The Clarkophile

The Clarkophile

Sunday, 31 July 2016

The Lost Studio Sessions Companion, Part 3: The 1967 Sessions

Falling through the chamber

On January 27, 1967, shortly before the February release of his first solo album, Gene entered Armin Steiner's Sound Recorders Studios and laid down two tracks, presumably pegged to be a non-album single, 'Back Street Mirror' and 'Don't Let It Fall Through.'

Let me start off with a correction.  Earlier in the blog, I believe I stated that these songs were recorded in an effort to secure a new record deal after Gene had been dropped by Columbia, but of course this is inaccurate -- Columbia did not drop Gene until after the release and subsequent poor sales of his solo debut provided the impetus to do so. (An aside: the company's idiotic decision to release Younger Than Yesterday at roughly the same time as Gene's record effectively made that outcome a foregone conclusion. Somebody goofed big time, but it would be Gene who would pay the price. In retrospect, Columbia's dumping of Gene seems fairly callous and unnecessarily cutthroat, especially since the mixup in scheduling was their fault, not his; it's a pity that they couldn't have seen fit to give Gene the benefit of the doubt and perhaps tried to work with him to improve sales on his sophomore outing.)

Of course the sophomore release on Columbia never happened, but by picking up the finished pieces and assorted rough sketches Gene left us, we may get a better understanding of what might have been. I am speaking of the series of chamber-pop pieces Gene recorded in 1966-1967.  

As discussed in an earlier post about my fantasy second Columbia LP, Translations (which is itself the title of an unreleased Clark song from this era), the chamber-pop sound that Gene was pursuing throughout this period combined his two greatest influences, The Beatles and Bob Dylan. Translations is my take on how the post-Gosdin Bros./pre-Dillard and Clark periods could be assembled. That fictitious album, as I've compiled it, stands up remarkably well (a compliment to Gene, not my abilities as compiler). It would've doubtless made an impressive follow-up to the first album. 

If the lushness of 'Back Street Mirror' makes it feel like the long-lost sister song of 'Echoes,' then the mythical Translations is a similarly ghostly echo of Gene Clark With The Gosdin Brothers.





'Back Street Mirror' (Gene Clark)
'Don't Let It Fall Through' (Gene Clark)
Recorded January 26, 1967, Sound Recorders
Produced by Jim Dickson
Arranged by Leon Russell; Horn Section, Hugh Masekela 

Voice Characters



I think it's reasonable to assume that many people will be put off, at least initially, by the overt Dylanisms flowing through Gene's vocal in 'Back Street Mirror' (Interestingly, he eschewed the Dylan voice for 'Don't Let It Fall Through,' recorded the same day).  

It is important to remember, however, that Gene adopted many different -- what I will call from this point forward -- "voice characters" throughout his career. For example, the formal-sounding '64 solo acoustic tracks owed more to '50s-style crooners than John or Paul, yet later that same year Gene sang the electrified 'Please Let Me Love You' with a noticeable British accent! The Dylan voice, which crept in during the latter half of 1965 and stayed with him until 1967, was itself discarded by the time the first Dillard and Clark album came out. In 1975, while touring with the Silverados, recorded evidence reveals Gene adopted a wild, overwrought country yodel, almost a howl (cf. 'Long Black Veil').  Duke Bardwell, bassist for the band, told me that Gene's new voice character came as a great shock, both to him and guitarist Roger White. It was obvious to both that this voice was a put-on. Cut to 1977, with Gene fronting the noisy guitar assault that epitomized the KC Southern Band's sound (i.e. 'Hula Mula Man'/'Seventh Avenue Train') and he transformed into a convincing heavy-rock singer. 

