Roger McGuinn’s bright chiming 12 string guitar; stirring up tempo harmony vocals- the music of the Byrds captured an innocence and a magic. Out of mid 1960's Los Angeles, California, the Byrds were very much rooted in their place and time. Theirs was the American “Folk Rock” response to the Beatles, and a resounding success.

In 1965 the Byrds shimmering version of Bob Dylan’s 'Mr. Tambourine Man' reached number one on the Billboard charts and created the mega selling genre of folk rock- a powerhouse throughout rock history.

The two disc collection 'Preflyte' captures the young quintet the Byrds in their earliest days, when they were experimenting with their first takes of 'Mr. Tambourine Man' as well as a whole slew of original numbers.

With Jim (Roger) McGuinn, Gene Clark and David Crosby on guitars and vocals, joined by Chris Hillman on bass and drummer Michael Clarke, the Byrds in their earliest incarnation were known as the Jet Set. Full of youthful spirit and promise, the band became the Byrds in November of 1964. They would soon become an overnight success. 'Preflyte” is their back story.

The tracks here are dominated by Gene Clark’s songwriting with its concise lyrics and pure pop melodies. The 'Preflyte' collection includes the six song 'Columbia Records Demo Reel' that has previously only been available in bootleg form. While this collection is somewhat unrefined compared to the band’s later work, it is nevertheless a fascinating listen for the avid Byrds fan.

The collection opens with 'The Reason Why': Fine vocal harmonies join with resonant guitar licks. The listener can hear the early melding of folk sounds with a British Invasion influence.

'You Won’t Have to Cry' is an innocent love song. Present is the youthful hope evocative of the era. 'You Showed Me' is a pop gem and on 'I Knew I’d Want You”' McGuinn’s 12 string Rickenbacker guitar licks are alluring. This music is something of a harbinger of the Byrd’s heavenly blissful sound that would soon evolve.
n a collection chock full of love songs, this early version of 'Mr. Tambourine Man' is a standout track, celestial and enchanting, as the Byrds are buoyed by Dylan’s poetic songwriting talent. The Byrds spin on the number would prove to be historic.

The material here from the 'Columbia Demo Reel' is particularly notable, including a poignant 'Tomorrow is a Long Ways Away' and the touching 'She’s the Kind of Girl'.

Marked by an endearing simplicity, this collection succinctly captures the great and storied band the Byrds in pre-flight, gearing up for what was to come.

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20643 Posted By: Myshkin (London)

Personally, I've never really understood why The Byrds have been so revered. Really they were little more - as they were billed - than being the USA's answer to The Beatles. And became famous, initially, for doing Bob Dylan covers. Hardly groundbreaking stuff [I'll concede that the short stay by Gram Parsons shook the band up for the better.] The band really lost something when Gene Clark departed too. Roger McGuinn could have taken the band in an interesting direction with the likes of the jazz-ragga improvisation of Eight Miles High but he blew it and kept writing pretty little love songs which maintained the same guitar twang throughout. The band had some great musicians but they really blew it.

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