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Neil Young & The Mynah Birds (Jan/Feb ’66)
Neil Young & The Mynah Birds
Recorded circa Jan/Feb ’66
Mp3 @ 320 / 51 MB
The legendary unissued Motown single cut in 1966 by the Mynah Birds – the Canadian-American garage band featuring future superfreak Rick James on vocals and, on their way to Buffalo Springfield, bassist Bruce Palmer and guitarist Neil Young – has finally been released.

The catch: It’s on the five-CD set The Complete Motown Singles: Vol. 6, 1966 (Motown/Hip-O Select), which costs $99.98. The A side, “It’s My Time,” should have been a Nuggets shoo-in – a ragged-Beatles stomp with James sounding uncannily like Arthur Lee and Young playing the twelve-string leads – while the flip, “Go On and Cry,” is a fine downer ballad with a folk-rock-Impressions flair. As to the price, you’d have paid a lot more for a test pressing; this way, you also get another 123 great sides from one of Motown’s golden years.

The Mynah Birds

The Mynah Birds were a R&B band based in Toronto, Ontario in the 1960s. Although the band never released an album, it is famous as one of the earliest efforts of a number of musicians who went on to be hugely successful.

The Mynah Birds grew out of a 1964 group called the Sailorboys, fronted by Jimmy Livingstone and also including guitarist Ian Goble, drummer Rick Cameron, organist John Goadsby and bass player Nick St. Nicholas, soon joined by Rick James.

Over its short lifespan, the group featured a surprisingly large number of artists in its many different configurations. Its most memorable lineup included future funk star Rick James, Rickman Mason, John Taylor and future folk-rock music stars Neil Young and Bruce Palmer, both of whom went on to form Buffalo Springfield.

Earlier members included Goldie McJohn, who like Nick St Nicholas, was later in rock band Steppenwolf. As well, a late-running 1967 version of The Mynah Birds featured noted folk-rocker Bruce Cockburn. early line-up comprising James, St Nicholas, Cameron and guitarist Frank Arnel recorded “The Mynah Birds Song” for Columbia Records in late 1964 as a prospective single. However, the track was not deemed strong enough and a new track, “The Mynah Birds Hop”, was recorded to grace the A-side. The second track saw James, St Nicholas and Arnel joined by second singer, Jimmy “Liver” Livingstone (born February 28, 1938 in Nova Scotia; died June 1, 2002), keyboard player John Goadsby aka Goldie McJohn (born May 2, 1945) and drummer Richie Grand (born June 11, 1945 in Toronto, Ontario). The single was released in Canada in early 1965, but flopped.

Shortly thereafter, Bruce Palmer joined the band in an unusual bass-player swap: Jack London & The Sparrows gave up Palmer to get Mynah Birds bassist St. Nicholas.

James and new bass player Bruce Palmer (born September 9, 1946 in Toronto, Ontario; died October 1, 2004) then put together a new version of The Mynah Birds, featuring drummer Rickman Mason (born December 2, 1945 in Brantford, Ontario) and guitarists Tom Morgan (born Tom Catherwood, July 4, 1944 in Brantford, Ontario) and John Taylor (born John Yachemac, June 12, 1946 in Welland, Ontario; died September 27, 2002) and John Klassen (born April 17, 1945 in Brantford, Ontario).

After leaving The Mynah Birds in April 1965, Jimmy Livingstone joined The Muddy Yorks and then The Just Us, which evolved into Livingstone’s Journey through The Tripp.

Morgan was replaced by Neil Young in January 1966.

Signing to Motown Records

The Mynah Birds signed a seven-year deal with Motown Records in 1966. They recorded a number of tracks, and their first album was in the works when James was arrested, having deserted the United States Navy prior to forming the Sailorboys. Motown subsequently shelved their recordings. planned single, “It’s My Time” b/w “Go Ahead And Cry”, was withdrawn just prior to its scheduled release by Motown. Both sides of this single were included in the 2006 box set “The Complete Motown Singles, Vol. 6: 1966”, released in a limited edition of 6000 by Universal vanity label Hip-O-Select, marking the first time any of the 1966 Motown recordings by the Mynah Birds had seen the light of day.