In 'Don't Let It Fall Through,' Gene's vocal sits comfortably alongside his performances in such songs as 'Couldn't Believe Her' and 'Elevator Operator' -- gritty, but tuneful. It is Hugh Masekela's horn arrangement that is the main liability here. It's a sleazy, decadent Sunset Strip sound that is almost laughably over the top.  Imagine the soundtrack of a druggy, go-go dancing montage in a low-budget outlaw biker-'spoliation movie and you'll get the gist of what I'm saying. I can see the mass befuddlement now: eyebrows raising across the board, at first exposure to that horn line. But stick with it. Yes, the horn line is quite bizarre, but it doesn't entirely sink the song. Underneath those horns is a spiffy, straight-ahead rocker that adds a nice contrast to the ornate stylings of the presumed A-side.

It is interesting to note that neither song has the sort of harmony vocals that were a trademark of the Byrds' sound. Lyrically, both songs use the image of falling through ("I thought that I was falling through/what I was told to be standing to...") to describe failure in relationships that is either imagined or quite possibly imminent. It's a minor point, for sure, but reinforces the idea that the two songs are meant to be paired together.

I find Gene's chamber-pop/Baroque period an endless source of fascination. I'm hoping that someday we will get a complete '66-'67 sessions set along the line of Dylan's Cutting Edge releases, that would embrace demos, outtakes, alternate takes, etc...

Until then, I'm delighted that Sierra Records is including these two tracks in the forthcoming set. 







Monday, 11 July 2016

Interview with Neon Brambles about the #GetGetIn campaign





Neon Brambles is a dedicated Gene Clark fan on a quest to see Gene Clark inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame (the SHoF is not to be confused with the controversial Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame, into which Gene was inducted with the Byrds shortly before his death in 1991).

Toward that end, a Twitter/Facebook/Instagram campaign (#GetGeneIn) was launched earlier this year to spread awareness of a petition -- a petition that Neon Brambles hopes to present as part of a more formal application to the powers-that-be at the SHoF.

It may interest some of the readers of The Clarkophile to note that David Crosby has already been inducted as a member. Interestingly, on his induction page, 'Eight Miles High' -- the principal songwriter of which was indisputably Gene Clark -- is listed as one of two "Catalog Highlights"in David Crosby's career.  If that isn't sufficient reason to add your name to the petition to #GetGeneIn, I don't know what is.

But Neon Brambles didn't stop there. All petition promo materials sent out thus far -- and e're talking about buttons, mini-tambourines, postcards and more -- were designed, created and self-financed entirely by Neon Brambles.  An extraordinary gesture of love for an artist and dedication to his memory and legacy.

I invite you to read my little chat with NB, after which I sincerely hope you'll take a moment to sign the petition if you haven't already done so.

How did you come up with the idea to start this petition?
I've been a Gene Clark fan since I was a teenager, but had only recently discovered the book by John Einarson (Mr. Tambourine Man) and the documentary The Byrd Who Flew Alone. From there I sought out other fans in groups dedicated to Gene Clark on Facebook. It all started last year when there were some discussions going around in one of the Facebook Gene Clark groups  where I had originally suggested that Gene have a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, but that suggestion was rejected by many in favour of something more honourable, and the Songwriters Hall of Fame came up as one of the possibilities. 
After looking into the Songwriters Hall of Fame, its inductees and history, I decided to pursue this by starting a petition on Change.org. The petition was launched this February, but I had a lot of support to kick it off from other Gene Clark fans. Personally, this has been a labour of love for me to make this happen.

Why do you feel Gene belongs in the SHoF?
Gene is already in the of the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame as a member of The Byrds, which is nice, but I really feel strongly that Gene should also be recognized for his tremendous body of work as a solo artist and most importantly, as a songwriter for his contribution to American music. 
I'm not alone in feeling that Gene Clark has been under-appreciated and unknown for far too long. Many of the comments left by fans on the petition site are of sheer disbelief that he isn't in there already. I think if -- check, when he is inducted, it will secure his place in music history for future generations -- and that would be a wonderful thing. 

