For those who don't want to invest the time or money in the full four-disc The Byrds, 20 Essential Tracks is a decent sampler of the Byrds' better tracks throughout the years. If the collection has any faults, it's that only 12 of the 20 tracks come from the quintessential 1965-1968 period, and selections from the country-rock classic Sweetheart of the Rodeo have been omitted entirely. Instead, unnecessary tracks such as "I Wanna Grow Up to Be a Politician" and a few more obscure songs like the Beach Boys-esque "Lady Friend" are included. The low point of the collection is the inclusion of box-set-only tracks like "Paths of Victory," "Love That Never Dies," and a maudlin "From a Distance" -- while interesting, these cuts are definitely not essential. Still, as greatest-hits compilations go, this one does a fairly good job of showing quite a few different sides of the entire Byrds body of work.
AllMusic Review by Matt Fink