Young and Palmer left the band after James’ arrest. Several of the remaining members continued to perform as the Mynah Birds throughout 1966, but did not make any recordings.

James put together a new short-lived line up of the band in the summer of 1967 with bass player Neil Lillie aka Neil Merryweather (born December 27, 1945 in Winnipeg, Manitoba). In some legal trouble again, James then left the group once more within a matter of months; however, the Mynah Birds (which now featured no original members) still had contractual commitments to play various live shows. Around this time, Bruce Cockburn joined the band for a period. By late 1967, the group had gone through more personnel changes and were known as The Flying Circus. The band finally broke up for good soon afterwards.

Neil Young and Rick James


Funk legend Rick James, the flashy Motown Records artist best known for his 1981 hit ‘Super Freak,’ died on August 7, 2004 at age 56.

While much is known about James’ “Super Freak” period, relatively little is known about the period during the 1960’s when he formed a band known as the Mynah Birds with Neil Young, Goldie McJohn (later of Steppenwolf) and Bruce Palmer (later of Buffalo Springfield). The name of the band Mynah Birds was apparently a takeoff of the well known folk-rock band The Byrds.

In an interview with Neil Young in MOJO Magazine in 1995, Neil was asked about a 1965 Mynah Birds album being recorded which never was released.

    YOUNG: “Yeah, there are tapes of me and The Mynah Birds also. After I arrived in Toronto I tried to keep my band going and then tried to work with several others. But it just never worked out for me there. I could never get anything going in Toronto, never even got one gig with a band. I just couldn’t break into that scene. So I moved instead towards acoustic music and immediately became very introspective and musically-inward. That’s the beginning of that whole side of my music.”

The origin of the band name is somewhat disputed. Some have claimed that it was a takeoff of on The Byrds. Another story goes that Rick James partnered with a Yorkville (Toronto Canada area) pet store which sold Mynah birds. As a promotion, the Mynah Birds dressed in yellow boots, black leather jackets and yellow turtlenecks as an advertisment for the pet shop. (See Toronto Star.)

In Jimmy McDonough’s definitive Neil Young biography “Shakey”, “James, fancied himself the next Mick Jagger, a claim particularly ironic since he was black, although as Bruce Palmer told Scott Young, “as far as we knew he was white then.”

    “The Mynah Birds — in black leather jackets, yellow turtlenecks and boots — had quite a surreal scene going. The band was financed by John Craig Eaton of the Eaton’s department-store dynasty. Legend has it he poured money into the band, establishing a bottomless account for the band’s equipment needs.

    Those lucky enough to see any of the band’s few gigs say they were electrifying. ‘Neil would stop playing lead, do a harp solo, throw the harmonica way up in the air and Ricky would catch it and continue the solo.’

    Unfortunately, everything screeched to a halt when James was busted in the studio for being AWOL from the navy. “We thought he was Canadian,” said Palmer. “Even though there are no Negroes in Canada.” A single, “It’s My Time,” was allegedly pulled the day of release, and the album recordings were shelved and remain unreleased to this day.”

When author McDonough asked Neil Young what it was like to work with Rick James, Young replied:

    YOUNG: “Intense. Ricky was great. He was a little bit touchy, dominating — but a good guy. Had a lot of talent. Really wanted to make it bad. Runnin’ from the draft. I wasn’t a driving force behind the Mynah Birds – I was the lead guitar player, Ricky was the front man. He’s out there doin’ all that shit and I was back there playin’ a little rhythm, a little lead, groovin’along with my bro Bruce. We were havin’a good time.

    Rick James was really into the Stones. “Get Off My Cloud,” “Satisfaction,” “Can I Get a Witness” – all these songs we used to do. We got more and more into how cool the Stones were. How simple they were and how cool it was.

    We were the only white band at Motown.”