Tell me about some of the more well-known individuals who have signed the petition?
I'm so pleased by the supporters who have signed so far! There's Textones leader Carla Olson, who played and recorded with Gene in the last decade of his life; Sid Griffin from the Long Ryders, who knew Gene personally and wrote numerous liner notes and articles about Gene; John York, a Byrd himself who toured with Gene in the 80s; Lee Sklar, session man extraordinaire who plays bass on No Other; Duke Bardwell, another bass player who toured with Gene in the 70s in the Silverados (and also played bass for Elvis!); Johnny Rogan, Byrds expert and author; John Einarson, music writer and author of the biography on Gene; Torbj√∂rn Calvero, professional photographer who did some wonderful shots of Gene during the Two Sides for Every Story period; Paul Kendall, who made the one and only documentary film out there on Gene Clark, The Byrd Who Flew Alone; Gene's brother Rick Clark; and also Andrew Loog Oldham, former manager of the Rolling Stones!  
There are also many others who are not 'well known' but who knew Gene, as a friend or relation, and of course his many, many fans from literally all over the globe. I'm so grateful to everyone for their support!

Where do people go to sign the petition?
The easiest place to go is directly to Change.org and just search "Gene Clark" and you'll find it from there. You can also access the link from the Gene Clark Petition Facebook page. Signing up is quick, easy and doesn't cost you a dime! Remember to share with your pals...please! I also have a twitter account under the handle @Neon_Brambles. 

What advice would you give to someone who may wish to sign the petition, but who may have reservations about privacy or receiving unwanted emails?
It's understandable that people have concerns about privacy and spam from change.org. As for privacy, I can assure everyone that your private information (email, address) is not shared with anyone (I'm the only administrator of the petition and your email isn't even visible to me). If you choose to display your signature, only your name city, state and country appear (not your street address and not your email). Once you sign, you have the option to make your signature public or private and also the option to leave a comment. Comments are encouraged, so please tell everyone what Gene's music means to you!  Supporters may also choose to opt out of receiving emails from Change.org. More information about privacy is available here.


Is there a cutoff date for signing the petition? If so, when is it?
There is no cut-off date, per se, but selection of the 2017 nominees by the Songwriters Hall of Fame Board of Directors begins in mid-August and, I believe, goes through September. Nominees are announced sometime in October and the election continues through December. 
The inductees will be announced in March of next year. 
Ideally, it would be great to have Gene on the ballot as a nominee, so the more signatures we can get from now until mid-August, the better! We need to create a buzz about Gene and get the petition out there to the media -- so if anyone has those kind of connections, please contact me and let's "Get Gene In"!

Monday, 4 July 2016

The Lost Studio Sessions COMPANION, Part 2: The 1964 Sessions

Peach fuzz and promise




I predict that most fans, in their somewhat understandable haste to get to the more legendary material like 'Back Street Mirror,' will give these songs the short shrift. 

Personally, I think that would be a great shame. 


Beautifully recorded and performed by a 19-year-old Gene sounding peach-fuzzy and pure with an almost comically earnest croon, these tracks capture him at a pivotal moment in his career.

In the spring/early summer of '64 Gene had just left the New Christy Minstrels and was trying to find his own voice in LA.
But while he may have left the somewhat corny, straight-laced confines of the fogey-folk ensemble in the physical sense, his voice still carried the same button-down quaintness that made that group seem unhip and passe, especially when juxtaposed with the concurrent juggernaut of musical change ignited by The Beatles (who had appeared on Ed Sullivan in February of that year). It is a credit to his talent that Gene's impossibly noble sound makes these recordings infinitely more palatable than anything recorded by his erstwhile bandmates in the Christys.

THE WAY I AM
Perhaps not as distinguished as the songs he would write in the months to come (and recorded later that year during the "Preflyte" sessions), 'The Way I Am' is nonetheless a fascinating glimpse into Gene's songwriting development. 

Already evident is a disarming facility with song structure and the establishment of narrative thread. It's a "don't try to change me, baby" type of song -- the kind of thing one doesn't usually associate with Gene. But rather than assume the macho posturing that often comes with this sort of kiss-off song, Gene sings it as a serious lament. 

