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The Byrds


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5 0 0
August 19, 1971

What a boring dead group. But then again aren't they all? Right, that puts it all in a different perspective. Increments of pus. Anything unfestering is a bonus. Two halfway decent cuts makes an album a winner, maybe even one.

The cover features death masks of the Byrds. But the eyes are closed and lots of stiffs have the eyes open. When you're alive and having your face cast you have to watch out for your eyes. So it looks like things have returned to the pre-fanatical days before the plaster casting of cocks, Claes Oldenburg is a big cheese again and mere faces are worthy of consideration. Jeez, you'd think it was 1964 again and this was a Billy J. Kramer album with an exceptional cover. But it's only another Byrds bummer and the Byrds have never picked any bones about bummer covers, it's never been an abrupt descent and they've always just kind of accepted one after another. What a great bunch of mock stoics they are and always have been.

"Glory, Glory," written by the same person who dreamed up "Jesus Is Just Alright," is just loaded with George Harrison doing "My Sweet Lord." McGuinn used to do Dylan and George did some Dylan on his triple album and now it's McGuinn doing George. Ain't rock brotherhood grand?

"Pale Blue" is just more of the same. The Byrds were always the number one more-of-the-same band in the land, now the thing that they're all the same as ain't the same old thing it used to be the same as, so it's a different story. "I Trust" starts ominously and there are stretches where the same-as that it's the same as is the old one. There's even a couple moments of neat vocal hanky panky when you can wonder whether he's been catching up on his Iggy and his Lou Reed now that there's no longer any need for him to teach Dylan how to sing rock and roll. He actually did that once so don't forget now that the tarpits have swallowed all.

"Tunnel of Love" is a much better than average Delaney & Bonnie cut by Skip Battin with no-out-of-place sax and chorus and organ stuff. It's good. "Citizen Kane" is also by Battin but it's a horse of a different color; it's that Eric Burdon flip side called something like "Good Times." It and "I Wanna Grow Up to Be a Politician," which follows, have the kind of words the Byrds always showed signs of degenerating into, namby pamby innocuous mickey mouse with latent-blatant political content. Or maybe they're just mocking out David Crosby, there's really no way of telling.

Battin's "Absolute Happiness" is downright pretty and if he displayed a little more mustard in his vocal delivery he'd pass for Freddie Cannon. So I guess that must be where he got the "Tunnel of Love" thing from. Gene Parson's "Green Apple Quick Step" is just that, something better left for the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. "My Destiny" has Clarence White doing McGuinn doing Merle Haggard but even that's only in spots.

"Kathleen's Song" is as good as "Bells of Rhymney" and "Get to You" transposed into "Backstreet Girl" terms, in other words it's the second or third decent cut on the album. "Jamaica Say You Will" is by Jackson Browne, so there's no way it could be bad. It's sung as faithful to the current Jackson style as Nico did with Jackson '67. Say, when's Jackson gonna get his first big awesome smash album together? Come on Jackson, it's about time! You heard me.

If the Ginny given thanks to in the credits happens to be Ginny Ganahl then let me take this opportunity to say, thanks Ginny, for that swell time in L.A.

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