Posts Tagged ‘Gene Clark’

Gene Clark Sings For You

Though he’s been and continues to be the subject of numerous reissues and releases, Gene Clark still remains somewhat of an enigma.  The founding member of The Byrds (1944-1991) only released six solo studio albums within his too-short lifetime, bolstering a discography also containing group and collaborative efforts.  But he left behind what seems like scores of unreleased tracks, much of which has been mined in the years since his death.  In 2013, the Omnivore label issued his demos for the A&M album White Light, and now the label has tackled the holy grail of Clark’s demos – a 1967 acetate entitled Gene Clark Sings for You.  An expanded edition of the original acetate has been joined on CD by A Trip Through the Garden from The Rose Garden, a group which enjoyed Clark’s support and patronage.

The eight recordings on the original Gene Clark Sings for You were recorded near the end of 1967 at West Hollywood’s Larrabee Studios and the venerable Gold Star StudiosClark, accompanying himself on guitar, was joined by simple instrumentation including calliope, Chamberlin strings (a keyboard device similar to the mellotron) and electric piano.  Alex del Zoppo of Sweetwater played the piano, though the other musicians’ identities remain a mystery.  One track boasts strings, leading to speculation that it may have come from an earlier session led by Leon Russell as arranger-conductor.  All of the songs reveal a young, talented singer-songwriter at the crossroads, with plenty of talent and ambition but perhaps lacking a clear vision as to how to best deploy those gifts.  The result is a set of original songs in the best sense of the word, even if they may not have been commercial enough to attract an interested label.  It’s also worth noting that Clark never released any of these songs, a testament to his prolific nature as a songwriter.

The Dylan influence so evident in The Byrds’ recordings is also clear on “Past Tense,” though Clark’s own evocative poetic sensibility comes into its own with “Past My Door.”  Eschewing the expected, Clark also employed a tempo shift midway through.  Violins – perhaps arranged by Leon Russell – appear on “That’s Alright by Me,” adding a note of elegance to the folk-rock track.

Clark conjured San Francisco on many of these demos including “On Her Own,” about a beguiling girl he found there, and the mournful “Down on the Pier” (featuring atmospheric, ironic calliope).  The similarly doleful “Yesterday, Am I Right” (previously recorded for Hugh Masekela’s Chisa label but unissued) features Clark’s drawl at its most vulnerable.  Clark’s well-documented country leanings come to the fore on one track alone: the twangy, laconic “7:30 Mode,” on which he adds harmonica and is accompanied by an unknown guitarist.

This first-time commercial release of Gene Clark Sings for You is bolstered with an additional six tracks intended for The Rose Garden – a five-song acetate and one more demo.  The troubadour first encountered the band at the Ash Grove, joining them onstage for a set of Byrds tunes.  The awestruck band were thrilled to work with, and receive songs from, their hero.  The acoustic tracks on the acetate (which has never been heard outside of band circles) include the Dylan-ish “On Tenth Street,” the upbeat love song “Understand Me Too,” and the moving “A Long Time,” which The Rose Garden opted to cover on the band’s sole album.  Two full-band performances were also presented to The Rose Garden: the blues-rocking “Big City Girl” (complete with wailing harmonica) and “Doctor, Doctor,” the most produced and Byrds-esque track on the acetate with double-tracked vocals and harmonies.  “Till Today,” also recorded by The Rose Garden, is included here in a Clark demo.

The Rose Garden is the subject of A Trip Through the Garden, the first-ever anthology dedicated to the band.  And what an anthology it is, appending 16 tracks (14 previously unreleased) to the group’s lone 1968 album.  The band is, of course, best remembered today for the opening track of that LP, “Next Plane to London.”  The top 20 hit still gets airplay today, and earned The Rose Garden the “one-hit wonder” tag.  But as with most artists given that moniker, there was more to the group than just that one tune.
The Los Angeles-area band (John Noreen, Jim Groshong, Bruce Bowdin, and Bill Fleming) was enamored with The Byrds, which made it all the more fortuitous when Clark dropped into their set the Ash Grove.  (They went by The Blokes at that time.)  With the addition of singer Diana De Rose, The Blokes gained a gal and rechristened themselves The Rose Garden (a play on their newest addition’s surname.)  A showcase at hot spot Gazzarri’s on the Sunset Strip landed the still-underage band a deal with Buffalo Springfield managers Charles Greene and Brian Stone.  They got The Rose Garden signed with the Springfield’s label, Atco, and set about producing their first album.