I'D FEEL BETTER
If anyone ever says there's no such thing as a happy Gene Clark song, play them this. A jaunty little ditty, replete with chirpy (pre-Byrd) whistling and a bouncy rhythm that will doubtless raise a few eyebrows on first listen.

Once you've got past that, however, it's a thoroughly enjoyable, charmingly innocent little number. It was also a creative dead end, but the fearlessness and facility with which Gene investigated different musical avenues throughout his career is always commendable (more on that when we get to the '67 material).

A WORRIED HEART
This is ground zero for The Gene Clark Ballad Style™. Indeed, all of the familiar and much-beloved elements of Gene's songwriting are present here, and in the next two songs. Sense of melancholy, roving despair? Check. Subject matter --unrequited love? Check. Plaintive, mid-tempo-dirge style? Check! It's all there, replete with a moving and mature vocal from Gene. 
How many 19-year-old males are able to summon, and subsequently channel, this kind of naked vulnerability and pull it off convincingly, dignity intact?

THAT GIRL
Haunting, unrelentingly bleak self-study of loneliness and loss, this is another crucial block in the foundation of The Gene Clark Ballad Style. In the hands of a lesser writer/singer, this would've seemed like self-piteous drivel, but Gene's compelling delivery 
-- along with a peculiar, spooky vibe that pervades the entire recording -- make it one of the standouts of the '64 material. 
A 19-year-old kid isn't supposed to sound this world-weary. 
It's Prince Valiant before the haircut.

IF THERE'S NO LOVE
The ostensibly bouncy rhythm off the final track from the 1964 sessions is undercut by Gene's ghostly croon and the soon-to-become-a-standby qualifier in the quiver of the promising young songwriter: "if." 

Sunday, 3 July 2016

The Lost Studio Sessions COMPANION, Part 1

Introduction

September 8, 2016 will see the release of what is without question the single most important posthumous release of Gene Clark's music, The Lost Studio Sessions 1964-1982.

Featuring 24 previously unreleased, never-before-bootlegged songs on the mothership album, plus six extra songs available across two bonus CDs, this is the largest, most comprehensive archival release ever undertaken of Gene's music. 

Over the years, many hardcore fans have resented being put in the position of having to re-purchase songs they've owned for years just to have the opportunity to hear a clutch of previously unreleased tracks (as in the cases of 1998's Flying High compilation or 2007's In Concert set). Such is not the case with The Lost Studio Sessions. Of the 30 songs coming our way, only two have been released before, and in both cases the respective albums are long out of print. That means for even the most-knowledgeable Gene Clark fans out there, there's going to be 28 songs/performances coming our way that most, except the lucky few who attended the Gene Clark Symposium in 2014, have never heard before.

And so what I propose to do over the next few posts is give you a track-by-track breakdown of what's coming our way, along with all the recording details I can scrounge up, personal impressions of the material, plus a generous helping of relevant historical details to put the whole thing in context. 




At this point I think it would be helpful to include a brief overview of the various sessions that comprise the set.

1964 Sessions
Produced by Jim Dickson
Recording date: Spring/summer 1964

1967 Sessions
Recorded January 26, 1967, Sound Recorders
Produced by Jim Dickson
Arranged by Leon Russell; Horn Section, Hugh Masekela 

1969-1970 Sessions
Produced by Jim Dickson
Liberty/UA Recording Studios

1970 Sessions
Produced by Jim Dickson
Recorded at: The Sound Factory 

1972 Sessions
Produced by Chris Hinshaw and Terry Melcher
Recorded July - September 1972, Wally Heider Studio 4

1982 Session
Produced by: Jim Dickson
Recorded July 10, 1982, Criterion Recorders

At the risk of pointing out the pointedly obvious, all songs featured on The Lost Studio Sessions 1964-1982 are studio recordings. So any fears that we are going to be presented with poor-sounding cassette demos or bootleg-quality live recordings needs to be summarily dismissed.

