|Turn! Turn! Turn!|
|Studio album by The Byrds|
|Released||December 6, 1965|
|Recorded||June 28 - November 1, 1965, Columbia Studios, Hollywood, CA|
|The Byrds chronology|
|Singles from Turn! Turn! Turn!|
Cover of the 1977 Embassy Records reissue (CBS 31526)
Turn! Turn! Turn! is the second album by the folk rock band The Byrds and was released in December 1965 on Columbia Records (see 1965 in music). Like its predecessor, Mr. Tambourine Man, the album epitomized the folk rock genre and continued the band's successful mix of vocal harmony and jangly twelve-string Rickenbacker guitar. The album's lead single and title track, "Turn! Turn! Turn!", was a Pete Seeger adaptation of text from the Book of Ecclesiastes that had previously been arranged in a chamber-folk style by the band's lead guitarist Jim McGuinn, while working with folksinger Judy Collins. The arrangement that McGuinn used for The Byrds' version utilized the same folk rock style as the band's previous hit singles.
The album peaked at #17 on the Billboard Top LPs chart and went to #11 in the United Kingdom. The "Turn! Turn! Turn!" single preceded the album by two months and topped the chart in the United States. Another single taken from the album, "Set You Free This Time", was less successful and failed to break into the U.S. Top 50. The album marked an increase in McGuinn's songwriting output and rhythm guitarist David Crosby received his first writing credit on a Byrds' album. However, the band's prolific songwriter Gene Clark still contributed most of the original material. The album also included two Bob Dylan covers: "The Times They Are a-Changin'" and the then unreleased song, "Lay Down Your Weary Tune".Turn! Turn! Turn! would be the last Byrds' album to feature the full participation of Gene Clark until the release of the original quintet's 1973 reunion album, Byrds.
In the wake of the international success of their debut album and the hit singles "Mr. Tambourine Man" and "All I Really Want to Do", The Byrds entered Columbia Studios in Hollywood on June 28, 1965 to set about recording their follow-up album. By the latter half of 1965, the folk rock trend that The Byrds had been instrumental in originating was gaining pace, with hit records by the likes of Cher, The Turtles, We Five, and Barry McGuire clearly bearing the hallmarks of The Byrds' influence. Despite being such an influential band, The Byrds had been disappointed with the relative lack of success that their second single "All I Really Want to Do" had achieved in the American charts and felt that they needed a strong third single in order to maintain their foothold in the marketplace.
Initially, the band had elected to record a third Bob Dylan cover, "It's All Over Now, Baby Blue", as their next single but despite a couple of attempts to record the song in June and August 1965, it was ultimately rejected. The band then briefly considered issuing a version of Dylan's "The Times They Are a-Changin'" as a single instead, but this idea was also discarded, although the song does appear on Turn! Turn! Turn! The song finally selected by the band for their third single was Pete Seeger's "Turn! Turn! Turn!", a musical adaptation of words taken from the Biblical Book of Ecclesiastes, which would return The Byrds to the top of the Billboard Hot 100.
The recording of the album was not without its tensions, with several members of the band expressing feelings of resentment towards the close working relationship that was beginning to form between McGuinn and producer Terry Melcher.Rhythm guitarist David Crosby was particularly vocal in his disapproval, since he felt that McGuinn and Melcher (along with the band's manager Jim Dickson) were conspiring to keep his songs off of the album. Crosby had brought the self-penned "Stranger In a Strange Land" (later released by Blackburn & Snow) and "The Flower Bomb Song", along with Dino Valenti's "I Don't Ever Want to Spoil Your Party" (later released by Quicksilver Messenger Service as "Dino's Song") to the recording sessions but all three songs were rejected and remained unreleased at the time. Tension was also developing between the band's principal songwriter, Gene Clark, and the rest of The Byrds due to the higher level of income Clark was receiving from his songwriting. This resulted in Clark becoming increasingly isolated within the band and some of his best songs being relegated to appearances on B-sides or being left unreleased altogether. Ultimately, this resentment would be a contributing factor in Clark's departure from the band in early 1966. Yet another source of conflict was the power struggle that was developing between Terry Melcher and Jim Dickson. For his part, Dickson had aspirations to produce the band himself, which led to him being overly critical of Melcher's production work and would culminate in Melcher's dismissal following completion of the album.
