Sweetheart of the Rodeo
brings Gram Parsons into The Byrds and they did an
excellent job of incorporating his strengths into their music,
his only album with The Byrds. This album is very strong that still gets
praise as I write this 38 years after its 1968 release. Besides the strong vocals, there is superb musicianship.
to contract disputes, several of Parsons vocals were removed and replaced by Roger
McGuinn's; "You Don't Miss Your Water,"
and One Hundred Years From Now." If you count these
songs as Parsons contributions, using lead vocals as the benchmark, then it breaks down from the eleven tracks on the
original album; Gram six, Roger three (all covers), and
Hillman two. Clearly Parsons had a dominating influence as he
joined up with a very commercially successful band. I know this is a Byrds
release, but this has Parsons footprints, and it's more like they are
his backing band.
are a few re-issues of this album, the two most common are
linked up below. Both have lots of bonus tracks, including the
Parsons sung tracks. I'm a big Parsons fan and much prefer
those versions. Neither of the re-issues placed the Parsons
tracks within the original album. Therefore, for maximum
enjoyment one needs to reorder the songs and replace the
McGuinn vocal tracks with the Parsons versions, highly recommended.
edition is better? The 1997 edition misses the Parsons sung,
"You Don't Miss Your Water." Other than that, most
of the other differences is that the double disc Legacy
edition includes Parsons early band, The International
Submarine Band, which is only OK, and then working demos,
outtakes, and rehearsal versions. Personally, I like this
section quite a bit. The listener hears, band chatter,
different riffs and solos, and other delights, notably
Clarence White guitar parts, and Lloyd Green's steel guitar.
The two takes of the instrumental "All I Have Are
Memories" are great examples of this. For the rest of the
material Parsons sings most of the tracks and if you're like me, it
isn't possible to have to much of Gram's vocals. I probably
enjoy the rehearsal material at least as much as the original
In some ways it is like hearing Parsons touring band from '73,
The Falling Angels in
the sense that they
were much looser, and wilder, than the finished studio
releases. The comparison is not 100% valid as the '73 Parsons had different
a band on tour versus the studio, but the key is the looser,
experimental feel to the tracks. The
liner notes by David Fricke are quite good.
a few dollars more, I'd recommend the double disc, but neither
noting, Gram Parsons Anthology, Sacred Hearts and Fallen Angels: The Gram Parsons Anthology
includes the five of the six Parson sung tracks, missing
is Merle Haggard's "Life In Prison." Also,
there have been a few Byrds box sets that include some
alternate takes. the most recent release, There is a Season. More
details are below.
have some box-set that are quite good. Though, our recommendations for The Byrds is:
Sweetheart - covering Parsons.
For Clarence White era, check out our Clarence White page. For the early,
pre-Parsons material, I'm not the biggest fan, so I'd be satisfied with a compilation.