Tuesday, August 28, 2007

No. 124: Younger Than Yesterday

Band: The Birds
Album: Younger Than Yesterday
Why Rolling Stone gets it right: One of The Byrds' "tension" albums, "Younger Than Yesterday" was one of the American soundtracks to the Summer of Love. The production is filled with wanky backwards tape loops and effects, which is interesting, if nothing else.
Why Rolling Stone gets it wrong: While this was the period when The Byrds were considered Americas answer to The Beatles, there are few great songs here.
Best song: "So You Want to Be a Rock 'N' Roll Star" is delightfully sarcastic.
Worst song: "C.T.A. -102" isn't great. In fact, all of its value lies in the final 45 seconds, mostly because of the strange production.
Is it awesome?: Probably not, but the first two songs are fantastic.

With the band now an official quartet -- Gene Clark had left the group shortly after "Fifth Dimension" was released -- The Byrds went about putting together a less edgy, but more radio-friendly record. "Younger Than Yesterday" is the result.

The Byrds' trademark, the jangly guitar work, is still there. And even more complex and morose songwriting, such as Crosby's "Everybody's Been Burned" also flourish on "Younger Than Yesterday." "My Back Pages," the requisite Dylan cover is fantastic. "Have You Seen Her Face" is the prototypes Byrds song: Simple love song, coupled with jangly guitars and easy rhythms.

"Mind Gardens" is one of the songs that doesn't necessarily stink, but it's value lies mostly in its production. Sparse guitars, whirling tape effects and psychedelic lyrics sound like a recipe for a good song. It's not. It meanders a bit and doesn't really go anywhere. "C.T.A.-102" is similarly produced, but the song is short and the second half appears to just be screwing around with tape effects, so the song remains considerably more interesting.

Overall, "Younger Than Yesterday" isn't bad. They were clearly experimenting a bit, while still trying to satisfy the jangly pop they had become so great at creating. The Byrds are a mostly greatest hits-type band, so "Younger Than Yesterday" isn't a must-have

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