Thursday, January 19, 2023

The Byrds - The Notorious Byrd Brothers (featuring David Crosby)

  The Byrds - The Notorious Byrd Brothers 

featuring David Crosby

(reimagining by soniclovenoize)

Side A:

1.  Old John Robertson

2.  Triad

3.  Dolphin’s Smile

4.  Change is Now

5.  Draft Morning

6.  Universal Mind Decoder

Side B:

7.  Lady Friend

8.  Don’t Make Waves

9.  Tribal Gathering

10.  Goin’ Back

11.  Space Odyssey 

In honor of the passing of the great David Crosby, I offer this album reimagining: an alternate version of The Byrds’ classic psychedelic rock masterpiece The Notorious Byrd Brothers, which presumes David Crosby had not left the band, and is featured as an equal to Roger McGuinn.  To do this, we will restructure the album to feature recordings made during the early sessions of the album, which actually featured Crosby.  

By 1967, the tumultuous relationship between The Byrds frontman Roger McGuinn and guitarist David Crosby had escalated to the boiling point.  From an early career of jangly Dylan covers, to their groundbreaking embrace of psychedelic and raga rock, The Byrds were always attempting to push new ground.  Unfortunately, there was disagreement about which ground to break.  

Coming into his own manhood of a songwriter, Crosby was fighting for his songs to be heard through McGuinn’s, and especially took a heavy hand in their first single of the year, his own “Lady Friend”, recorded in April.  In contrast, McGuinn & bassist Chris Hillman’s “Old John Robertson”, the b-side recorded the following month, showed the pair’s desire for a more Country-influenced sound that would emerge the following year.  Despite “Lady Friend”’s grandiose quality, the single was a relative flop as compared to their previous hits, with Crosby taking a hit to the ego and the band soldering on with a song already scratched from the theoretical running order of an album in the works.  Sessions resumed briefly in July with Crosby’s serene “Draft Morning”, but after sessions of percussive tension, drummer Michael Clarke was dismissed from the band.

Regrouping in August with session drummers Jim Gordon and Hal Blaine alternatingly replacing Clarke, the group recorded Crosby’s hippy anthem “Tribal Gathering”, as well as McGuinn & Hillman’s poppy “Dolphin’s Smile”.  But more inter-band stryfe reared its head when the group was offered “Triad”, a song about a throuple from the free-loving lady’s man Crosby.  Although recorded by the group, McGuinn took offense to the song’s subject matter and ultimately rejected it, leaving the song to later be recorded by Jefferson Airplane the following year.  After recording the McGuinn/Hillman’s “Change is Now”, the final straw was drawn as McGuinn insisted on recording the Goffin/King ballad “Goin’ Home” in September.  Crosby felt the song was meaningless filler, especially when compared to the majestic psychedelic rock the band had been recording the year thus far, as well as questioning why a band with three songwriters would bother recording a cover.  Crosby was finally cut from the band, and McGuinn became the defacto leader of the band.  

Regrouping in October with previously exiled backing vocalist Gene Clark, the fragmented band recorded “Goin’ Back”, as well as the experimental “Space Odyssey” influenced by Science Fiction writer Aurther C Clarke.  This was short lived, as Clark was once again asked to leave the band, and sessions continued in October with guitarist Clarence White, the newly remade Byrds recording “Bound To Fall”, “Moog Raga”, “Get To You”, “Flight 713”, “Natural Harmony”, “Wasn't Born To Follow” and “Artificial Energy”.  

Released in January 1968, The Notorious Byrd Brothers was released to critical acclaim and over time, became the band’s crowning achievement.   As for David Crosby, he had no time for feelings of resentment.  Soon after, Crosby started jamming with friend Stephens Stills of Buffalo Springfield and Graham Nash of The Hollies, and the trio formed the legendary supergroup Cosby, Stills & Nash.  But could The Notorious Byrd Brothers have been, well, less notorious and more harmonious?  

If we are going to create a Notorious Byrd Brothers album that would theoretically contain an active (and even leading) David Crosby, then we’ll need to almost exclusively use the material recorded before Crosby's exit.  There is not a lot of material–just enough to make an album–but luckily Byrds albums were historically short: eleven songs, running about 30 minutes.  All sources are taken from the 2011 remaster of The Notorious Byrd Brothers, as well as using some of the bonus tracks on the 2011 remaster of Young Than Yesterday.  All songs will be crossfaded together into two continuous sides of music.  

Side A begins with the most upbeat and staggering song of the bunch, “Old John Robertson”, using the very psychedelic mix found on the Notorious Byrd Brothers album, rather than it’s original single mix.  Next we restore “Triad” to its rightful place, here with some gentle volume adjustments in the verses; we are putting the song front and center, as Crosby is getting the attention he deserves.  This is then crossfaded in “Dolphin’s Smile” and “Change is Now”.  The side closes with “Draft Morning”-- which features one of my favorite 1960s artists, The Firesign Theatre!--followed by the outtake instrumental improvisation “Universal Mind Decoder”.  

