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The Byrds

Untitled

Year: 1970
Label: Columbia Records
Location: Griffith Observatory | 
 | CA | USA

The album cover artwork was designed by Eve Babitz and featured photographs taken by Nancy Chester of The Byrds upon the steps of Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles, with the view of L.A. that originally made up the background being replaced by a desert scene. When the double album gatefold sleeve was opened up, the front and back cover photographs were mirrored symmetrically in a style reminiscent of the work of graphic artist M. C. Escher. The inside gatefold sleeve featured four individual black & white photographic portraits of the band members, along with liner notes written by Jim Bickhart and Derek Taylor.

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Album info

(Untitled) is the ninth album by the American rock band the Byrds and was released in September 1970 on Columbia Records. It is a double album, with the first LP featuring live concert recordings from early 1970, and a second disc consisting of new studio recordings. The album represented the first official release of any live recordings by the band, as well as the first appearance on a Byrds’ record of new recruit Skip Battin, who had replaced the band’s previous bass player, John York, in late 1969.

The studio album mostly consists of newly written, self-penned material, including a number of songs that had been composed by band leader Roger McGuinn and Broadway theatre director Jacques Levy for a planned country rock musical that the pair were developing. The production was to have been based on Henrik Ibsen’s Peer Gynt and staged under the title of Gene Tryp (an anagram of Ibsen’s play), but plans for the musical fell through. Five of the songs that had been intended for Gene Tryp were instead recorded by the Byrds for (Untitled)—although only four appear in the album’s final running order.

The album peaked at number 40 on the Billboard Top LPs chart and reached number 11 on the UK Albums Chart. A single taken from the album, “Chestnut Mare” b/w “Just a Season”, was released in the U.S. in October 1970, but missed the Billboard Hot 100 chart, bubbling under at number 121. The single was later released in the UK in January 1971, where it did considerably better, reaching number 19 on the UK Singles Chart. Upon release, (Untitled) was met with positive reviews and strong sales, with many critics and fans regarding the album as a return to form for the band. Likewise, the album is today generally regarded by critics as being the best that the latter-day line-up of the Byrds produced.

The Byrds

Biography

The Byrds (/b??rdz/) were an American rock band formed in Los Angeles, California in 1964. The band underwent multiple lineup changes throughout its existence, with frontman Roger McGuinn (known as Jim McGuinn until mid-1967) remaining the sole consistent member. Although their time as one of the most popular groups in the world only lasted for a short period in the mid-1960s, the Byrds are today considered by critics to be among the most influential rock acts of their era. Their signature blend of clear harmony singing and McGuinn's jangly twelve-string Rickenbacker guitar was "absorbed into the vocabulary of rock" and has continued to be influential.

Initially, the Byrds pioneered the musical genre of folk rock as a popular format in 1965, by melding the influence of the Beatles and other British Invasion bands with contemporary and traditional folk music on their first and second albums, and the hit singles "Mr. Tambourine Man" and "Turn! Turn! Turn!". As the 1960s progressed, the band was influential in originating psychedelic rock and raga rock, with their song "Eight Miles High" and the albums Fifth Dimension (1966), Younger Than Yesterday (1967) and The Notorious Byrd Brothers (1968). The band also played a pioneering role in the development of country rock, with the 1968 album Sweetheart of the Rodeo representing their fullest immersion into the genre.

The original five-piece lineup of the band consisted of Jim McGuinn (lead guitar, vocals), Gene Clark (tambourine, vocals), David Crosby (rhythm guitar, vocals), Chris Hillman (bass guitar, vocals), and Michael Clarke (drums). This version of the band was relatively short-lived and by early 1966 Clark had left due to problems associated with anxiety and his increasing isolation within the group. The Byrds continued as a quartet until late 1967, when Crosby and Clarke also departed. McGuinn and Hillman decided to recruit new members, including country rock pioneer Gram Parsons, but by late 1968, Hillman and Parsons had also exited the band. McGuinn elected to rebuild the band's membership; between 1968 and 1973, he helmed a new incarnation of the Byrds that featured guitarist Clarence White, among others. McGuinn disbanded the then-current lineup in early 1973 to make way for a reunion of the original quintet. The Byrds' final album was released in March 1973, with the reunited group disbanding later that year.

Several former members of the Byrds went on to successful careers of their own, either as solo artists or as members of such groups as Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, the Flying Burrito Brothers, McGuinn, Clark & Hillman, and the Desert Rose Band. In 1991, the Byrds were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, an occasion that saw the five original members performing together for the last time. Gene Clark died of a heart attack later that year, while Michael Clarke died of liver failure in 1993. McGuinn, Crosby, and Hillman remain active.

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