Liner Note Author: Dave Henderson.
You have to add one virtue to the many cited for the Byrds -- they knew the best song-bags and catalogs to choose from in their covers, even if not all of the latter were always entirely successful. One is reminded of that anew listening to this collection, which might just as easily have been called "Roger McGuinn's Record Collection" or something of that sort. It's a compelling compilation of songs that, to varying degrees (and sometimes, in all honesty, minimally) became associated with the Byrds in the second half of the '60s and the early '70s. But in the company of Pete Seeger, Porter Wagoner ("A Satisfied Mind"), Wanda Jackson ("My Destiny"), the Louvin Brothers ("The Christian Life"), Merle Travis ("I Am a Pilgrim"), Gene Autry ("Blue Canadian Rockies"), Bill Monroe & His Blue Grass Boys ("Shady Grove"), Leadbelly
("Take a Whiff on Me"), Blind Willie Johnson ("John Revelator"), Woody Guthrie ("Pretty Boy Floyd," "Deportee"), et al, the Byrds themselves seem like relatively small potatoes, and that comes from a huge fan of the group. Pete Seeger is the most heavily represented artist here, accounting for six of the 22 tracks on this CD, any of which would quality for a place on a best-of his work, and most of the rest would occupy similar places of honor for their respective artists. (And that leads one to wonder why Sony Music's Legacy division didn't think of this collection -- perhaps assemble everything here and then gather together the Byrds' versions for a companion CD, and get Roger McGuinn to do the annotation, especially as several of the selections here were covered by McGuinn as a solo artist, rather than by the Byrds themselves). It's still a great collection, as it is, with Mojo's Dave Henderson doing the notes -- the only problem, as noted earlier, is that the material here is so strong, that it diminishes the Byrds' own versions on most of it. And amid the familiar names are figures such as Richard Rabbit Brown and Sam Eskin, who are also worth hearing. The audio quality is excellent throughout, and the annotation is reasonably thorough, as far as it goes, focusing, obviously, on McGuinn and Gram Parsons in the context of the group. It's a bargain, in any case, and great listening by any definition, even on the off chance that one doesn't happen to like the group. ~ Bruce Eder