Whilst The Byrds at the time did not feature the musical presence of Chris Hillman or Gram Parsons or Gene Clark but their music nevertheless turned heads. Rickenbacker 12-string guitar player McGuinn was the lead the vocalist, John York was on drums and the two newest members in Gene Parsons (drums) and vocals plus, the incredible Clarence West electric lead guitar the band was reinventing itself daily. White might have been brought up playing bluegrass in the family band (his brother Roland White played mandolin) but at 25 he already had a legion of followers outside the music. Due to session work (Pat Boone, The Monkees, and earlier releases by The Byrds) and live work on stage (The Kentucky Colonels). It was a sad day when he was taken from us in 1973, for on July 14th aged only 29 he was killed by a drunk driver loading his gear into his car after a gig in Palmdale, California. Here White's playing is enough to blow you away. So diverse he is too as he moves, effortlessly through country, Appalachia and his own style of rock infused music.
The band’s label hadn’t recorded the band before, and didn’t officially do so till a year later. Adding to the intrigue album Live At The Fillmore didn’t gain a release till 2000. Though recorded by Columbia engineers, it wasn't The Byrds that were their focal point back on february 7th and 8th at Bill Graham's Fillmore West but they had come to record an ad-hoc confederation of the Butterfield Blues Band.
Highlights include must hear instrumental “Buckaroo”, “The Christian Life”, “Pretty Boy Floyd” (Parsons on lead vocals) and “Drug Store Truck Drivin’ Man” (the jewel in the crown) plus their epic medley featuring “Turn! Turn! Turn! (To Everything There Is A Season)”, “Mr. Tambourine Man” and a bridged version of “Eight Miles High”. They also make a good fist of two country classics, “Close Up The Honky Tonk” (Red Simpson) and though lacking the soul of composer, Merle Haggard's “Sing Me Back Home” also gains a slot in between Bob Dylan – Rick Danko’s “This Wheels On Fire” and McGuinn’s anthem like co-write with Hillman “So You Want To Be A Rock ‘N’ Roll Star”. Closing it all you have Dylan’s impassioned and ever good to hear “Chimes Of Freedom”. Apart from its value as a piece of Byrds’ history the live collection also serves as a open invitation to check out more from the band plus projects from McGuinn (solo and in other ensembles), White (The Kentucky Colonels) and Gene Parsons. While the set isn't flawless there is a wealth of great music to enjoy.
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