Roger McGuinn

Band members                             Related acts

- Roger McGuinn -- vocals, guitar banjo, Moog, harmonica


  supporting musicians (1973)

- Hal Blaine -- percussion

- Gene Clark -- backing vocals

- Michael Clarke -- drums

- Jerry Cole -- guitar

- David Crosby -- backing vocals

- Bob Dyland -- harmonica

- Buddy Emmons -- pedal steel guitar

- Chris Ethridge -- bass

- Jim Gordon -- drums

- John Guerin -- drums

- Chris Hillman - bass

- Bruce Johnston -- vocals, keyboards

- Charles Lloyd -- sax

- Spanky McFarlane --backing  vocals

- Graham Nash -- guitar

- Spooner Oldham -- keyboards

- Leland Sklar -- bass

- David Vaught -- bass

- Charles Lloyd - sax


  backing musicans: 1974

- Jorge Calderón -- vocals 

- Tim Coulter -- vocals 

- Donnie Dacus -- guitar, vocals 

- Gwendolyn Edwards -- vocals 

- Dan Fogelberg -- guitar, vocals 

- Brenda Gordon -- vocals 

- Paul "Harry" Harris -- keyboards 

- Brooks Hunnicutt - - vocals 

- Howard Kaylan -- vocals 

- Al Kooper - guitar, piano, clavinet

- Russ Kunkel -- drums, percussion 

- Al Perkins - - steel guitar 

- Brian Russell -- vocals 

- Leland Sklar -- bass 

- William McLeish Smith -- vocals 

- Paul Stallworth -- vocals 

- Tommy Tedesco -- flamenco guitar 

- Mark Volman -- vocals


  supporting musicians (1975)

- Greg Attaway -- drums, percussion

- Richard Bowden -- guitar)

- David Lovelace -- keyboards

- Steven Love -- bass

  supporting musicians (1976)

- Mick Ronson -- guitar, recorder, accordion, piano, organ, autoharp,

  percussion, backing vocals 

- David Mansfield -- guitar, steel guitar, mandolin, violin, banjo,

  organ, percussion 

- Rob Stoner -- bass, percussion, vocals 

- Howie Wyeth – drums, percussion 

- Timothy B. Schmit -- backing vocals 

- Kim Hutchcroft – sax

  supporting musicians (1976-77) as Thunderbyrd

- Bruce Barlow -- bass, vocals

- Lance Dickerson -- drums, percussion
- James Smith -- guitar 


  supporting musicians (1977) as Thunderbyrds

- Charlie Harrison -- bass, backing vocals (replaced Bruce Barlow)
- Rick Vito -- guitar, backing vocals (replaced James Smith)

- Greg Thomas -- drums, percussion (replaced Lance Dickerson)





- The Beefeaters

- Blue Steel (Richard Bowen)

- The Byrds

- Cold Steel (Greg Attaway, Richard Bowden, David


- The Fabulous Rhinestones (Greg Thomas)

- Fleetwood Mac (Rick Vito)

- McGuinn, Clark and Hillman

- New Riders of the Purple Sage (Stephen Love)

- Stone Canyon Band (Stephen Love)




Genre: rock

Rating: **** (4 stars)

