The Byrds

Byrds Eye View

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Lasting about two hours, this bootleg DVD was the most thorough compilation of Byrds 1960s video clips yet assembled when it came out around late 2007. The major, overriding plus is that this is very close to the most extensive such anthology that could ever be assembled, even including their three live songs (filmed in October 1965) from the rare movie The Big TNT Show. It has to be noted, however, that there are some flaws to the disc, most of them unavoidable, that make this a less exciting view than big Byrds fans might anticipate. First, the sound and image quality range from excellent to rather shaky and poor, depending upon what source has been available, though generally it's good or better. Also, it's far from a chronologically balanced assortment of footage, with well over half the clips originating from the ten-month span between May 1965 and March 1966. Ten of the better-quality clips are officially available on the There Is a Season box set, and eagle-eyed Byrds collectors will note a minor omission here and there of some footage that's circulated. There's an unholy amount of multiple versions of numerous songs, including seven of "Mr. Tambourine Man" and six of "Turn, Turn, Turn." And most importantly, the Byrds, though unquestionably one of the greatest rock acts of the era, weren't the most exciting performing band, especially so on this disc considering that the substantial majority of the clips are mimed, not live. All those negatives notwithstanding, here you have the ultimate visual record of the group in their prime, including some clips that aren't common fare even among dedicated collectors, like "Chimes of Freedom" on Shindig and a couple live songs from the Newport Pop Festival in June 1969. Though there's less post-early-1966 Byrds than everyone would like, it does have the three clips from Gene Clark's brief re-entry into the band in late 1967, as well as their highly amusing and well-played spot on Playboy After Dark in late 1968. Also on the DVD, at the very end, are two clips of the Flying Burrito Brothers with ex- Byrds Chris Hillman, Gram Parsons, and Michael Clarke, even if these are obviously lip-synched.