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'Gene Clark with Carla Olson: In Concert' Review

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Gene Clark with Carla Olson: In Concert Arthur Wood's scholarly review of 'Gene Clark with Carla Olson: In Concert' - read the review here (quoted from the source at FolkWax) or check out the original at FolkWax for this and other reviews and information...
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Folkwax
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
Byrd Returned
"Gene Clark with Carla Olson: In Concert"
(Collector's Choice Records)
***

This two-disc collection gathers together recordings made by the late Gene Clark [d. 1991] during the final years of his life. Inclusive of background hiss, Disc One features a previously unreleased appearance by the former Byrd on the Mountain Stage radio show, augmented by three songs recorded by Clark and collaborator Carla Olson the following year in his Sherman Oaks, California, living room. The latter raw/uncut tracks previously appeared on the 1992 Razor & Tie Records enhanced version of the duo's only studio recording, So Rebellious A Lover [1987].

During his seven-song Mountain Stage performance, recorded on October 2, 1988, Clark focused on material recorded post his membership of the Byrds. Opening with the prophetic "Silver Raven" from his only Asylum solo release, No Other [1974], the love song "Tried So Hard" follows. The latter was the oldest song he performed and was taken from his 1967 debut solo album on which he was accompanied by the Gosdin Bothers, Vern and Rex.

During the early 1980s Clark collaborated with Pat Robinson and former Byrd John York in the trio CRY (Clark, Robinson, York). Penned by Clark and Robinson, a demo version of "My Marie" - a mystical love song - eventually appeared on the U.K.-only Clark release Under The Silvery Moon [2003].

Of the remaining tunes, "Rodeo Rider," co-written by Clark and Andy Kandanes, is taken from Firebyrd [1987], while Clark's biker tribute "Gypsy Rider" appeared on the aforementioned Clark/Olson studio album. Dating from Clark's late 1960's collaboration with Doug Dillard and co-written with Bernie Leadon (later of the Flying Burrito Brothers and the Eagles), Clark is accompanied by the Mountain Stage house band for the bittersweet "Train Leaves Here This Morning." The latter first appeared on The Fantastic Expedition Of Dillard & Clark [1968] and Clark and band close his set with the Country/Folk flavoured "Hear The Wind" from his RSO album Two Sides To Every Story [1977].

The aforementioned Clark "home" demos were recorded on November 5, 1989. "Number One Is To Survive," penned by Olson, was recorded in 1984 by her band The Textones for their A&M Records debut, Midnight Mission. A demo reading of "Mary Sue," a tale of love lost long ago, penned by Clark/Robinson/York, turned up on the aforementioned Under The Silvery Moon. Co-written by Clark and his younger brother Rick, the precise reason for revisiting "Del Gato" is hard to reconcile, since it appeared on So Rebellious A Lover.

Disc Two features Olson and Clark's February 3, 1990, appearance at McCabe's in Santa Monica. Bearing the title Silhouetted In Light - Live in Concert, this live recording was released in the U.K. during 1992 by Demon Records. The latter disc featured fifteen songs, while this reprise closes with a sixteenth tune, "Here Without You." For their McCabe's performance Clark and Olson were supported by guitarist/mandolinist Duane Jarvis (Lucinda Williams, Peter Case, Dwight Yoakam), and Textones bassist David Provost.

Clark and Olson open their set with "Your Fire Burning," a poignant love song Clark had purportedly earmarked for inclusion on the duo's planned (but never recorded) second release. A solo interpretation of the song appeared in 2001 on Gypsy Angel - The Gene Clark Demos 1983-1990, released by the U.K.-based imprint Evangeline. Following Olson's "Number One Is To Survive," the pair tackle a new Clark tune, "Love Wins Again" (a demo version appeared on Gypsy Angel?). Drawn from So Rebellious A Lover, during their performance the pair reprise the traditional "Fair & Tender Ladies," John Fogerty's spirited "Almost Saturday Night," Clark's "Gypsy Rider," and, finally, "Del Gato." It appears that "Photograph," penned by Olson and George Callins of The Textones, was a particular favourite of Clark's, thus explaining its appearance here. As for other cover tunes presented In Concert, led by Jarvis' mandolin there's a rendition of Tom Paxton's 1960's Folk favourite "Last Thing On My Mind" (also demoed on Gypsy Angel), the (then) relatively recent John Prine composition "Speed Of The Sound Of Loneliness," and, complete with false start and featuring a support vocal from opening act Steve Young, the traditional Gospel tune "Will The Circle Be Unbroken."

As I noted in the second paragraph of this review, songs dating from Clark's three-year sojourn with The Byrds were conspicuously missing from his Mountain Stage set. That omission was remedied at McCabe's with the inclusion of four mid-1960s numbers. "I'll Feel A Whole Lot Better" hails from the group's CBS debut album, Mr. Tambourine Man; "Set You Free This Time" from their sophomore Turn! Turn! Turn!; while the third number, "She Don't Care About Time," was the B-side of the late 1965 Byrds single "Turn! Turn! Turn!". Clark and Olson also reprise "Train Leaves Here This Morning" and close with the aforementioned "Here Without You." The sound quality on the latter track suffers from excessive tape hiss (suggesting that the recording comes from another source relative to the fifteen other songs). Clark recorded the latter song during the 1964/1965 Preflyte sessions and a revised version appeared on the group's debut album.

In terms of major commercial success, Clark's solo career, 1967-1991, never truly ignited. That said, In Concert furnishes adequate proof that he consistently penned thoughtful songs.

Arthur Wood
[a founding editor of FolkWax]

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All reviews:
New album: Have Harmony, Will Travel:
Top 100 C.B.   No Depression   Huffington Post   The Alternative Root   Flyinshoes   BealeStreet  

Gene Clark and Carla Olson: In Concert reviews: at Flagpole.com   at Folkwax   at Goldmine   at PopMatters  

other album reviews:
Blue Xmas   Ring of Truth   Hey Bo Diddley - A Tribute  
Detroit '85 and Too Hot For Snakes  

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