Gene Clark | No Other (reissue) | 4AD
5 out of 5 stars
“No Other is now regarded as a cult item for the ages,” state the notes for this massively expanded reissue of arguably Gene Clark’s finest achievement. The compilers clearly hope to find a larger than cult audience through this exhaustive, classy and elaborate reissue.
Despite—or perhaps because of– the 1974 album’s exorbitant (at the time) 100k budget, it was initially a commercial and critical flop. Few knew what to make of the ex-Byrd lead singer’s solo extravaganza. But that has changed in the subsequent four-plus decades. Sadly, Clark passed in 1991 before enjoying the belated accolades his work has received.
Even at a relatively modest eight selections clocking in at 43 minutes, No Other feels ambitious, sprawling and expansive.
Clark spent about a year writing the songs and another two months recording/refining them along with producer Thomas Jefferson Kaye and a who’s-who of talented backing musicians in LA’s legendary Village Recorder studio. The result is a unique combination of folk, country, gospel and sober singer/songwriter pop with distinctive, non-traditional song structures and Clark’s sweet, yearning voice. His superbly crafted lyrics read like poetry with spiritual nods to cosmic visions, searching souls and the need for inspiration to stay alive. There were no singles but it’s an immaculately conceived work that takes at least a few listens to fully appreciate and absorb.
That has been difficult since No Other has been largely out of print on CD for years.
But it’s back… in a big way.
The original tracks are augmented by a plethora of alternate versions, all worth hearing, remixed by Clark expert (and Long Ryders’ frontman) Sid Griffin with John Wood. It’s available in a variety of configurations from single/double discs and colored vinyl to a mammoth limited edition box with an extensive and informative hardbound 80 page book, three high resolution audio SACD discs, a surround remix and a Blu-ray with a documentary.
It’s a lovingly assembled package and the last word on a once misunderstood but now acknowledged masterpiece.