[Review] The Byrds: Younger Than Yesterday (1967)

Chris Hillman emerges as a songwriter and the country-rock sounds of the future make their first appearance.

Kronomyth 4.0: The third dimension.

Country rock and Chris Hillman both “arrive” on Younger Than Yesterday. Produced by Gary Usher (fresh from Gene Clark’s first album), the band’s fourth album features an array of psychedelic effects including reversed tapes and electronic sounds that place it at the cutting edge of the post-Revolver landscape.

Hillman makes a strong and immediate impression on Younger Than Yesterday with “So You Want To Be A Rock ‘N’ Roll Star (cowritten with Jim McGuinn) and the minor key harmonies of “Have You Seen Her Face” (influenced by Paul McCartney’s “I’ve Just Seen A Face” perhaps). The influence of The Beatles reappears on Hillman’s “Thoughts And Words.” The erstwhile silent partner in The Byrds also contributes two country rock songs that would foreshadow the band’s future direction, “The Girl With No Name” and “Time Between.” (Appearances by Vern Gosdin and Clarence White suggest that The Byrds were still connected to Gene Clark in spirit.)

“…That was my album in that sense that I started to come out of my shyness and contribute more.” – Chris Hillman, recalling Younger Than Yesterday in an interview with Richie Unterberger.

Younger Than Yesterday also marked a return to Bob Dylan’s rich body of work (“My Back Pages”) and the inclusion of some very good—and, in the case of “Mind Gardens,” very strange—songs from David Crosby. “Everybody’s Been Burned” is one of the best things Crosby has ever done, and “Why” (one of two tracks cowritten with McGuinn) is arguably the catchiest song on the album. Critics seem to have a higher opinion of this album that their last, Fifth Dimension, although I don’t see one as inferior to the other, just different. Fifth Dimension still showed the traces of folk music, while Yesterday looks forward to country rock. Both have strong psychedelic undertones and while Fifth Dimension reached higher highs, Yesterday is more consistently excellent.

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Original LP Version

A1. So You Want To Be A Rock ‘N’ Roll Star (Jim McGuinn/Chris Hillman) (2:05)
A2. Have You Seen Her Face (Chris Hillman) (2:40)
A3. C.T.A.—102 (Jim McGuinn/Robert J. Hippard) (2:28)
A4. Renaissance Fair (David Crosby/Jim McGuinn) (1:51)
A5. Time Between (Chris Hillman) (1:53)
A6. Everybody’s Been Burned (David Crosby) (3:05)
B1. Thoughts And Words (Chris Hillman) (2:56)
B2. Mind Gardens (David Crosby) (3:46)
B3. My Back Pages (Bob Dylan) (3:08)
B4. The Girl With No Name (Chris Hillman) (1:50)
B5. Why (Jim McGuinn/David Crosby) (2:45)

CD reissue bonus tracks
12. It Happens Each Day (2:44)
13. Don’t Make Waves (1:36)
14. My Back Pages (alternate version) (2:42)
15. Mind Gardens (alternate version) (3:17)
16. Lady Friend (2:30)
17. Old John Robertson (single version) (1:59)

The Players

Michael Clarke (drums), David Crosby (rhythm guitar, vocals), Chris Hillman (electric bass, vocals, acoustic guitar), Jim McGuinn (lead guitar, vocals) with Cecil Barnard (piano on A2), Vern Gosdin (acoustic guitar on A5), Hugh Masekela (trumpet on A1), Jay Migliori (saxophone on A4), Daniel Ray (Big Black) (percussion), Clarence White (guitar on A5/B4). Produced by Gary Usher.

The Pictures

Cover photo by Frank Bez.

The Plastic

Released on mono and stereo elpee on February 6, 1967 in the US (Columbia, CL 2642/CS 9442), on April 7, 1967 in the UK (CBS, BPG/SPBG 62988) and in Argentina (CBS, 8789); reached #24 on the US charts and #37 on the UK charts.

  1. Re-issued on elpee in the US (Columbia, PC 9442).
  2. Re-issued on elpee in 1987 in the UK (Edsel, ED 227).
  3. Re-issued on cassette in the UK (Columbia, 467045-4).
  4. Re-issued on compact disc on March 8, 1996 in Japan (Sony, SRCS-6385).
  5. Re-released on expanded, remastered compact disc on April 30, 1996 in the US (Columbia Legacy, CK 64848), on May 6, 1996 in the UK (Columbia Legacy, 483708-2) and in 1996 in Japan (Sony, SRCS-9225).
  6. Re-released on 180g vinyl in 1999 in the UK (Simply Vinyl, SVLP 0007).
  7. Re-issued on remastered 24k gold compact disc in 2011 in the US (Audio Fidelity, AFZ 110).
  8. Re-issued on 180g vinyl elpee in 2012 in the US (Music on Vinyl).
  9. Re-issued on blu-spec compact disc on November 29, 2012 in Japan (Sony, SICP-20375) feat. mono and stereo mixes plus 3 bonus tracks.

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