Dr. Byrds & Mr. Hyde

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Dr. Byrds & Mr. Hyde
Studio album by The Byrds
Released March 5, 1969
Recorded October 7 – October 16, December 4, 1968, Columbia Studios, Hollywood, CA
October 21, 1968, Columbia Studios, Nashville, TN
Genre Rock, country rock, folk rock, psychedelic rock
Length 34:25
Label Columbia
Producer Bob Johnston
The Byrds chronology
Sweetheart of the Rodeo
(1968)
Dr. Byrds & Mr. Hyde
(1969)
Preflyte
(1969)
Singles from Dr. Byrds & Mr. Hyde
  1. "Bad Night at the Whiskey"
    Released: January 7, 1969

Dr. Byrds & Mr. Hyde is the seventh album by the American rock band The Byrds and was released in March 1969 on Columbia Records (see 1969 in music).[1][2] The album saw the band juxtaposing simple country rock material with harder-edged psychedelia, giving the album a stylistic split-personality that was alluded to in its title.[2][3] The album was the first to feature the new band line-up of Clarence White (guitar), Gene Parsons (drums), John York (bass), and founding member Roger McGuinn (guitar).[2] Dr. Byrds & Mr. Hyde is unique within the band's discography for being the only album on which McGuinn sings the lead vocal on every track.[4]

The album peaked at #153 on the Billboard Top LPs album chart and reached #15 on the UK Albums Chart.[5][6] A preceding single, "Bad Night at the Whiskey" (b/w "Drug Store Truck Drivin' Man"), was released on January 7, 1969 but it failed to chart in the United States or in the United Kingdom.[7] However, a non-album single recorded shortly after the release of Dr. Byrds & Mr. Hyde, a cover of Bob Dylan's "Lay Lady Lay", peaked at #132 on the Billboard singles chart.[8][9] Dr. Byrds & Mr. Hyde was the lowest charting album of the band's career in the United States, edging out the later Farther Along by one place.[10]

Background[edit]

Following the departure of Gram Parsons from the band, lead guitarist Roger McGuinn and bass player Chris Hillman decided that they needed to find a replacement member in order to meet their forthcoming concert obligations.[11][12] With an appearance at the Newport Pop Festival looming, McGuinn and Hillman moved quickly to recruit noted session guitarist and longtime Byrd-in-waiting, Clarence White.[12] White, who had played as a session musician on The Byrds' previous three albums, was invited to join the band as a full-time member in July 1968.[13][14] After the Newport Pop Festival appearance, White began to express dissatisfaction with the band's drummer, Kevin Kelley, and soon persuaded McGuinn and Hillman to replace Kelley with Gene Parsons (no relation to Gram), a friend of White's from their days together in the band Nashville West.[12][15][16]

The new McGuinn, Hillman, White and Parsons line-up of the band was together for less than a month before Hillman departed to form The Flying Burrito Brothers with Gram Parsons.[15][16] John York, a session musician who had toured with Johnny Rivers and The Mamas & the Papas, was quickly hired as his replacement on bass.[10] The new band line-up, featuring McGuinn and White's dual guitar work, was regarded by critics and audiences as much more accomplished in concert than any previous configuration of The Byrds had been.[17] Amidst so many changes in band personnel, McGuinn decided that he alone would sing lead vocals on the band's new album, in order to give it a sense of sonic unity. McGuinn felt that it would be too confusing for fans of The Byrds to have the unfamiliar voices of the new members coming forward at this stage and so White, Parsons and York were relegated to backing vocal duties during the recording of the album.[4] Dr. Byrds & Mr. Hyde is therefore the only album in The Byrds' catalogue to feature Roger McGuinn singing lead on every track.[4]

Prior to the recording of the album, The Byrds' record producer, Gary Usher, who had worked on the band's three previous albums, had been fired by Columbia Records for spending too much money on the recording of the Chad & Jeremy album, Of Cabbages and Kings.[4] Faced with the need to find a replacement producer, The Byrds elected to bring in Bob Johnston, who had been Bob Dylan's producer since 1965.[4][18] Ultimately, the band were unhappy with Johnston's production work on Dr. Byrds & Mr. Hyde and as a result, it was the only Byrds' album to be produced by him.[3] However, Johnston was employed once more as the band's producer on their May 1969 non-album single, "Lay Lady Lady".[19] He incurred the band's wrath, however, by overdubbing a female choir on to that recording, allegedly without The Byrds' consent.[19] When the single then stalled at #132 on the Billboard charts the band decided that they would not work with Johnston again.[9][19]

