The Byrds – Mr Tambourine Man (1965)

Mr. Tambourine Man is the debut studio album by American rock band the Byrds, released on June 21, 1965 by Columbia Records. The album, along with the single of the same name, established the band as an internationally successful act and was influential in originating the musical style known as folk rock. The term was, in fact, first coined by the American music press to describe the band’s sound in mid-1965, around the same time as the “Mr. Tambourine Man” single reached the top of the Billboard chart. The single and album also represented the first effective American challenge to the dominance of the Beatles and the British Invasion during the mid-1960s.

The album peaked at number six on the Billboard Top LPs chart and reached number seven in the United Kingdom. The Bob Dylan penned “Mr. Tambourine Man” single was released ahead of the album in April 1965, reaching number one on the Billboard Hot 100 and the UK Singles Chart. The second single “All I Really Want to Do”, also a Dylan cover, was moderately successful in the US but fared better in the UK, where it reached the top ten.

Track Listing:

Side one
No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. “Mr. Tambourine Man” Bob Dylan 2:29
2. “I’ll Feel a Whole Lot Better” Gene Clark 2:32
3. “Spanish Harlem Incident” Dylan 1:57
4. “You Won’t Have to Cry” Clark, Jim McGuinn[b] 2:08
5. “Here Without You” Clark 2:36
6. “The Bells of Rhymney” Idris Davies, Pete Seeger 3:30

Side two
No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. “All I Really Want to Do” Dylan 2:04
2. “I Knew I’d Want You” Clark 2:14
3. “It’s No Use” Clark, McGuinn 2:23
4. “Don’t Doubt Yourself, Babe” Jackie DeShannon 2:54
5. “Chimes of Freedom” Dylan 3:51
6. “We’ll Meet Again” Ross Parker, Hughie Charles 2:07
Total length: 31:35

Review: One of the greatest debuts in the history of rock, Mr. Tambourine Man was nothing less than a significant step in the evolution of rock & roll itself, demonstrating that intelligent lyrical content could be wedded to compelling electric guitar riffs and a solid backbeat. It was also the album that was most responsible for establishing folk-rock as a popular phenomenon, its most alluring traits being Roger McGuinn’s immediately distinctive 12-string Rickenbacker jangle and the band’s beautiful harmonies. The material was uniformly strong, whether they were interpreting Bob Dylan (on the title cut and three other songs, including the hit single “All I Really Want to Do”), Pete Seeger (“The Bells of Rhymney”), or Jackie DeShannon (“Don’t Doubt Yourself, Babe”). The originals were lyrically less challenging, but equally powerful musically, especially Gene Clark’s “I Knew I’d Want You,” “I’ll Feel a Whole Lot Better,” and “Here Without You”; “It’s No Use” showed a tougher, harder-rocking side and a guitar solo with hints of psychedelia. — Richie Unterberger

Schill Score: 9.5/10

Listen to Album on Spotify

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