Title:  Roger McGuinn

Company: Columbia

Catalog: KC-31946

Year: 1973

Country/State: US

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: --

Available: 1

Catalog ID: --

Price: $20.00


After eight years and twelve studio albums with The Byrds (including the less than spectacular reunion set "The Byrds"), 1973 saw singer/guitarist Roger McGuinn step into a solo career.   Self-produced, "Roger McGuinn" initially struck me as professional and mildly enjoyable; though hardly the breakthrough collection one might have hoped for.  Over the years the album's steadily improved and today I consider it to be his most enjoyable solo release.  As usual, that probably puts me at odds with most fans (I can already hear people yelling "Cardiff Rose".   Initially the album's musical diversity was off-putting.  I bought the album expecting The Byrds front-man to sound like The Byrds.  True, his dry craggy voice remained instantly recognizable.  There were even occasional moments of Byrds-styled folk rock such as 'Lost My Drivin' Wheel' and 'My New Woman.'   Of course the first song had been previously recorded by The Byrds and the second song was apparently an outtake from the 1973 Byrds reunion.  Elsewhere the album was incredibly eclectic, bouncing all over the musical spectrum.  You got the pseudo-Beach Boys styled pop of the single 'Draggin', Silver Apples styled experimentation on 'Time Cube', blues ('Hanoi Hannah'). sea chantey ('Heave Away') and even  breezy Caribbean ballad ('M'Linda').  It was almost as if McGuinn was trying to show his record label how diverse his catalog could be.  And over time the set's blaring inconsistency has become less of an irritation.  About half of the songs have grown on me and given how bad some of his solo efforts have been, today the debut strikes me as one of his best releases.

"Roger McGuinn" track listing:

(side 1)

1.) I'm So Restless   (Roger McGuinn - Jacques Levy) - 3:05   rating: *** stars

The acoustic guitar and harmonica powered opener 'I'm So Restless' has always reminded me of a Dylan tune.  Part of that may be due to the fact Dylan played harmonica on the track. The comparison shouldn't come as a surprise given The Byrds' longstanding admiration of Dylan.  The track was breezy and you could hum along, though you've probably heard dozens of similar sounding efforts.  The lyrics were supposedly a tribute to Dylan (Mr. D) , Mick Jagger (Mr. J), and John Lennon (and Mr. L).  The late-inning Byrds had apparently recorded a version of the song and played it live a couple of times.

2.) My New Woman   (Roger McGuinn - Jacques Levy) - 3:10   rating: **** stars

Not just because it featured the entire original Byrds line-up (though that was certainly part of the appeal), 'My New Woman' featured the kind of harmony rich, jazzy-vibe that David Crosby loved to explore in his solo, CSN and CSN&Y outings. In fact, Crosby's voice was prominent on the harmonies.  Charles Lloyd added the freeform sax.  I've always assumed this was an outtake from the 1973 Byrds reunion LP.  Shame it was so short.

3.) Lost My Drivin' Wheel   (David Whiffen) - 3:27   rating: **** stars

The folk-rocker 'Lost My Drivin' Wheel' recalled the best of The Byrds and served as another album highlight.  It just so happened McGuinn and The Byrds had recorded the track as part of the "Farther Along" sessions. Listening to the two versions side-by-side, the differences are modest.

4.) Draggin'   (Roger McGuinn - Jacques Levy) - 3:36   rating: **** stars

Opening up aircraft engine noises and with some Charles Lloyd sax, 'Draggin'' came off like a lysergic-soaked Beach Boys outtake.  With a hand from mid-era Beach Boy Bruce Johnston, the Beach Boys-styled harmonies were unmistakable.  Beats me why Columbia thought this would have made a good single.  Extra star for being so plain weird.






- 1973's 'Draggin'' b/w 'Time Cube' (Columbia catalog number 4-45931)






5.) Time Cube   (Roger McGuinn - R.J. Hippard - 3:15   rating: **** stars

McGuinn has always been a sci-fi nerd having previously worked with sci-fi author R.J. Hippard.  Their collaboration 'C.T.A. - 102'  appeared on The Byrds' 1966's "Younger Than Today  Opening up with  synthesizers and banjo, 'Time Cube' was a worthy addition to McGuinn's science-oriented musical catalog.  In this case 'Time Cube' seemed to the history and future of the world .  Fascinating and reminds me of something Merrell Fankhauser might have released in his prime..


