If I were asked to make a list of the most underrated rock bands of the 1960s, the Byrds might top that list. The average person in the 21st century has no idea how important they were in the evolution of music between 1965 and 1968. So it’s safe to say I’m a fan. But, listening to this record, it’s really hard not to hear Mrt. Tambourine Man 2, even for a fan like me.
Yes, there’s more original material and a greater variety among those originals. But that’s not entirely a good thing as certainly McGuinn has yet to turn into the songwriter he would become. Clark is still their best songwriter and this is not him at his best. At this point the covers are still usually better than the originals, at least in terms of song quality.
And this is basically the only record the Byrds released between 1965 and 1968 in which they didn’t try anything new. And that’s the thing I think that, in retrospect, makes this one stand out in a negative way. Future records might be a little less consistent (though not to my ears, as I’m a big fan of their psychedelic records) but they always contain interesting music. And their debut and the next one are pretty seminal records in the history of popular music. But this one is just more of the debut. It’s hard to get excited.
It’s still decent. It’s more than decent: it’s certainly still quite good for folk rock and is still early enough in the history of folk rock to stand out. If they hadn’t already released Mr. Trambourine Man we might even consider it a big deal. But they did and it’s not really. It’s their least consequential record until Dr. Byrds.
8/10 still, because folk rock in 1965 was pretty shitty on the whole.