Recording[edit]

Recording sessions for the album began on October 7, 1968, with nine songs intended for Dr. Byrds & Mr. Hyde being recorded during that month.[20] Among these songs were "Nashville West", an instrumental written by Gene Parsons and Clarence White during their tenure with the country rock group of the same name, and "Your Gentle Way of Loving Me", a song that Parsons and Gib Guilbeau had previously released as a single in 1967.[21][22] Another song recorded during these sessions was McGuinn's "King Apathy III", a comment on political apathy and a championing of the rural idyll as an antidote to the excesses of the L.A. rock scene.[8][21] The October recording sessions also saw the band attempting the traditional song "Old Blue",[23] which McGuinn had originally learned from watching Bob Gibson and Bob Camp at Chicago's Gate of Horn club back in April 1961.[16] "Old Blue" is the first of three dog-related songs to be recorded by The Byrds: the second and third being "Fido" from the Ballad of Easy Rider album and "Bugler" from Farther Along.[24][25] "Old Blue" features the first appearance on a Byrds' recording of the Parsons and White designed StringBender, an invention that allowed White to duplicate the sound of a pedal steel guitar on his Fender Telecaster.[4]

The October recording sessions also yielded "Bad Night at the Whiskey", a song that would go on to be issued as the A-side of a single two months before the release of the album.[16][21] Named after a disappointing gig at the Whisky a Go Go and co-written by Joey Richards, a friend of McGuinn's, "Bad Night at the Whiskey" featured allusive lyrics that bore little or no relationship to the song's title.[4] The Byrds also recorded a version of Bob Dylan and Rick Danko's "This Wheel's on Fire" during the October 1968 sessions but this version was not included on the final album.[20] "Stanley's Song", a rather lackluster country shuffle, written by McGuinn and his friend Robert J. Hippard also dates from these sessions but it was eventually discarded and did not appear in the final track listing for Dr. Byrds & Mr. Hyde.[21]

Another composition recorded during the October 1968 sessions was the McGuinn and Gram Parsons penned "Drug Store Truck Drivin' Man".[4][16] The song had been written by the pair in London in May 1968 before Parsons' departure from the band and was inspired by the hostility shown towards The Byrds by legendary Nashville DJ Ralph Emery when they appeared on his WSM radio program.[4][8] The song's barbed lyric contains a volley of Redneck stereotypes, set to a classic country 3/4 time signature and begins with the couplet "He's a drug store truck drivin' man/He's the head of the Ku Klux Klan."[26][27] It should be noted, however, that Emery was not, in fact, a Klansman.[4] The song was subsequently performed by Joan Baez at the Woodstock Festival in 1969 and dedicated to the then governor of California, Ronald Reagan.[8] Baez's performance of the song also appeared on the Woodstock: Music from the Original Soundtrack and More album.[28]

An acetate version of Dr. Byrds & Mr. Hyde, dated October 16, 1968 and containing a seven-track programme for the album is known to exist.[29] At this point the album consisted of the songs "Old Blue", "King Apathy III", "Drug Store Truck Drivin' Man" and "This Wheel's on Fire" on side one, with "Your Gentle Way of Loving Me", "Nashville West" and "Bad Night at the Whiskey" on side two.[29]

The Byrds returned to the studio on December 4, 1968 to re-record "This Wheel's on Fire", which had initially been attempted by the band in October.[16] During this same December session, The Byrds also revisited two songs that had been written for the 1968 film Candy.[16] Of these two songs, "Child of the Universe", written by McGuinn and soundtrack composer Dave Grusin, was used in the film,[30] while the McGuinn—York penned title track was not.[8] A medley featuring the Dylan-authored Byrds' hit "My Back Pages", along with an instrumental named "B.J. Blues" and a jam version of the blues standard "Baby What You Want Me to Do" was also recorded during this December recording session.[20]

Release and reception[edit]

