Tuesday, 28 June 2016

"No Other" by GENE CLARK (2003 Warners 'Remastered & Expanded' CD Edition) - A Review by Mark Barry...

"...Time Can Only Heal Its Scars..." 

Missouri's Harold Eugene Clark has already had a huge career prior to his 6th album "No Other" - originally unleashed on a disinterested world in December 1974.

Stints as a young man with Bluegrass & Folk singers The New Christy Minstrels, co-founding The Byrds with Roger McGuinn and David Crosby (he famously penned "I'll Feel A Whole Lot Better" and co-wrote the classic "Eight Miles High"), a solo album in 1967 with Country act The Gosdin Brothers, two Country-Rock LPs with Dillard and Clark in 1968 and 1969 on A&M Records all of which led finally toward two solo albums - 1971's "Gene Clark" (aka “White Light”) and 1972's "Roadmaster". Influential and well received all of them but none ever bothered the American Top 100. The problem with his 6th album "No Other" is that it’s probably his best record - a masterpiece many say - and the public missed out big time (it barely scraped No. 144 on the American LP charts).

Which brings us to this lovely 2003 Warners 'Expanded Edition' CD - a musical winner if ever there was one. Here are the Silver Phials...

UK released August 2003 - "No Other" by GENE CLARK on (WSM) Warner Strategic Marketing 8122 73701-2 (Barcode 081227370121) is an 'Remastered & Expanded Edition' CD offering the full 8-track 1974 album with seven Previously Unreleased Bonus Tracks. It plays out as follows (74:54 minutes):

1. Life's Greatest Fool
2. Silver Raven
3. No Other
4. Strength Of Strings
5. From A Silver Phial
6. Some Misunderstanding
7. The True One
8. Lady Of The North 
Tracks 1 to 8 are his 6th studio album "No Other" - released December 1974 in the USA on Asylum 7E-1016 and February 1975 in the UK on Asylum SYL 9020. 

Produced by THOMAS JEFFERSON KAYE - all songs by Gene Clark except "Lady Of The North" co-written with Doug Dillard (of Dillard and Clark and The Flying Burrito Brothers) and "Train Leaves Here This Morning" in the Bonus Tracks - co-write with Bernie Leadon of The Eagles (this song is on their 1972 "Eagles" debut album also on Asylum Records).

BONUS TRACKS (All Previously Unreleased):
9. Train Leaves Here This Morning
10. Life’s Greatest Fool (Alternate Version)
11. Silver Raven (Alternate Version)
12. No Other (Alternate Version)
13. From A Silver Phial (Alternate Version)
14. Some Misunderstanding (Alternate Version)
15. Lady Of The North (Alternate Version)

GENE CLARK - Guitar and Vocals on all songs
JERRY McGEE - Guitar on all songs 
DANNY KOOTCH - Guitar on "From A Silver Phial"
JESSE ED DAVIS - Guitar on "Life's Greatest Fool", "Silver Raven" and "From A Silver Phial"
STEVE BRUTON - Guitar on "Life's Greatest Fool" and "Some Misunderstanding"
BUZZY FEITEN - Guitar on "Strength Of Strings" and "Some Misunderstanding"
CHILL HILLMAN - Mandolin on "From A Silver Phial"
MICHAEL UTLEY - Keyboards on all songs
CRAIG DOERGE - Keyboards on "Strength Of Strings" and "Lady Of The North"
RICHARD GREENE - Violin on "Strength Of Strings", "Some Misunderstanding" and "Lady Of The North"
TED MACHELL - Cello on "Lady Of The North"
BILL CUOMO - Rheem Organ on "Some Misunderstanding" 
LEE SKLAR - Bass on all songs
RUSS KUNKEL - Drums on all songs except BUTCH TRUCKS on "The True One" and "No Other"
JOE LALA - Percussion on "No Other", "Life's Greatest Fool", "From A Silver Phial" and "The True One

RONNIE BARRON, CINDY BULLENS and CLAUDIA LENNEAR - Backing Vocals on "Life's Greatest Fool" and "Silver Raven"
VENETTA FIELDS, CLYDIE KING, SHIRLEY MATTHEWS and CARLENA WILLIAMS - Backing Vocals on "Life's Greatest Fool" and "Some Misunderstanding"
TIMOTHY B. SCHMIT (of The Eagles) - Backing Vocals on "Silver Raven", "No Other", "Strength Of Strings" and "From A Silver Phial"

