Gene Clark: Gene Clark Sings For You - Release date: June 15, 2018
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 Night 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's premature death, we are still hearing rediscovered "new" and "lost" material, both alternate takes of known songs and entirely "new" (to us) songs.
In 2013, Omnivore Recordings released the White Light demos as Here Tonight, perhaps my favorite Gene Clark album of all-time (just Gene, 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 guitar and harmonica, recorded 1969-1970 in a transitional period between the Dillard & Clark albums and White Light).
Now, Omnivore is releasing Gene Clark Sings For You (1967), mentioned extensively in the Gene Clark biography Mr. Tambourine Man, but not widely heard... until now.
Gene was at a crucial crossroads in his life and his career. He had left The Byrds, at the height of their success. Gene's first post-Byrds "solo" album, With The Gosdin Brothers was released in early 1967; the bluegrass/country-rock departures of Dillard & Clark were still to come.
Gene Clark Sings For You captures Gene at this critical period. His writing skills are strong, but he's clearly casting around for his post-Byrds identity - Psychedelic Baroque pop crooner? Sensitive folkie/singer-songwriter? Country-rock Americana pioneer? He is all of these and more. This release is a must-have for any Gene Clark/Byrds fan or any discerning fan of Americana, Orchestral Pop, country, folk, and rock.
In addition to the 8 songs from Gene Clark Sings For You, this release also contains 5 "new" Gene Clark songs from the Rose Garden demo (Gene gave the band Rose Garden a tape of his songs to consider recording for their forthcoming album) and a rehearsal demo of Gene doing "Till Today" for Rose Garden. Furthermore, Entree Records (Sierra Records' vinyl imprint - see bottom of page) will release 3 "new" rediscovered Gene Clark songs on vinyl only that were on the Chip Douglas Tape, also from the crucial 1967 post-Byrds/going solo era - for a grand total of 17 newly rediscovered Gene Clark songs from a key moment in his artistic development that most people will be hearing for the first time... in 2018! I consider myself a super-fan, but I've only heard three of these 17 "new" songs so far... (Actually there's 18 "new" songs if you count the two versions of "Yesterday, Am I Right".)
And... is there even more Gene Clark material still in the vaults???
The floodgates are open... Let it rain!!!
The legendary 1967 Gene Clark recordings. Also includes six additional previously unissued & unknown recordings
“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.”
author of Mr. Tambourine Man: The Life And Legacy Of The Byrds’ Gene Clark (Backbeat Books)
The A side of the Back Street Mirror EP contains two songs found on The Lost Studio Sessions - "Back Street Mirror" and "Don't Let It Fall Through" (feat. the late, great South African trumpeter Hugh Masekela) and a different version of a song from Gene Clark Sings For You - "Yesterday, Am I Right", also from the sessions with Hugh Masekela and Leon Russell (see below).
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":
- I'd Feel Better
- The Way I Am
- If There's No Love
- She Don't Care About Time
- She Told Me
- If I Hang Around
- That's What You Want
- She Has A Way
- 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.
More details on Clarkophile.Blogspot.com:
|The beautiful artwork for the RSD exclusive by my|
longtime friend and ally, Neon Brambles.
BACK STREET MIRROR E.P.I'm delighted to report that Record Store Day (April 21, 2018) will see the release of a new E.P. featuring previously unreleased material by Gene Clark. The six-song E.P. features three previously unreleased songs, plus two songs that appeared on The Lost Studio Sessions ('Back Street Mirror' & 'Don't Let It Fall Through') and the original solo-acoustic demo of 'If I Hang Around' onto which Chip Douglas overdubbed bass/vocals for the 2003 Byrd Parts 2 release. The striking artwork—front, back and insert—was created by none other than Ms. Ingrid Neimanis, better known to Gene Clark fans everywhere as the ever-groovy, go-go-booted Neon Brambles, the online caretaker of all things Gene, and creator of the fab Gene-Clark.com site.
Side 1: The Russell-Masekela Sessions
|Above: GENE GOES FOR BAROQUE|
Hugh Masekela, pictured in 1967,
flew in the Byrds' circle for a while
and lent a hand (and horn) to trumpet
news of Gene's new direction.
