Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Byrds 11: Farther Along

Undaunted and still tied to a contract, The Byrds made another stab at a decent album almost immediately after releasing the disappointing Byrdmaniax. Farther Along is nowhere near as labored as their most recent work but, as should be obvious by now, it bears little resemblance to the band of only a few years before.
While “Tiffany Queen” puts Roger’s drawl front and center while spinning Chuck Berry riffs on his 12-string Rick, the other guys fill in most of the rest. Gene Parsons contributes “Get Down Your Life”, which has a good loping verse but unwisely goes double-time for the choruses. Clarence White sings proud and clear on the title track, then Gene yells the truly obnoxious “B.B. Class Road”, an anthem about the crew co-written with one of their roadies. Clarence reclaims the side with “Bugler”, another pretty tearjerker about a dog.
Speaking of obnoxious, Skip Battin’s “America’s Great National Pastime” was inexplicably chosen as the album’s single. Roger returns for “Antique Sandy”, which is marred by the spacey effects on the choruses. He does a better job on “Precious Kate”, and good for Skip for letting him sing it. A plodding country arrangement of the ‘50s song “So Fine” takes up space, lifted by Skip’s decent reading of “Lazy Waters”. A brief album ends with another instrumental bluegrass workout, “Bristol Steam Convention Blues”.
The latter-day Byrds had (and have) their fans, so for them, Farther Along is a decent closure to that period. The band would stumble along for a year or so (even recording some tracks that would be added to the CD’s reissue) until McGuinn finally pulled the plug. Everyone soon found work, whether on their own or with the Flying Burrito Brothers, but Clarence’s story ended way too soon. Loading up after a pickup gig in July of 1973, he was struck and killed by a drunk driver.

The Byrds Farther Along (1971)—3
2000 CD reissue: same as 1971, plus 3 extra tracks

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