Saturday, March 14, 2009

A Tribute to The Byrds

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The Byrds - What Were They About? by Russell Shortt

American Rock had taken a back-seat to UK rock during the first half of the 1960s. A slew of acts arrived that were to change all that, and leading the charge were The Byrds. Inspired by the British Invasion and Bob Dylan they melded folk with rock, piled on smooth harmonies and threw in jangling guitars to create a very original pop sound.

Indeed, they merged their two biggest influences on their first single which was a shortened version of Dylan's Mr Tambourine Man re-arranged from the original 2/4 time signature to a more Beatle like 4/4. It raced to the top of the charts in June 1965. Sticking with the tried and tested, they recorded another Dylan cover All I Really Want To Do and a further interpretation of Pete Seeger's Turn! Turn! Turn!.

The stunning debut album Mr Tambourine Man (1965) was a major commercial and critical success, The Beatles even proclaiming The Byrds to be their favourite American band and Dylan following their lead into folk rock - the apprentices had mastered the masters. By extension, they even mounted their own invasion of Britain, the 1966 single Eight Miles High heralding the new era of psychedelic rock.

This though was to be the band's peak as the members began to drift apart, citing personal and musical differences. However, the surviving duo of Jim McGuinn and Chris Hillman continued to push the boundaries of music recording one of the first major country rock albums, Sweetheart of the Rodeo (1968) co-opting Gram Parsons into the group in the process.

Russell Shortt is a travel consultant with Exploring Ireland, the leading specialists in customised, private escorted tours, escorted coach tours and independent self drive tours of Ireland. Article source Russell Shortt:

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