Top Artists – The Byrds

The Byrds in Mono – How Do The Original Pressings Sound?

Congested and compressed, with no real top, who in his right mind could possibly tolerate that kind of sound on modern equipment?

Although, to be fair, we’ve stopped buying them, so there may actually be a good copy or two out there in used record land that we haven’t heard. In our defense, who really has the time to play records with so little potential for good sound?

What about the Sundazed mono pressings?

The best Columbia stereo copies are rich, sweet and Tubey Magical — three areas in which the Sundazed reissues are seriously lacking.

Does anyone still care? We simply cannot be bothered with these bad Heavy Vinyl pressings. If you’re looking for mediocre sound just play the CD. I’m sure it’s every bit as bad.

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FURTHER READING

Mono, Stereo, Reprocessed Stereo, We’ve Played Them All!

Mono or Stereo? Both Can Be Good

Mono or Stereo? Stick with Mono

Mono or Stereo? Stick with Stereo

Mono Reprocessed into Stereo – Good and Bad

The Byrds – Byrds

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  • Rich, tubey, solid, with tight, note-like bass, what early Byrds record sounds this good?
  • Top quality covers of great songs by Joni Mitchell (For Free) and Neil Young (Cowgirl in the Sand, See the Sky About to Rain)

The album features the original Byrds lineup of McGuinn, Gene Clark, Michael Clarke, David Crosby, and Chris Hillman.

Even though this is not one of The Byrds’ stronger albums, it does have some very nice material. For Free on side one may very well be the high point of the album for me. They also do a nice version of Neil Young’s Cowgirl In The Sand. (more…)

The Byrds – Ballad of Easy Rider

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  • We’re always blown away at just how much further the best copies are able to take the music – what a difference the right pressing makes
  • Jesus Is Just Alright is the killer track here and it rocks like you will not believe
  • 4 stars: “The band sounds tight, self-assured, and fully in touch with the music’s emotional palette, and Clarence White’s guitar work is truly a pleasure to hear…”

Every now and then we manage to stumble on a copy with some serious magic, and this is the best of those to ever make it onto our site. You won’t believe how much better this great country-rock material sounds when you have a copy that sounds as good as this one does.

Jesus Is Just Alright is the killer track here and it rocks like you will not believe! It’s one of the All-Time Best Byrds tracks, especially for sonics, with Rock and Roll energy that shows just how good a band these four guys had become. (more…)

The Byrds – Turn! Turn! Turn!

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  • This outstanding 360 Label pressing of the band’s sophomore release boasts solid Double Plus (A++) sound from start to finish – fairly quiet vinyl too
  • You will not believe how punchy, lively, dynamic, and exciting some of these tracks sound here
  • One of the better sounding Byrds recordings, with a number of their best songs, including the title track
  • 4 1/2 stars: “…more Bob Dylan covers were included, as well, and “Satisfied Mind” was their first foray into country-rock, a direction they would explore in much greater depth throughout the rest of the ’60s.”

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The Byrds – The Notorious Byrd Brothers

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  • This outstanding Columbia 360 label pressing boasts solid Double Plus (A++) sound or close to it from start to finish
  • David Crosby is shown the door, fittingly replaced on the album jacket by a horse’s ass
  • 4 1/2 stars: “The Notorious Byrd Brothers showed the group continuing to expand the parameters of their eclecticism while retaining their hallmark guitar jangle and harmonies.”

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The Byrds – Mr. Tambourine Man

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  • An outstanding vintage Columbia pressing, earning solid Double Plus (A++) sonic grades on both sides
  • Lively, balanced and vibrant, with a healthy dose of the Tubey Magical richness these recordings need in order to work
  • Listen to how breathy Jim (later Roger) McGuinn’s vocals are – his vocals are key to the better sounding Byrds records
  • 5 stars: “One of the greatest debuts in the history of rock … nothing less than a significant step in the evolution of rock & roll itself, demonstrating that intelligent lyrical content could be wedded to compelling electric guitar riffs and a solid backbeat.”

Tubey Magic? This copy has a healthy dose of it on both sides.

Want to hear exactly what I’m talking about? Play Chimes of Freedom, one of the best sounding tracks on side two, if not THE best. Listen to how breathy Jim (later Roger) McGuinn’s vocals are. Byrds records almost never sound like that.

I Knew I’d Want You is another one that sounds amazingly Tubey Magical on the best pressings.

By the time you get to track two on side one you’re hearing one of my favorite Byrds song of all time: I’ll Feel A Whole Lot Better. It’s energetic and very present on this copy.

Notice that Gene Clark’s vocals usually sound better than Roger McGuinn’s. For some reason they tend to brighten up his vocals, and the last thing you ever want to do with a Byrds recording is make it brighter. But having said that, most of the reissues are too thin and bright compared to the best originals. (more…)

The Byrds / Mr. Tambourine Man – What to Listen For

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Want to hear what the best copies of Mr. Tambourine Man can do? Play Chimes of Freedom, one of the best sounding tracks on side two, if not THE best. Listen to how breathy Jim (later Roger) McGuinn’s vocals are. Byrds records almost never sound like that.

I Knew I’d Want You is another one that sounds amazingly Tubey Magical on the best pressings. (more…)

The Byrds – Untitled

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WOW! The best pressing to ever hit the site, and it’s Triple Plus (A+++) on ALL FOUR SIDES. The overall sound is really rich, full-bodied, and open with impressive transparency and presence. Features a 16 minute Eight Miles High on the live disc that just kills — especially on a lively copy like this.

On the better copies songs like Chestnut Mare reveal a huge soundstage with delicate guitars, sweet vocals, and lively drums. Most of the pressings we’ve played over the years were nothing to get worked up about, but the sound here is wonderful. It’s exceptionally musical and natural with a nice, fat, tubey quality to the guitars and real strength and definition down low. (more…)

The Byrds – Fifth Dimension – The Red Labels Can Rock (More Accurately, Some of Them Can)

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There was not another Red Label that could hold a candle to this copy in our recent shootout, and no 360 label copy could either. It’s the exception that proves the rule.

Does it have 100% of the Tubey Magic of the best 360 Label copies? Maybe not, but it has quite a healthy dose, and it does so many things so much better than any of the tube-mastered originals we played that it was simply no contest. There was nothing that communicated the music remotely as well as this Red Label copy did. (more…)

The Byrds – Younger Than Yesterday

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It ain’t easy to find great sounding copies of this album on decent vinyl, but we managed to get a hold of a hot one here. White Hot in fact. Not only that, but the vinyl’s pretty darn quiet! The sound is very tubey with excellent transparency and serious immediacy.

Most Byrds’ records are far from audiophile demo discs. However, what the best originals and ’70s reissues give you is relatively good sound.

This album will never sound as good as Abbey Road. Keeping that rather obvious point in mind, as I listened to this copy the thought that went through my mind is that this tape had been mastered about as well as it could be.

It’s tonally correct from top to bottom; the frequency extremes are there; and the vocals have a silky, sweet quality to them (when they haven’t been bounced down too many times of course).

Recommended Tracks (more…)