The Byrds - Mr. Tambourine Man (1965), 4/10

The titular song from Mr. Tambourine Man was significantly better the first time around when Bob Dylan brought it to the world, thematically describing The Byrds’ album that does not contend with its contemporaries. The first two tracks, “Here Without You” and “I Knew I’d Want You” are decent pop songs, but the rest are a mix of trite and genuinely poor from a writing and performance standpoint. Particularly “Spanish Harlem Incident” and “We’ll Meet Again” offer nothing substantial and are made even worse by questionable musicianship, especially in the rhythm section. This is all fine for a budding group of musicians finding their sound, but the album is given significant recognition considering the American band’s popularity and the introduction of folk rock with jangle guitar work. They combined a few prevalent concepts that were being used by British and American bands during the early to mid-sixties, yet the result is entirely underwhelming, largely because of immature composition and the palpable sense of novelty. This is exemplified by the necessity of the Wrecking Crew for the cover of “Mr. Tambourine Man”, a song that is already woefully simple apart from Dylan’s lyrics. Unfortunately, Clark was simply not yet mature as a songwriter, and their renditions of folk covers are typically executed better in their original forms. Outside of historical significance, the experience is frankly trite and uninteresting. The band would develop into a more compelling group and offer more interesting records in the future, but their debut reflects their relative immaturity.