The Rose Garden - A Trip Through The Garden

The Rose Garden is an amiable folk-rock effort with heavy pop leanings and a solid dose of Byrds-esque chime (courtesy of Noreen’s Rickenbacker) and sparkling harmonies.  Notably, while emphasizing vocals over instrumentation in Greene and Stone’s production, the band played on the record as a self-contained unit, without any intervention from the Wrecking Crew or other studio aces.  The liner notes reveal that the album’s repertoire was selected from songs picked by Greene and Stone as well as the band members.  (Only one track is credited to the band: “Flower Town,” a flower-power adaptation of the folk ballad “Portland Town.”)

In addition to Kenny O’Dell’s obviously catchy “Next Plane to London,” featuring Diana’s enjoyably burnished vocals, The Rose Garden offered a trio of songs by future Redbone founder Pat Vegas: the slow “I’m Only Second” (which somewhat recalls “You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away”), the bright Byrds-meets-Mamas-and-the-Papas confection “February Sunshine,” and the jangly “Coins of Fun” with strong duet vocals from Diana and Jim.  (The latter isn’t as trippy as its title would indicate, though.)  The group’s lustrous harmonies were also in evidence on the folk adaptation “Rider.”  An attractive cover of the Bob Dylan ballad “She Belongs to Me” led by Groshong joined Clark’s “Till Today” (slightly evoking The Fortunes’ “You’ve Got Your Troubles” in the band arrangement) and “Long Time,” which gained a Motown-style bassline.  Bob Johnston and Wes Farrell penned the exquisite, soft ballad “Look What You’ve Done.”

Omnivore’s expanded edition now has a running time of nearly 80 minutes, with an impressive array of bonus tracks.  Kenny O’Dell’s gorgeous “If My World Falls Through” was backed with the uptempo “Here’s Today,” co-written by John Noreen for a follow-up, non-LP single.  The B-side is a surprisingly commercial track that could have held its own as a A-side.  These are heard in both mono and stereo versions.  They’re joined by tracks for a proposed second album that was never completed, including a take of Neil Young’s “Down to the Wire” performed by Young, Stephen Stills, and Mac (Dr. John) Rebennack.  The crunchy backing track was presented to the band by Greene and Stone due to their Buffalo Springfield connection.  The illustrious triumvirate of Bob Crewe, Al Kooper, and Irwin Levine supplied “The World Is a Great Big Playground,” which is charming but falls short of the team’s other accomplishments.

Of interest to Gene Clark fans will be two additional appearances of “Till Today”: a rehearsal with Clark himself, and an acetate alternate.  Five live songs captured onstage at West Hills, California’s Chaminade High School round out the set: “Next Plane to London” and an array of covers not recorded in the studio by The Rose Garden including The Byrds’ “So You Want to Be a Rock ‘n’ Roll Star” and Clark-penned “She Don’t Care About Time,” Sonny and Cher’s “It’s the Little Things,” and Bo Diddley’s “You Don’t Love Me,” also by way of Sonny and Cher.  The sound is better on these tracks than might be expected, and they offer a taste of what the band’s strong live sound.

John Einarson, author of Mr. Tambourine Man: The Life and Legacy of The Byrds’ Gene Clark, has penned the erudite liner notes for both releases, with the story of The Rose Garden proving particularly fascinating.  Gene Clark Sings for You and A Trip Through the Garden are essential snapshots of the unparalleled creativity of the L.A. music scene in the late 1960s.

Both titles are available now:

Gene ClarkSings for You

The Rose GardenA Trip Through the Garden: The Rose Garden Collection

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GeneClarkOmnivoreRecordings

Omnivore Recordings will be releasing never-before-heard music from music legend Gene Clark (The Byrds) on June 15th as the expanded album Gene Clark Sings for You. The record reveals a heretofore unknown collection of Clark’s post-Byrds career.

Clark’s musical legacy includes his work as a singer, songwriter, founding member of The Byrds, and collaborator in bands such as Dillard & ClarkGene Clark & the Gosdin Brothers, and McGuinn, Clark & Hillman and later as the duet partner of *Carla Olson (The Textones).

Clark is also a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee whose songs have been covered by Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, Iain Matthews, Robert Plant & Alison Krauss, the Rose Garden, and Chris and Rich Robinson of the Black Crowes, among many others.

According to annotator John Einarson, author of Mr. Tambourine Man: The Life and Legacy of the Byrds’ Gene Clark (Backbeat Books), “For longtime Gene Clark fans and aficionados, the tracks on this remarkable archival CD are the stuff of legend. Since word first spread in the 1980s about the discovery of these 1967 recordings on a rare acetate in Liberty Records’ vaults, fans have come to regard Gene Clark Sings for You as nothing less than the Holy Grail of the singer/songwriter’s extraordinary body of work. Shrouded in mystery and the subject of much speculation and conjecture, few have ever had the opportunity to hear these forgotten gems from one of Gene Clark’s most prolifically creative periods. Until now.”