Next instalment: The 1964 Sessions

Monday, 14 March 2016

GENE CLARK - THE STUDIO SESSIONS 1964-1982 AVAILABLE FOR PRE-ORDER!

THE ULTIMATE LIMITED EDITION OF THIS 
RELEASE CAN BE PREORDERED NOW FROM GENECLARKSIERRA.COM













 GENE CLARK
The Lost Studio Sessions 1964 - 1982
THE ULTIMATE LIMITED EDITION
COMPLETE SET
  • 180-gram SIERRA HIGH FIDELITY Vinyl 2LP set;
  • 24-track Hybrid SACD containing more than 70 minutes of music
  • 1985 Gene Clark interview on DVD;
  • 4-Song Bonus Acoustic CD;
  • First-Run Limited Edition Holographic Numbered Vinyl 2LP & Hybrid SACD;
  • Extensive Booklet for both the 2LP Vinyl set and the Hybrid SACD;
  • Digital Download Card (DDC) that provides secure one-time access to MP3 files of all 24 songs on the album plus the 4 additional songs on the Bonus Acoustic CD;
  • Option to be identified and credited permanently as a Production Associate in the liner notes to both booklet versions.

Track List and Session Breakdown:


Tuesday, 12 January 2016

My name is Delgatto: An interview with Sierra Records' John Delgatto


As founder and president of Sierra Records, John Delgatto has devoted the majority of his life to the recording, production, preservation and dissemination of traditional American music in all its guises, from folk-rock to bluegrass to country-rock.  Along the way, he's known/worked with some of the most legendary musicians in Americana, including Ralph Stanley, Doc Watson, Byron Berline, Gram Parsons and Clarence White.  And yet, astonishingly, no one has ever taken the time to conduct an in-depth interview with him.  A great shame, of course, because, as you will see, John possesses uncanny recall for dates, places and people.  There are never any of those pesky "I don't know" or "I can't remember" answers to contend with. 
Think of it: John was at ground zero for some of the most pivotal moments not only of Gene Clark's career, but in all of California rock.  He witnessed performances by the original Byrds, Dillard and Clark -- even an impromptu saloon performance of "Drug Store Truck Drivin' Man" in 1973 with Clarence White, Gram Parsons and Roger McGuinn. 

With Sierra's forthcoming release, Gene Clark - The Lost Studio Sessions, 1964-1982, fans will at long last gain access to over two dozen previously unreleased Clark-penned originals.  For long-suffering, understandably cynical fans, many of whom have waited decades for the legendary mother lode, this promises to be the most comprehensive archival release of Gene Clark material we have seen thus far: What Sierra has in store for us is an unprecedented deluge of songs that were, up until now, merely the stuff of legend; titles teasingly listed in the back pages of Johnny Rogan's Byrds bio, Timeless Flight Revisited
Soon they will be part of the Clark canon proper.  Thanks to John Delgatto.

John is a natural raconteur.  He possesses a raft of riveting, often hilarious, stories, some of which date back 50 years or more. So sit back and enjoy the trip. Maybe your jaw will hit the floor as many times as mine did.


Sierra Records has been flying the flag of Americana for over 40 years. How did it all start?

Sierra Records had its origins in 1969, when I recorded and produced my first record album, a live recording of the first bluegrass festival ever held in California. This led to my involvement in the world of bluegrass as a producer, writer and reviewer for such publications as Bluegrass Unlimited, Sing Out, Country Music and others.  I initially worked for Uncle Jim O'Neal's Rural Rhythm Records, were I learned the fundamentals of record production and the growing record mail-order business.  In the summer of 1971, I travelled to various folk and bluegrass music festivals with Doc and Merle Watson, which led to my association with such music notables as Clarence White, Country Gazette, Gram Parsons and the management team of (Eddie) Tickner and (Jim) Dickson.