Original Producer: Jim Dickson
Music Arranger: Leon Russell
Horn Arranger: Hugh Masekela
Recording Engineer: Armin Steiner
Recorded January 26, 1967, Sound Recorders, Hollywood CA
Picture a studio full of musicians playing an assortment of instruments—including drums, rhythm guitar, electric guitar, piano, harpsichord, triangle, bass, flutes, trumpets and other horn instruments not listed on the official log (probably French horns and saxes*), someone playing bones—real ones!—plus Gene in the vocal booth, Armin Steiner (engineer) with Jim Dickson in the control room (the latter barking instructions to arranger Leon Russell)—and this takes on almost Spectoresque proportions.
|Leon Russell, 1967|
Dickson must've had high expectations that Columbia would keep Gene on the label after the release of Gene Clark With The Gosdin Brothers, arriving the very next month. That Gene was so quickly dropped in the wake of his debut's commercial underperformance might lead one, at least cursorily, to second guess Dickson's belief in the 22-year-old ex-Byrd. But armchair criticism, especially this far removed from the events in question, is for the smuggest of fools. Rock writers are fond of contextualizing The Beatles' growth as artistes by comparing their earliest recordings to 'Strawberry Fields Forever' (recorded only a month earlier than 'Back Street Mirror'). In that same spirit, listen to Gene's exquisite, graceful reading of 'Back Street Mirror' and appreciate that the frenetic days 'Boston' and 'You Movin'' were only two and a half years before.
Dickson's belief in Gene was not misplaced, it was based on the knowledge that this kid was one of the finest songwriters of his generation.
Takes 1 through 10 of 'Back Street Mirror' were either incomplete or deemed unsuitable. There is no great variation in performance from take to take; occasionally an impromptu drum fill will jump out as different from the pattern laid down on master take. At one point Dickson can be heard issuing instructions to Leon Russell regarding the harpsichord part, to which Russell can be heard responding. Ultimately, it was take 11 that proved to be best.
Similarly, 'Don't Let It Fall Through' required eleven takes (full or incomplete). In the end it was decided that take 9 was the keeper.
Sadly, no details remain regarding the number of takes required for 'Yesterday, Am I Right' because the session tapes are long gone. Much perkier than the one recorded during the sessions that produced the "Gene Clark Sings For You" acetate, the January 1967 arrangement is another one of Gene's genre-bending exercises: it's both jazzy and in the Baroque style for which Gene had a frustratingly brief infatuation.
Q. How can I get a copy?
For USA customers, here is the RSD link to stores, they can search by city, state, zip code:
Outside the USA: HERE
There is no way of knowing or guaranteeing that any specific store will order the album from the Alliance Entertainment Corp. All orders for RSD must be placed with Alliance by March 15th! RSD has limited the pressing to 1500 copies.
- Note: This is a continuation of my discussion of the Back Street Mirror E.P., an exclusive RECORD STORE DAY release, coming April 21, 2018. See previous post for further information. You cannot order this vinyl-only release; it must be purchased from bricks-and-mortar retailers.
The Chip Douglas Tape1. If I Hang Around
2. She Told Me
3. That’s What You Want
There are certain periods of Gene's career that, to this day, in defiance of biographers and internet searches, retain their mystery: when exactly was 'Communications' written? Who, besides Alex Del Zoppo, accompanied Gene on the Sings for You recordings? What songs were stolen from his home in the chaotic aftermath of his death? And what about those Terry Melcher recordings?As longtime readers are doubtless aware, my personal era of never-ending fascination begins in early 1966, immediately after Gene's departure from the Byrds, and continues all the way up to the release of The Fantastic Expedition of Dillard & Clark in October of 1968. At first, my fascination was based on nothing more than the excellence of the LP that emerged from this period (Gene Clark With The Gosdin Brothers), my abiding love of turtlenecks and suede, and the slow dribble of posthumous releases that gave us a clue as to what Gene was up to (e.g. the superb, sadly aborted 'Only Colombe'/'The French Girl' 45; the David Hemmings version of 'Back Street Mirror'). Beyond that, there was nothing of substance, only an admittedly romantic notion that somewhere out there there must be a cache of lost recordings; a trove of songs that lay buried away in a vault. For a time, the enduring mystique of the Sings for You acetate fuelled my passion. It had a name, it had unfamiliar song titles, and it had a legend. What I sorely needed, however, was further tangible evidence to justify my obsession.
