10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
, 2 April 2014
This review is from: No Other (Audio CD)
Having known and loved it for years, I recently got a copy of this classic for a friend of mine who (having both of us watched the recent superb BBC4 documentary about him) was new to Gene Clark (1944-91). I warned him that it might take more than one listen for it to `get through`. He texted me to say that he was immediately bewitched by it. He sounded quite overwhelmed. That`s what Gene Clark can do to you, particularly this album from 1974, on which he and his sympathetic producer Thomas Jefferson Kaye pulled out all the stops.
It`s that other sometime Byrd and harbinger of Americana Gram Parsons who has tended to reap plaudits and (in recent years) sales, but it`s Gene Clark who I play more often and with more of a sense of deep pleasure, if not outright awed homage. This isn`t the place to denigrate the hugely talented Gram P, but his tragically early death at 26, and his unarguable prowess as a songwriter and country catalyst, has overshadowed the fact that his voice was not always an `easy listen` - ie. he often sang flat.
No such provisos with the man from Missouri (who grew up in Kansas). Gene`s voice hits the spot every time. His vocal tone reminds me most of that other early purveyor of `alternative country` Michael Nesmith, though with far more of a hint of melancholia to it. In fact, if you love, as I do, a bittersweet voice - such as Jackson Browne or Sandy Denny, for example - then Gene`s your man.
This remastered reissue, with booklet, notes and full listings, plus alternate versions of most of the songs, is a treasure trove of beauty and wonder. From the opening tracks, the brilliant Life`s Greatest Fool and the very lovely Silver Raven, to the song that didn`t, or couldn`t, make it to the original LP, the wonderful Train Leaves Here This Morning, there`s not a single song you would want to be without.
Strength of Strings (the title a quote from Dylan`s Lay Down Your Weary Tune) is a magnificent six-minute number, while the equally impressive Some Misunderstanding clocks in at eight minutes - but you never want these songs to end.
The title track is perhaps the most unusual yet most immediately memorable song here, with its oddly unpredictable melody.
Gene Clark was often his own worst enemy when it came to his erratic career, but No Other is a bona fide masterpiece, and let`s not forget that he was an integral part of the success of the early Byrds, responsible for that brief but stunning
song Feel A Whole Lot Better - for me, the quintessential Byrds song.
No Other is a mysterious, wondrous set of songs to fall for, take to your heart, clasp close to you all your life. Unlike Gene, they won`t go away.
Simply, this is what classic means.
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