Dr. Byrds & Mr. Hyde was released on March 5, 1969 in the United States (catalogue item CS 9755) and April 25, 1969 in the United Kingdom (catalogue item 63545 in mono, S 63545 in stereo).[1] Like The Byrds' previous LP, Sweetheart of the Rodeo, the album was issued exclusively in stereo in America but appeared in both mono and stereo variations in the UK.[1] Sales of Dr. Byrds & Mr. Hyde were poor in the U.S., causing it to stall at #153 on the Billboard Top LPs chart and giving the album the dubious honor of being the lowest charting album of the band's career, edging out the later Farther Along by just one place.[3][10] The album fared better in the United Kingdom, however, where it reached #15 on the UK Albums Chart.[6] The "Bad Night at the Whiskey" single was released ahead of the album on January 7, 1969 but it failed to reach the Billboard Hot 100 or the UK Singles Chart.[7]

The album's title, along with the back cover photo sequence, which featured the band changing from astronaut flight suits into cowboy garb, illustrated the schizophrenic nature of the album's material.[10] The psychedelic rock of "Bad Night at the Whiskey" and "This Wheel's on Fire" sat alongside the Bakersfield-style country rock of "Nashville West" and "Drug Store Truck Drivin' Man".[4] Despite containing only ten tracks, Dr. Byrds & Mr. Hyde is The Byrds' longest single album, clocking in at approximately thirty-five minutes in length. Only the double album (Untitled) is longer.

The album was released to generally positive reviews, with famed rock critic Robert Christgau declaring the album "first-rate Byrds, a high recommendation."[10][31] Johanna Schrier, writing in The Village Voice, described the album as "smooth and strong like a blended whiskey", before suggesting that it was "Part kin to Sweetheart of the Rodeo, part the acid offspring of Notorious Byrd Brothers."[3] In the UK, Record Mirror awarded the album four stars out of five, commenting "British devotes will dig this more than Sweetheart."[32] Disc magazine were particularly enthusiastic in their praise of the album, stating "[This is] their best album since perhaps Younger Than Yesterday, perfectly illustrating the two completely disparate sides of the group: far-out electronic rock and hick, twangy country."[32] In more recent times, critic Mark Deming has noted in his review for the Allmusic website that the album "proved there was still life left in the Byrds, but also suggested that they hadn't gotten back to full speed yet."[2] Senior editor of Rolling Stone, David Fricke, has described the album as "the Great Forgotten Byrds Album", while also noting that it "seemed tame in its reliance on the familiar."[10]

Dr. Byrds & Mr. Hyde was remastered at 20-bit resolution as part of the Columbia/Legacy Byrds series. It was reissued in an expanded form on March 25, 1997 with five bonus tracks, including the outtake "Stanley's Song".[21] Also included among the bonus tracks were alternate versions of "This Wheel's on Fire" and "Nashville West", as well as the band's cover of "Lay Lady Lay", which was issued as a single some months after the release of the album.[21] However, in the version included here, "Lay Lady Lay" is lacking the female backing chorus that had originally appeared on the single release.[8]

There has been some discussion amongst fans of The Byrds as to whether or not Dr. Byrds & Mr. Hyde was remixed for its expanded reissue in 1997.[33] Although the producer of the Columbia/Legacy Byrds' series, Bob Irwin, has stated that only the first four Byrds' albums underwent any remixing, some fans of the band maintain that Dr. Byrds & Mr. Hyde was also remixed, citing distinct differences between the 1997 reissue and the original album.[33] Among the differences found on the reissue are a lessening of reverb on many songs, the appearance of the spoken word "three" over the opening seconds of "This Wheel's on Fire", and a longer, unedited version of "Candy" appearing on the album for the first time.[33]

Track listing[edit]

Side 1[edit]

  1. "This Wheel's on Fire" (Bob Dylan, Rick Danko) – 4:44
  2. "Old Blue" (traditional, arranged Roger McGuinn) – 3:21
  3. "Your Gentle Way of Loving Me" (Gib Guilbeau, Gary Paxton) – 2:35
  4. "Child of the Universe" (Dave Grusin, Roger McGuinn) – 3:15
  5. "Nashville West" (Gene Parsons, Clarence White) – 2:29