Turn! Turn! Turn! opens with the Pete Seeger penned title track, which had been issued as a single two months ahead of the release of the album. Based on an arrangement that McGuinn had developed while working on Judy Collins' 1963 album, Judy Collins 3, the idea of reviving the song came to McGuinn during The Byrds' first American tour. The master recording of the song reputedly took 78 takes, spread over five days of recording, to perfect.Rolling Stone editor David Fricke has commented that the song's plea for peace and tolerance was custom-made for the 1960s, a decade colored by assassinations, urban rioting and the horrors of the Vietnam War. Peaking at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100, the single represented the high-water mark of folk rock as a musical trend and reinforced The Byrds' standing as a formidable chart act.
The Byrds also chose to include two Bob Dylan songs on the album, in an attempt to repeat the success that they had enjoyed with their covers of his material on their debut LP. "Lay Down Your Weary Tune" was an unreleased outtake from Dylan's The Times They Are a-Changin' album that had been obtained by the band through Dylan's publisher. Dylan himself was impressed when he heard The Byrds' reading of his song, telling McGuinn "Up until I heard this I thought you were just another imitator...but this has got real feeling to it." The other Dylan song that the band included on Turn! Turn! Turn! was "The Times They Are a-Changin'", which was given a sardonic reading by the band, subverting the seriousness evident in the original and replacing it with irony.
Of the self-penned material on the album, three songs were written by Gene Clark, including "The World Turns All Around Her", which echoed his Beatlesque songs of tortured romance on the band's debut album, and "If You're Gone", a poetic confession of emotional insecurity. To highlight the wistful melancholy of "If You're Gone", McGuinn and Melcher devised a droning, Gregorian harmony part that sounds uncannily like another instrument and foreshadowed the raga rock experimentation that the band would undertake on their next album. The third Clark-penned song on the album was "Set You Free This Time", a densely worded rumination on a failed relationship that lyrically exhibited the influence of Bob Dylan. The song had been written by Clark during The Byrds' 1965 tour of England, after a night spent drinking with Paul McCartney at the fashionable Scotch of St James club in London.
McGuinn's songwriting contributions to the album included "It Won't Be Wrong", a song that had been co-written with McGuinn's friend Harvey Gerst in 1964. The song had previously been issued in a completely different version under the alternate title of "Don't Be Long" on a 1964 single that the band had released under the pseudonym of The Beefeaters. Another of McGuinn's contributions was an adaptation of the traditional folk song "He Was a Friend of Mine". The Byrds' version featured newly written lyrics by McGuinn dealing with the assassination of President John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963. The song pre-dated the formation of The Byrds, as McGuinn explained to author Johnny Rogan in 1977: "I wrote that song the night John F. Kennedy was assassinated. I suppose you could say it's one of the earliest Byrds songs." "He Was a Friend of Mine" is notable for being the first Byrds' recording to feature McGuinn playing an acoustic guitar, instead of his usual twelve-string Rickenbacker.
Turn! Turn! Turn! also featured the McGuinn and Crosby song "Wait and See". This represented the first release of a song written by the pair, although they had previously collaborated on "The Airport Song", a track that wouldn't be heard publicly until the release of the Preflyte album in 1969. "Wait and See" also represented the first time that Crosby had received a songwriting credit on a Byrds' album. Both men wanted to move away from the simple boy/girl romance songs that the band had been writing since 1964 but ironically, "Wait and See" was even more in that tradition than the earliest of Gene Clark's songs. Another cover that was included on the album was "Satisfied Mind", a 1955 country and western chart-topper for Porter Wagoner, which had been suggested by The Byrds' bass player, Chris Hillman. The song was the first sign of the band's interest in country music, a genre they would explore further on subsequent albums, culminating with 1968's Sweetheart of the Rodeo. As with the band's previous album, Turn! Turn! Turn! ended on a quirky, tongue-in-cheek note, with a whimsical send-up of Stephen Foster's 19th century classic, "Oh! Susannah", arranged by McGuinn. Despite being recorded as an intentionally humorous reading of the song, McGuinn later admitted to journalist Vincent Flanders that he was dissatisfied with the track, stating "That was a joke, but it didn't come off, it was poorly told."
Due to the infighting caused by the other band members' resentment of Gene Clark's songwriting dominance within The Byrds, two of the songs that Clark had brought to the recording sessions were excluded from the album. Clark's romantic and densely worded "She Don't Care About Time", which featured guitar work inspired by Bach's "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring", was issued on the B-side of the "Turn! Turn! Turn!" single, while the Dylanesque "The Day Walk (Never Before)" was left to languish in the Columbia tape vaults for more than 20 years. "The Day Walk (Never Before)" was finally issued in 1987 when it was chosen as the title track of The Byrds' archival album, Never Before. In the modern era, both "She Don't Care About Time" and "The Day Walk (Never Before)" have been added to the remastered Turn! Turn! Turn! CD as bonus tracks.