In addition to the eight tracks from the Gene Clark Sings for You acetate, recorded in 1967 after he famously left the Byrds, there are an additional five previously unknown tracks from another 1967 acetate given to the band The Rose Garden for recording consideration. The Rose Garden were big fans of the Byrds. “We wanted to sound like [them],” notes band member John Noreen.

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Beautiful harmonies from Clark flow and float through this strummed guitar-driven release. It’s pure singer-songwriter perfection with a burnished patina that, during its few minutes, showcases the melodic heights that Clark is celebrated for.

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The fifth album from the grandfathers of American jangle guitar doesn’t have the notoriety or hits of Mr. Tambourine Man or Turn! Turn! Turn! Still, it may be the light heavyweight champion of their catalog, pound for pound the strongest punch of the bunch. That’s an especially impressive claim if you know the band’s chaos of the day. Notorious, indeed: Founding guitarist David Crosby was fired over their recording of Carole King’s “Goin’ Back” (ironically, this album’s only single), and Michael Clarke and Gene Clark eventually ping-ponged their way out the door too. Roger McGuinn and Chris Hillman managed to expertly fill in the gaps with session musicians and production wizardry, outfitting their folk rock with trappings of the baroque and psychedelia—found and generated noises, poppy saxophone, the occasional sludgy riff, even early adoption of the Moog synthesizer.

The Notorious Byrd Brothers saw the band and producer Gary Usher making extensive use of a number of studio effects and production techniques, including Phasing, flanging and the introduction the sound of the pedal steel guitar into their music for the first time on the album, making it  alsoone of the first album releases on which the Moog appears.

The Notorious Byrd Brothers rings out like a glorious chiming bell and remains one of the band’s most loved albums. Its consistency is amazing, with one song after another bending one’s mind and inducing a smile. “Artificial Energy” kicks things off in fine style. Co-written by McGuinn, Hillman and Clarke, it’s a perfect album opener. The last song recorded for the album, it bursts forth with punchy horns and driving drums. Yes, it’s about speed, and it’s safe to say the lyrics probably wouldn’t fly today: “I’m coming down off amphetamine, and I’m in jail cause I killed a queen.”

The band’s take on Carole King and Gerry Goffin’s “Goin’ Back” is perhaps the definitive version of the song. Elsewhere, “Natural Harmony” and “Draft Morning” bask in pure beauty. (Chris Hillman’s role as composer really began to expand on Notorious, as he co-wrote eight of this LP’s 11 tracks.) Another Goffin/King song, “Wasn’t Born To Follow” offered here in all of its countrified glory – would later feature in the movie Easy Rider.

“Get to You” and “Old John Robertson” are both country-tinged numbers that glow of the era they sprang from, while “Change Is Now” is one of the band’s most beautiful songs without question, and its jingle-jangle guitars resonate for the ages.

“Tribal Gathering” has David Crosby written all over it. He and Hillman worked up this two-minute gem in homage to the “Gathering of the Tribes” festival held earlier that year in San Francisco. “Dolphin’s Smile” conjures up its own psychedelic aquatic adventure over just two minutes, before the album ends on an eerie note with “Space Odyssey.” A otherworldly drone set to a sea shanty waltz, the track is driven by a swirling wash of keyboards and guitars.

David Crosby was fired by McGuinn and Hillman in October 1967, as a result of friction arising from, among other things, Crosby’s displeasure at the band’s wish to record the song “Goin’ Back”. David Crosby felt that recording the song was a step backwards artistically, especially when the band contained three active songwriters. Another factor that contributed to Crosby’s dismissal was his controversial song “Triad”, a risqué composition about a menage a trois , The song was in direct competition with “Goin’ Back” for a place on the album.  Crosby eventually gave the tune to the Jefferson Airplane , who included a version of the song on “Crown Of Creation” Although the Byrds did record “Triad”, the song’s daring subject matter compelled McGuinn and Hillman to prevent it from being released at the time.

The results feel particularly transfused into the body of R.E.M.’s Document, and suggest multiple points in the soundtracks of Wes Anderson’s filmography.

‘Incapable of divesting his work of resonance and beauty’ … Gene Clark.

