Customer Review

15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Audacious 1974 album that skirts the other side of genius, 10 Mar. 2008
This review is from: No Other (Audio CD)
In December 1974 Gene Clark released No Other .The record company Asylum were not only fraught about the recording costs of the album -around $100,000 but on hearing the album were dismayed by the albums lack of commercial appeal and what they considered a dearth of songs. Adding to the confusion was the albums cover , a collage inspired by 1920,s Hollywood and with a photo of Clark sporting a lustrous bouffant, enormous flares and wearing more make up than Boy George in the early eighties.

The album was savaged by critics who labelled it pretentious, bloated and generally not very good and with Asylum neglecting to promote it No Other crept to the dizzy heights of 144 on the billboard charts. By 1976 No Other was deleted and Clark faded into obscurity until his death of causes related to alcoholism in 1991. Yet as is often the case the album has been re-appraised over the intervening years and Clarks embittered assessment that No Other was his masterpiece has proven to be correct with contemporary critics and musicians agreeing wholeheartedly with Clark that indeed No Other is a work of considerable genius. Re-released on CD in 2003 on the back of an excellent double CD compilation of his work -"Flying High"- which included three tracks off No Other this is an album that i would consider essential for any discerning music collection.

As for a dearth of songs.....well i count eight songs on this album of which at least six are truly outstanding, extraordinary ...choose your own adjective. For the recording of the album Clark paired up with producer Thomas Jefferson Kaye who would become the artists confidant for the remainder of his career. Clark had spent over in retreat at his home in Mendocino preparing material for the album or as he put it "Analyzing the material" but the recording sessions were mainly conducted in Los Angeles and used some of the best of the era,s session musicians including Craig Doerge on keyboards, bassist Leland Sklar, Russ Kunkel on percussion and former Byrd Chris Hillman. The music that emerged from these sessions was complex with over-dubbed arrangements and intricate harmonies but crucially it never became self indulgent, prosaic or pompous..no matter what people at the time thought.

"Life,s Greatest Fool" is a slightly mis-leading opener with a country tinged slice of melodic guitar picking but the lyrics hold far more weight than good ol, boy homilies with "Words can be empty , though filled with sound" and the multi layered harmonies of "Do you believe?" in the songs last third take it into transcendental territory . "Silver Raven" is more introspective with a bubbling yet understated bass line and tendrils of guitar and is about a satellite that was found transmitting signals that was believed to be 100 years advanced from our technology .The title track though marks a four song foray into a visionary brew of pop , rock with a little funk and the country stuff Clark was renowned for.

With a curious churning mixture of bass and guitar , gospel vocal backing , rattling percussion No Other feels both hugely melancholic yet strangely languorously ecstatic. I have never heard anything like it since. Rumour has it that Sly Stone was around during the recording of the album and that his presence may have influenced Clark and there is a discernible Sly And The Family Stone groove to this song.

"Strength Of Strings" should be majestic with a title like that and thankfully is. Covered by This Mortal Coil , who did a good job of it too, it,s still fair to say you haven,t really experienced this song in it,s satiated glory till you have heard the original .Plump piano note, creamy harmonies, and an incremental melody that just when you think it cannot achieve greater magnificence does just that. "From A Silver Phial" is an explosion of melody with more massive plonking piano notes, more of those harmonies..ohhh those harmonies, lusty guitar and a rubbery wah wah solo.

"Some Misunderstanding "is an epic eight minute ballad of such tender radiance and with such a truly superb Clark vocal that it brings a lump to my throat just writing about it. Clark does this without any of the comfort blankets that artists usually resort to for this type of material .No string arrangements , and I love string arrangements- just piano , keyboards guitars, nimble bass , percussion and velvety backing vocals -yet the sound is massive without being bombastic.

"The True One" harks back most closely to Clark,s country past with sanguine pedal steel ."Lady Of The North" is a gorgeous wah wah heavy ballad of all things written for his wife Carlie and was written by Clark and his old cohort Doug Dillard in a cocaine induced fugue , the final time they ever collaborated together.

I recently read ,more by accident than intention it must be said, Rolling Stones 500 greatest albums of all time. Utter shite like The Red Hot Chilli Peppers and Def Leppard were in there but of No Other -not a mention. Anybody with a nano speck( Is there such a thing?) knowledge of music, and with all modesty I include myself , would surely have No Other in their top ten. A truly visionary album , an astounding complete work (By the way the extra tracks ,great though they are, are best listened to separate from the album proper) as Clark sings on Some Misunderstanding "We all need a fix / At a time like this". You will never ever , get a better fix for times like this than No Other.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 13 Mar 2014 19:26:53 GMT
Good comments about this album-this man was very special indeed. I don't think the music business is worth a dime in my opinion and i'm glad it's biting the dust now as it's chewed up and spat out too many sensitive souls due to'lack of creative potential'. Great album as white light which is sublime and melts my heart.

In reply to an earlier post on 16 Mar 2014 18:02:44 GMT
Absolutely ..and worth mentioning the BBC4 documentary on the great man that was on on Friday night ( 14/03/14)
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