(side 2)

1.) Bag Full of Money   (Roger McGuinn - Jacques Levy) - 3:19   rating: **** stars

Every now and then The Byrds country-rock efforts registered with me. Inspired by the story of D.B. Cooper's airplane hijacking, 'Bag Full of Money' was one of those exceptions.  The plotline lyrics are fascinating and the Crosby backing vocals are lovely.  The quality is poor, but YouTube has a live performance of the tune.  Recorded in 1978, the black and white clip also features the late Gene Clark.  Gene Clark & Roger McGuinn - Bag Full Of Money - 3/4/1978 - Capitol Theatre (Official) - YouTube

2.) Hanoi Hannah   (Roger McGuinn - Jacques Levy) - 2:50   rating: ** stars

The bluesy 'Hanoi Hannah' was another Byrds track resuscitated for McGuinn's solo debut.  The song was apparently inspired by the late North Vietnamese radio personality Trinh Thi Ngo who broadcast a mixture of rock and roll and English language propaganda to US troops during the Vietnam war.  The lyrics were interesting; the music little more than pedestrian country-blues.

3.) Stone   (Spooner Oldham - Dan Penn) - 2:59   rating: *** stars

Opening up with The Jimmy Joyce Children's Chorus, 'Stone' was a sweet, if forgettable Gospel-tinged ballad.  Kind of a Delaney and Bonnie vibe here.  I've also seen the song listed as 'Stone (The Lord Loves a Rolling Stone)' and 'The Lord Loves a Rolling Stone.'  Co-writer Spooner Oldham provided keyboards.  Oldham also recorded the track on his "Pot Luck" album.

4.) Heave Away   (traditional arranged by Roger McGuinn) - 3:30    rating: **** stars

One of two McGuinn adaptations of traditional tunes, the sea chantey 'Heave Away' showcased the man's instantly recognizable twelve string guitar magic.  Even better were Spanky McFarlane harmony vocals.  She threatened to blow McGuinn out of the water.  Dylan again on harmonica.

5.) M'Linda   (Roger McGuinn - Jacques Levy) - 2:42  rating: *** stars

Just when you were starting to think McGuinn was running out of musical genres, 'M'Linda' added a Caribbean groove to the mix.  Who put on the Jimmy Buffet album?  Pina Colada anyone?  Suntan lotion, please.

6.) The Water Is Wide   (traditional arranged by Roger McGuinn) - 3:05    rating: **** stars

Inspired by The Beatles, 'The Water Is Wide' was apparently one of the first traditional folk tunes to get the McGuinn folk-rock treatment.  While I'm not a big folk fan, McGuinn's adaptation was lovely, spotlighting Buddy Emmons pedal steel guitar.  Could have been a hit in the '60s.





Genre: rock

Rating: *** (3 stars)

Title:  Peace On You

Company: Columbia

Catalog: KC-32956

Year: 1974

Country/State: US

Grade (cover/record): VG/VG+

Comments: cut top right corner; original inner sleeve

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 4971

Price: $15.00


Originally greeted with critical indifference, I'll tell you that to my unsophisticated ears Roger McGuinn's sophomore solo effort has aged well and in many respects I'd rather hear it than some of his more critically acclaimed releases.  The fact that it was recorded in less than perfect circumstances makes 1974's "Peace On You" even more impressive.  Given the lukewarm success of his self titled solo debut, Columbia executives insisted on bringing in producer Bill Halverson who in early 1974 was riding high off of his successes with various members of the Crosby, Stills and Nash mafia.  Those commercial successes may have endeared him to Columbia management, but the partnership with McGuinn was apparently rocky.  Adding to the chaos, McGuinn decided not to record with his touring band, instead opting for an all star cast of studio players including guitarist Donnie Dacus, keyboard player Paul Harris and drummer Russ Kunkel.  While not nearly as diverse as his solo debut, the album wasn't exactly a return to The Byrds catalog either.  Instead McGuinn seemed to try to find an artistic midpoint, mixing some of his earlier genre hopping experimentation with a sheen of commerciality.  For what it's worth, the biggest problem seems to be McGuinn's reliance on outside writers and co-writer Jacques Levy's clunky lyrics.  Of the five covers, only Donnie Dacus' pretty country-rocker 'Do What Your Want To' made much of an impression.  Similarly, the McGuinn-Levy collaborations weren't exactly awe inspiring.  The McGuinn original 'Same Old Sound' was one of the few songs to come close to capturing The Byrds signature sound and served as a creative highpoint. Coming close to replicating a late inning Byrds jangle-rock track, 'The Lady' was a close second.  It's a pleasant collection, but not one you'll pull out very often.  For all the effort that went into the album, it proved a modest sales success, peaking at # 92 on the US charts.  

