Sell Your Soul To The Company (Godfather Records GR656)
Pacific Memorial Stadium, Stockton, CA – September 20th, 1970
(78:40): I Trust, Well Come Back Home, My Back Pages, B.J. Blues / Baby What You Want Me to Do, Truck Stop Girl, Black Mountain Rag, Take A Whiff On Me, Wheel’s On Fire, It’s Alright Ma, Ballad Of Easy Rider, Jesus Is Just Alright, Turn Turn Turn, Mr. Tambourine Man, Eight Miles High, outro., Rock N Roll Star, Mr. Spaceman, The Christian Life, Lover Of The Bayou. Bonus tracks, Loyola College, Baltimore, MD – April 15th, 1970: You Ain’t Going Nowhere, Mr. Tambourine Man (acoustic). 46th Street Rock Palace, Brooklyn, NY – October 23rd, 1970: I Trust
The Byrds reached a peak of artistic versatility and finesse from 1969 to 1970. They achieved a very delicate balance between their Roger McGuinn inspired folk-rock style mixed with country rock with added elements of what can only considered to be jazz and progressive.
Sell Your Soul To The Company on Godfather documents a very good to excellent soundboard recording of most of the September 20th, 1970 Stockton, California show. Only a minute of the first song “I Trust” is present on tape, but the rest of the concert exists.
This was just about the time Untitled was released with what would be the final and most stable line-up in The Byrds’ history with Roger McGuinn, Clarence White, Skip Battin and Gene Parsons.
The set starts off with the older tune “I Trust,” but is followed by the new song “Well Come Back Home.” Written by new bass player Skip Battin, it is an epic piece with alternating sections of pathos and dread contrasting with hopefulness, capped off with a searing guitar solo in the middle. It’s a minor masterpiece of early seventies country-progressive-rock.
“My Back Pages” is the first of four Bob Dylan covers in the set and segues directly into “B.J. Blues / Baby You Want Me To Do.” Clarence sings “Truck Stop Girl” for the “first time in about eight hours, actually” according to McGuinn, and is followed by a bluegrass instrumental “Black Mountain Rag.
The Ledbelly cover “Take A Whiff On Me” is followed by McGuinn making public service announcements and two more Dylan covers, “This Wheel’s On Fire” and “It’s Alright Ma (I’m Only Bleeding).”
The latter is particularly effective with the harmonica interludes punctuating the bluegrass beat and country picking. It also starts a medley string with “Ballad Of Easy Rider” and a cover of Art Reynolds’ “Jesus Is Just Alright.” A short pause for McGuinn to complain about the monitor is followed by more Byrds classics, “Turn Turn Turn” and “Mr. Tambourine Man.”
“Eight Miles High” is the set closer and is stretched to epic lengths. Battin on bass takes the lead, guiding the band through the long epic. Not only to the band jam freely between the verses, but Battin has a long, melodic bass solo in the middle. Very good footage of this can be seen from the Fillmore East, videotaped only three nights later.
A short blues melody is the final tune of the set and, they return for a four song encore set, “Rock N Roll Star,” “Mr. Spaceman,” “The Christian Life” and “Lover Of The Bayou.”
Godfather include several interesting bonus tracks. The first are two songs from a show at Loyola College in Baltimore from April 15th, 1970. “You Ain’t Going Nowhere” is a Bob Dylan basement tape era song which The Byrds first released in 1968, three years before he released his version on Greatest Hits II. Also from Baltimore is a rare acoustic arrangement of “Mr. Tambourine Man” which sounds closer to Dylan than The Byrds.
Finally, a full version of “I Trust” is included. This recording is from Brooklyn about a month after the Stockton show.
Sell Your Soul To The Company is a rare Byrds silver pressed title. Very few have ever been made, and most of those focus upon the famous David Crosby mid-sixties height of the band’s popularity. The latter day lineup have unfortunately lapsed into relative obscurity. Release such as this, which clearly show this band’s talent, are valuable and are worth having.