Side B begins with Crosby’s glorious “Lady Friend” which melds into the admittedly low-hanging fruit “Don’t Make Waves”, included here as it was recorded during the “Lady Friend” sessions.  The jaunty “Tribal Gathering” follows, tallying five songs lead by David Crosby!  Closing the album an outtake version of “Goin’ Home” which does feature David Crosby on guitar, recorded before his departure, followed by a song recorded just after departure, “Space Odyssey”, as it was needed to fill out the album; a piece of “Moog Raga” is used as an outro to the album.  

The most impressive aspect of this reconstruction is the cover art, which was in reality the genesis of this reconstruction in the first place!  Replacing the horse with Crosby, it’s like he never left!  

Sources used:

The Notorious Byrd Brothers (2011 Remaster)

Younger Than Yesterday (2011 Remaster)

flac --> wav --> editing in SONAR Pro and Goldwave --> flac encoding via TLH lv8

*md5, artwork and tracknotes included


  1. listless falk:

    Empty trees:

    (Trust me, these links work. If you can't figure it out, don't @ me)

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. Hey, Sonic. Sorry to be commenting in here, but could you re-upload the links for The Mars Volta - Francis The Mute? I cant find them in your post. I realy apreciate your job, thanks!

  2. Great work as usual, Sonic. In tandem with you, I also put together my own tribute to David, a hypothetical solo album by him consisting of the material he was working on in between joining CSN and leaving the Byrds.

    Here it is:

  3. Always thought this album could use more David Crosby. RIP.

  4. Fantastic, as usual. Very much appreciated. Croz. What a character, lived many lives.......

    Just musing, I wonder, if like your Beatles compilations, could the same idea be applied to Pink Floyd? Their solo works might create a Floyd like experience...I'm listening to a David Gilmour live at Hammersmith Odeon from 1984 and it's rather excellent, in a Post Wall Floydian way.

  5. when are we gonna see the 1978-79 Beatles albums?
    Correct me if I'm wrong, but they would be:
    1978 - London Town / George Harrison / Ringo the 4th
    1979 - Back to the Egg / George Harrison / Bad Boy

    1. I've also been working a LOT on my own Beatles discog:
      1970 - All Things Must Pass
      1971 - Imagine
      1972 - Wild Life
      1973 - Material World (2LP)
      1974 - Band on the Run
      1975 - Venus and Mars
      1977 - Thirty Three and 1/3rd
      1978 - London Town
      1980 - The Beatles II (2LP)
      1983 - Tug of War
      1985 - Space
      1989 - Cloud Nine
      1993 - Help Yourself
      1997 - Free As A Bird
      2002 - Brainwashed
      2008 - Electric Arguments
      2013 - New
      2017 - Egypt Station
      2021 - Like Fleas on a Dog

    2. tracklists (sorry for clogging ur comments. also doing this from memory so I'll probably forget a couple)

      1970 - All Things Must Pass
      Every Night
      My Sweet Lord
      Coochy Coochy
      Junk (custom edit with Singalong Junk)
      Isn't It A Pity

      What Is Life
      Hot as Sun / Glasses
      Working Class Hero
      Teddy Boy
      All Things Must Pass
      Maybe I'm Amazed
      (My Mummy's Dead)

      1971 - Imagine
      Another Day
      Sir Frankie Crisp (Let It Roll)
      It Don't Come Easy
      Jealous Guy
      Run of the Mill
      Uncle Albert / Admiral Halsey

      Too Many People (w/ Thrillington intro)
      Beware of Darkness
      Gimme Some Truth
      Monkberry Moon Delight (Thrillington mix)
      The Art of Dying
      Oh My Love
      The Back Seat of My Car

      1972 - Wild Life
      New York City
      Hi, Hi, Hi
      Let It Down
      John Sinclair
      Give Ireland Back To The Irish
      I Don't Wanna Be A Soldier, Mama
      (Bip-Bop Link)

      Back Off Boogaloo
      (John song here, forgot which one. might be It's So Hard or Angela)
      Crippled Inside
      Wild Life
      Hear Me Lord

      1973 - Material World
      Big Barn Bed
      Mind Games
      Don't Make Me Wait Too Long
      I Know (I Know)
      Get on the Right Thing
      Give Me Love (Give Me Peace on Earth)

      My Love
      Be Here Now
      Aisumasen (I'm Sorry)
      Little Lamb Dragonfly

      Living In The Material World
      I'm The Greatest
      When The Night
      Helen Wheels
      You Are Here

      Single Pigeon
      The Light That Has Lighted The World
      Out The Blue
      Medley: Hold Me Tight / Lazy Dynamite / Hands of Love / Power Cut
      Nutopian International Anthem

      1974 - Band on the Run
      Band on the Run
      Whatever Gets You Thru The Night
      Far East Man
      Bless You
      Let Me Roll It

      #9 Dream
      Six O'Clock
      Dark Horse
      Steel and Glass
      Nineteen Hundred and Eighty-Five

      1975 - Venus and Mars
      Venus and Mars
      Rock Show
      What You Got
      Goodnight Vienna
      Tired of Midnight Blue
      Surprise, Surprise (Sweet Bird of Paradox)
      Call Me Back Again

