byrds & Mr. Hyde

Post  Mr007 on Sun Feb 20, 2011 11:59 am


Dr. Byrds & Mr. Hyde by The Byrds
Originally released February 3, 1969 as Columbia CS 9755


1. This Wheel's on Fire
2. Old Blue
3. Your Gentle Way of Loving Me
4. Child of the Universe
5. Nashville West
6. Drug Store Truck Drivin' Man
7. King Apathy III
8. Candy
9. Bad Night at the Whiskey
10. Medley: My Back Pages/B.J. Blues/Baby What You Want Me to Do

Dr. Byrds & Mr. Hyde marked a new beginning for the Byrds. After Sweetheart of the Rodeo, Gram Parsons and Kevin Kelley both split the Byrds, followed soon after by Chris Hillman. When Hillman left, this made Roger McGuinn the only original member remaining. Instead of calling it quits, he built a new band of Byrds consisting of himself, guitarist Clarence White (who did studio work on Younger Than Yesterday, The Notorious Byrd Brothers, and Sweetheart of the Rodeo), bassist John York, and drummer Gene Parsons (who played with Clarence White in a band called Nashville West and is no relation to Gram). This band marks the beginning of what you'll hear fans and critics refer to as the "latter-day" Byrds.

The album's title goes a long way to accurately describe its contents. The album is roughly half pounding rock 'n' roll and blues (Dr. Byrds) and half country music (Mr. Hyde). This theme was also reflected on the A and B sides of the two singles that were released around this time, "Drug Store Truck Drivin' Man" b/w "Bad Night at the Whiskey" and "Lay Lady Lay" b/w "Old Blue". Unfortunately, the album bombed terribly and still holds the record for the lowest-charting Byrds record (a lowly #153 in the US), though it made #15 in the UK. That said, time has judged this record favorably, though it still remains criminally underrated in many circles.

The rock 'n' roll that the band includes on this record is, for the most part, the best you're going to find on a Byrds album. Clarence White is featured front and center which is always a plus. The cover of Bob Dylan and the Band's "This Wheel's on Fire" is arguably the best version of that song ever recorded. "Child of the Universe" is a song that Roger McGuinn originally wrote for the soundtrack to the movie Candy. It appears here without the orchestral overdubs that are contained on the soundtrack version. "Candy" was also written for the movie soundtrack, but was not included. "King Apathy III", a song about apathy in the world, is one of McGuinn's most rockin' tunes and "Bad Night at the Whiskey" absolutely slays.

The country music featured here is every bit as good, if not as well sung due to the absence of Gram Parsons, as what appeared on Sweetheart of the Rodeo. "Old Blue" is a traditional song about a good dog and one of the album's highlights. This song would actually prove to be only the beginning of the later-period band doing songs about dogs. Gene Parsons & Clarence White chime in with a two-step number called "Nashville West". The song was a theme song to the band of the same name, in which they both used to play. "Drug Store Truck Drivin' Man" is a genius jab at Ralph Emery, a legendary Nashville DJ who the Byrds visited during the time of Sweetheart of the Rodeo. During an interview on WSM radio, Emery told the Byrds on the air that he didn't like hippies and all the typical jibe that "longhairs" received from conservative audiences. To add insult to injury, they brought along an acetate of their single, a twanged up cover of Dylan's "You Ain't Goin' Nowhere" and at first, Emery refused to play it. After he finally did play it, he dismissed it on the air as being mediocre and said that he didn't understand the song, etc. So after leaving Nashville, McGuinn and Gram Parsons wrote this song about him and it's said that Emery still fumes over that song to this day.

To bring the album to a close, you get a very blues-influenced medley of Bob Dylan's "My Back Pages" into "B.J. Blues" into "Baby What You Want Me to Do", an old Jimmy Reed song. It was one in a long series of Byrds albums that had a bizarre ending track.

I don't recommend this as a starting point for people new to the Byrds, but this is a phenomenal record full of great music.

4.5/5

pa udstyr
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Mr007

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