Sunday, December 2, 2018

Gene Clark - Flying High (1964-1990 us, amazing compilation)

There's not many that could write a song like Gene. Take one song, Spanish Guitar'. A song that which no less than Bob Dylan said was 'something I or anybody else would have been proud to have written'. We open with 'You Showed Me' a song never properly recorded by The Byrds but turned into a hit by The Turtles a few years later. And by The Lightning Seeds here in England many years later! The guy could write songs! We have a couple of Gene's finest Byrds moments before we move onto the solo material. 'Set You Free This Time' is just so fuckin good! That slight quiver is his voice is everything. He wasn't a fabulous singer I suppose but he could sing and that quiver in his voice invested everything he did with a tremendous emotional quality. Besides, the likes of 'Set You Free This Time' contains some of the greatest lyrics written by anybody. No wonder Bob admired his song writing. 'She Don't Care About Time' is a superlative Byrds single that inexplicably was never included on a regular Byrds album. Its just fabulous, the guitars jangle away and it's pop music. Prime Beatles influenced music that in turn influenced The Beatles not least George Harrison who was a huge fan of The Byrds.

Moving on through the first couple of solo records i've already covered we have highlights with the ridiculously happy 'Tried So Hard', the stone cold classic 'Train Leaves Here This Morning' and the simply brilliant 'Why Not Your Baby'. And, on this compilation at least, a couple of rarities. Rarities? Gene recorded a single 'The French Girl' / 'Los Angeles' after his solo debut. The single never gained release and Gene ultimately decided to ditch that particular style and move more towards a country rock style. Thing is.....ah! 'The French Girl'. This is SUCH a fantastic song. Supremely melodic, the quiver in his voice present and correct and some fantastically romantic evocative lyrics. This song gets to me every time. It was never released? It should have been number one! Really. And, 'Los Angeles'. Rock and Roll! Sorry, i'm getting carried away, but really, these songs are just so damn good and grin inducing. Everybody should get hold of these two songs. They really are that good. 

More quality out-takes here. Gene had a bunch of them. 'I Pity The Poor Immigrant' - a great Dylan cover given a rock beat but still retaining a country flavour. 'Something's Wrong' from 'Fantastic Expedition' sounding as great and wondrous as ever. The decent 'Polly' and 'Dark Hollow' - yet more Gene Clark out-takes better than most writers best moments. A special mention for the two songs at the end of the first disc. 'She's The Kind Of Girl' and 'One In A Hundred' were Byrds re-unions. The mixes here are different to those that later emerged and were recorded with Jim Dickson The Byrds original mentor. They are simply fantastic, far superior to anything The Byrds were doing at that stage. The jangle is present, the harmonies are stupendous. Really. And, 'She's The Kind Of Girl' is simply beautiful.

Highlights of the second disc of course include the songs taken from his classic 'No Other' album which still to this day hasn't received a re-issue. Reissue it somebody! We open with some beautiful acoustic songs, 'With Tomorrow' and 'Spanish Guitar'. 'Spanish Guitar' especially is a thing to behold. A wonderful song, heartbreaking and beautiful again. A number of pleasant songs pass by until we reach the next moment of pure genius. 'Full Circle Song' - the version here is different to the version on The Byrds largely disappointing 73 reunion album. This is Gene's original version and dammit if it isn't wonderful! Wonderfully recorded and performed, a little Byrds jangle in the guitar and its just so uplifiting and happy. No wonder The Byrds wanted it to open their reunion album. This song always makes me smile and makes me happy. 'I Remember The Railroad' is so atmospheric, wonderfully desolate in feel. Skipping the 'No Other' songs for the moment, the remainder of the record is tasteful, quality but never again reaching heights of genius. Gene had something of a bad lifestyle and a drinking habit that ultimately cost him his life. 'Fair And Tender Ladies' however is late period Gene Clark and does send a chill up the spine. A beautiful folk song with added female harmonies.

