Things changed for The Byrds with their third album. In early 1966 they released the innovative single “Eight Miles High”, credited to McGuinn, Clark and Crosby, and one of the earliest examples of psychedelic rock. It also featured Roger McGuinn’s newly developed modal 12-string lead playing, adding to the song’s turbulence. The single was a success both commercially and artistically, but in its aftermath Gene Clark left the band, and they were left struggling to produce a follow-up record (Clark had been their main songwriter). The subsequent album, Fifth Dimension, had mixed results. Sonically they were expanding into harder-edged psychedelic territories, with McGuinn's 12-string guitar losing its jangle and gaining a new metallic edge. They were undoubtedly leaving their folk-pop heyday behind. But with Clark’s departure they lost a powerful creative force. McGuinn stepped up with the two singles “Mr Spaceman” and “5D (Fifth Dimension)”, and Crosby provided the abstract “What’s Happening?!?!”, which indicated the direction his song-writing was soon to take. It was here that he performed his first lead vocal with the group (as well as the cover “Hey Joe”), as before he had just provided backing harmonies. The two also co-wrote the aggressive jazz-flavoured “I See You”. However the rest of the album was filled out with more folk covers and a lacklustre instrumental, meaning what could have been the band’s first creative masterpiece was flawed.
Turn! Turn! Turn! (1965) <|> Younger Than Yesterday (1967)
More from The Byrds