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4.7 out of 5 stars
36
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on April 25, 2015
The original Sweetheart of the Rodeo is a 5 star album only because of its historical importance and influential impact. Musically it was 4 stars, and even that might be a bit generous. With all the material that the Byrds recorded at the sessions, it could have easily been as great an album as its reputation would indicate. Personally, I blame the producer, he's the one on the team that is supposed to wear the pants and make the tough decisions. BUT do not be dismayed- we live in a blessed musical age with easy access to bonus tracks and the digital capacity to re-arrange things according to our own liking.

I will show you all you need to do to create your own perfect Sweetheart album, one that would be 5 stars and rank with the greatest of the greats.
First buy this wonderful legacy edition, and then arrange the tracks thus:

ALBUM SIDE ONE:
1. You Aint Goin Nowhere - this Dylan classic with Lloyd Green's pedal steel intro was and is the only way to start the album and is one of its highest points
2. I am a Pilgrim - a well chosen traditional song sung by Chris Hillman. no change from the original yet.
3. The Christian Life (Gram Parsons vocal) - when I fist got Sweetheart and heard McGuinn sing this, I thought "this isn't country, it's a bad parody of country". Then I read the liner notes where McGuinn says "my singing on The Christian Life was a parody of country singing". Whether Parsons' was prevented from having too many lead vocals on the record because of contractual restrictions, or, as Tom points out in his excellent review, it was really McGuin not wanting to cede too much control to Parsons, there was still no excuse for putting Roger's version of this one on the finished album when there were much better songs in the can. Now we can replace the album's low point with a much improved (and more sincere) Gram Parsons version. The second rehearsal from CD two may be the best version, if you have the technology to eliminate the nearly full minute of false starts. Selecting a Louvin Brothers song to cover gives the Byrds extra bonus points in cool.
4. You don't Miss Your Water (Gram Parsons vocal) - it's not that i don't like McGuinn's version, I just suspect that it was Parsons' idea to cover this country/soul nugget. Plus I think we begin to hear Gram's ragged, world weary vocal style beginning to blossom here. Plus it makes a nice lead-in to the soul songs he would cover with the Burritos.
5. Pretty Polly (electric version) - If you had something this awesome, why would you release much weaker songs like McGuinn's "Christian Life" or Parsons' "Life in Prison"? Some might make a good argument for the acoustic version of Pretty Polly found on CD2 which has some great changed lyrics, but I just like the sound of that Rickenbacker coupled with this old British folk song. Put it here so it can sit right next to the other "pretty" person on the record:
6. Pretty Boy Floyd - with lines like "As through this life you travel, you meet some funny men / Some rob you with a six-gun, some with a fountain pen" this Woody Guthrie tune has to stay.
7. Hickory Wind - the glaring, glorious exception *(see track 11 below)

ALBUM SIDE TWO:
8. Lazy Day - I know they were going for a country feel, and this one is more rock'n'roll, but it gives the album a boost of energy. Plus, with this song included, the album could have been a forerunner of both counrty-rock AND southern rock. I'll take the more electric version heard on CD one of this legacy edition.
9. One hundred Years From Now (ROGER McGUINN vocal) - that's right, I'm keeping the McGuinn version of this Parsons penned song. Gram fanatics might call me a heretic, but I think Roger's vocal is a little better. Plus I like the group camaraderie that a McGuinn vocal implies.
10. Blue Canadian Rockies - Blueberry Hill was the first Gene Autry song to be covered by a rock'n'roll artist, I'm guessing that this was the second. (wait- I'm forgetting Elvis Here Comes Santa Claus)
11. You're Still on My Mind - here is the cold hard truth- as a general rule, and with some glaring, glorious exceptions (see track 7)*, Gram Parsons was not that good at covering or writing pure, unadulterated country songs. Nobody loved to sing country classics more than Gram, but his true strength lie in writing and singing the "cosmic American music" that he became known for. Sweetheart of the Rodeo was burdened by two attempts by Gram at pure country. Again, I'm calling out Gary Usher the producer on this one. With songs like Reputation and Pretty Polly available, it shouldn't have happened. So why am I keeping this on my 5 star version? Alongside the additions and changes I have made to the track order, this one is a nice, lighthearted piece that fits in nicely- with some terrific bar-room piano playing by Poole Ball. But "Life in Prison" was one honky-tonk Gram Parsons' song too many, so it's out.
12. Reputation - this one should definitely have been on the original album. compare its rythym and the dobro infused intro to Elvis' "Clean up Your Own Back Yard" released the following year. Also, there is a great acoustic demo version Gram recorded a couple of years earlier on another Parsons' compilation.
13. Nothing Was Delivered - not really the greatest Dylan song ever, and not one of the strongest cuts on the record, but I'm keeping it.
14. All I Have are Memories - with only 11 tracks on the original album, drummer Kevin Kelly really got the shaft when this one was cut. If you insist that the album must begin and close with a Dylan cover, just consider this an encore or a coda. If you prefer the instrumental, you also have that option.

