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Monday, February 05, 2007

Monday Music Milestones

The Byrds
Younger Than Yesterday
(Released Feb 6. 1967)
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(This will be the first in a continuing retrospective of the 40th anniversary of the most prolific year in rock music history. )

With the exception of The Velvet Underground (we will be spotlighting their debut next month) The Byrds are perhaps the most influential and important rock band in American History. Younger Than Yesterday is the Byrds at their height. The album is mostly the inspiration of David Crosby, who added a dimension of folk and roots rock, as well as a degree of sophistication which pushed the band beyond it's image as a Dylan cover band. In fact, music critic Richie Unterberger says of the Byrds of this period: "ascribed in their early days as a hybrid of Dylan and the Beatles, the Byrds in turn influenced Dylan and the Beatles almost as much as Bob and the Fab Four had influenced the Byrds." The Byrds also throw out a number of jazz inflections, Latin influences, as well as fragmentary based studio effects. However, what makes this an absolutely essential album is how listenable it is. "Have you seen her face" contains one of the greatest guitar solo's in history, and the cynical "so you want to be a rock and roll star" and the Dylan cover My Back Pages are both classics. The band soon fell into turmoil, though they would basically define country-rock the next year with Sweetheart of the Rodeo, and launch the careers of Crosby and the late-great Gram Parsons. The Byrds influence can be traced most immediately to two hugely important American rock bands of later generations, in Big Star and REM.

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