Wednesday, April 25, 2018

18 "New" Songs From 1967 By Byrds Co-Founder Gene Clark: The Holy Grail?

Amazingly, there are two new releases this year, Gene Clark Sings For You (Omnivore) and the Back Street Mirror EP (Sierra/Entree), with a total of 18 "new" Gene Clark songs from the critical 1967 era between them. This constitutes the closest to a "Holy Grail" that Gene Clark fans are likely to find at this point in time.

As a Byrd, Gene Clark harmonized with Roger McGuinn and David Crosby on the classics "Mr. Tambourine Man" and "Turn! Turn! Turn!", and was the principle writer of "Eight Miles High". He wrote some of the best Byrds originals including: "I'll Feel A Whole Lot Better", "Here Without You", "Set You Free This Time", "The World Turns All Around Her", "She Don't Care About Time", as well as the lost gem "The Day Walk (Never Before)".

Gene Clark left The Byrds (which he co-founded) in 1966 for a solo career that never really took off, despite releasing several under-appreciated masterpieces such as White Light (1971) and No Other (1974), both with guitarist extraordinaire Jesse Ed Davis, and a marvelous collaboration with The Textones' Carla Olson: So Rebellious A Lover (1987). 

Hard to believe that more than a quarter of a century after Gene Clark's premature death, we are still hearing rediscovered "new" and "lost" material, most of which the general public has never heard.

In 2013, Omnivore Recordings released the White Light demos as Here Tonight, perhaps my favorite Gene Clark album of all-time (just Gene on vocals, guitar, and harmonica). Then in 2016, Sierra Records released GENE CLARK-THE LOST STUDIO SESSIONS 1964-1982, a fantastic collection of Gene Clark rarities (including several "instant classics" we had never heard before, most notably: "Back To The Earth Again", "The Lighthouse", "The Awakening Within", "Sweet Adrienne", "Walking Through This Lifetime", "The Sparrow", and "Only Yesterday's Gone", Gene solo with voice, guitar, and harmonica, recorded 1969-1970 in a transitional period between the Dillard & Clark albums and White Light).

Now with these two new 2018 releases, Gene Clark Sings For You (Omnivore) and the Back Street Mirror EP (Sierra/Entree), most of the important unreleased or unavailable Gene Clark material from the key transitional period when Gene had left The Byrds and was going solo, will be available, most of it for the first time ever. Between the two releases, there are 18 "new" (to us) Gene Clark songs for us to cherish.... Well, actually 18 performances of 17 songs, one of which ("Yesterday, Am I Right") there are two different versions of.

From Gene Clark Sings For You (1967 - all previously unreleased or unavailable):
  • On Her Own
  • Past Tense
  • Yesterday, Am I Right
  • Past My Door (leaked online in early 2000's)
  • That's Alright By Me (different version on 1998 Flying High compilation; now out-of-print)
  • One Way Road
  • Down On The Pier
  • 7:30 Mode
According to The Clarkophile, Flying High's "That's Alright By Me" is from a 1968 session and is different from the 1967 version on Gene Clark Sings For You.

Also on Omnivore's Gene Clark Sings For You, Gene Clark's 1967 Rose Garden Demos (previously unknown Gene Clark songs submitted to the band Rose Garden to consider recording; all previously unreleased/unavailable):
  • On Tenth Street
  • Understand Me
  • A Long Time
  • Big City Girl
  • Doctor Doctor
  • Till Today (Rehearsal Demo)
Available June 15 From Omnivore Recordings (Pre-order available now!)

From the Back Street Mirror EP (Sierra/Entree Records):

Side A: 1967 Sessions with Leon Russell, Hugh Masekela, et al
Side B: Three Previously Unreleased/Unavailable Songs Featured on The 1967 "Chip Douglas Tape"
  • She Told Me
  • If I Hang Around (previously unreleased original demo)
  • That's What You Want

The version of "If I Hang Around" on the Back Street Mirror EP is the original demo without the vocal and instrumental overdubs added later by Chip Douglas. The Chip Douglas overdub version was on 2003 Byrd Parts II compilation; now out-of-print. 

The Back Street Mirror EP was a vinyl-only Record Store Day exclusive, but Sierra/Entree Records confirms it be will available later in 2018 on both vinyl and MP3. I hope the same is true about their other Record Store Day release of "new" material from a classic artist, Tim Hardin's Lost In L.A. EP. Sounds great!

UPDATE May 2018: The Back Street Mirror EP is now available for sale, on vinyl, to the general public. You can order it online here...

I'm really liking If I Hang Around, which I only heard for the first time recently. The version I heard is from the 2003 Byrd Parts II compilation, and contains vocal and instrumental overdubs added much later by Chip Douglas. I'm very interested in hearing the original demo without the overdubs on the Back Street Mirror EP.

I've enjoyed That's Alright By Now for some time. It's a great song. I stumbled upon Past My Door a month ago, which it appears leaked online in the early 2000's, and I dig it, but the chord changes are a little unusual and it feels unfinished. In fact, I've seen a few things online that imply that most of these "new" songs are second-rate, but we're talking about 18 songs, well 17 songs and two versions of one of the songs ("Yesterday, Am I Right"), and I've only heard three of the songs so far. Just by the law of averages, there's got to be at least a few good songs among them, and maybe even a couple of great ones.

I can't wait!

RELATED ARTICLE: "Gene Clark Sings For You" (1967) Album From Byrds Co-Founder Re-Discovered PLUS Rose Garden Demos PLUS Chip Douglas Tape

Note: The "Chip Douglas Tape" was a tape of Gene Clark songs given to Chip Douglas in 1967 to learn for Gene's new backing band he was forming at the beginning of his solo career. 

These songs were on the "Chip Douglas Tape":

  1. I'd Feel Better
  2. The Way I Am
  3. If There's No Love
  4. She Don't Care About Time
  5. She Told Me
  6. If I Hang Around
  7. That's What You Want
  8. She Has A Way
  9. You Showed Me (with Roger McGuinn)

With the issue of the three "new" songs from the Chip Douglas Tape, versions of all songs on the tape are now available. It is not certain that they are, in all cases, the same versions. Songs 1, 2, 3 are on Gene Clark: The Lost Studio Sessions 1964 - 1982. Song 4 is on Turn! Turn! Turn! Songs 5, 6, 7 are on Side B of a vinyl-only release: Gene Clark, Back Street Mirror EP (Entree Records). Song 8 is on Preflyte and Mr. Tambourine Man. Song 9 is on Preflyte.

1 comment:

  1. The version of That’s Alright With Me that appears on Sings For You was recorded in 1967; it is completely different from the version that was recorded in 1968, and later released on Flying High.
    Moreover, the version of If I Hang Around on the EP does not include the bass and vocals added by Chip Douglas for the 2003 Byrd Parts 2 compilation. It is the original recording onto which Chip overdubbed his parts over 30 years later.