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  1. Gene Clark was a founding member of The Byrds, a superb singer, one of the architects of what came to be known as Country Rock and at times a truly wonderful songwriter. But like a few other guys we’ll encounter in this blog he had his demons and tried to quiet them with booze and drugs leading to an early death. “Collected” is a 3xLP wrap-up of Clark’s work from The Byrds to the end and was very much an impulse buy.

    As you’ll find out soon I recently bought an album by Monica Queen on which is a cover of Gene’s song “Why Not Your Baby” recorded in 1968 with Bluegrass Banjo player Doug Dillard during the sessions for their album “The Fantastic Expedition Of Dillard & Clark”. It didn’t make it onto the album in 1968 but was released as a standalone single in 1969. I was listening to Ms Queen’s version one Sunday morning when it suddenly struck me what an incredible song it is. So I went digging online for the original and by the time I’d played through Dillard & Clark’s take twice I was almost in tears. It’s quite superb, have a listen down there.

    Gene Clark wrote “I’ll Feel A Whole Lot Better”, “She Don’t Care About Time” and “Eight Miles High” for The Byrds before leaving because of a combination of jealousy over the money he earned from songwriting royalties from the other members and his own fear of flying, necessary while touring in the US. His first solo album “Echoes”, made together with West Coast Country duo the Gosdin Brothers, was a mixture of Country, psychedelia and baroque pop.

    The rest of the music within is broadly folk based American roots with a sprinkling of Country. It covers his time with The Byrds, solo and with Doug Dillard, reunions with former Byrds as McGuinn, Hillman and Clark and some of his later recordings with singer Carla Olson. Highlights start with the previously mentioned “Why Not Your Baby” (please have a listen below, it’s quite beautiful), of course The Byrds jangle fest “Feel A Whole Lot Better”, the gentle “For A Spanish Guitar”, the title track from his 1974 solo album “No Other” which when it wasn’t ridiculed was ignored at the time but is now seen as a classic, and a fabulous thigh-slapping run through the traditional song “In The Pines”.

    Gene Clark passed away at the age of 46 from a combination of problems related to substance abuse. He was a great songwriter and but for his difficulties with travel and various substance and alcohol problems to curb those fears, who should really have a much higher profile in American music. Along with Gram Parsons and Townes van Zandt, Gene is another of the lost souls who should have done much, much more.

    Why Not Your Baby - https://youtu.be/VtiXNB68XKc?si=VstJTOSJKR-Ozu2H

  2. So here we are in that lull after my birthday and between Xmas and New Year and as my family know what I like the next few blog entries will be out of alphabetical order new additions to my collection that have been kindly gifted to me over the past couple of weeks. Your normal scheduled programming will resume with the letter N in a few days time, by which time this will have become the 2024 Albums Thing.

    The Jolt were a 3 piece New Wave band from the satellite towns around Glasgow, formed in 1976. They wore 60’s style matching suits, covered the Small Faces, were signed to Polydor Records and the And Son publishing company (for those that don’t know that was the publishing company run by John and Paul Weller)…beginning to see why I liked them yet ?

    They were a curious mixture of Punk and Mod Revival. “Decoyed” and “All I Can Do” bear the unmistakable stamp of Punk whereas “I’m Leaving”, “(Can’t You Tell) It’s Over” and the Small Faces “Whatcha Gonna Do About It” point squarely at the Mod Revival. That may well be why they never really got any further than support slots for The Jam, they didn’t really know what they were. This album is a real facsimile of a sixties album release with flip backs on the rear of the sleeve and an inner sleeve mimicking the Parlophone rice paper inners on early Beatles albums but with The Jolt’s name on them so they seemed to have an eye set on the revival.

    The Jolt are probably best known for a cover of The Jam’s “See Saw” on a later EP, a song that appeared as the B-side of “The Eton Rifles”, so Weller was still trying to help them out. It never happened for The Jolt, on their own terms or as part of the Mod Revival, but it’s an album I have a soft spot for and reminds me of a time long gone, when we were young…whoa oh oh…I’m happy to have it back in my collection.

    Decoyed- https://youtu.be/3hBIFeuerUs?si=8vc16vBNMUqmJL1c

  3. This was an album my Mom and Dad had and used to be played only on Christmas Day (of course !). My Mom has always been a big Johnny Mathis fan and the guy has a voice as smooth as silk and as rich as Mansa Musa (Google it).

    The first track on Side 1 is “The Sounds Of Christmas” and that’s exactly what this LP is, this is what Christmas sounds like to me and has since I was a kid. Finding my very own copy in a charity shop a few years ago for 99p was a good day. There are Xmas classics like “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas”, “Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer” and “Let It Snow ! Let It Snow ! Let It Snow !” alongside some lesser known festive tunes, Bing Crosby’s “The Secret Of Christmas” and “Christmas Is A Feeling In Your Heart” plus some traditional songs like “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen”. Johnny even has a crack at Handel’s “Hallelujah Chorus” !

    Snigger all you like, I don’t care. This is the first thing that gets played in our house on Christmas morning, I have a few others as you’ve discovered but this is always first, and long may it continue.

    The Sounds Of Christmas - https://youtu.be/Z8Mr3A4mPiQ?si=4FWmuXbGXcDYJw3j