Next, with the original album, tracks released on the anthology, and the "Naked" version, we can make the ultimate version of the album "Let It Be"!...
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on August 31, 2012
Given the many informative reviews already, I have just a couple of clarifying points to relate. There are some post that suggest this is a different mastering from the single disk "Expanded Edition Sweetheart," but this does not appear to be the case to my ears. I have compared them closely, and they sound identical to me in terms of both loudness and the mastering/mix itself. The main reason to get this set for me was to get the improved mastering of the deleted/overdubbed Gram Parsons vocals, which for reasons I cannot fathom, were not included on the Expanded Edition. These cuts first saw the light of day on the Box Set, and while they sound good there, they have considerably greater clarity and impact on this edition. I find the second disc to be interesting, but hardly essential. The outtakes are interesting, but IMO, the takes used on the main volume are clearly the preferred versions, as one would expect. Still, this is a worthwhile addition to the Byrds canon, and I am glad I bought it, even though I have both the expanded edition and the box set.
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on January 15, 2013
worth getting. this re release is better than the other cd version i got about 6 years ago. this one has 'all i have are memories' with the vocals in. its a good song. the gram outtakes are worth it too. the extra songs from the international submarine band make it worth getting as well. with the isb songs on here and the isb album you got enough for a real full album. i wonder why they didnt release these isb songs as bonus tracks on the isb album in the first place. same for the kevin kelly song on sweetheart. id like to know, maybe its an accident depending on when they dig up these old recordings. maybe its set up as a way for you to buy more. (some gems on this one, some gems on that one, more gems on a re release in a few years after everyones bought the older stuff.) it makes me wonder if they have more byrds and burritos etc. recordings that could be made available to the customers. i wish theyd dust off, pollish up and release everything by the people from that early country rock scene
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on February 25, 2017
Love it....makes driving in traffic much more pleasant!
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on April 21, 2013
This is one of the definitive country-rock albums, and is a must for fans. Note that Gram Parsons influenced the fabric of this album, but his voice is only on a few tracks due to legal disputes with record labels. If you're not sure you're that into it, you would probably prefer the regular edition (one CD) for a few less bucks.
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on November 9, 2010
Due to either Roger McGuinn editing out Grams vocals on some songs and subbing himself in because he feared Gram was taking over the group. Or if an earlier contract and the threat of a lawsuit made the record company edit Gram out and Roger in, we may never know. Gram thought all the lawyers would simply work out the details and to me that makes the most sense.
In any case you get the good , the bad and the ugly with this 2 disc set - you get the original album as it was released and you also get the original versions before Gram was removed. And it is those tracks that are GOLD on this 1968 album. Grams influence cannot be overestimated. I am a huge Gene Clark fan as well and I know a lot of people think Gram is more popular than Gene and that it is not fair. Sometimes I agree. Sometimes I dont. Gram is easier to listen to. Gene was a very tortured guy and it shows in everything he did. Gram was more fun. Christian Life, Dont miss your water, Your still on my mind, it goes on and on, one great tune after another. And of course "Hickory Wind" Grams tribute to his grandmother. These are all classic's and I highly recommend this "Lagacy" edition of the album with all the extra cuts.
And a bonus including a few cuts from Grams International Submarine band make this expanded edition a great deal.
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on July 14, 2015
Great retro-music! The Byrds were in top for this disc. I had the original album but it was all scratched up due to many, many playing's.
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on October 21, 2011
There is not much I can add to what other reviewers have said already about this great album. I have been a fan of early Byrds music (65-67) prior to the making of "Sweetheart". However, I had never heard the original album in it's entirety before purchasing this Legacy Edition. The sound samples on Amazon plus what other reviewer's stated about the additional tracks featuring the vocals of Gram Parsons helped me make the decision to buy the Legacy Edition. I am very glad I did! The original album on disk 1 was a real treat to listen to for the first time as well as the added tracks that didn't make the album. It sounds authentically country with a feel of rock and roll abandonment. The album was indeed a true departure from their earlier music. One can certainly hear the sounds of this album reflected in later groups like Poco, the Eagles, Crosby,Stills,Nash,and Young, as well in country music later on.

Disc 2 of the Legacy Edition is also a lot of fun to listen to as it features the vocals of Gram Parsons with The International Submarine Band as well as the rehearsal sessions of the Sweetheart Album. As others have stated, if you're not interested in hearing additional vocals by Gram, you're probably better off buying the single disk version. But if you want to get more of a feel for what went in to the making of this album the Legacy Edition is well worth the price. The overall package also exceeded my expectations in terms of sound quality and superb singing and musicianship heard throughout. It is well worth the listen for the true country/rock fan.
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on June 16, 2014
I love this album. The recording is great. The second album didn't add that much to my enjoyment.

The five stars are for disc one. The second disc I could do with or without.
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on April 22, 2016
Fast delivery. Perfect!
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