Mr. Tambourine Man
The Byrds’ debut showcases the harmony vocals of Roger McGuinn, David Crosby, and Gene Clark, and McGuinn’s chiming 12 string Rickenbacker. The title track is a landmark for rock music – its innovation of combining Dylan’s poetic lyrics with lush harmonies and sparkling guitars was a landmark for rock music. Only McGuinn was permitted to play his instrument on the title track and its b-side ‘I Knew I’d Want You’, as the group had only recently acquired their rhythm section, but the group’s harmonies are still featured, and the rest of the band join him on the remain album.
Although the title track is the standout, and the band tackle three other Dylan songs, and some other covers, they also had a strong in-house writer in Gene Clark, and he contributed the excellent ‘I’ll Feel a Whole Lot Better’, as well as some of the other stronger songs. Mr. Tambourine Man has plenty of excellent songs, but it’s an album that’s less than the sum of its parts; the group use the same mid-tempo folk rock sound for the entire album, and it’s too uniform for the record to shine.