The Byrds – ‘Just Before You Get To The Dream’ -Younger Than Yesterday LP 1967

by | Oct 19, 2014 | 0 comments


 
Long loved and often revisited, today in the rock room spins
a mono version of the diverse ‘Byrds’ 1967 LP, Younger Than Yesterday. The record is a wonderful document of the
post-Gene Clark group, showcasing Roger McGuinn, David Crosby and Chris Hillman’s
blossoming songwriting and composing skills. 
The four piece band would soon fracture due to their increasingly divergent styles and
personalities but in the case of this featured recording, the tincture of
blended talents equate to a multifarious and spectral slice of mid 1960’s psychedelic,
jazz and sonic experimentation.
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The record opens cinematically with the famous ‘So You Want
To Be A Rock and Roll Star’ the, luscious mono mix popping with Hillman’s plump
and excited bass lines. Jazz star Hugh Masekela blows horn over the undulating
percussion driven groove. Hillman’s maturation as a songwriter and bass player
has now equaled his fellow Byrds by this point in their respective careers,
taking into account his output on this record. Groovy horns, artificial screams,
and driving instrumentation make up this famed Byrds track and sly dig at the then
current state of the music scene.
The chunky and Hillman penned “Have You See Her Face’
follows and spotlights a full Byrds spectral vocal blend.  Special notice to McGuinn’s fearless and
distorted guitar quote, a departure from his usual tone and injecting a crunchy
melody that makes the song. The tone is mouthwatering.  This song sways with an absolutely stellar
groove and offers the finest contributions from the entire band. Michael Clark
pounds the skins with a Rand B fervor that tightens down the bolts. The mono mix
of the song is of note, as it is full of groovy details and close mic’d vocal
nuance.
‘C.T.A.-102’ develops clandestinely and appears as an extra terrestrial
number born from Roger McGuinn’s interest in outer space and futuristic
technologies. By the end of the tune the aliens have made contact and the song
is transmitted to a distant quasar to which alternate life is perplexed by the earthling’s
sonic offering. The tune’s most endearing quality is its mixing of traditional
verse construction with far-out electronic manipulations. This album was
released in Feburary 1967, so its experiments with sound manipulations
spearheaded by producer Gary Usher, were contemporary and cutting edge. Hillman
plays with authority once again, disseminating experimental lines that defy the
gravity being created in the oscillating waves of found sound.
‘Renaissance Fair’ follows and in my humble opinion is the
band’s finest moment on this LP.  McGuinn’s
circular and ringing picking signals the tune, Crosby then slashes the starry veil with
thick strums, while Hillman struts up and down the fret board in a flowery and
glorious syncopation. Clarke snaps the snare and the Byrds velvet blend
begins its walk into the dreamy summer season of verses. This song streams, a
regal flag that illustrates and distills
the essence of the 1960’s into a two minute song eliciting hopefulness and a
simplistic flamboyance.
 
Hillman takes lead vocal duties on ‘Time Between’ another
one of his numbers that hold up as some of the strongest in the Byrds catalog.
Future Byrd guitarist, Hillman friend and guitar master Clarence White takes a
stringy series of sweet ‘B-Bending’quotes under and on top of the verses.
Country rock? This is it. One of the
first examples of the juxtaposition of the genres in Pop, if that is your
thing. This song is so god damn catchy it makes you wonder why it wasn’t all
over the FM airwaves. Probably because it was located a bit too far down the overgrown back roads
for the mainstream public.
Quintessential Crosby, ‘Everybody Has Been Burned’ closes
out the first side with bluesy and dramatic psychedelia. Only David Crosby
could compose the idiosyncratic changes and content of a song such as this. It
drifts like smoke… transparent yet tangible, only coming into focus when
passing in front of light. The song rotates with its eyes closed on McGuinn’s
spinning top picking. Hillman swells with a simple but effective statement,
over it all Crosby pours warm honey with his tranquil vocal delivery. McGuinn
later takes a minimalist solo that scratches every itch through singular
chorused Rickenbacker plucks.
The flip side of the record becomes more experimental and
slowly reveals its sonic secrets like an aural black light poster. The second side begins with the Chris Hillman penned song and total contrast to ‘Time Between’,Thoughts and Words’.  The ethnic purple paisley sounding verses elicit George
Harrison through the vocals and by the chorus turns a groovy garage funk.
Backwards guitars leave day-glo paint streaks through the tension filled
changes.  When the verses again return the
vocals are then embraced with alternating and echoed vocal lines. Ace classic rock
goods to be enjoyed here.
‘Mind Gardens’ follows and is the exact type of song that
got Crosby removed from the Byrds. Too weird for some of the band members, this
is the kind of tune that Crosby fans loves him for. It is written that McGuinn
DID NOT want this song on the LP. Over shimmering 12 string guitar Crosby
creates vocal melody lines that drone, soar and dissipate into themselves above
a constantly shifting river of rhythms and reversed studio created sound. Formless
but glowing with color, ‘Mind Garden’s isn’t a song to grace a single, it’s a
forward thinking musical creation born of following the muse.
The only Dylan song to be featured on the LP, ‘My Back Pages’
allows the perfect and recognizable triad of Byrds vocals to pyramid from the
speakers. The title of the record influenced from the lyrics of this song. As
was often their wont the Byrds take Dylan’s poignant declaration and form it
into an electrified three part harmony attack. The internal conflicts of the
band are illustrated here through a track listing. Crosby’s expansive drug fueled
flip outs versus the reliance on the Dylan warhorses to please the masses.
Hillman is given another lead vocal on his own ‘The Girl with
No Name’, in my opinion slightly inferior to ‘Time Between’, but nonetheless a
solid song well deserving of its position of the LP. Chewing on straw the song slyly
gets a country kiss on its rock and roll cheek. Hillman shows off his ability
to swindle up a memorable melody line with the best of em.
Crosby’s song ‘Why’ closes the album in a move often
questioned because of its inclusion as a ‘B’ side on the previously released ‘Eight
Mikes High’ single. Regardless of the motivation, the version featured here
contains a quivering ‘raga’ solo by McGuinn during the middle of the song and
hula hoop bass licks by Hillman throughout. Crosby is draped in his perfect
early career voice that soothes even when crooning aggressively.
With that, the LP reaches its conclusion, a solitary thirty minute
volume in the turbulent history of the ‘Byrds’. A fine record by any account,
it reveals a group with willingness to experiment and ability to cross pollinate
genres while exhibiting a tangible growth as musical artists. The album itself
plays beautifully and contains instrumental personality as well as sonic
clarity. The mono mix is highly recommended. Enjoyed front to back, the ‘Byrds’
Younger Than Yesterday can take the
willing listener on a trip through the past, into the present and the thoughtful, onward toward
the future.

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