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ON THE OTHER SIDE OF MAD

Liner Notes

The details are a bit hazy, but I think I first became acquainted with Horst-Peter Schmidt and Graham Allman-Talbot (the duo known as Starbyrd), separately, via an INTERNET search using the words "Byrds" and "jangle." It is quite fortuitous how search engines bring music fans and musicians together. You now hold in your hands further evidence of contemporary irony: without today's technology, the music of Starbyrd - which is deeply rooted in the pop, rock, folk-rock and country-rock music of the 60s and 70s - might not exist. Be grateful that two very talented Boomer generation singer/songwriter/musicians could bridge the distance between them, forge a musical alliance and collaborate on such a fine album. Fifteen years ago, Horst-Peter Schmidt and Graham Allman-Talbot might never have found one another. Through INTERNET dialogue and digital files, they have merged their skills to share fifteen original songs and two terrific cover songs with a 21st century audience. If you dig music that harkens back to the Sunset Strip scene of the mid-60s, you'll be glad you're along for the ride. Horst-Peter and Graham did not select the moniker STARBYRD by accident! These songs are overflowing with the great Rickenbacker 12-string electric guitar jangle that Roger McGuinn has showcased throughout his career - as a founding member of the Byrds and as a solo artist. Starbyrd's songs - which feature chiming, ringing electric riffs and acoustic guitar flourishes - should also resonate with fans of George Harrison, the Beatles, Tom Petty, CSNY and the Eagles. The McGuinn influence on Starbyrd's music is predominant and inescapable. Starbyrd recorded one of the cover songs - "Handle With Care" - hoping that it would sound like a version of the song had Roger McGuinn been a member of the Traveling' Wilburys. They succeeded so well in their endeavor that Graham and Horst-Peter might now be considered the other "should have been" members of the Wilburys. The second, less-known cover song included herein is a Roger and Camilla McGuinn-penned tune that McGuinn featured in his 80s concert repertoire but never recorded - "The Tears." Through the marvels of modern technology, Graham and Horst-Peter worked closely with Roger and his wife, Camilla, to craft their version of this wonderful song. Without mimicking the composer's solo stylings, Starbyrd recorded "The Tears" in a Byrds-inspired manner that should make Roger proud. On The Other Side Of Mad is replete with musicianship, production quality and artistic passion that is absent from far too many other "side projects." I heartily recommend that you visit the Starbyrd website and link to Horst-Peter's and Graham's respective websites to learn more about these two gifted artists' previous recordings. Horst-Peter Schmidt has been the driving force behind three very fine albums released by the German band Different Faces. In addition, Horst-Peter has a backlog of exceptional unreleased solo material. Graham Allman-Talbot has released two superb albums under the moniker GAT. Their musical similarities go far beyond their nimble Rickenbacker 12-string guitar-playing skills and make them as natural a pop music partnership as John Lennon and Paul McCartney or Roger McGuinn and Gene Clark. Play this album, discover the crisp and chiming Starbyrd sound and enjoy the melodic enchantment that is evident in every song. Like me, you will hope that further collaborations are in the offing. You will also learn to appreciate the value of a "Byrds" or "jangle" word search on the INTERNET - since it just might lead to a friendship with, and allegiance to, musicians like Graham and Horst-Peter.

Eric Sorensen - "Jangly" music columnist, www.fufkin.com INTERNET magazine          

You wait ages for one to come along then two turn up together… Albums recreating the glorious 12 string jangle of the Byrds that is. That well known jingle jangle and Roger McGuinn’s distinctive tone have inspired countless bands over the last 40 odd years. One such band from the not so distant past was the Lears with their ‘The Story So Far…’ CD; which was a successful attempt to recreate the sounds of McGuinn and co. While there have been the odd songs dotted throughout numerous albums which have brought a smile to any Byrd fanatic it is rare to find an album where every single track recalls The Byrds at their peak. So it was a rare pleasure to find albums by the Byrds - inspired Starbyrd and The Spring Collection drop in the letter box the same day.

The Spring Collection CD, basically one Joe Mendoza with a few assorted friends, is a fine, fine album of Mendoza originals plus a really inspired cover of Eric Clapton’s ‘Wonderful Tonight’ taken at a breathtaking pace and full of lovely jangling guitars. Wonderful, in fact. If that album had been the only one that day/week/month which was proudly showing it’s Rickenbackers on its sleeve it would have satisfied even the most jaded Byrds fan. But it had the misfortune to show up at the same time as the Starbyrd album which is not only the best ‘Byrds inspired’ album yet to see the light of day but it also ranks up there with the best of the former Byrds solo albums. It’s the equal of McGuinn’s ‘Back From Rio’ for sure.