At the urging of Doc Watson and Clarence White, I formed my first record company, Briar Records.  Among the first albums I produced for my new label were a fiddle album by the legendary Leslie Keith; a Doc Watson Family album (eventually released on CD on Sugar Hill Records); the Chris Darrow-produced Toullusions (by Toulouse Engelhardt);  Bluegrass Cardinals, Earl Collins' That's Earl - Collins Family Fiddling and an album of classic live performances by the legendary bluegrass group, the Kentucky Colonels, Livin' In the Past.  This live album was a joint production effort with Clarence White.  This collaboration was cut short by White's death in July, 1973 and it is still the only fully authorized live recording of this seminal group.


Clarence was late for the session, but when he saw me holding a copy of Kentucky Colonels' New Sounds of Bluegrass America album, we needed no formal introduction!

I expanded the Briar Records label by forming a new label, Sierra Records in 1977 which was briefly distributed by Flying Fish Records. I eventually merged his two labels in 1978 as Sierra/Briar Records. I released albums by Nashville West, Scotty Stoneman, Gene Parsons, Gram Parsons, Ian Whitcomb, the Credibility Gap (Harry Shearer, Michael McKean) and others.  In 1982, on the Sierra Records label, I and co-producer Marley Brant released the Gram Parsons and the Fallen Angels, Live 1973 album, receiving worldwide acclaim.  The following year, that album was honoured with a Grammy nomination for "Best Country Performance By a Duo/Group" for the song "Love Hurts."

Sierra Records continued into the 1980s as an independent records label, adding book and home video/DVD divisions.  In the 1990's, Sierra Records continued releasing new albums by new artists. In 2000, the label's focus turned to reissuing older albums on compact disc as well as unreleased masters from the 1960s and 1970s.

How did you come to meet Gram Parsons and Clarence White? What are your favourite memories of them?
Through my radio shows, I became friends of the Country Gazette, and eventually sort of became their unofficial "roadie" (bluegrass bands don't have "roadies") which in turn introduced me to Jim Dickson and Eddie Tickner -- and in turn Clarence and Gram.  I was big fan of Jim's going back to his days as producer of Modern Folk Quartet, Dillards albums, et cetera.  I met Gram briefly in January 1969 when the Flying Burrito Brothers did a live radio show at the station at which I was doing my own radio show.  But I just did not get country music at the time.  I was steeped in bluegrass; middle-of-the-road country music was just not my cup of tea.  It took the third Burritos album to turn me around, but by then Gram had left the band.  Though Clarence and I knew of each other over the years, we had never met in person, though I had seen him perform in the Kentucky Colonels, and then the Byrds.

The Kentucky Colonels, featuring Clarence White (centre) 

I met Clarence for the first time in the fall of 1972 at Warner Bros Records Amigo Studios for the Gene Parsons Kindling album sessions.   I was invited to one particular session as they had flown in Ralph Stanley and Vassar Clements for the recording.  Since they knew I was a friend of Ralph's, they thought having a friendly face would be good.  I remember Clarence was late for the session, but when he saw me holding a copy of Kentucky Colonels-New Sounds of Bluegrass America album, we needed no formal introduction!

From November 1972 through June 1973, had to be for me the most incredible time for this music.  I remember the Saturday night in January 1973 sitting at this tiny front table at the Sundance Saloon in Calabasas. Clarence had gathered the "tribe" to play some bluegrass.  Clarence and I were sharing a pitcher of beer.  Clarence then called up to the ... stage Gram and Roger McGuinn, and they proceeded to do an acoustic version of "Drug Store Truck Drivin' Man"!  I have to believe that was first and only time Roger and Gram ever sang that song in public.  They finished, and both disappeared into the night!  You talk about magic!

Then there was the entire day I spent with Clarence for the videotaping of the group that became Muleskinner at the studios of KCET on Sunset Blvd.  We ended the night, saying goodbye by drag racing down Sunset Boulevard before Clarence had to get on to the freeway to head home.  He was off the next morning, for what would be his last concert tour as a Byrd.