"Peace On You" track listing:

(side 1)

1.) Peace On You   (Charlie Rich) - 4:01  rating: *** stars

If you've never heard the Charlie Rich original, it's interesting given the song isn't really a country tune.  McGuinn's arrangement didn't really mess with the song structure, but upped the folk-rock component.  While I can't say I particularly liked the tune, I can understand why Columbia thought it had commercial potential and released it as a single.

- 1974's 'Peace On You' b/w 'Without You' (Columbia catalog number 3-10044)

2.) Without You   (Roger McGuinn - Jacques Levy) - 4:07   rating: *** stars

Thankfully not another cover of the Badfinger hit, McGuinn's 'Without You' was a nice country-rocker with a great refrain and plenty of squealing lead guitar.

3.) Going To the Country   (Donnie Dacus) - 3:17   rating: *** stars

One of two Donnie Dacus songs, it's funny that one of the album's most energetic tunes was also a cover.  I'm not saying it was a great song, but after the first two, it was certainly a move in the right direction.

4.) (Please Not) One More Time   (Al Kooper) - 3:23   rating: *** stars

I was surprised the Al Kooper was responsible for what was perhaps the album's most overtly commercial offering.  Kind of a Beach Boys vibe on this one, though McGuinn's fragile voice seemed very brittle on this one.

5.) Same Old Sound   (Roger McGuinn) - 3:30   rating: **** stars

The applicably titled 'Same Old Sound' found McGuinn finally trotting out the instantly recognizable Byrds sound; complete with patented 12 string guitar solo.  I've always wondered if the song was a joyful celebration of his history, or meant as bruising commentary on the audiences' unwilling to move on.  For better or worse it was a classic slice of Byrds jangle rock and easy to see why Columbia tapped it as a single ...  





- 1974's 'Same Old Sound' b/w 'Gate of Horn'  (Columbia catalog number 3-10019)






(side 2)

1.) Do What Your Want To   (Donnie Dacus) - 3:00   rating: **** stars

Easily the album's prettiest and most arresting song, the Donnie Dacus ballad 'Do What Your Want To' is the track Columbia should have tapped as a single.  Pretty melody that was well suited to McGuinn's voice.

2.) Together   (Roger McGuinn - Jacques Levy) - 3:45   rating: ** stars

Jacques Levy's lyrics and a bland melody all but sink the ballad 'Together.'  The song gets a little better when the country-rock melody kicks in; but the Flamenco guitar segment ...  oh well.

3.) Better Change   (Dan Fogelberg) - 3:00   rating: **** stars

Looking at the songwriting credits, seeing the late Dan Fogelberg represented by 'Better Change' I didn't have very high hopes.  As a singer/songwriter I tend to find Fogelberg maudlin.  Nah, this one isn't going to fill the dance floor, but the song had a dark, but a pretty melody and McGuinn's achy delivery was wonderful.  Fogelberg contributed guitar and backing vocals.

4.) Gate of Horn   (Roger McGuinn - Jacques Levy) - 2:45  rating: *** stars

Old timey bluesy number that was a reflection of his experiences playing at Chicago's Gate of Horn as a teenager ...   It it weren't for his twelve string work, the song would be totally forgettable.

5.) The Lady   (Roger McGuinn - Jacques Levy) - 4:16  rating: *** stars

'The Lady' was another track opening up with McGuinn's patented twelve string and a mild-Byrdsy feel.  A little too polished for its own good, but a nice way to close the album. 


t I can s


Genre: rock

Rating: *** (3 stars)

Title:  Roger McGuinn and Band

Company: Columbia

Catalog: PC-33541

Year: 1975

Country/State: US

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: minor ring and edge wear

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 4496

Price: $10.00


While neither is considered to be a classic release, for some reason Roger McGuinn's first two solo releases get more love than Roger McGuinn and Band."  Admittedly this one isn't gonna' shake your world, but it isn't half bad. Plus it's worth a smile to see McGuinn posing in front of what was then a state of the art bank of recording equipment.