The band is a nucleus of German Horst-Peter Schmidt and Brit Graham Allman-Talbot who have also added Ritchie Dunlop to the ranks and a few friends who help out on extra guitars and vocals. The main members are also involved with other bands except Allman-Talbot who has a solo career; he has been making music heavily influence by McGuinn and George Harrison for many years under the name of Gat. But quite frankly, this album is just so good it’s going to take a while before I get round to checking out any previous work by these guys or digging deeper into their backgrounds. For now I don’t want anything other than to listen to this glorious recreation of the sound of one of pop music’s most important bands.

It’s now become a cliché to add to any review where the bands show their influences so easily and proudly that they add something new to the sound. That’s already been said about Starbyrd in fact. The truth is they don’t add anything new. They’ve taken the sound of The Byrds and they’ve made a better job of it than any other band, at times even better than The Byrds did! Why should that be anything to be ashamed of? They are not a tribute band making sad cover versions of their heroes’ greatest hits. Starbyrd simply write outstanding songs which sound like the Byrds and there is nothing wrong with that.

Having said that, there are, in fact, two cover versions on this album. The first one, a cover of the Travelling Wilburys ‘Handle With Care’ is the only disappointment on this album. Instrumentally it is fine. Those Rickenbackers jangle just as they should and if it was just an instrumental track it would have been a highlight on the album. Unfortunately the vocals let it down. The band wanted to make it sound like it would have if Roger McGuinn was in the Wilburys, and the guitars show that they have been successful in that task, but it’s the part Roy Orbison took in that song that lets this version down. It’s not clear if it is Schmidt or Talbot who tackles this part of the song but one can’t help remembering how Orbison handled these vocals and let’s face it who can match up to the great man? It’s a minor criticism. The other 16 songs are all first rate, and hearing Jamie Hoover’s take on ‘Handle With Care’ last year and with Hoover managing to make a better job of the song vocally doesn’t help, but the track would have been better here as an instrumental.

The second cover song is actually a little known Roger and Camilla McGuinn composition which has the approval of the composers. ‘The Tears’ is apparently a song which McGuinn had made a rough demo of and had performed live a number of times but had never released it commercially. Starbyrd’s version is the first time the song has been officially released. Camilla McGuinn even adds some notes about the song in the CD’s booklet. Having the song endorsed by one of the co-writers must have been a highlight of the bands career.

It’s impossible to pick out just one of the 15 original songs for attention. Each and every one is a minor classic. The band shows that they have a certain sense of humor when it comes to the fact that they sound so much like the Byrds. The song, ‘It’s Still Me’, takes the Byrds arrangement of ‘Mr Tambourine Man’, steals a few lines of the song’s melody and adds knowing lyrics like “ it’s a 12 string you can hear, just like McGuinnn’s done all these years but it’s me and HP (Horst Peter Schmidt) playing now, it’s still legal and allowed”. Or try “I’m so pleased that I can play just like my heroes used to do but you know that when I play it’s just for you” or even “ don’t wanna be McGuinn or Hillman but I’ll play like them if I can”. These guys know what they’re doing; they may not want to be known as the "new Byrds" but it’s unavoidable, they are just so good. I would have put money on the title track 'Starbyrd' being not only a McGuinn original but also as being performed by the Byrds.

There are two versions of ‘Chasin’ Down The Sun’, a co-write by Schmidt and Gat with a ‘crazy hillbilly’ called Dave Lewis on the album, the first is exactly as you’d expect the countrified version of the Byrds to handle this truck driving song and the second version ‘(Still) Chasin’ Down The Sun’ has less jangle and is more rooted in that country sound. The song is proof that the band can tackle all facets of the Byrds sound with ease.

If this album had dropped in my letter box when it was originally released in America last summer it would have been top of my best albums of 2004 list without a doubt. It puts all the other bands reaching for that Byrds sound well in the shade. Absolutely outstanding and highly recommended to anyone who just can’t get enough of that trademark Byrds jangle.

(source: http://www.pennyblackmusic.co.uk/MagSitePages/Review/3863/R/)


Camilla McGuinn writing about 'The Tears'

One day as I was walking by Roger's studio, he called out to me, "Camilla, come in here I want you to hear a song that a group of musicians have recorded together in different countries via the internet." I sat down in my usual chair and listened to a song he played for me on his computer. I was amazed. I knew the song. I wrote the lyrics. It was "The Tears". Memories came flooding back to the day on the airplane when the song was written on a paper napkin. I had been thinking about the time I had spent in college and the dormitory where I lived. As is with young women tears are a part of the passage of life. Sometimes tears come because of truly devastating events, sometimes from lost loves and sometimes just because the soul needs a release. In my dorm it was not unusual to pass by a door and hear the sounds that come with tears. The tintinnabulation of Edgar Allen Poe's poem, "The Bells" began ringing in my mind as I thought of those tears, so my poem began. When I finished it, I read it to Roger and we came up with a melody. Roger sang it live at some shows and even made a rough demo of the song, but we put it on the shelf and there it stayed until "Starbyrd" asked permission to record it for their new high tech CD. Starbyrd's rendition captures the emotion of the song and when I heard it, my eyes filled with tears.
Camilla McGuinn –August 2004

