McGuinn, Clark & Hillman / Roger McGuinn / Gene Clark / Chris Hillman

McGuinn, Clark & Hillman

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Although Roger McGuinn, Gene Clark, and Chris Hillman were founding members of the Byrds, when they reunited as a trio at the end of the 1970s they seemed determined to create a sound that did not remind listeners of the earlier group. Though their music was still mainstream pop/rock with folk antecedents, it sounded like contemporary '70s studio rock, even to the point of including a song with a disco arrangement, "Release Me Girl." More important, the trio's vocal blend, heavily augmented by the voices of John Sambataro and Rhodes, Chalmers & Rhodes, did not remind listeners of the Byrds. The major reason for this was the back seat that McGuinn, the virtual leader of the Byrds, took in the new group. He had only two compositions, to Hillman's three and Clark's four, on the record, and they were his only lead vocals. Otherwise, his reedy tenor faded into the background, with Clark and Hillman singing lead most of the time. But if the group didn't sound like the Byrds, they often did sound like the Eagles, the group that had inherited the Byrds' mantle in the '70s. Hillman's "Sad Boy," for example, could have passed for a Glenn Frey-led Eagles song. Ironically, and perhaps deliberately, given record company machinations, the single released from the album was McGuinn's "Don't You Write Her Off," which rose into the Top 40, taking the album with it. But what probably helped the group and the album most was that in 1979 more than two years had passed since the last Eagles album, leaving fans hungry for a soundalike. If the trio had an appealing sound, however, they lacked substance. The songwriting was pleasant but slight, songs of romance that were nowhere near the quality of the Eagles' or Crosby, Stills & Nash's material.

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