From Ear Candy Magazine’s Mynah Birds Part II- Rock ‘N Roll Case Study:

    “[The Mynah Birds] rescue came in the form of an unlikely figure – struggling folkie, Neil Young. As Bruce Palmer remembers the fortuitous meeting, he was walking down Yorkville Avenue when he ran into Young, carrying his acoustic guitar and balancing an amp on his head, coming in the opposite direction. After exchanging pleasantries, Palmer invited Young to join the band. It seemed a ridiculous decision introducing an acoustic player into a rhythm and blues outfit. But by combining Young’s folk inflected guitar and Matthews’ R&B vocals, the Mynah Birds, as noted rock historian John Einarson aptly put it, successfully bridged the two Toronto styles – Yorkville Village’s folk and Yonge Street’s R&B. Mason, who says he never got along with the band’s new guitarist, remembers Young’s first job with the band – the Inferno, a club on Toronto’s east side. ‘They put rubber gym mats out for us to play on! The first song we go to do, Neil goes up to do his lead and unplugs his guitar. He plays the whole lead without his guitar plugged in. Didn’t even know what he was doing.'”

The brief period of the Mynah Birds is recalled in the song “Big Time” on the album Broken Arrow. From an analysis of the lyrics of Neil Young’s ‘Big Time’ from The I Magazine:

    “Autobiographical, “Big Time” calls upon the spirit of the past and twists it to now. In the first verse Young simply unwinds his own beginnings. ‘Gonna leave the pain behind, Gonna leave the fools in line, Gonna take the magic potion. Gettin’ in an old black car, Gonna take a ride so far, To the land of suntan lotion. Gonna take it state by state, Until I hit the golden gate, Get my feet wet in the ocean.’

    The devout will recognise the setting and the story, but for those who don’t … In 1965, Young recorded an acoustic demo for Elektra Records featuring early versions of Sugar Mountain and Nowadays Clancy Can’t Even Sing but wasn’t offered a contract by the label. Returning to Toronto, Young played the same Yorkville district coffeehouse circuit as fellow Canadian Joni Mitchell before he joined The Mynah Birds, a Toronto-based band led by singer Ricky James Matthews (later to be known as Rick James who would go on to have several smash dance hits, in particular Super Freak, a song which would later heavily influence Prince).

    The Mynah Birds recorded several songs for Motown Records (the first white band to ever be signed by the label)in Detroit that were never released. During one of these recording sessions, James was arrested and charged with deserting the U.S. Navy. The Mynah Birds flew apart when James was forced to complete his tour of duty. Only one song ever saw the light of day: Mynah Bird Hop on Columbia Canada.”

The Mynah Birds recorded 16 songs and signed a seven-year contract with Motwon Records. From a book by John Einarson titled Neil Young`s Canadian Years there is a mention of the legendary Mynah Birds sessions: “A listen to the tapes years later reveals no trace of Neil’s characteristic guitar or vocals.”


1. It’s My Time, Mix 1 3:17
2. I’ll Wait Forever, Mix 1 2:50
3. Masquerade, Take 1, Mix 1:14
4. Masquerade, Take 2 1:30
5. Fantasy, Mix 1 2:20
6. I’ve Got You In My Soul 2:42
7. Go On and Cry 3:28

8. “It’s My Time”
9. “Go On and Cry”

Probable line-up;

Neil Young: Guitar, (backing vocals on Go On and Cry?)
Ricky “I’m Rick James, Bitch” Matthews: Vocals
Bruce Palmer: Bass
Rickman Mason: Drums
John Taylor?: Rhythm Guitar
keyboards? (probably not Goldie McJohn, possibly in-house Motown musicians?)

Here be the Birds;

Some folks had a problem with the DL. The file should DL as a normal .RAR file of 51 MB called mb.rar.

If your file is 51 MB but not a RAR, you could try opening it with Win RAR or rename it to mb.rar. If that doesn’t work, just DL it again .

Big thanks to the original poster

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June 23, 2008 Posted by | Buffalo Springfield, Music_ClassicRock, Neil Young, Rick James, The Mynah Birds, _MUSIC | Leave a comment