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Well first off I want to say that Starbyrd did a wonderful version of McGuinn's The Tears - it blew me away. The whole CD gave me Tears, Tears of JOY! The tears of joy you get when you hear the jangle of a 12 string Rickenbacker played front and center around a wonderful band.   Starbyrd is top notch in every way, it's a Byrds/McGuinn fan's dream come true. All of their songs are well written and performed and the 2 cover songs are great. I always thought McGuinn should have been a Willbury. It is a GREAT time to be a Byrds fan. We have so much to be thankful for. We have Byrds Of A Feather giving us live early sounding Byrds shows and now we have Starbyrd giving us new songs done in tradition of the Byrds, not a copy though. Starbyrd does somehow have their own sound. I hope Byrds fans all over the world buy Starbyrd, you will be thrilled.   I think Starbyrd is GREAT!!!! The first 2 songs (on the EP) are really good, but the third one "Equal Minds" blew me away, all I can say is WOW! I don't think Paul McCartney could write a song as good as that today.
Reviewer: Clark Eldridge


 
Fantastic Dueling Electric 12 String Rickenbackers !

Starbyrd has created an easy to listen to 1960s retro celebration chock full of dueling electric Rickenbacker 12 strings that bring Roger McGuinn and The Byrds to mind. Lots of great orignals and a few cover tunes that will please just about everybody but especially fans of The Byrds and jangly music! Go Starbyrd !!!!!
Reviewer: Bill Kaffenberger (http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/starbyrd)

12 String Artistry
This cd is absolutely magnificent! A genuine artistry of the 12 string Rickenbacher guitar sound coupled with carefully crafted songs that are extremely melodic. A shame that more of this type of music isn't being created today. But Starbyrd makes up for that in spades. One of the best albums I've heard in the last 25 years hands down.
Reviewer: Riverman
(http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/starbyrd)

We need more Starbyrd on the Radio with Equal Minds good sound go for it Starbyrd
Reviewer: Trick
(http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/starbyrd)
Miss the Byrds? Graham Allman-Talbot, Horst-Peter Schmidt, and Ritchie Dunlop + mates come to your rescue with 17 Rickenbacker 12-string saturated tracks! Check out their very “Mr. Tambourine”-like “It’s Still Me”! This CD contains more than 100% of your minimum daily requirement of Byrdsy goodness! We love this stuff! Includes a cover of the Traveling Wilburys’ “Handle With Care” and their version of a previously unreleased Roger McGuinn song – “The Tears”! EXCELLENTLY JANGLY!!!      
Reviewer: Ray Gianchetti (Kool Kat Music)

STARBYRD, a BYRDS related band, have released their first CD called ON THE OTHER SIDE OF MAD.It is filled with Byrds-sounding songs. Actually, it sounds more "Byrds" than any solo album recorded by ex-Byrds members (except maybe for Roger McGuinn's Back From Rio).(BYRDSFLYGHT STRONGLY RECOMMENDS THIS ALBUM) It contains an excellent version of an hitherto unreleased Roger McGuinn / Camilla McGuinn song called THE TEARS (which Roger performed live in the mid-80s). Roger helped the band with suggestions for the recording, and Camilla wrote part of the booklet liner notes.   
Reviewer: Raoul Verolleman (http://users.skynet.be/byrdsflyght/)

Graham Allman-Talbot and Horst-Peter Schmidt were kind enough to send me an advance copy of their forthcoming Starbyrd album - On The Other Side Of Mad. Byrds fans and Roger McGuinn fans should not miss this disc when it is released later this summer. Graham, a Brit who records under the moniker GAT, and Horst-Peter, who fronts the German band Different Faces, are both disciples of McGuinn and his Rickenbacker 12-string playing style. As those old Wrigley gum ads used to say, "Double your pleasure, double your fun!"   On The Other Side Of Mad features 17 songs that are overflowing with chiming, ringing and jangling Rickenbacker riffs - including a cover of the Travelin' Wilburys' "Handle With Care" and a terrific cover of McGuinn's "The Tears." The latter song was performed frequently as part of McGuinn's mid-80s concert repertoire, but Roger never recorded the song. I can't think of a better artist to tackle and record this song than Starbyrd! In fact, Graham and Horst-Peter received some long-distance advice on how to record the song from Roger himself. A month ago, when Roger was touring Europe, Graham and Horst-Peter attended Roger's concert in Belgium and socialized with him after the show.Long may you jangle, Sir Graham and Sir Horst-Peter!                          Eric Sorenson ("Jangly" music columnist, www.fufkin.com INTERNET magazine)

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