'No Other' was the album Gene recorded for Asylum records with a budget that went way over what had been originally allocated. The production was state of the art, experimental. The songs were all 5/6/7 minutes plus and daring in their ambition. They remind me of Bob Dylan's 'Desire' album which was released in 1976. 'No Other' came out in 74. 'Silver Raven' and 'The True One' are both amongst the best songs Gene ever wrote. And, then? 'Lady Of The North'. Ah! 'Lady Of The North'. This is the one. I'm crying, i'm sorry. I'm going :) Yes, why did I have to listen to this whilst writing the review? I am crying, actual tears of joy. 'Lady Of The North'. The emotional quiver, fantastic vocals actually, some of the best he ever did. Soaring musical parts, a song in sections each one adding to the last. Violin! Desire! 'flying high, above the clouds. we lay in grassy meadows, the earth was like a pillow - for our dreams'. Wonderful lyrics, great piano. One of the finest six minutes in musical history. It's 4.30pm in the afternoon. I'm half way through the song. I've not drunk any alcohol, i'm sober and sane. One of the best songs and performances of all time. 
by Adrian Denning
Disc 1
1. You Showed Me (Gene Clark, Roger McGuinn) - 1:54
2. Feel A Whole Lot Better - 2:31 
3. Set You Free This Time - 2:50 
4. She Don't Care About Time - 2:31 
5. Tried So Hard - 2:21 
6. So You Say You Lost Your Baby - 2:09 
7. The French Girl - 2:38 
8. Los Angeles - 2:39 
9. I Pity The Poor Immigrant (Bob Dylan) - 4:56 
10.That's Alright By Me - 4:00 
11.Train Leaves Here This Morning (Gene Clark, Bernie Leadon) - 3:51 
12.Why Not Your Baby - 3:42 
13.The Radio Song (Gene Clark, Bernie Leadon) - 3:03 
14.Git It On Brother (Lester Flatt) - 2:53 
15.Something's Wrong (Gene Clark, Doug Dillard) - 2:58 
16.Wall Around Your Heart (Don Reno, Red Smiley, James Buddie Smith) - 3:09 
17.No Longer A Sweetheart Of Mine (Don Reno, Red Smiley, James Buddie Smith) - 3:16 
18.Through The Morning, Through The Night - 4:07 
19.Kansas City Southern - 3:40 
20.Polly - 4:23 
21.Dark Hollow (Bill Browning) - 3:04 
22.One In A Hundred - 2:48 
23.She's The Kind Of Girl - 2:57 
All compositions by Gene Clark except where stated
Disc 2
1. With Tomorrow (Gene Clark, Jesse Ed Davis) - 2:28
2. Spanish Guitar - 5:01
3. The Virgin - 3:37
4. Opening Day - 4:17
5. Winter In - 3:19
6. The American Dreamer - 1:54
7. Full Circle Song - 2:46
8. In A Misty Morning - 4:58
9. I Remember The Railroad - 2:32
10.Silver Raven - 4:56
11.The True One - 4:01
12.Lady Of The North (Gene Clark, Doug Dillard) - 6:07
13.Hear The Wind - 3:07
14.Silent Crusade - 4:15
15.Past Addresses - 5:39
16.Fair And Tender Ladies (Traditional) - 5:04
17.Changes (Phil Ochs) - 3:31
18.Mr. Tambourine Man (Bob Dylan) - 5:37
Words and Music by Gene Clark except where noted

*Gene Clark - Guitar, Vocals
*Michael Clarke - Drums
*David Crosby - Guitar, Vocals
*Chris Hillman - Bass, Mandolin, Vocals
*Jim "Roger" McGuinn - Banjo, Guitar, Vocal
*Vern Gosdin - Vocals
*Rex Gosdin - Vocals
*Glen Campbell - Electric Guitar
*Jerry Cole - Guitars
*Bill Rinehart - Guitars
*Clarence White - Guitar
*Doug Dillard - Vocals, Banjo, Fiddle, Guitar, Electric Banjo
*Leon Russell - Piano, Harpsichord; String Arrangements
*Van Dyke Parks - Keyboards
*Chris Hillman - Bass
*Michael Clarke - Drums
*Joel Larson - Drums
*Bernie Leadon - Banjo, Bass, Guitar, Vocals
*Sneaky Pete Kleinow - Pedal Steel Guitar
*Jon Corneal – Drums, Tambourine
*David Jackson - Bass, Piano, Cello, Vocals
*Byron Berline - Fiddle
*Donna Washburn - Guitar, Tambourine, Vocals
*Donald Beck - Mandolin, Fretted Dobro
*Andy Belling - Harpsichord
*Jesse Ed Davis - Electric Guitar
*Chris Ethridge - Bass
*Gary Mallaber - Drums
*Mike Utley - Organ
*Ben Sidran - Piano
*Spooner Oldham - Keyboards, Vocals
*Rick Roberts - Acoustic Guitar, Vocals
*Bud Shank - Flute
*Lee Sklar - Bass
*Butch Trucks - Drums
*Russ Kunkle - Drums
*Michael Utley - Keyboards
*Michael Huey - Drums, Percussion
*Roscoe Beck - Acoustic Bass
*Craig Doerge - Keyboards
*Joe Lala - Percussions
*Richard Greene - Violin
*Ted Machell - Cello
*Bill Cuomo - Rheem Organ
*Jerry McGee - Guitar
*Danny Kootch - Guitar
*Buzzy Feiten - Guitar
*Carla Olson - Acoustic Guitar, Piano, Vocals
*Otha Young - Acoustic Guitar
*Skip Edwards - Keyboards

1964-82  Gene Clark ‎- The Lost Studio Sessions (2016 audiophile double Vinyl set) 
1967  Gene Clark - Echoes
1968-69  Dillard And Clark - Fantastic Expedition / Through The Morning, Through The Night
1971  Gene Clark - White Light
1972  Gene Clark - Roadmaster  (2011 Edition)
1979  McGuinn, Clark And Hillman (2014 Japan SHM Remaster)
With The Byrds
1964  The Byrds - Preflyte (2012 Edition)
1973  Byrds - Byrds (2004 issue)

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