(Above) Gene Clark, (Below) The Gosdin Brothers
Sorry for the crappy label pic…
Listen – Gene Clark with the Gosdin Brothers – So You Say You Lost Your Baby – MP3
Listen – Gene Clark with the Gosdin Brothers – Couldn’t Believe Her – MP3
Listen – Gene Clark with the Gosdin Brothers – I Found You – MP3
Listen – Genen Clark with the Gosdain Brothers – Is Yours Is Mine – MP3
I hope that everyone had a most excellent and restful weekend, if not filled with good times and good tunes, at least free of travails.
I know I drop the word “fave” around here (and Funky16Corners) a LOT, but it is – like most things – a matter of degree, like “cheese is a fave” vs “my favorite cheese is a particularly hard to find and exceptionally soft variety of gorgonzola”. I dig both, but I clearly dig one more than the other (and no one should be insulted on account of dig being a good thing all around).
That out of the way, I only make this point because the music I bring you today is way at the top of the fave list, chiseled distinctly into my personal Mt Favemore, right next to Love, the Buffalo Springfield and the Beatles.
I was wracking my brain this afternoon trying to recall when exactly I became aware of the album ‘Gene Clark with the Gosdin Brothers’. I was specifically unsuccessful, but generally OK. As far as I can remember someone (and I really can’t recall who it was) hepped me to the Edsel reissue of the album sometime around 1985-ish. I picked it up in NYC (probably handing my cash to an approving Ron Rimsite at Venus Records), drove that little biscuit all the way home, and when I arrived there, no matter that I was likely exhausted, I’m positive that I listened to that album no less than four or five times all the way through (and probably a couple of hundred times since).
If you follow my rantings here, you’ll already be aware that I dig me some mid-60s Sunset Strip sounds, and it just doesn’t get any Strippier than ‘Gene Clark & the Gosdin Brothers’ (with slight detours to Laurel Canyon).
If you don’t know the name, Gene Clark got his start as the lead singer and one of the founding members of a little combo known as the Byrds. He sang on their first few albums, before parting ways with McGuinn and company and going out on his own. Clark was to varying degrees something of a troubled soul, but certainly anyone familiar with the psychological bouillabaisse in the Byrds can hardly hold that against him. The band certainly carried on successfully without his assistance, and as you’ll see once you pull down the ones and zeros. Mr Clark was clearly at the top of his game when he left.
When he went into the studio in 1966 (the record was released in the spring of 1967), along with Vern and Rex Gosdin, Mike Clarke and Chris Hillman of the Byrds, Leon Russell, Doug Dillard, future Byrd Clarence White and Glen Campbell, he was packing a serious bundle of songs (I mean seriously, this is the guy that wrote ‘Feel a Whole Lot Better’) and what can only be described as a fully developed sound/sensibility that today, 43 years down the pike still brings to mind immediately Los Angeles circa 1966. There’s Byrdsy folk rock, Beatle-esque innovation, garage fuzz, pure pop and baroque filigree, all glued together with Clark’s songs, arrangements by Leon Russell and production by the great Gary Usher.
‘Gene Clark with the Gosdin Brothers’ is one of the finest albums of the 60s, period. It is also – in my opinion – the best thing that Clark ever did on his own.
I long since wore out that original reissue LP, moving on to two CD reissues and at least one digital (iTunes) copy when I couldn’t locate the CD. It was only last year that I finally got my hands on an original vinyl copy.
“Why” you ask, “when you already have a few copies of the music, would you need to pony up the dough to buy an original?”
Well my friends, I am not only a hardcore record collector type, who puts what might be considered an unnatural value on the “real thing”, but inside that particular bundle of neurosis, ‘Gene Clark with the Gosdin Brothers’ looms very large, towering over all but a few other records. As bizarre as this may seem to non-collectors, there was a rush when I finally laid my hands on the record that cannot be duplicated with a reissue of any kind. I know it’s weird, but that the way I am (for better or worse).
I was originally going to post only ‘So You Think You Lost Your Baby’ (may favorite song on the LP), but then I decided to add a few others to give the listener a better idea of the depth of the album.
The four songs I’m posting today have all of the elements mentioned above, and then some. What I find particularly interesting is that these are recordings of great invention and depth, and there isn’t an iota of self indulgent flab on any of them. Only two of the album’s songs clock in at more than three minutes, and three of them are less than a minute and a half long. Solid, memorable, powerful music served up in small enough bites that AM radio wouldn’t be able to shy away from them, which sadly, is what they did anyway.
‘Gene Clark with the Gosdin Brothers’ was, despite great artistic success, a fairly large commercial failure. The standard tale is that it was lost in the shuffle because it was released the same week as the Byrds’ ‘Younger Than Yesterday’, which in retrospect, since they were both on the same label seems unbelievably short sighted. There’s no doubt that had something to do with it, but the likelier culprit is the fact that this was 1967. There were tons of amazing records being released all the time. The market was incredibly competitive and unless an artist was lucky enough to get a foothold on the pop charts, the record companies were unlikely to keep promoting their record. Neither of the singles from the album charted, and it would be almost two years before Clark would release another, his 1969 collaboration with Doug Dillard.
That all said, despite the ignorance of the market in 1967, I’ve been appreciating this record for almost 25 years, and if it’s new to you, you can start digging it now.
I hope you do (dig it), and I’ll be back later in the week.