The Byrds – 20c

Now, normally I create a playlist and then try to put together a piece of artwork to go along with it. With this what-if album, this was the complete opposite in that I had the piece of artwork and wondered how I could find a playlist to go with it.

Now, this piece of artwork was is another one taken from the site and is for an album that would have been an overview of American popular music throughout the 20th Century. This was meant to be a follow on from the band’s previous album, ‘The Notorious Byrd Brothers’ which had already laid the template by expanding the genres of music the band was looking to incorporate into their repertoire. The ‘Notorious Byrd Brothers’ was an end of an era album though as drummer Michael Clarke and guitar player David Crosby had been fired before the record had been released. Pulling in new drummer in the from of ex-Rising Sons member Kevin Kelley, the band thought that they needed a jazz pianist to achieve the sound they required for their 20th Century album. In came Gram Parsons who did not waste anytime in turning this project into the album he wanted to make which would be released under the name ‘Sweetheart Of The Rodeo’. This is considered to be one of the first country rock albums and would be an influence on many bands that came after this. The 20th Century album was never revisited and as far as I can tell, not one recording session took place. 

So, why use this cover when no material was recorded for it? Well, it is a really good cover and it is a shame that it does not have a what-if album to go with it. I took inspiration from the sleeve itself and wondered if I could produce an album that followed a space theme. Not quite, but with some songs thrown in that have a flying theme (and Mind Gardens as it could be argued that the song is about travelling through inner space), there was enough material recorded between 1965 and 1967 to get an album of sorts. Most of the songs on this record were written or co-written by Jim McGuinn who was fascinated by aeronautics, so much so that he started using the name of Roger instead of Jim. Roger being used by pilots as part of the signalling protocol to say that the last message has been received satisfactorily. Like many of the what-if records I put together, this one would never have come out as the songs had already been used on other records but it did mean that that wonderful piece of artwork found a home. 

Side A

  1. Artificial Energy – The Notorious Byrd Brothers
  2. C.T.A.-102 – Younger Than Yesterday
  3. 5D (Fifth Dimension) – 5th Dimension
  4. Stranger in a Strange Land (Vocals by Blackburn & Snow) *(See Below)
  5. Eight Miles High – 5th Dimension

Side B

  1. The Airport Song – Preflyte
  2. Mr. Spaceman – 5th Dimension
  3. Mind Gardens (Alternative Version) – Younger Than Yesterday
  4. Space Odyssey – The Notorious Byrd Brothers
  5. 2-4-2 Fox Trot (The Lear Jet Song) – 5th Dimension

* The Byrds did not finish their version of ‘Stranger In A Strange Land’ and the instrumental backing track was released on the 1996 reissue of the ‘Turn! Turn! Turn!’ album. However, in 1966, the duo of Blackburn & Snow recorded their own version of the song with vocals included. Paul from the Albums That Should Exist website took the vocals from the Blackburn & Snow recording and added them to the Byrds backing track. To find out more, follow the link.

It is because of this mash up that this playlist is not available on Spotify. Not much of a surprise really. 

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