Gene Clark, the ill-fated troubadour, singer and songwriter, once at the helm of the Byrds and provider of further inspiration to legions of Americana warriors and wannabes that would follow him in the decades after, has become the stuff of legend. Forever wandering, from the aforementioned California combo to solitary retreat and then back again, aligning himself with the Gosdin Brothers, the Dillards and Carla Olson after and in-between, he became a muse in absentia for the Flying Burrito Brothers, Tom Petty, Iain Matthews, the Black Crowes and Robert Plant at points farther on.
Suffice it to say that each of his solo albums are well worth acquiring, but that his legions of fans have never been fully satiated with what was made available in his lifetime. Consequently, expanded versions of his original offerings and a small but significant number of unreleased output have been eagerly scooped up in recent years. Here Tonight: The White Light Demos and a recent Record Store Day vinyl release on indie label Sierra are the latest examples of essential Clark collectibles. Add to that number what may be the greatest bonanza yet, Gene Clark Sings For You, a collection of tracks recorded in 1967 after his first departure from the Byrds (He would rejoin briefly, only to leave again) and a series of demos recorded for the band the Rose Garden around the same time.
Lest anyone think these are rough outtakes or skimpily arranged, half-conceived toss-offs unfit for consumption, be assured that the material could easily have comprised a fully fleshed out album had a minimal amount of additional backing been added to the original instrumentation. The eight songs Clark recorded for his own purposes makes a comprehensive whole, while the additional six tracks recorded for the Rose Garden, some consisting of only vocal and guitar, others fully fleshed out, make for a cohesive whole. As an added bonus, the final cut on the album features Clark walking the band through “Till Today,” a song which ended up on Rose Garden’s eponymous 1968 album, which is also being offered in an expanded addition at the same time.
An essential acquisition for Clark, Byrds and Americana fans in general, Gene Clark Sings For You is a gift that deserves the getting.