BYRDWATCHER: A Field Guide to the Byrds of Los Angeles



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IN THE BEGINNING
(Rhino R270244; 1988)

Track Listing

Credits:
Released 1988. Recorded 1964 at World Pacific Studios. Tracks produced by Jim Dickson. Produced for CD by Bill Inglot. Compilation/Art Direction by Don Brown. Project Assistance: Gary Stewart.

Personnel:
The Jet Set aka the Byrds v. 1.0
Jim McGuinn: vocals, 12 string lead guitar, 6 string guitar
Gene Clark: vocals, tambourine
David Crosby: vocals, 6 string guitar, some 12 string guitar
Chris Hillman: bass, mandolin
Michael Clarke: drums, percussion

Except:
On "The Only Girl I Adore":
Jim McGuinn: vocals, guitar
Gene Clark: vocals
David Crosby: vocals, 6 string guitar

On "Please Let Me Love You" and "It Won't Be Wrong":
Jim McGuinn: vocals, 12 string lead guitar, 6 string guitar
Gene Clark: vocals, guitar
David Crosby: vocals
Ray Pohlman: bass
Earl Palmer: drums

Singles from album sessions:
As the Beefeaters:
"Please Let Me Love You"
(alt.) / "Don't Be Long" (alt.)
Elektra 45013
Released October 1964



During the second half of 1964, the five original Byrds woodshedded at World Pacific Studios with their manager Jim Dickson, perfecting their blend of Beatles pop and Dylan folk. Dickson had the run of studio, and recorded many of the sessions in an effort to help the boys hone their sound.
In September of 1969, Gary Usher's label released an LP of tracks from these sessions called Pre-Flyte (Together, 1969). (The album was reissued by Columbia in August, 1973.)
In 1988, Rhino Records released In the Beginning, a retrospective culled mainly from these same sessions. Most of the songs had appeared on Pre-Flyte, although several of the songs were in alternate versions. As the CD's notes state, rather than simply reissue Pre-Flyte, project producer Bill Inglot went back to the original masters, some of which Jim Dickson had saved. The handful of masters he still had were not necessarily the best tracks the Byrds recorded; rather, they were the tapes that were left at the end of the band's tenure at World Pacific Studios.
These songs are not highly polished by any means -- they're raw and unfinished, at times tentative. Their quality and professionalism don't approach the level of the first Byrds album, and this will doubtless put off the casual listener. But the World Pacific sessions are revealing, and will be of great interest to fans. The influence of the Beatles is much stronger on these early demos -- just listen to "The Only Girl I Adore" or "You Won't Have to Cry." These derivative Merseybeat arrangements demonstrate how hard the band worked to develop the utterly original sound of their first LP.
Several of these songs would appear there, and the difference in the performances is striking. With its ricky-ticky strumming and simple percussion, "Mr. Tambourine Man" is arranged much as Dylan's original, except for the not-quite-in-tune harmonies on the chorus. "You Won't have to Cry" is equally raw. If the sound on their first LP is a jet's roar, the sound on these tracks is the tinkle of a peddler's wagon. The other familiar tracks are closer to their Columbia counterparts. "Here Without You" shows the band experimenting with different harmony combinations, not yet having hit on the perfect, haunting sound of the later version. "It's No Use" and "I Knew I'd Want You," also songs on Mr. Tambourine Man, "It Won't Be Wrong," also on Turn! Turn! Turn!, and "She Has A Way," also on Never Before and The Byrds Boxed Set, are close to the Melcher productions in both arrangement and performance.
One other track is also better known in a more polished version, but not by the Byrds; "You Showed Me" was a Top Ten hit for the Turtles in early 1969. The Turtles made it sound like something from Magical Mystery Tour (Capitol, 1967), but the Byrds' version of this Clark/McGuinn number sounds like it came from Meet the Beatles (Capitol, 1963).
Several of these tracks predate the World Pacific period. The all-acoustic number, "The Only Girl I Adore," was recorded by the original trio, McGuinn, Clark, and Crosby, in their days as the Jet Set, and appeared on the rare LP, Early L.A. (Together, 1970) along with a different version of "You Movin'."
The Byrds' first single, released in October 1964 on Elektra under the bogus-British name "The Beefeaters," featured "Please Let Me Love You" and "It Won't Be Wrong" (under the name "Don't Be Long"). Those versions were recorded with the original trio, plus session men Ray Pohlman on bass and Earl Palmer on drums -- both members of Phil Spector's Wrecking Crew. The versions on In the Beginning are not those used on the single, and the liner notes are unclear whether the session men are featured on them. Pohlman and Palmer probably play on these versions as well -- the rhythm section sounds tight even though these songs were recorded shortly after Hillman and Clarke joined up. Both sides of the single were reissued on the comprehensive label compilation, Elektrock (Elektra, 1987).
The remaining tracks give some insight into the development of the band's songwriting as well as their performing. McGuinn shares the writing credits on "The Airport Song," but its delicate lead vocal and its jazzy changes mark this as a Crosby song, and not a bad one at all. Though not quite up to the level of "Everybody Has Been Burned," which dates from Crosby's pre-Byrds career as a solo folksinger, "The Airport Song" shows him working in similar territory.
Most of the other songs are derivative Clark originals. "Boston" features Hillman doing a blues walk right out of "Memphis" or "Can I Get A Witness"; "The Reason Why" and "For Me Again" show the influence of the Everly Brothers; and "You Movin'" is an uptempo mock-Beatle song with a bridge that sounds like Chuck Berry by way of Johnny Rivers (as the detailed liner notes by Billy James point out).
The acoustic version of "Tomorrow Is A Long Ways Away" is just another Beatlish song (with Clark imitating Paul McCartney's vocal style), but the electrified version shows the band closing in on their original style. The heavenly harmonies, the Rickenbacker sound, Hillman's melodic bass playing -- all the elements are in place, just waiting for Terry Melcher to polish them up. The contrast between these two versions shows how much the band and Dickson were able to accomplish at World Pacific in a few short months.


