Though it doesn't break any new ground for the band, Turn! Turn! Turn! further solidified The Byrds as the world's premier folk-rock unit, with the mega-hit title track leading the way. It isn't as consistent as their debut, but the highs rank among some of the band's absolute best work: there is, of course, the aforementioned all-time classic lead-off/title track, and the two Dylan covers are up to snuff. Just like the debut, though, the thing that really jumps out at me from this album is Gene Clark's songwriting, which reaches a new high here in 'Set You Free This Time' and 'If You're Gone.'
'Set You Free This Time' is pure Clark genius: a dense tone poem verse style bleeding straight into the chorus, the shift only marked by a key change in the instrumentation. With its vague country flavoring (dig the harp solo at the end), it presaged the country-rock that the band would begin really dipping their toes in on the next album. 'If You're Gone' is a simpler song with a rolling melody, but the droning harmonies that paint its corner are almost avant-garde for folk-rock, or any pop - especially in late 1965. Unfortunately, Clark would leave the band after this album, but it's hard to imagine the group taking the directions they would on later albums without his nudging them that way here.
This album could be seen as the more uneven, lesser version of Mr. Tambourine Man, and it's definitely easy to think of it as the cast-offs from that album's sessions; however, despite being the weakest of the Byrds' first 6 albums, it's worth owning for those tracks that reach the brilliance of their debut and the others that are the roots of the next four.
Roger McGuinn (guitar, banjo, moog, vocals), Gene Clark (vocals, tambourine, guitar, 1964-66, 1967), David Crosby (guitar, vocals, 1964-67), Chris Hillman (bass, mandolin, vocals, 1964-68, 1973), Michael Clarke (drums, 1964-67), Gram Parsons (guitar, piano, vocals, 1968), Carlos Bernal (guitar, 1968), Clarence White (guitar, vocals, 1968-73), Kevin Kelley (drums, 1968), Gene Parsons (drums, banjo, harmonica, vocals, 1968-72), John York (bass, vocals 1968-69), Skip Battin (bass, piano, vocals, 1969-73), Jimmi Seiter (percussion, 1970-72), John Guerin (drums, 1972, 1973), Jim Scherz (drums 1972, 1973), Dennis Dragon (drums, 1973), Joe Lala (drums, 1973)
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