McGuinn, Clark & Hillman

3 Byrds Land in London [UK Version]

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In 1977, Roger McGuinn, Chris Hillman, and Gene Clark all had new albums to promote, and all three were trying to set up promotional tours in Europe; some clever promoter got the bright idea of booking them on a package tour of the United Kingdom, and faster than you could say "Byrds reunion," the three former bandmates found themselves sharing a bill for the first time in years, leading to a short-lived reunion for the three singer/songwriters. 3 Byrds Land in London comes from BBC recordings of the tour's two-night stand at London's Hammersmith Odeon in the spring of 1977. The woefully underappreciated Gene Clark gets the short end of the stick as usual, performing only four tunes on this set (two of which he never recorded elsewhere), but he's in great voice and his band (including Thomas Jefferson Kaye) is in strong, rollicking form, especially on the good and greasy "Hula Bula Man." Chris Hillman delivers a typically strong and polished performance on his eight songs, ranging from solid country to sharp R&B, and if Hillman isn't a terribly charismatic frontman, he was a hell of a good bandleader, judging from this recorded evidence. Roger McGuinn and his band (called Thunderbyrd, just in case you had forgotten a key part of his résumé) get the longest set (nine songs) and play a solid selection of vintage Byrds material, highlights from McGuinn's solo career (including the rare and blazing "Shoot 'Em" and a slightly odd cover of Tom Petty's "American Girl"; at least McGuinn was sharp enough to spot the influence); guitarist Rick Vito serves up more than his share of fiery leads. Finally, the three former Byrds join forces for the encore, performing "So You Want to Be a Rock & Roll Star," "Mr. Tambourine Man," and "Eight Miles High," and if the legendary harmonies aren't quite spot on, they're close enough to bring a smile to any fan who's listening. All in all, 3 Byrds Land in London is a solid and well-recorded souvenir for fans of the three artists; while it captured all of them in the midst of a career lull, they also sound happy to be playing before a packed house again, and their enthusiasm shows.

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