Side 2[edit]

  1. "Drug Store Truck Drivin' Man" (Roger McGuinn, Gram Parsons) – 3:53
  2. "King Apathy III" (Roger McGuinn) – 3:00
  3. "Candy" (Roger McGuinn, John York) – 3:01
  4. "Bad Night at the Whiskey" (Roger McGuinn, Joseph Richards) – 3:23
  5. "Medley: My Back Pages/B.J. Blues/Baby What You Want Me to Do" (Bob Dylan, Roger McGuinn, John York, Gene Parsons, Clarence White, Jimmy Reed) – 4:08

1997 CD reissue bonus tracks[edit]

  1. "Stanley’s Song" (Roger McGuinn, Robert J. Hippard) – 3:12
  2. "Lay Lady Lay" [Alternate Version] (Bob Dylan) – 3:18
  3. "This Wheel's on Fire" [Version One] (Bob Dylan, Rick Danko) – 3:53
  4. "Medley: My Back Pages/B.J. Blues/Baby What You Want Me To Do" [Alternate Version — Take 1] (Bob Dylan, Roger McGuinn, John York, Gene Parsons, Clarence White, Jimmy Reed) – 4:18
  5. "Nashville West" [Alternate Version — Nashville Recording] (Gene Parsons, Clarence White) – 2:04

Personnel[edit]

NOTE: Sources for this section are as follows:[16][20]

The Byrds
Additional Personnel

Release history[edit]

Date Label Format Country Catalog Notes
March 5, 1969 Columbia LP US CS 9755 Original stereo release.
April 25, 1969 CBS LP UK 63545 Original mono release.
S 63545 Original stereo release.
1991 Columbia CD US CK 9755 Original CD release.
1993 BGO LP UK BGOLP 107
1993 BGO CD UK BGOCD 107
March 25, 1997 Columbia/Legacy CD US CK 65113 Reissue containing five bonus tracks and the remastered stereo album.
UK COL 486753
1999 Simply Vinyl LP UK SVLP 070 Reissue of the remastered stereo album.
2003 Sony CD Japan MHCP-101 Reissue containing five bonus tracks and the remastered album in a replica LP sleeve.
2008 Sundazed LP US LP 5072

Single release[edit]

  1. "Bad Night at the Whiskey" b/w "Drug Store Truck Drivin' Man" (Columbia 44746) January 7, 1969