Produced for release by RICK CONRAD - the 12-page booklet has new liner notes from JOHNNY ROGAN – Author of the acclaimed 1998 Byrds Biography "Timeless Flight Revisited". You also get lyrics to all the album songs – musician and recording credits – reissue details – a photo of Clark in his denim shirt and a rare 7" single European picture sleeve for "Life's Greatest Fool". They've even repro'd the photo that came with the rare insert which accompanied original vinyl LPs (I've only ever seen a few of these in my four decades of collecting). And of course there's those six 'Alternate Versions' of eight album tracks and the new demo for "Train Leaves Here This Morning" - a very musical collaboration with Bernie Leadon of the original Eagles line up.

But the big news is a fabulous new Digiprep Remasters involving names associated with wads of quality CD reissues - ANDREW SANDOVAL (Kinks and Small Faces) and Rhino's long-standing Audio Engineer DAN HERSCH. This CD is a joy to listen too – all that classy instrumentation and that backing group talent brought to the fore. Great stuff...

It opens on a Country-Rock winner - "Life's Greatest Fool". Asylum UK threw out "Life's Greatest Fool" with the stunning "From A Silver Phial" on the flip-side as a lead off 45 in Blighty (Asylum AYM 540) where the album didn't arrive until early 1975 - but it didn't raise a ripple. It's very Eagles melody and jaunt complete with Jesse Ed Davis guitar solo may have been the wrong choice (the B-side was better). "Silver Raven" is beautiful - acoustic guitars softly caressing his vocals. It's bolstered up by the presence of the warm backing vocals of future Eagles man Timothy B. Schmidt and the gorgeous Claudia Lennear rumoured to have "Brown Sugar" by The Rolling Stones written about her. Things slow to a plinking keyboard intro for the title song "No Other" which then goes all Prog but it a very cool way.

Both "Strength Of Strings" and "From A Silver Phial" show the reach of his melodies with the sung-chants passages of "Strength Of Strings" (Jesse Ed Davis on slide) reminding me of David Crosby's "Song With No Words (Trees With No Leaves)" from his brilliant 1971 album "If I Could Only Remember My Name". While that's fab - I've always flipped for "From A Silver Phial" (Lyrics from it tile this review) - a properly gorgeous song with lyrics of longing like "...not to be a victim...falling in the darkened rain..." Timothy B. Schmidt once again adds that beautiful backing vocal as the piano, organ and guitar swirl. We enter into epic territory with the seven and half minute "Some Misunderstanding" - a badly timed lover's tiff that has escalated into something that must be put right - if only our Gene knew how. "The True One" is probably the most chipper of songs on the album and the most overtly Country. It ends on a lovely co-write with his old mucker Doug Dillard - "Lady Of The North".

One of the huge prizes on here is surely "Train Leaving Here This Morning" - a song that dates back to 1969's "The Fantastic Expedition Of Dillard & Clark" LP on A&M Records. But it became more celebrated as one of the undiscovered gems on the Eagles 1972 debut. What we get here is five-minutes of keyboards and guitars that isn't far off the Eagles take - what a find! The six 'Alternate Versions' have been described as 'Demo' versions but they're far more accomplished and filled out. The Dobro is accentuated on "Life's Greatest Fool" while the wall of Acoustic Guitars take a more prominent front stage for "Silver Raven". But my faves are "From A Silver Phial" and "Lady Of The North" - both beautiful - stripped back of those vocals with the piano and acoustics to the front. I'm amazed at how good they are...

Why did the album Gene Clark's "No Other" fail with such obvious quality on board? At that time - I recall late 1974 and early 1975 moving into bigger and more grandiose musical productions - LPs as event - LPs as concepts - the artwork padded out with two booklets and two posters. Or maybe this kind of tunesmith was ever so slightly corny for the time. Who bloody knows...

Whatever way you look at it - this 'Remastered & Expanded' CD reissue is currently less than six smackers from most online retailers. Now there's one crime I'll take any day of the week...

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