Produced by John Boylan, McGuinn sounded quite comfortable (if not particularly inspired), returning to the role of fronting a band.  In this case he was supported by former Cold Steel members Greg Attaway (drums), Richard Bowden (guitar), David Lovelace (keyboards) and ex-Stone Canyon Band bassist Steven Love.  Like the two earlier solo albums, musically the set was somewhat of a hodgepodge. The ten selections featured a mixture of previously recorded tunes including late inning Byrds tracks 'Love of the Bayou' and 'Born To Rock 'n' Roll.'   'Painted Lady' was an old Cold Steel number.  New material from Attaway, Bowden, Love and Lovelace was okay, if hardly overwhelming.  Best of the lot was probably Bowden's 'Bull Dog.'  Finally separating himself from lingtime writing partner Jacques Levy,  McGuinn's new stuff was marginally interesting.  At least 'Lisa' had an interesting Caribbean lilt.  That left the seemingly mandatory Dylan cover in the form of 'Knocking On Heaven's Door' as the album's standout track.  McGuinn and company made some efforts to support the album, including a tour of Europe, but it did little commercially and within a few months the group was history.


"Roger McGuinn and Band" track listing:

(side 1)

1.) Somebody Loves You   (Stephen A. Love - Allen Kemp) - 3:14   rating: *** stars

The biggest surprise on the opening rocker 'Somebody Loves You' was McGuinn's voice.  Always somewhat fragile, on this one he sounded like he was singing with a bad case of laryngitis.  I can remember wondering if he was actually going to make it through the song before his vocal box exploded.  The song was okay.  Mildly commercial and harder rocking than most of his earlier solo stuff, but not particularly memorable.  

2.) Knockin' On Heaven's Door    (Bob Dylan) - 3:19  rating: **** stars

Great songs are hard to kill.  And while McGuinn didn't bring anything special to the arrangement, it was still one of the album's best performances.   Here's a clip of McGuinn and Clark singing the song at a 1978 appearance at  Passaic New Jersey's Capitol Theatre.  By the way, the late Clarke's performance kicks McGuinn's butt.    Gene Clark & Roger McGuinn - Knockin' On Heaven's Door - 3/4/1978 - Capitol Theatre (Official) - YouTube

3.) Bull Dog    (Richard Bowden) - 2:00   rating: *** stars

The combination of banjo and heavy guitar made for an intriguing opening. With a country tinge, it was actually one of the standout performances.

4.) Painted Lady   (Greg Attaway - David Lovelace) - 3:06   rating: ** stars

'Painted Lady' was a pretty, if over-orchestrated and somewhat vapid ballad.  McGuinn didn't seem particularly comfortable on this one.

5.) Lover Of The Bayou   (Roger McGuinn - Jacques Levy) - 3:26   rating: **** stars

One of two Byrds covers, powered by Clarence White's guitar, a blazing live version of 'Lover of The Bayou' had previously appeared on the 1970 "Untitled" album.  I'm torn as to which version I like better.  The Byrds original was a tad heavier, but McGuinn's vocals were cleaner on this version.  Regardless, it made for the album's standout performance.  YouTube has a clip of McGuinn and Gene Clark performing the song at a 1978 appearance at  Passaic New Jersey's Capitol TheatreGene Clark & Roger McGuinn - Lover Of The Bayou - 3/4/1978 - Capitol Theatre (Official) - YouTube  Always wondered why Columbia only released the song as a promotional 45:






- 1975's 'Lover Of The Bayou' (mono) b/w 'Lover of the Bayou' (stereo) (Columbia catalog number 3-10201)







(side 2)

1.) Lisa   (Roger McGuinn) - 1:56  rating: * star

Musically the Caribbean flavored 'Lisa' sounded very similar to 'M'Linda' (off of his debut album).  Didn't like 'M'Linda' and I don't like 'Lisa.'  Imagine a truly bad Jimmy Buffet song.  