Gene Parsons' Kindling album
And then of course, there's the infamous "equipment manager" job that Gram and Eddie offered me for what would be the Fallen Angels tour.  I was still an independent record distributor, but had no real full-time job.  Gram was going to pay me $200 a week cash to ride the bus and work under Phil Kaufman.  I asked Clarence and Byron Berline about the offer.  They flat-out said,  "Don't do it, you will end up being a babysitter for Gram"!  But as they say, when one door closes, another opens -- the week that Gram and the Fallen Angels left for the tour, I landed an unbelievable job as a disc-mastering engineer.

And so in February 1973, I was hired as a disc-mastering engineer at United Sound Inc. in Burbank California, replacing the legendary, now late Stan Ricker. This offered me the opportunity to learn all phases of vinyl record production, beyond disc mastering, including galvanic metal processing, record pressing, printing, and fabrication.  When I told Clarence what happened, he was excited as he knew at the time -- although I didn't -- that this would be a way for me to learn the inside of the record business in order to start my own label.

Once, when I was paid a visit by Clarence and Gram at the mastering studio, I played them the Hinshaw mix of Roadmaster.  They tried to reach Gene by phone to have him come over! Gram really liked it! 

Did you ever meet Gene Clark?

Having been around all these musicians, the one that I never met was Gene!  I did see him perform with the Byrds and Dillard and Clark, but we just kept missing each other through the decades for a one-on-one.  Once, when I was paid a visit by Clarence and Gram in early June 1973 at the mastering studio, I played them the (Chris) Hinshaw mix (of Roadmaster).  They tried to reach Gene by phone to have him come over!  How incredible -- to have Gram and Gene together to talk about the album.  Gram really liked it! They never connected,  Gene actually might have been up in Mendocino at the time.

A large portion of Sierra's catalogue features recordings made by members of the Byrds family tree (Clarence White, Gene Parsons, Gram Parsons and now Gene Clark). Can you tell us a bit about the importance of the Byrds in your life?

To be honest, back in 1965 when the Byrds came on the scene, I was still a die-hard folk and bluegrass person.  I was playing in a folk quartet that played regularly at the Ice House in Pasadena while still in school.  I was trying to move into bluegrass, playing a pre-war Gibson Mastertone that I had purchased from Harry West in NYC, taking bluegrass banjo lessons and having gone to high school with then Southern California banjo king, David Lindley.  Though I liked rock and roll,  I was not a fan when the Byrds hit!  In fact, I was upset that they "ruined" folk music!  It was actually with the release of the Beatles' Rubber Soul in December 1965 did I "see the light"!  It was like an epiphany!  All of sudden, the Byrds' music started making sense.  Of course earlier I had seen Chris Hillman playing mandolin with the Gosdin Brothers on the old Cal's Corral TV Show so the transition from bluegrass to rock now seemed more real to me now. Thank you, Chris!


But up to that point, although I was an avid record-album buyer, I had never purchased any Byrds albums.  But I remember walking into my local record store to purchase yet another copy of Rubber Soul album in February 1967 (I had literally worn out the record) but saw this new album by Gene Clark!  With musicians like the Gosdins, Clarence White, Glen Campbell and Doug Dillard, I bought it as well!  I loved the album,  loved Gene's songs and performances!  In the winter of 1967, I am in college now, my folk group was long gone and I was a broadcasting major and doing a regular radio show.  Though the station policy was not to play any "rock and roll," I was able to play Gene's album as a "folk" album!

Over the years, with doing more radio shows, working for Rural Rhythm Records, starting my own mail order company and Southern California distributor for such labels as Folkways, Rounder, Rebel, County and others, I finally started hanging out with the Country Gazette (Byron Berline, Roger Bush, Kenny Wertz, Alan Munde) which, as I said before, led to meeting Jim Dickson and Eddie Tickner and sort of became the "young kid" who wanted to start a record label.  By then -- with Clarence White -- the Byrds became my favourite group.  Let's just say it was a long process becoming a Byrds fan.


