There Is a Season (Columbia Legacy)
Reviewed by Jim Caligiuri, Fri., Oct. 20, 2006
There Is a Season (Columbia/Legacy)
In the pantheon of American rock bands, the Byrds remain near the top. Whether melding Dylan and the Beatles into folk-rock, studio excursions into psychedelia, or creating a vital touchstone in the birthing of country rock, the group's importance and the glory of their soaring harmonies and jingle-jangle guitars cannot be overstated. With 1990's self-titled 4-CD box set long out of print, Columbia Legacy has been releasing expanded versions of the Byrds' original albums, and as such, There Is a Season plays out like a culmination of the reissue campaign. Season's quartet of discs improves the sound over the previous collection and also includes a bonus DVD of 10 previously unissued 1960s television (read lip-synched) performances. Sequenced chronologically, from their earliest recordings as Jet Set & the Beefeaters to a track cut specifically for the first box set, Season is hard to beat as a crash course for the novice; 99 tracks of prime Americana that has influenced everyone from Tom Petty to the Shins. Completists, meanwhile, will sniff at the meager five, previously unissued live performances. Those who have been following the reissue program might also be wary of reissued LP "bonus tracks" that are now a main part of the story. The booklet includes a generous booklet with a compelling summation of the Byrds' tale by Rolling Stone's David Fricke that includes interviews of Roger McGuinn and Chris Hillman but oddly not the other last live Byrd, David Crosby. A major omission is the lack of annotated session information. Since there were at least seven incarnations of the Byrds, a timeline/depth-chart would have made There Is a Season truly definitive.