Years ago, before podcasts entered my life, I used to wander everywhere with my headphones in my ears and my iPod on shuffle. Smart playlists gave me a constant stream of both music I knew and had rated highly along with a few tracks I hadn’t played.
One morning on the platform at Euston Square, waiting for a westbound train, a song came on which I had never heard before and demanded my attention. It wasn’t loud, it was just beautiful — I had seldom heard such an honest heart-achingly longing song before. It sounded as though it had been recorded on a home cassette deck and reinforced my theory that great songs shine through no matter how poor the sound quality is. The song was Dark of My Moon by Gene Clark and it is a track on a free Uncut magazine cover CD from the early 2000s. Give it a listen, it’s amazing.
From that point on, Gene Clark was on my ‘music to investigate’ list. A couple of weeks ago I found myself coming back to this song and I wanted to find out more about it and Gene Clark himself. Clark was a member of the Byrds and co-wrote Eight Miles High, one of their biggest hits.
Whenever I get into a new artist, I head over to Allmusic — it gives you the complete output of an artist along with ratings by both Allmusic staff as well as their users. His album No Other had five-star reviews by both and looked like a great place to start investigating more of his work. I wasn’t disappointed. This album is incredible and gets better with every play.
I haven’t felt this way about an album in a long time. It has hooked itself into my brain and won’t let go. Every time I hear it I notice something different, whether it is the second slide guitar solo on the first song, the frantic woodblock in the title track or the way in which the final tune builds from a sweet beginning to a magestic and sweeping end. As soon as it finishes I want to start it again. There is so much in this album.
When it was released in 1974, the record label didn’t do very much to support the album. Clark had a fear of flying which meant that he wouldn’t tour or promote the it much himself either. Reviews weren’t great and two years later it was deleted from A&M’s catalogue. It became a lost masterpiece.
Since it was ‘rediscovered’ and reissued a couple of decades later it has gained an ever-greater following. A couple of years ago a number of bands collaborated together to bring the music to a new audience through a small number gigs where they played the whole album from start to finish. I’m not that familiar with these artists (Beach House, Fleet Foxes, Grizzly Bear, The Walkmen) so didn’t know what to expect. Their performance is amazing — the musicians all gel so well together and the singing is superb. It gave me goosebumps the first time I saw it. If you’re looking for a way into this album you could do worse than watch this.