2.) Circle Song   (David Lovelace) - 3:04  rating: ** stars

Too country for my tastes ...

3.) So Long   (Richard Bowden) - 3:12   rating: *** stars

'So Long' was another stab at conventional rock.  It was professional enough, but the arrangement was clutters and the track lacked anything to make it particularly memorable.  

4.) Easy Does It   (Roger McGuinn) - 2:40

'Easy Does It' boasted the album's prettiest melody and the lyric always makes me smile - "Easy does it, easy does it, Don't try to force it Or you might just divorce it."

5.) Born To Rock 'n' Roll   (Roger McGuinn) - 3:16   rating: *** stars
The Byrds recorded a bland version of 'Born To Rock 'n' Roll' for their 1973 reunion album.  McGuinn's remake upped the folk-rock components, but it still wasn't anything special and the old-time refrain was painful to hear.




Genre: rock

Rating: *** (3 stars)

Title:  Cardiff Rose

Company: Columbia

Catalog: PC-34154

Year: 1976

Country/State: US

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: --

Available: 1

Catalog ID: --

Price: $20.00



Roger McGuinn's participation in Bob Dylan's 1975 Rolling Thunder tour seemed to reinvigorate his solo career.  It was an odd pairing, but ex-Bowie sidekick and fellow Rolling Thunder participant Mick Ronson signed on as  producer for 1976's "Cardiff Rose."   While the album didn't restore McGuinn's sales potential, it was widely seen as a "comeback" set.  Studio support from a bunch of fellow Rolling Thunder participants including guitarist Ronson, David Mansfield, bassist Rob Stoner, and drummer Howie Wyeth provided a strong musical base.  McGuinn's trademarked quivering voice remained in good form, but the nine tracks seemed like a hodgepodge of material bouncing all over the map with topics as diverse as piracy ('Jolly Roger', The Chicago 7 ('Partners In Crime') and his stint with Rolling Thunder ('Take Me Away').  Six of the tracks were co-written by McGuinn and writing partner Jacques Levy.  The covers included material from Dylan - the album highlight 'Up To Me', an engaging fuzz guitar powered version of Joni Mitchell's 'Dreamland', the traditional ballad 'Pretty Poly' and a collaboration with Kris Kristofferson and Bobby Neuwirth - the unexpectedly punk sounding 'Rock and Roll Time.'  I'll admit this collection was better than a lot of McGuinn's solo catalog, but it still wasn't an album I was going to slap on the turntable on a regular basis.

"Cardiff Rose" track listing:

(side 1)

1.) Take Me Away   (Roger McGuinn - Jacques Levy) -  3:00   rating: *** star

McGuinn taking a stab at straight ahead rock and roll.  The lyrics were clearly autobiographical ; I'm guessing reflections on his recent Rolling Thunder experience.  Ah, the good ole' days.  LOL  Nice chorus, but the overall effect wasn't particularly original, or memorable.  During a 1975 appearance on The Midnight Special McGuinn did a solo performance of the song. The actual performance starts at the 3:30 mark: Roger McGuinn - YouTube  Columbia tapped it as the leadoff single:






- 1975's 'Take Me Away' b/w 'Friend' (Columbia catalog number 3-10385)






2.) Jolly Roger   (Roger McGuinn - Jacques Levy) - 4:56   rating: ** stars

A lot of McGuinn fans love 'Jolly Roger.'  I'm one of the exceptions.  Built on a traditional melody, the lyrics are okay (doesn't every kid dream about being a pirate?), but hearing the song makes me think of the countless Saturday evenings spent hanging out at Irish bars.  YouTube has a black and white clip of the song being played at a March 1978 show at Passaic New Jersey's Capitol Theatre: Gene Clark & Roger McGuinn - Jolly Roger - 3/4/1978 - Capitol Theatre (Official) - YouTube

3.) Rock and Roll Time   (Roger McGuinn - Kris Kristofferson - Bobby Neuwirth) - 2:46    rating: *** stars

'Rock and Roll Time' was one weird track.  I can remember hearing it and wondering If Columbia has somehow managed to mispress the album, slapping a Clash track on the collection.  McGuinn's take is even stranger if you were familiar with the Kristofferson original.

