Gene Clark: The Lost Studio Sessions 1964-1982 (2-LP)
(2016/Sierra) 24 tracks, 200g vinyl, gatefold cover, including download card) Gene Clark
was one of the most influential musical
pioneers of the rock era. A pivotal figure at the
births of rock music’s golden trifecta of hyphenated
subgenres (folk, psychedelic and country) in the
1960s, he earned his rightful place in the Rock ‘n’
Roll Hall of Fame as a founding member and principal
songwriter of The Byrds.
After leaving the Byrds at the height of their fame
in early 1966, Clark embarked upon a fearless solo ca
reer that embraced everything from chamber pop and
progressive bluegrass to acoustic ballads and sweep
ing cosmic prog. His rich body of work has spawned
cover versions by a wide range of artists, including
Robert Plant/Alison Krauss, Tom Petty, Linda Ronstadt
and Richard Thompson.
Always forward-looking, always prolific, Clark left behind a rich legacy of professionally recorded music
both released and unreleased. This collection of “lost” studio recordings has been lovingly restored by
Sierra Records to ensure the best possible sound quality, and is presented here for the very first time.
This is essentially an alternate history of Gene Clark’s most productive years as a songwriter. To call
them revelatory would be to understate their importance
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Don't This Road Look Rough And Rocky (aka Rough And Rocky)
Although Gene Clark's first solo A&M album, colloquially known as 'White Light,' followed two Dillard & Clark LPs into the cut-out bins, A&M kept the faith, bankrolling some sessions in April, May, and June 1972. Clark brought in some new songs and a few non-originals. He was working with Chris Hinshaw, who'd engineered some Taj Mahal, Sly Stone, and Byrds albums. In June, A&M pulled the plug. The final straw came when Sly Stone arrived, racking up thousands of dollars on A&M's dime when Clark was out of town. "Those sessions were fun and I had great people playing on them," Clark told Dominic Priore, "but it was hard to get it together the way I wanted it." Clark saw musical tastes shifting toward heavy metal and decided to go low-key and meditative. A&M sat on the tapes, seeing no future for them until Clark's sometime manager, Jim Dickson, went to Holland and saw Byrds and Burrito bootlegs. Deciding that the A&M tapes were better than the bootlegs, he prevailed upon A&M to lease the tapes to their European licensee, Ariola. Roger McGuinn sang harmony on some songs, quite possibly because he was talking to Gene about the reunion of the original Byrds. There's an unissued mix on which he's clearly audible on Rough And Rocky. None of the Byrds was doing especially well on his own, but Clark probably had the most to gain from a reunion, and he provided that unremarkable album with most of its high spots.
Flatt & Scruggs' Don't This Road Look Rough And Rocky was a song that Gene probably heard the duo perform on their Martha White television show, but, until comparatively recently, it was only available on a single. They recorded it in 1954 and copyrighted it then, but it was a much older song of unknown provenance. The Blue Sky Boys had recorded it in 1936 as Can't You Hear That Night Bird Calling and it went under a bunch of other titles dating back to the dawn of recorded country music history. Its origin probably lay in a nineteenth century pop or minstrel song.