Much of the material included on Sierra's hotly anticipated new release, The Lost Studio Sessions, 1964-1982, is sourced from Jim Dickson's personal archive. Can you describe the nature of your relationship with Dickson and how you came to inherit these recordings? 

As it will be explained in more detail in my portion of the album notes that will be part of the upcoming release, when Jim Dickson turned over his audio archives to me in 1996, the only Gene Clark tapes Jim had in the collection were, of course, the Preflyte Byrds 3-track masters, and the 2", 16-track master to the 1982 Nyteflyte sessions [Also known as the Flyte recordings, featuring Gene Clark, Michael Clarke, Chris Hillman, Herb Pedersen and Al Perkins]. In addition, I know that volume 2 of Johnny Rogan's epic Byrds saga [Requiem for the Timeless] will explain more of this in detail, as he has spent decades filtering through all the BS to get to the real story.

I first came across the other studio recordings -- that make up the majority of the album -- while I was a disc-mastering engineer at United Sound.  Many came from former recording engineers going as far back as 1970!  Over the years, especially in the late 1990s, prior to taking over Jim's collection, I discovered more of these true studio recording sessions from former, now retired studio engineers.  It was pretty obvious that Jim was the original source for these recordings but, as he explained, these recordings were either left at studios, in Gene's possession, or just lost in the many times Jim moved around LA to Tucson to Hawaii and back again!  For example, the two studio multi-track recordings from January 1967 represented only a fraction of the recordings Jim actually produced of Gene through 1967.  The others continue to be lost.  For Jim's part, once I played some of these tracks for him, he still could not remember doing them in the first place, but clearly he did!

Thus a major concept for this album was to only use studio recordings: no home recordings, no song publisher’s references, no acetates, cassettes, etc.  That's not to say in the future, more of these recordings won't be released.  It's just not where my interests lay.  Frankly, all of Gene's music will hopefully see the light of day.  And who knows, maybe this album will resurrect some of these lost masters stuck in someone's garage.  Where did you think I found most of these for this album?
Terry Melcher's self-titled album from 1974.

What specific details can you reveal to readers of The Clarkophile about the contents of the forthcoming Gene Clark release?

Many fans will be focused on the original recording of "Back Street Mirror." Jim Dickson took this original and had David Hemmings overdub his vocal several months later, yet [contrary to popular belief] Gene's original vocal was not erased.
In 1972, during and after the so-called "Roadmaster" sessions, the same thing happened to Gene again when Terry Melcher, a year or so later, overdubbed his vocal on Gene's original studio recording of "Bars Have Made a Prisoner Out Of Me" by Spooner Oldham/Freddy Weller, and Gene's mournful version of "Roll In My Sweet Baby's Arms."  These "new" Melcher tracks would appear on his 1974 Warner Brothers Records album!  Locating these and other recordings from the Wally Heider Studios -- thanks to a much earlier tip I got from the now late Chris Hinshaw -- enabled us to include these tracks on the album.

Apart from the Clark album, what other releases can we expect from Sierra in 2016? 

We had to push back the vinyl-only release of Randy Meisner - Take It To The Limit until March 1, due to production delays and remastering at Abbey Road Studios.   Also slated for 2016 are more audiophile vinyl releases of Gram Parsons & The Fallen Angels Live 1973Early L.A. (based on the original Together Records, Jim Dickson-produced tracks); more unreleased studio recordings of Clarence White from 1973; a possible unreleased Gosdin Brothers album, and other similar recordings.

Special thanks to John Delgatto

Sunday, 27 December 2015

Updates on The Studio Sessions, 1964-1982

For those on social media, Sierra Records has created several new accounts.

Breaking news related to the Clark release (and more) will be posted there (and then here, 'natch!), so let's show Sierra that we appreciate their efforts to bring more of Gene's music to us.
"Like" their Facebook page, follow them on Twitter and Instagram. The more people that know about this release, the better its chances of being a success.

Facebook: facebook.com/sierrarecords

Twitter: @sierra_records

Instagram: #sierra_records