Roger McGuinn

Born to Rock and Roll

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Born to Rock and Roll Review

by Steve Leggett

Although he will always be chiefly remembered as the electric 12-string guitarist and main lead singer of the Byrds, Roger McGuinn has also had a long, if somewhat intermittent and sporadic, solo recording career, and if he finally settled into the role of a venerated folk artist, a sort of Pete Seeger for the '60s generation in the opening decade of the 21st century, he seemed to flounder in that period after the last incarnation of the Byrds called it quits in 1973. In all, McGuinn recorded five solo albums for the Byrds' old label, Columbia Records, during the '70s, and while his iconic voice and 12-string sound were usually, and often, present, he seemed unsure of what exactly to do, and by the '80s he was without a major-label record contract. This single-disc set helps bring in a little perspective by cherry-picking the best tracks from those five solo affairs for Columbia, and if even as a best-of set it shines less brightly than any single Byrds album, that's to be expected. The Byrds were the Byrds, led by McGuinn more often than not, but still a band, and an often brilliant one at that. McGuinn's solo work for Columbia stands in the shadow of that legacy and is probably best heard and approached as a footnote to it.

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