Brilliant Debut Albums #16

The Byrds – Mr. Tambourine Man

1965 – and in America as in Britain and most of Europe The Beatles were untouchable; Beatlemania ruled.  But another musical revolution was occurring in America.  Folk music was changing from its traditional roots into a new protest music.  Led in part by the incredible songwriting of Bob Dylan whose songs were slowly being recorded by more established artists; but this was still a fairly minority genre.  But a new Californian band, led by Jim McGuinn, vocals by Gene Clark and also featuring David Crosby and Chris Hillman picked up on Dylan’s ‘Mr. Tambourine Man’ and “invented” folk rock.  (in ’68 they practically invented American too. The band had a new and different sound; a jangly 12 string guitar and great harmonies.  They managed to create (or rather, like the Beatles themselves, popularise) a new, soon to be called ‘West Coast’ rock style.  Their debut featured 4 Dylan songs, most of the others were self-penned or were more traditional folk tunes.  But it was the unique sound they had which took America by storm, they were never so popular in Britain.  This album still sounds fresh some sixty years later, and as different again as both the Beatles and Dylan.  Best tracks – ‘Tambourine Man’, ‘The Bells Of Rhymney’ and ‘I’ll feel A Whole Lot Better’.   I saw them in 1970; McGuinn and Hillman still there but a different line-up.  They were incredible and played all their great songs.