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Rogan, Johnny. (1998). The Byrds: Timeless Flight Revisited (2nd ed.). Rogan House. pp. 544–547. ISBN 0-9529540-1-X. 
  2. ^ a b c d "Dr. Byrds & Mr. Hyde review". Allmusic. Retrieved 2009-09-14. 
  3. ^ a b c d Hjort, Christopher. (2008). So You Want To Be A Rock 'n' Roll Star: The Byrds Day-By-Day (1965-1973). Jawbone Press. pp. 206–207. ISBN 1-906002-15-0. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Rogan, Johnny. (1998). The Byrds: Timeless Flight Revisited (2nd ed.). Rogan House. pp. 280–285. ISBN 0-9529540-1-X. 
  5. ^ Whitburn, Joel. (2002). Top Pop Albums 1955-2001. Record Research Inc. p. 121. ISBN 0-89820-147-0. 
  6. ^ a b Brown, Tony. (2000). The Complete Book of the British Charts. Omnibus Press. p. 130. ISBN 0-7119-7670-8. 
  7. ^ a b Hjort, Christopher. (2008). So You Want To Be A Rock 'n' Roll Star: The Byrds Day-By-Day (1965-1973). Jawbone Press. p. 201. ISBN 1-906002-15-0. 
  8. ^ a b c d e f "Dr. Byrds & Mr. Hyde". ByrdWatcher: A Field Guide to the Byrds of Los Angeles. Retrieved 2009-09-14. 
  9. ^ a b Hjort, Christopher. (2008). So You Want To Be A Rock 'n' Roll Star: The Byrds Day-By-Day (1965-1973). Jawbone Press. p. 210. ISBN 1-906002-15-0. 
  10. ^ a b c d e f Fricke, David. (1997). Dr. Byrds & Mr. Hyde (1997 CD liner notes). 
  11. ^ Hjort, Christopher. (2008). So You Want To Be A Rock 'n' Roll Star: The Byrds Day-By-Day (1965-1973). Jawbone Press. pp. 178–179. ISBN 1-906002-15-0. 
  12. ^ a b c Rogan, Johnny. (1998). The Byrds: Timeless Flight Revisited (2nd ed.). Rogan House. pp. 266–268. ISBN 0-9529540-1-X. 
  13. ^ Fricke, David. (1997). Sweetheart of the Rodeo (1997 CD liner notes). 
  14. ^ "Clarence White: With the Byrds and After, 1968-1973". ByrdWatcher: A Field Guide to the Byrds of Los Angeles. Retrieved 2009-09-14. 
  15. ^ a b Rogan, Johnny. (1998). The Byrds: Timeless Flight Revisited (2nd ed.). Rogan House. pp. 276–278. ISBN 0-9529540-1-X. 
  16. ^ a b c d e f g h Hjort, Christopher. (2008). So You Want To Be A Rock 'n' Roll Star: The Byrds Day-By-Day (1965-1973). Jawbone Press. pp. 189–196. ISBN 1-906002-15-0. 
  17. ^ "Byrds: The Biography". Musicianguide.com. Retrieved 2010-01-22. 
  18. ^ "Bob Johnston Biography". Allmusic. Retrieved 2009-09-14. 
  19. ^ a b c Rogan, Johnny. (1998). The Byrds: Timeless Flight Revisited (2nd ed.). Rogan House. p. 289. ISBN 0-9529540-1-X. 
  20. ^ a b c d Rogan, Johnny. (1998). The Byrds: Timeless Flight Revisited (2nd ed.). Rogan House. p. 626. ISBN 0-9529540-1-X. 
  21. ^ a b c d e f Rogan, Johnny. (1997). Dr. Byrds & Mr. Hyde (1997 CD liner notes). 
  22. ^ "Gene Parsons related records". Byrds Flyght. Retrieved 2009-09-14. 
  23. ^ Gilliland, John (1969). "Show 9 - Tennessee Firebird: American country music before and after Elvis. [Part 1]" (audio). Pop Chronicles. Digital.library.unt.edu. 
  24. ^ Rogan, Johnny. (2000). Farther Along (2000 CD liner notes). 
  25. ^ "Reviews of Byrds and Other Albums". Jonathan and David's Byrds Page. Retrieved 2009-09-26. 
  26. ^ Fricke, David. (2003). Sweetheart of the Rodeo: Legacy Edition (2003 CD liner notes). 
  27. ^ "Drug Store Truck Drivin' Man lyrics". The Byrds Lyrics Page. Retrieved 2009-09-06. 
  28. ^ "Woodstock album review". Allmusic. Retrieved 2009-09-14. 
  29. ^ a b "Byrds Promo Records". Byrds Flyght. Retrieved 2009-09-14. 
  30. ^ Johnny Rogan The Byrds: Timeless Flight Revisited : the Sequel 1997 - Page 283 "'Child Of The Universe', written by McGuinn and Dave Grusin, was actually mixed twice, once for the film Candy, and once for this ... Whereas the soundtrack version featured added brass and orchestration, the Dr Byrds mix was sparser. As a lyrical apotheosis of the movie's eponymous heroine, the song fitted vaguely into the Byrds' catalogue of science-fiction songs,"
  31. ^ "The Byrds Have Flown - But Not Far". Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics. Retrieved 2009-09-14. 
  32. ^ a b Hjort, Christopher. (2008). So You Want To Be A Rock 'n' Roll Star: The Byrds Day-By-Day (1965-1973). Jawbone Press. p. 209. ISBN 1-906002-15-0. 
  33. ^ a b c "The Byrds Remastered Albums 1996 - 2000". Byrds Flyght. Retrieved 2009-09-14. 

Bibliography[edit]

  • Rogan, Johnny, The Byrds: Timeless Flight Revisited, Rogan House, 1998, ISBN 0-9529540-1-X
  • Hjort, Christopher, So You Want To Be A Rock 'n' Roll Star: The Byrds Day-By-Day (1965-1973), Jawbone Press, 2008, ISBN 1-906002-15-0.