1. Echoes
Having midwifed the more exhilarating variety of psychedelia as the co-writer of Eight Miles High, Gene Clark left the Byrds in early 1966 a move triggered, in a much noted irony, by a fear of flying. The following year came Gene Clark with the Gosdin Brothers, a glorious countrified psych-pop album, and more than distinctive and original enough to establish him as a major act in his own right. In a decision probably more clumsy than malicious, but one that prefigured the misfortunes of Clark’s entire subsequent career, Columbia Records timed its release in direct competition with his old band’s Younger Than Yesterday, on the same label, and it tanked. Its lambent, artfully scored opening track, taking a stately stroll through the twisting paths of inner space, was perfect for its moment. Alas, its moment never got to hear it.

2. So You Say You Lost Your Baby
Lost love was Clark’s creative engine; his former bandmates had always looked forward to his turbulent personal life going awry, because of the songs they’d get out of it. This hallucinatory stormer, also from his debut LP, is an urgent, pounding, organ-driven (in several senses) account of the tripped-out mind as much as the cracked-open heart. Clarke was a superb vocalist, one who merits consideration alongside Scott Walker and Nina Simone. As a lyricist, he needed to be heard rather than read; his ornate, often mystical and sometimes overwrought writing can fall flat on the page, but it soars on record.

3. Polly
Ever ahead of a game he somehow always ended up losing, Clark had included country and bluegrass on his first album, well before the Byrds recruited Gram Parsons and recorded Sweetheart of the Rodeo. Two years on, he teamed up with bluegrass banjo maestro Doug Dillard, and a band including future Eagle Bernie Leadon plus other leading sidemen of the new country-rock movement, for a splendid pair of rootsy albums, The Fantastic Expedition of Dillard & Clark and Through the Morning, Through the Night. Their quality and influence would later be acknowledged with the inclusion of two songs from the latter on Robert Plant and Alison Krauss’s 2007 Americana hit, Raising Sand. One was the title track, the other, this. Dillard and Clark’s haunted, gorgeous original is slow, clear, stark and heavy with longing – country music’s primary emotion, for which Clark, with his rich, tempered vibrato and yearning lyricism, had a particular affinity.

Byrds of a feather … Gene Clark (second right) with the Byrds in an overliteral London photoshoot in August 1965.

4. The Virgin
In 1971, Bob Dylan was the elephant in every singer-songwriter’s room, and he was bound to loom particularly large when the room belonged to a former Byrd. Clark was always too singular, too idiosyncratic, to be a straight-up Dylan imitator, which is perhaps why Dylan, who unjustly scoffed at Donovan, held him in such high regard. The plain, folky, largely acoustic album White Light was as close as Clark ever came to sincere flattery of Dylan – and while it wasn’t all that close, it stands among the finest of that era’s many records unmistakably beholden to the master. On opening track The Virgin, the measured, honeyed, philosophical tale of a girl in the big city, his inflection veers towards Dylan’s – but he never gives himself over to pastiche. Nor would he ever, even when it might have benefited him. Perhaps he genuinely didn’t know how.

5. She Don’t Care About Time
Clark often reworked his own songs. His later versions of Feel a Whole Lot Better and Train Leaves Here This Morning are wonderful, but this is the ne plus ultra of his revisions. Still feeling his way around country rock on the recordings that would be collected on the Roadmaster album, in 1972 he turned to a classic he wrote for the Byrds, the epitome of all things jangly, and rendered it something else entirely. Baroque and suffused with tenderness and wonder, it is one of those overwhelming tracks devotional not only in a romantic but in a quasi-religious sense. The best known such number is, perhaps, the Beach Boys’ God Only Knows – and you wouldn’t want to live on the difference between that and this. It was also a foretaste of what Clark would do next.

6. Life’s Greatest Fool
What Clark did next was produce one of the greatest albums ever made. No Other (1974) eventually became synonymous with the phrase “lost masterpiece”. Initially celebrated for its obscurity – it was deleted by Asylum in 1976, reissued in 1991, then given the bells-and-whistles treatment in 2003 – it is now celebrated for its magnificence. It was in every way a magnum opus: epic, sprawling, poetic, choral, rococo. It cost a small fortune to record, and the already erratic Clark never got over its commercial failure. Its opening song is an exuberant, foot-tapping country-gospel anthem stuffed with counterculture folk wisdom, its downbeat lyric defied by its pure joie de vivre.

7. No Other
Gram Parsons, in some ways a parallel figure to Clark, had a vision of a cosmic American music; Clark lived to fashion one of his own. The title track of his masterwork pulses, glows and rattles in a thrilling meld of country and funk, gospel and rock, with echoes of the Family Stone, Staple Singers, Gimme Shelter and Abbey Road (Anglophilia being a strain unacknowledged in Americana, but not by Clark). It’s unique not only in his own catalogue but perhaps in all of pop music.

