Customer Reviews: The Byrds - Greatest Hits
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on February 21, 2005
I happened to be visiting relatives in LA in 1964 or '65 when I had the good fortune of catching the Byrds television debut on the Lloyd Thaxton Show. I was struck as much by what I heard as what I saw: America's first answer to the Beatles.

At one time I owned all the Byrds albums on vinyl up to "Sweetheart of the Rodeo" and "Easy Rider." Later I created my own "greatest hits" cassette, a full 90 minutes worth.

This "Greatest Hits" album falls far short of all the wonderful music produced by Roger McGuinn, David Crosby, Chris Hillman, Gram Parsons and others, but for someone wanting to have a prime sample of early Byrds, heavy on the trademark Rickenbacker 12 string fingerpicking sound, this is a great place to start.

This "Super Bit Mapping" recording is superior to other recordings I have heard of the Byrds and manages to bring out subtleties in the early recording process that were the subject of many rumors. Most notable is that it's much easier to pick out the various layers of overdubbing (both the Rickenbacker 12 string and McGuinn's vocals).

True fans of the founders of folk-rock will want to supplement this album others. Be sure to get your hands on tunes like "He Was a Friend of Mine" and "Lay Down Your Weary Tune."

Incidentally, Roger McGuinn has an interesting web site with free downloads available of a lot of folk songs, many of which were staples of the 50s and 60s coffeehouse folk scene. Most of those recordings feature an acoustic Martin 12 string guitar, as well as some banjo picking.
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on January 19, 2000
I have always been curious as to why this CD always garners five star reviews. True, the music that is on it is supreme Byrds, the ultimate in twelve string sound. All are essential classics in their own right.
However, In its original 11 song configuration, in addition to being rated for what's on it, it should be rated for what isn't on it.
This remaster does boast superb 20 bit sound, and three bonus tracks: Set You Free This Time, It Won't Be Wrong, and Have You Seen Her Face (giving Chris Hillman a needed representation).
However, the CD still clocks at around 39 minutes, meaning half the disc is not utilized. Why not pack this CD to the gills and make it one definitive overview of the Byrds prime period? What about The World Turns All Around Her, Everybody's Been Burned, Renaissance Fair, the b-sides: She Don't Care About Time, Why, and Lady Friend. Hence, this CD comes up way short.
One hopes that a volume two Greatest Hits is given similar treatment. Maybe then they might offer us the mono version of Goin' Back. This is a different take than the stereo and wasn't included (for some odd reason) as a bonus track on The Notorious Byrd Brothers CD.
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on December 22, 2001
This review is based on this specific SACD. I dont believe the other reviewers have the SACD version. SACD (Super Audio CD)is only playable on special SACD compatible equipment. I compared the SACD version with the same CD in regular format. The SACD treatment adds modestly to the fidelity. The overall effect is to boost the high frequencies with slight improvement in fidelity. Tape hiss is much more obvious. The tambourines on the tambourine man sound much better on the SACD version. Most tracks sound better except My Back Pages which is more sudued on the SACD version. The music is vintage Byrds which I believe will appeal to most people. They should have included more songs, classics such as Chestnut Mare ( my personal favorite Byrds song) are missing. Overall worthwhile buying in SACD format, and usefull as an SACD demo. If you just want the best of the Byrds get "The Byrds 20 Essential Tracks From The Boxed Set: 1965-1990". You'll get more music for your money
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on January 19, 2004
The Byrds were one of the best and most influential bands of the 1960's.They married the folk songs of Bob Dylan("Mr. Tamborine Man","Chimes Of Freedom","My Back Pages","All I Really Want To Do") and Pete Seeger(Turn Turn Turn,Bells Of Rhmney) to Beatles-inspired rock n' roll,thus creating the genre "folk-rock".They also wrote terrific originals like "I'll Feel A Whole Lot Better","It Won't Be Wrong","Set You Free This Time","Have You Seen Her Face".They also went into psychedelia with the groundbreaking "Eight Miles High","Mr. Spaceman" and "5D(Fifth Dimension)" and showed a sense of humor with the jaunty "So You Want To Be A Rock n' Roll Star?".This album collects all the songs mentioned.The stereo SACD release features a much warmer, richer,fuller sound than the standard Columbia/Legacy CD,with Roger McGuinn's 12-string Rickerbacker guitar jangle never sounding as clear and alive as it does here.This is a highly recommened choice,folks! (Note:This will NOT play on a standard CD player!)
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on October 29, 2003
This collection of greatest hits certainly lives up to its title. There are 14 (counting the three bonus tracks) fine slices of pure rock and roll from the 60s which still sounds life-affirming even to this day. From the well known classics "Mr. Tambourine Man" and "Turn, Turn, Turn" to lesser-known (but still equally impressive) gems like "All I Really Want to Do" and "Chimes of Freedom," this CD shows proves that the Byrds not only defined the sound and spirit of the West Coast '60s, but for a brief time were hugely influential in shaping rock and roll as a genre. The Byrds evolved considerably during the two years that these songs were recorded, and it is evident from the straight forward Dylan-meets-Beatles folk-rock of "Mr. Tambourine Man" to the pioneering psychedelic freak out "Eight Miles High" to the instrumentation in "So You Want to Be a Rock and Roll Star." Every song on here is gorgeous, and each one deserves several listens.
This newly remastered version is truly a standout because it adds three additional bonus tracks, "It Won't Be Wrong," "Set You Free This Time," and "Have You Seen Her Face." I have to admit, "Set You Free," though a pleasant effort by Gene Clark, is a bit too country-ish for my liking and I don't care much for it. However, the other two bonus tracks are KILLER, and I am so glad that these were included. They may not have been hits like the rest of the songs (I believe they were released as singles, but sadly recieved little attention commercially), but "It Won't Be Wrong" and "Have You Seen Her Face" both contain some of the best melodies I have ever heard from this group or anyone else, and I always enjoy listening to them. Pity these weren't hits, they sure deserved to be. As it is, they remain supreme album cuts that make this great collection even greater.
