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The Byrds – The Essential Byrds

The latest in Columbia’s impressive Essential series may be the best of the lot, a two-CD compilation whose 44 tracks cover just about every important nook and cranny of The Byrds’ illustrious career, from the early flights of Dylan covers and Gene Clark classics, through the proto-psychedelia of Fifth Dimension and Younger Than Yesterday and the proto-country-rock of Sweetheart Of The Rodeo, to the often overlooked highlights of their subsequent slow decline. This latter period is well tracked here, with ironic gems like “Chestnut Mare” and “Drug Store Truck Drivin’ Man” accompanied by minor glories such as “Jamaica Say You Will” and the euphoric “Glory, Glory”. The best Byrds one-stop anthology yet collated.