4.) Friend   (Roger McGuinn - Jacques Levy) - 2:07   rating: *** stars 

Barebones -  McGuinn, acoustic guitar, and a little orchestration.  Pretty, sentimental and kind of forgettable.

5.) Partners in Crime   (Roger McGuinn - Jacques Levy) -  4:52   rating: *** stars 

Today you have to wonder who writes a tribute to an on-the-lamm Abbie Hoffman and the Chicago Seven?  In spite of the dated topical material, the tune was pleasant enough.


(side 2)

1.) Up to Me   (Bob Dylan) - 5:36   rating: **** stars

McGuinn has made a career mining Bob Dylan's catalog.  That's not meant as a criticisms since his interpretations have frequently been as good, if not better than the originals.   'Up to Me' was written for, but ultimate left off Dylan's "Blood On the Tracks" LP.  Kudos to McGuinn for editting out two or three verses.  To my ears the track sounded a bit like 'Tangled Up In Blue.'  No idea what it's about, but the folk-rock arrangement is pretty awesome.

2.) Round Table   (Roger McGuinn - Jacques Levy) - 4:05    rating: *** stars

Starting out as perhaps the album's prettiest song, 'Round Table' seemed to have a plotline having something to do with Crusaders pursuit of the holy grail.  So much for sex, drugs and rock and roll.  Beats me.

3.) Pretty Polly   (traditional, arranged and adapted by Roger McGuinn) - 3:17   rating: ** stars

The Byrds had recorded 'Pretty Polly' for their 1968 "Sweetheart of the Rodeo" collection, but it was dropped.  The remake offers up a bluegrass flavored cover of this traditional ballad - David Mansfield on banjo.  Geez, there are so many versions of this one ...  Does McGuinn's version bring anything to the table?  Not that I can tell.

4.) Dreamland   (Joni Mitchell) - 5:20   rating: **** stars

Another Rolling Thunder participant, Mitchell apparently contributed 'Dreamland' before she's recorded it.  Her own weird, world-music version appeared two years later on "Don Juan's Reckless Daughter."  Bless his soul for totally reimaging the song as a fuzz guitar powered rocker.  Absolutely no idea what it was about, but his version rocked.




Genre: rock

Rating: *** (3 stars)

Title:  Thunderbyrd

Company: Columbia

Catalog: PC-34656

Year: 1977

Country/State: US

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: original inner sleeve

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 1435

Price: $15.00



Thunderbyrd (the band) was an interesting, if short lived venture.  The name has always struck me as being a bit desperate.  Five albums into a solo career with very little to show in terms of commercial success, it isn't hard to imagine Columbia's marketing department putting increasing pressure on McGuinn for a return to commercial viability.  The music business is after all about the bottom line.  If you can't reunite The Byrds; well Thunderbyrd at least harkens back to earlier glories.  Particularly if you spell it to include the old band's name.  On the heels of the critically acclaimed "Cardiff Rose" album, McGuinn apparently decided he missed the dynamics of a full time band.  He promptly hired guitarist James Smith, bassist Bruce Barlow, and drummer Lance Dickerson (the latter two from the recently disbanded Commander Cody's Lost Planet Airmen).  The quartet spent a year touring before going into the studio, but within a matter of weeks McGuinn decided the lineup wasn't working and promptly fired all three.  Bass player Charlie Harrison, guitarist Rick Vito and drummer Greg Thomas were quickly brought in as replacements for Thunderbyrd MK II.