This is a MUST have for any seroius rock fan. Don't let this pass you by. If you are a casual fan, definitely pick this one up and prepare to get hooked. After listening to their classic hits, go back and pickup the remastered versions of the "Mr. Tambourine Man" and "Fifth Dimension" albums (both of which feature phoenomenal album cuts) to see what a truly inventive band the Byrds really were during this era.
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While I love the Byrds and every song on this Greatest Hits album, this review pertains only to the sound of the premium-priced SACD reissue of this album,. Something has gone terribly wrong with the remastering for the SACD version. The sound is brittle and hard and lacking in bass, and while the word is that the original masters in Colombia's vaults aren't in the greatest condition, that couldn't possibly explain it, because the sound quality is pretty terrific on Columbia's recent series of 20 bit remastered standard CD Columbia CDs, which presumably come from the same master tapes. I have not had a chance to compare this SACD version of "Greatest Hits" with the sound on the standard version, because this is not a hybrid SACD, which would contain the standard CD sound on a separate layer. So the bottom line is that if you are thinking of buying this to have SACD versions of these incredible songs, don't waste your money. Buy the remastered regular CDs.
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HALL OF FAMEon April 8, 2001
Anyone alive and kicking in the early 1960s remembers the Byrds fondly. Who but this unlikely group of very talented but inherently quirky young musicians could have made such an instant splash as they did with a quick succession of chart busters such as "All I Really Want To Do", Mr. Tambourine Man", and "Turn, Turn, Turn"? They had tyhe audacity and courage to assaultwhat was then the British-dominated pop charts and in the process became a wildly successful group, one who wound up pioneering the realities of the American rock star phenomenon. As they describe in "So You Want to Be A Rock & Roll Star", the chance to do so was real, at least for them. And they succeeded far beyond their wildest expectations!
All of their best efforts are here, and although it was true that the tender ages and very high level of talent and abilities of each of the members led to their relatively quick demise as a group, it is also true that the abilities of each as musicians and songwriters and performers is evident here. Who can resist the magic of a song like "Eight Miles High" or "My Back Pages"? They had an obvious sense of humor, as is evident in "Mr Spaceman", and also had a social conscience, as they proved with "Chimes OF Freedom". In fact, they helped enormously to establish Bob Dylan's music in the hearts and minds of the sixties generation, and from "Mr Tambourine Man" to "My Back Pages" to "All I Really Want To Do" , they popularized the themes of intelligent questioning of social issues with their music. No one has a complete sixties music collection without this album. Buy it and enjoy!
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VINE VOICEon December 20, 2001
Yep, even 30-plus years later,the early Byrds have proven their high standing in 60's pop-rock. Where else can you get their unique chimelike 12-string,matched by some superb harmonies,even if the songs don't always stand up quite as well? TURN,TURN,TURN,right out of Eccliasiates, always sounds just fine. "Bells of Rhymney" , Pete Seeger's ballad about a coal mining disaster, has not lost it's sadness. EIGHT MILES HIGH still flies with perfect harmony,even if the guitars get a little too noisy."5 D" and "My Back Pages" fill the package perfectly, the latter a less known example of making a Dylan tune enjoyable. Still, a couple of these don't hold their own ("Spaceman" and "Rock and Roll Star"), and could have been replaced by a couple less known numbers from YOUNGER THAN YESTERDAY. Still, the best one CD Byrds' package. They went off later to do some "country/cowboy" things,etc. but none of that has the uniqueness of this, their earliest and best.
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on December 28, 2001
Of course there's a bunch of songs "missing" from here, but if you're looking for a PERFECT Byrds compilation containing most of their biggest and best, this is it; there's not a weak track in the bunch! You'd probably want to get "Best Of/Vol. II" as well for, if nothing else, "Chestnut Mare" and "The Ballad of Easy Rider", but for now let's focus on this one here...
From "Mr.Tambourine Man" to "My Back Pages" (incidentally, the two best Dylan covers of all time AND in -at least- my Top 10 of best pop songs ever), this one's just a pure joy anyway, anyhow and anywhere you look at it. More of Dylan's best is flawlessly interpreted in an immaculately Byrdy fashion via both "All I Really Want to Do" and "Chimes of Freedom", with a bit of Pete Seeger thrown into the mix thru "The Bells of Rhymney" and the literally heavenly "Turn! Turn! Turn!" -- the latter of which could make a dead man weep.
But that's just the tip of the iceberg. The Byrds themselves were (and, indeed, are) no slouches in the songwriting department; at least "So You Want to Be a Rock 'N' Roll Star" and "Eight Miles High" are ample proofs of that.
The rest of this disc is just as uninterruptedly glorious and mighty; the Byrds were arguably one of the very best and most important bands of its era -- fourth only to the Beatles, Stones and the Beach Boys, and if that's not a testament to the utter brilliance of this collection, I just don't know what is.
"...and I was so much older then, I'm younger than that now."
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on October 10, 2003
I have never been a huge Byrds fan, but have come to appreciate their place in rock history. After listening to their Greatest Hits on SACD I was throughly took by the warmth of the and feel of the music. The jangling guitars and tamborine had a more realistic sound than any CD version I've heard. If you're a total digital dork and don't like to hear any noise(tape hiss) then you will probably find fault with the production. But if you appreciate when the analogue quality of the original master is preserved you will likely agree this recording sounds incredible, and justifies the existence of stereo SACD.
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