8. Some Misunderstanding
Here it is: the centrepiece of the No Other album and indeed of Clark’s career: a slow, eight-minute cry from the heart, reflecting on the perils and pleasures of a life lived too extravagantly. For Clark, who would surely have recognised William Blake as a spiritual progenitor, the road of excess had at last brought him to the palace of wisdom – and what a palace his is. It is a song to be dwelt in, to walk about within, exploring its chambers, curlicues and turrets. It is in most ways the antithesis of his sharp, concise writing of a decade previously, yet what stayed with Clark throughout was soul and soulfulness.

9. All I Want
Come the 80s, Tom Petty and REM were making the Byrds’ 60s sound fashionable again. In 1982 Clark recorded what would be released two years later as the Firebyrd album (later expanded and issued in the UK as This Byrd Has Flown). Again, circumstances (and perhaps self-sabotage) conspired against him; even when blatantly courting the main chance and invoking his past at every turn, he couldn’t catch a break. All I Want sounds like a prototype for later, poppy hits by the Traveling Wilburys and former bandmate Roger McGuinn; an updated, 80s-style Byrds. It is, by Clark’s standards, facile, a plaintive courtship of radio play. Yet it illustrates how he was quite incapable of divesting what he did of resonance and beauty.

10. Gypsy Rider
In 1986, five years before his drug- and alcohol-hastened death at 46, Clark recorded his final studio album, So Rebellious a Lover, with the roots singer Carla Olson. It includes this lovely piece, in the traditions both of biker and rambling-man’s-gotta-be-free songs. Yet it’s a world away in spirit from Born to Be Wild or Free Bird. It is as sorrowful a motorcycle tune as you’ll ever hear, and it invokes an almost unbearable sadness at the prospect of leaving yet another love. “She should have known by now / You’re just a vagabond,” laments Clark. “You may never pass this way again.” It is easy to read too much into words in hindsight, but it truly does sound as if he is performing his own elegy.

Gene Clark & Roger McGuinn – Full Concert Recorded Live: 3/4/1978 – Capitol Theatre (Passaic, NJ) This is a very fine set, good songs from Gene Clark and Roger McGuinn who also played together in The Byrds and some very fine covers, among them three Bob Dylan songs are included.

Setlist:
1 – Release Me Girl
2 – Silver Raven
3 – Don’t You Write Her Off
4 – Jolly Roger
5 – Chestnut Mare
6 – Crazy Ladies
7 – You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere
8 – Lover Of The Bayou
9 – Train Leaves Here This Morning
10 – Mr. Tambourine Man
11 – Bag Full Of Money
12 – Turn! Turn! Turn! (To Everything There Is A Season)
13 – Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door
14 – So You Want To Be A Rock ‘N’ Roll Star
15 – Eight Miles High
16 – Band Exit

thanks to alldylan.com

geneclark

Harold Eugene “Gene” Clark was an American singer-songwriter and founding member of the folk rock band The Byrds. Clark was The Byrds’ dominant songwriter between 1964 and early 1966, penning most of the band’s best-known originals from this period, including “I’ll Feel a Whole Lot Better”, “She Don’t Care About Time”, “Set You Free This Time”, and “Eight Miles High”.He created a large catalogue of music in several genres, but failed to achieve solo commercial success. Clark assembled a backing group consisting of highly accomplished country rock musicians to accompany him on an album with A&M. Progress was slow and expensive and A&M terminated the project before completion.The resulting eight tracks, including “Full Circle Song” and “In a Misty Morning” were added to those recorded with The Byrds in 1970/71 (“She’s the Kind of Girl” and “One in a Hundred”) and with The Flying Burrito Brothers (“Here Tonight”), and released in 1973 as Roadmaster in the Netherlands only.early exponents of psychedelic rock, baroque pop, newgrass, country rock and alternative country

Nice in depth profile of Gene Clark the original Byrd and songwriter of “Feel a Whole Lot Better” and “Eight Miles High” .He was only in the Byrds for a short period between 1964-66 after a short spell in the New Christy minstrels he heard the Beatles and wanted to form a rock band heading to Los Angeles he met folk singer Jim McGuinn assembled the Byrds and became the first of the country rock bands, He was the main songwriter and vocalist but a fear of flying and touring meant he left the band in 1966.  He suffered bouts of heavy drinking and this led to stomach ulcers which after surgery they removed most of his stomach and intestines which would lead later to his death in 1991.

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