      Junior's Farm
      This Guitar (Can't Keep From Crying)
      Medley: Listen To What The Man Said / Treat Her Gently (Lonely Old People) / Nobody Loves You (When You're Down and Out)
      Venus and Mars (Reprise)

    3. 1977 - Thirty Three and 1/3rd
      Let 'Em In
      Crackerbox Palace
      The Note You Never Wrote
      Cookin' (In The Kitchen of Love)
      Beautiful Girl
      Silly Love Songs

      It's What You Value
      She's My Baby
      Time To Hide
      Must Do Something About It
      Pure Smokey
      Warm and Beautiful

      1978 - London Town
      London Town
      Woman, Don't You Cry For Me
      Famous Groupies
      Again and Again and Again
      See Yourself
      I've Had Enough
      Learning How To Love You

      With A Little Luck
      Dear One
      Medley: Morse Moose and the Grey Goose / Don't Let It Bring You Down / Morse Moose and the Grey Goose (Reprise)

      1980 - The Beatles II
      (Just Like) Starting Over
      Coming Up
      Nobody Knows
      Losing You
      Blow Away

      Old Siam Sir
      Wrack My Brain
      Cleanup Time
      Not Guilty
      Watching The Wheels
      One of These Days

      Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy)
      Here Comes The Moon
      I Don't Wanna Face It
      Arrow Through Me
      You Can't Fight Lightning

      Love Comes To Everyone
      Blue Sway
      Goodnight Tonight
      Grow Old With Me

    4. Well, let me put it this way: The Beatles are only one of many different artists I have in the works here. So hopefully it will be this year, but there's other reconstructions non-Beatles related I want to put out first.

    5. Also note they way I'm putting these together are not necessarily what one would think.

  6. Thank you! Now, if only I could remember my name...

  7. I like the new cover, but I 'tweaked' it a bit, eliminating the horse's rope. Can I send that to you?

  8. what about a Die Beatles with centralized vocals ☻️

  9. I really love the work you do on these albums, very interesting One can only imagine how much better this lp would have been, had Crosby (and Clarke) played on the entire record. Because of their absences, I prefer the other 4 Byrds albums over this one,
    Just a side note, according to both Chris Hillman and Jimmi Seiter, Michael Clarke was not fired from the band. He continued to play with the band through the end of December, at which point he quit. He stopped showing up for some of the sessions (wherein they brought in Gordon and Blaine) but did come back to the studio in December to do Artificial Energy before quitting at the end of the month. For the record, Clarence White only plays on 2 songs on the album: Wasn't Born and Change is Now. Thanks again for all your efforts; please keep up the great work!

  10. Hello,
    What happened to the Landlocked and Get back upgrades?

    1. Get Back - slack:, empty 3:

      Landlocked - Slack:, empty 3:

  11. hey sonic, did you take down your upgraded 2017 "human highway"? have been looking for it everywhere, can't even find it on soulseek :(

  12. In your description, you twice list "Goin' Back" as "Goin' Home". A minor point...thanks for this. On a related note, I always thought they shoulda shown the horse's ass for Crosby, not the head!

  13. Thanks so much for this - a kool take on an album that I love

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  15. Hey sonic, been following your blog for a while now, and I also have a version of The Notorious Byrd Brothers with David Crosby.
    Side A: (19:20)
    Artificial Energy
    Goin' Back (Extended Version)
    Natural Harmony
    Draft Morning
    Wasn't Born to Follow
    Get to You

    Side B: (19:00)
    Moon Raga
    Lady Friend
    Change Is Now
    Old John Robinson
    Tribal Gathering
    Dolphin's Smile
    Space Odyssey

    1. I also had a version of this album, if Gene Clark had officially returned to the band, but I lost it. I'm planning on making a blog similar to yours, and I think this will be my first alternate album project.

    2. Interesting how everyone has a version of the lp. I like yours, except I'd flip Moon Raga to the end of side two and edit it as Sonic did. It's really tedious, and a little of that goes a long way. One omission is Flight 713: I'd add that to the end of side one. On my version of the lp, I also leave off the 2 Goffin-King songs: never been much of a fan of those.

  16. Sonic, what happened with The Beach Boys's Landlocked and friends reconstruction? It's nowhere on your blog 🤔

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. DMCA came down on it. punx5570[at]gmail[dot]com and I can send you my GD links for it.

    3. ....or you can use the GD links I posted above LOL

  17. This comment has been removed by the author.

  18. Here's a pop punk classic:

  19. Hi - sorry,but I can'tf igure out he code to allow me to download from Megacloud - could you supply it please?

  20. Select, right click, open link in new tab (or whatever nomenclature your browser uses), it should work, I just tried the links again using this method myself. Similarly, you can again, select, right click, copy, then open a new tab and paste what you copied into the address box, hit enter, should work, just tested the same links and they come up.

    1. Thanx - tried it again and it worked ok......weird as last time I was asked for a passcode?

    2. I've had that happen when there's a mistype in the address bar which can send you to a file that just happens to have that 'incorrect' link...[shrugs] Glad it worked out :)

  21. This comment has been removed by the author.