The appearance of Byrd Parts 2 in 2003 then was ground zero for what was, for me, a major revelation: 'If I Hang Around'. This single track solidified my belief, both in Gene's brilliance and the faith I'd held in my pet period. I was in awe of 'If I Hang Around' back then—and that sense of awe has in no way diminished over the last 15 years. If anything, my admiration has grown. I didn't care that it had been given the "Free As a Byrd" treatment by ex-Gene Clark Group bassist Chip Douglas, because I actually enjoyed his contributions; they were tasteful, and consistent with the mood of the song. And it was in the notes to this CD that I first heard about a tape Chip was given of Gene's material—a fact that beckoned the question: was there anything else on it?
ABOVE: Chip Douglas (left) and Gene Clark
at the Whisky A Go-Go in 1966 (note turtleneck)
A Hollow victoryIn 2009 or thereabouts I stumbled across an interview with Chip Douglas, conducted by writer Christopher Hollow on May 13 and June 4, 2004. It appeared in the Sand Pebbles online magazine, Tarantula (sadly, no longer up, otherwise I would give the link). I was excited to see that the questioning, the pictures—everything—was specifically directed towards his days in the Gene Clark Group. I didn't know who Christopher Hollow was, but the day I discovered his piece he became a bit of a hero to me.
While reading—and then repeatedly rereading—the interview, I felt an immediate kinship with Chris (I'm delighted to say we correspond to this day). He asked all the questions to which I had been desperately seeking answers, and what's more, he wasn't afraid to push a third party—now several decades removed from a professional situation for which he expressed no overt fondness or sentiment—for information about Gene's songwriting.
As my obsession with the '66-'67 period came to a boil, I began to formulate ideas for a feature story about the Gene Clark Group. With Chris' help I was able to connect with, and subsequently interview, Chip Douglas*. I found Chip friendly, informative and very easy to talk to. The one thing that irked me, and still kind of taints my memory of the chat, is that he seemed almost stubbornly reluctant to say anything the least bit complimentary about Gene's talents. But I digress.
Chipping away at the tape mysteryTo his credit, however, Chip gamely discussed the tape he had received. As discussed in Chris' piece, Chip explained how the tape facilitated his acquisition of the words and music for the then-unreleased Clark-McGuinn composition 'You Showed Me', a song he saw performed by Clark, McGuinn and Crosby at the Troubadour, shortly before the formation of the Byrds. Douglas subsequently produced 'You Showed Me' for The Turtles (below), and, as everyone knows, it went on to become a huge hit in 1968 ((The Byrds' version of 'You Showed Me' would not be released until the following year, as part of the first Preflyte compilation, on Together Records.)
The Nest is the Best: 'The Byrds'
version of 'You Showed Me' first
appeared in 1969 on the Preflyte LP
released on Together Records,
a then-fledgling label started by
Gary Usher, Curt Boettcher and
Unfortunately, further questioning about the tape yielded little in the way of new information, but he did say something rather intriguing about its containing 12 to 14 songs in total, although he couldn't remember the titles, and the tape was not close at hand.
When it became apparent that I'd exhausted every possible line of inquiry regarding the tape, I muttered something about giving my left arm to hear it. Astonishingly, and without prompting, Chip offered to make me a copy of the tape. Once I recovered from the shock, we continued on with the interview, but by then I had lost the thread of our discussion, and become hopelessly preoccupied with the tape.
Over the next few weeks my obsession with hearing the tape grew—which was terribly unfortunate because it became apparent that Chip would not be following through on his offer to send me a copy.
In fact, once we got off the phone, I would never hear from him again. He failed to respond to any of my subsequent inquiries (even though he had expressly instructed me to remind him about it because he would surely forget). In the end, I could only assume that, after carefully considering the ramifications (legal or otherwise) of copying these recordings for a relative stranger, he had undergone a change of heart.
And I had been so close...
Now that we know the full contents of the tape, we may rest easy in the knowledge that, over the years, everything on it has been officially released. For my part, a years-long quest to uncover its full contents has ended rather successfully, even poetically.
But we aren't done here. More mysteries remain. After all, this is Gene Clark we're talking about.
ABOVE: The Quest for the Holy Grail comes to an end:
The tape Chip Douglas requested from
Eddie Tickner and Jim Dickson
This post is dedicated to Christopher Hollow*********************************************
* Around the time I interviewed Chip I also spoke to drummer Joel Larson—even the reclusive Bill Rinehart. Sadly, I couldn't generate any interest in the Gene Clark Group story, so I switched gears, tracked down Emitt Rhodes, and converted my research into a piece about The Merry-Go-Round, which, for some inexplicable reason, I gave away to Shindig! magazine.