To Never Before...


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Tracks from album sessions:
Original album tracks:
(All tracks recorded during
the second half of 1964)
"Tomorrow Is A Long Ways Away":
Gene Clark, David Crosby,
& Jim McGuinn

"Boston":
Gene Clark

"The Only Girl I Adore":
Jim McGuinn & David Crosby

"You Won't Have to Cry":
Jim McGuinn & Gene Clark

"I Knew I'd Want You":
Gene Clark

"The Airport Song":
Jim McGuinn & David Crosby

"The Reason Why":
Gene Clark

"Mr. Tambourine Man":
Bob Dylan

"Please Let Me Love You":
Gene Clark, Jim McGuinn
& Harvey Gerst

"You Movin'":
Gene Clark

"It Won't Be Wrong":
Jim McGuinn & Harvey Gerst

"You Showed Me":
Jim McGuinn & Gene Clark

"She Has A Way":
Gene Clark

"For Me Again":
Gene Clark

"It's No Use":
Gene Clark & Jim McGuinn

"Here Without You":
Gene Clark
Other releases from the
World Pacific period

(Same version as on In the
Beginning
except as noted):
The Beefeaters single:
"Please Let Me Love You " (alt.)
"Don't Be Long" (alt.)

On Early L.A.:
"The Only Girl I Adore"
"You Movin'" (alt.)

On Preflyte:
"Boston"
"The Airport Song"
"The Reason Why"
"For Me Again"
"You Movin'"
"I Knew I'd Want You" (alt.)
"Mr. Tambourine Man" (alt.)
"You Won't Have To Cry" (alt.)
"You Showed Me" (alt.)
"Here Without You " (alt.)
"She Has A Way" (alt.)


Later versions of songs
from these sessions:

On Mr. Tambourine Man:
"You Won't Have to Cry"
"I Knew I'd Want You"
"Mr. Tambourine Man"
"It's No Use"
"Here Without You"

On Turn! Turn! Turn!:
"It Won't Be Wrong"

On Never Before, Boxed
Set
, and 1996 reissue
of Mr. Tambourine Man:
"She Has A Way"


Unreleased tracks from
World Pacific period:

"Maybe You Think"


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