Live At The Fillmore - February 1969

BY John F. ButlandPublished May 1, 2000

History remembers the Byrds for their magnificent early singles and Sweetheart Of The Rodeo. By early '69, Roger McGuinn was the only original Byrd left in the band - Gram Parsons had also come and gone by this point. Live At The Fillmore is proof that not only were they still a viable and vibrant band, they'd become a damn fine live act. And, ironically, this was the longest surviving incarnation of the band. In many ways this had become Clarence White's band; his guitar playing shines throughout. The disc, recorded over two nights, hits all aspects of their career. There's an early medley of "Turn! Turn! Turn!/Mr. Tambourine Man/Eight Miles High" that's a bit perfunctory until they kick in the afterburners with "Eight Miles High." There are covers from Merle Haggard ("Sing Me Back Home"), Buck Owens ("Buckaroo" and "Close Up The Honky Tonks"), Woody Guthrie ("Pretty Boy Floyd") and Dylan ("This Wheel's On Fire" and "Chimes Of Freedom"). McGuinn is in especially fine voice throughout, but check out "This Wheel's On Fire" and "King Apathy III" for proof. The latter also shows that the band can play more than jangle pop; it's a crunchy treat. Of the early hit material, "So You Want To Be A Rock 'N' Roll Star" holds up the best, as proven by the scorched earth version near the end.

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