Turn! Turn! Turn! was released on December 6, 1965 in the United States (catalogue item CL 2454 in mono, CS 9254 in stereo) and March 22, 1966 in the UK (catalogue item BPG 62652 in mono, SBPG 62652 in stereo). It peaked at #17 on the Billboard Top LPs chart, during a chart stay of 40 weeks, and reached #11 in the United Kingdom, spending a total of 5 weeks on the UK chart. The preceding "Turn! Turn! Turn!" single was released on October 1, 1965 in the U.S. and October 29, 1965 in the UK, reaching #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #26 on the UK Singles Chart. A second single taken from the album, "Set You Free This Time" (b/w "It Won't Be Wrong"), was released on January 10, 1966 in the U.S., peaking at #63 on the Billboard Hot 100 but failing to chart in the UK. The album's front cover photograph was taken by Guy Webster at his studio in Beverly Hills and was later nominated for the Grammy Award for Best Album Cover. The LP's back cover liner notes were written by The Byrds' publicist, Derek Taylor, and were actually an edited version of a much longer description of the album and its recording that would later appear in its complete form in the February 15, 1966 edition of Record World magazine.
Upon release, the album garnered mostly positive reviews, with Robert Shelton commenting in The New York Times that the album was "not so strong as the first Byrds LP, Mr. Tambourine Man, but still an effective program of folk-rock."Billboard magazine described the album's contents by noting that "the group offers a diversified program of material that is certain to soar up the LP charts." In the UK, Richard Bruce enthusiastically praised the album in his review for Music Echo by describing the record as "so sensationally brilliant that even after [one] hearing, I've no hesitation in saying they are proving they have as big a talent as The Beatles and The Stones!" In more recent years, Richie Unterberger has written on the AllMusic website that the album "was only a disappointment in comparison with Mr. Tambourine Man. It was still quite good, however, particularly the ringing number one title cut, a classic on par with the "Mr. Tambourine Man" single."
Turn! Turn! Turn! was remastered at 20-bit resolution and partially remixed as part of the Columbia/Legacy Byrds series. It was reissued in an expanded form on April 30, 1996, with seven bonus tracks, including two alternate versions of songs included on the original album, three outtakes, and the Gene Clark penned B-side, "She Don't Care About Time".
Turn! Turn! Turn! was one of four Byrds albums that were partially remixed as part of their re-release on Columbia/Legacy. The reason for the remix was explained by Bob Irwin (who produced these re-issues for compact disc) during an interview:
|"||The first four Byrds albums had sold so well, and the master tapes used so much that they were at least two, if not three generations down from the original. In most cases, a first-generation master no longer existed. They were basically played to death; they were worn out, there was nothing left of them.||"|
He further stated:
|"||Each album is taken from the original multi-tracks, where they exist, which is in 95% of the cases. We remixed them exactly as they were, without taking any liberties, except for the occasional song appearing in stereo for the first time.||"|
Irwin's assertions that no liberties were taken have been proven false in a couple of instances. The vocals on most of the album's songs are mixed noticeably higher than they were on the original mixes and the fades are different on almost every song as well.
Many fans enjoy the remixed album because it is very close to the original mix in most cases and offers noticeably better sound quality. However, there are also a lot of fans who dismiss the remix as revisionist history and prefer to listen to the original mix on vinyl or on the pre-1996 CD releases.
|December 6, 1965||Columbia||LP||US||CL 2454||Original mono release.|
|CS 9254||Original stereo release.*|
|March 22, 1966||CBS||LP||UK||BPG 62652||Original mono release.|
|SBPG 62652||Original stereo release.*|
|1975||CBS||LP||UK||S 33645||Double album stereo reissue with Mr. Tambourine Man.*|
|1976||Embassy||LP||UK||EMB 31257||Stereo reissue with alternative cover.*|
|1977||Embassy||LP||UK||CBS 31526||Stereo reissue with alternative cover (different cover to above release).*|
|1987||Columbia||CD||US||CK 9254||Original CD release.|
|April 30, 1996||Columbia/Legacy||CD||US||CK 64846||Reissue containing seven bonus tracks and a partially remixed version of the stereo album.*|
|May 6, 1996||UK||COL 4837062|
|1999||Simply Vinyl||LP||UK||SVLP 037||Reissue of the partially remixed stereo album.*|
|2003||Sony||CD||Japan||MHCP-67||Reissue containing seven bonus tracks and the partially remixed stereo album in a replica LP sleeve.*|
|2006||Sundazed||LP||US||LP 5198||Reissue of the original mono release.|
|* The album's title track and "He Was a Friend of Mine" were never mixed into stereo and appear in mono on all stereo releases of the album.|