Once, on the long long long orange lit drive home from L.A., crap-o car stereo blaring, my better half asked me almost incredulously, "Why is this album pretty much the best album ever made?!"
Why indeed? Sometimes writing about music is a real drag. Gene Clark's No Other truly is one of the most lasting and perfect albums I've ever heard.
On a tip from a coworker (I am almost certain it was Shayde), I bought No Other around four years ago. I liked Gene's previous album White Light, so I was ready to hear more. I popped in No Other and liked it immediately, but ultimately it was over time that this album became more and more haunting. Like, I couldn't get it out of my head ... like, for years. Seriously, waking in the night with just this one little moment of "From a Silver Phial" tinkering through my mind.
I read the liner notes earlier today from the cd reissue and someone describes Gene's sound as achieving the "Cosmic American Music" feeling Gram Parsons had once sought. I guess that's a fairly apt way to describe a fairly indescribable album.
Usually heavy production freaks me out. No Other was released in 1974, when it was all production -city all the time, unless you were Carly Simon or something, but let's not go there. The production work on this album is so layered, dense and, actually, perfect. There's wah wah guitar, backup singers, crazy piano licks. The best of L.A.'s session musicians were hired to play at the recording and they play the hell out of these songs, adding gravity to what was already great. The other thing that makes this album killer is that there is a theme and a thread that works its way through each of the songs and connects them, so as you listen closely to the album over and over again, it all becomes more and more clear and transporting.
Sometimes I will forget totally about No Other, maybe even for a year or so, but it always, always winds its way back in my mind.
I am almost done reading the bio of Gene, Mr. Tambourine Man by John Einarson, and I will have much more to say about Gene Clark at that point, plus a review of that book, hence the two part aspect of this blog entry. [Part 2 is right here.] If you've never heard his solo work before, you should maybe pick up No Other in the meantime. And some headphones.