To be honest, the first time I heard 1977's "Thunderbyrd" I was pretty disappointed.  McGuinn's always thin voice seemed exceptionally brittle and uninspired and the thought of him covering a Peter Frampton song ('All Night Long') just didn't cut it.  Add to that, the album included four McGuinn-Jacques Levy collaborations and ...   well, there was always the next time.   To McGuinn's credit  there were a couple of mildly entertaining numbers, including McGuinn's cover of Byrd-wannabe Tom Petty's 'American Girl' and the pseudo-Byrd-ish 'It's Gone', but the overall feel was less than inspired.  Revisiting the album, years later, my original views may have been a little sharp, but weren't all that far off.  It certainly wasn't my favorite McGuinn album, but it wasn't quite as bad as I originally thought.  The Petty cover was very good.  The McGuinn - Levy rocker 'It's Gone' was better than I remembered, and his cover of the George Jones classic 'Why Baby Why' actually rocked with some gusto.  As for McGuinn's voice; well ... you either liked his nasal whine, or it drove you crazy.  I found myself leaning to the former.   Cal it an acquired taste.  


"Thunderbyrd" track listing:

(side 1)

1.) All Night Long (Peter Frampton - M. Gallagher) - 4:15   rating: *** stars

Better than I would have expected, but his cover won't make you forget the Frampton original.  The most interesting thing about this one was the gigantic drum sound Greg Thomas churned out.   Cool tune to listen to on a good pair of speakers, or quality headphones.
2.) It's Gone   (Roger McGuinn - Jacques Levy) - 3:51
    rating: **** stars

McGuinn returning to his patented Byrds song.  Yeah, the voice wasn't what it had once been, but the song was tuneful; has some sweet backing vocals, included a tasty guitar solo, and was a nice flashback to that earlier time.  One of the album highlights.   
3.) Dixie Highway   (Roger McGuinn - Jacques Levy) - 3:27
    rating: **** stars

''DIxie Highway' was a nice Little Feat-styled rocker.  Slinky and fun.    YouTube has a nice clip of Thunderbyrd doing the song on a 1977 episode of the German Rockpalast televiision show:  
4.) American Girl   (Tom Petty) - 4:28
    rating: **** stars

Kudos to McGuinn for being an early Tom Petty fan and grabbing this one.  Petty's original remains the definitive version, but McGuinn and company turned in an enthusiastic version.  It would have been even better without the muzak-ish sax solo.   For some reason Tom Scott's solo always makes me think of Saturday Night Live.    YouTube has a clip from the 1977 Rockpalast performance: 

No doubt tied in part to Tom Petty's ongoing commercial successes, Columbia tapped it as the album's single:






- 1977's 'American Girl' b/w 'Russian Hill' (Columbia catalog number 3-10543)   rating: **** stars





5.) We Can Do It All Over Again   (M. Williams - Barry Goldberg) - 4:46  rating: ** stars

Laid back, slightly country-rock tinged ballad.  Pretty chorus that's reminded me a bit of a sub-par Jimmy Buffett tune.  


(side 2)

1.) Why Baby Why   (George Jones - Edwards) - 3:47   rating: *** stars

McGuinn showing he could handle country-rock without the rest of The Byrds.   Another Rockpalast lip:   
2.) I'm Not Lonely Anymore   (Roger McGuinn - Jacques Levy) - 3:05
  rating: ** stars

Plodding country-rocker.  The highlight came in the form of Rick Vito's slide guitar work.    
3.) Golden Loom   (Bob Dylan) - 4:06
   rating: *** stars

Kind of swampy rocker, McGuinn's always claimed Dylan gave him the tune without recording it.  Fact is Dylan recorded a demo of the song, which eventually appeared on one of his authorized bootleg collections.   Another Rockpalast performance: 
4.) Russian Hill   (Roger McGuinn - Jacques Levy) - 5:03
    rating: **** stars

One of two tracks recorded with original Thunderbyrd bassist Bruce Barlow, this was the album's most interesting tune, the dark and reflective ballad  'Russian Hill' had the best melody and surprisingly poignant lyrics (yes I know it was a Jacques Levy collaboration.