I've been buying all the Byrds' reissues, and just today completed my collection. There's some great music, of course, but in the process of being a completist there's always the glimpse into what didn't work so well. Byrdmaniax is generally held to be the weakest Byrds album. Why? Imagine this setting: The Byrds were bound by contract to deliver two albums per year; they'd been playing 200 shows a year; their last release, the excellent Untitled, was still in the charts when recording commenced; they had three weeks to record. Three weeks wouldn't be too bad for some bands, but constant touring didn't leave time for writing did it? Roger McGuinn, the sole founding Byrd at this point, arrived at the sessions with one song! This left room for the others to write, which was a mixed blessing. And then, after they left, producer Terry Melcher overdubbed strings without the band's knowledge. The band chose to blame Melcher for the album's problems but what I hear is this: There's a lack of great songs, inspired performances and the running order is really out-of-wack. These are all things the band could have overcome, although at two albums a year one wonders how! Oh yeah, the drums sound like shit too - early LA dead drum sound experiments gone bad. Byrdmaniax leaves a lot to be desired but I find it fascinating - the lessons that can be learned from a failed project.

(sonymusic.com/artists/The Byrds)

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