GeneClark Gosdin 1500 UK

when was “gene clark with the gosdin brothers” released? (gene clark part 2)

GENE CLARK’S FIRST SOLO ALBUM came al­most a year after his final record with the Byrds. For a long time, GENE CLARK WITH THE GOSDIN BROTHERS was con­sid­ered rather light­weight, es­pe­cially from the man who wrote songs like She Don’t Care About Time, Set You Free This Time, and Eight Miles High while with the Byrds. The passing of time has been kind to Clark’s first album and now many long-time fans (such as me) and thou­sands of younger lis­teners con­sider it a gem!

It was one of the most re­mark­able record­ings in rock and pop music his­tory, a prog­en­itor of jazz-rock (or fu­sion) and the first psy­che­delic record to be a major AM radio hit. This only made the com­mer­cial failure of Clark’s solo records all the more puz­zling, at least to fans of Clark and the Byrds in the ’60s.

GENE CLARK WITH THE GOSDIN BROTHERS was ig­nored by all but a few diehard fans for years. For­tu­nately, it has grown from having a small hard­core fan fol­lowing to having a much larger crit­ical and fan fol­lowing over the past few decades.

 

Gene Clark With The Gosdin Brothers has grown from a small hard­core fan fol­lowing to a larger fan and crit­ical fol­lowing over the past few decades.

 

When I re­searched this album for my pre­vious ar­ticle (“The Echoes in Your Head Con­tinue Showing”), I came across one of two state­ments in al­most every ar­ticle that I read. They were:

1. GENE CLARK WITH THE GOSDIN BROTHERS was re­leased on Feb­ruary 6, 1967, the same day that the Byrds’ YOUNGER THAN YESTERDAY was re­leased.

2. The si­mul­ta­neous re­lease of the Byrds and the Clark al­bums ru­ined any chance that GENE CLARK WITH THE GOSDIN BROTHERS had for ex­po­sure and sales.

The first state­ment is in­cor­rect, al­though not by much. The second state­ment is con­jec­ture that doesn’t hold up under any kind of scrutiny. I will ad­dress both of these below.

Let’s use Wikipedia as an ex­ample: The ed­i­tors played it safe and merely listed Feb­ruary as the date of re­lease for GENE CLARK WITH THE GOSDIN BROTHERS. They did state that it “ap­peared very close to the sched­uled re­lease date for the Byrds’ album YOUNGER THAN YESTERDAY in both the United States and the United Kingdom.”

Wikipedia also opined that the prox­imity of Clark’s album to the Byrds’ album was re­spon­sible for “ham­pering its pos­si­bil­i­ties for com­mer­cial suc­cess.”

This ar­ticle was orig­i­nally pub­lished as “Just When Was “Gene Clark with the Gosdin Brothers” Re­leased?” on my Tell It Like It Was on Medium (June 27, 2019).

 

GeneClark Gosdins MoV

Gene Clark’s first album sported this at­trac­tive cover that did not in­di­cate that the music within was full of the country music we all loved to hate back in the ’60s be­cause the country fans had been hating us since for­ever.

Tried so hard

Tracking down the exact date for the re­lease of a record from the ’60s is dif­fi­cult. Un­less it was an artist like Dylan or the Bea­tles who re­ceived at­ten­tion from the major media, there is little data to rely on. Even pa­per­work from record com­pa­nies can be in­ac­cu­rate, as they tend to give the company’s sched­uled re­lease date. The ac­tual re­lease date was often de­layed for var­ious rea­sons.

The most re­li­able method today’s re­searchers have for es­tab­lishing a re­lease date from that decade is­suing the no­ti­fi­ca­tions in the pages of trade pub­li­ca­tions. These mag­a­zines gen­er­ally listed a record as re­leased only when they had a copy of the record on hand for re­view.

 

The best thing Co­lumbia could have done was make as many con­nec­tions be­tween the Byrds and the Clark album as pos­sible!

 

The major record com­pa­nies usu­ally re­leased new records by major artists on a Monday. Given time to ship the records to re­viewers and for the mag­a­zines to be pub­lished and shipped to stores, most of these records were re­viewed in is­sues of Bill­board, Cash Box, and Record World that were cover-dated the second Sat­urday after the record’s re­lease.

So the first re­view of an album in the trade mag­a­zines usu­ally in­di­cated that the album had been re­leased twelve days ear­lier. That album would usu­ally debut on the publication’s best-selling LP charts two or three weeks after being re­viewed. That is, a new album by a major artist usu­ally de­buted on the best-selling album sur­veys ap­prox­i­mately one month after being re­leased.

So it was to these mag­a­zines that I turned for in­for­ma­tion on these al­bums. Let’s look at YOUNGER THAN YESTERDAY first, as it re­ceived a lot more at­ten­tion than Gene Clark’s album.

 

GeneClark Gosdins Col bc copy

The back cover of Gene Clark’s first album sported this un­flat­tering photo of Rex and Vern Gosdin along with some verse by Clark. More in­ter­esting was the fact that it also listed the mu­si­cians who played on the record, a very un­usual move in 1967.

All this time between

YOUNGER THAN YESTERDAY was re­viewed in the main re­view sec­tion (simply ti­tled “Re­views”) in the March 4, 1967, issue of Bill­board. (It is in­ter­esting to note that of the nine­teen al­bums re­viewed, only two others were rock album: THE ELECTRIC PRUNES and CHUCK BERRY’S GOLDEN DECADE.)

Here is the Bill­board editor’s cap­sule re­view: “The Byrds will be riding high on the LP charts again with this top rock package. Their cur­rent hit single So You Want To Be a Rock and Roll Star is in­cluded along with easy folk-rock treat­ments of Time Be­tween and Back Pages.”

YOUNGER THAN YESTERDAY de­buted on Billboard’s Top LP’s survey on March 18, 1967, two weeks after being re­viewed. Based on these two dates, it had a prob­able re­lease date of Feb­ruary 20, 1967.

In So You Want To Be a Rock ’n’ Roll Star, Hjort listed the re­lease date for the Byrds album as Feb­ruary 6, 1967 (page 119). But he noted that this was the stated re­lease date and that “it’s likely the real issue date is not until the end of Feb­ruary at the ear­liest.”

 

Byrds YoungerThanYesterday s cover front 1400

I think that the front cover of Younger Than Yes­terday may be the most beau­tiful cover on any rock album I have ever seen.

Keep on pushin’

GENE CLARK WITH THE GOSDIN BROTHERS was first listed in the Jan­uary 28, 1967, issue of Bill­board. It ap­peared in the New Re­lease In­ven­tory Check­list, which listed the first re­leases of 1967 from the major record com­pa­nies.

It was first re­viewed in the Feb­ruary 11, 1967, issue of Cash Box in the Pop Best Bets sec­tion. The ed­itor wrote, “Gene Clark, for­merly with the Byrds, is joined by the Gosdin Brothers on this set. The sound is folk-rock. Chanter Clark is backed up by gui­tars, bass, drums, and piano and harp­si­chord. The arrange­ment makes for com­pelling lis­tening, and the disk should at­tract a large fol­lowing.”

A week later, it was listed in the Four-Star Al­bums sec­tion of Bill­board. That sec­tion was re­served for “new al­bums with suf­fi­cient com­mer­cial po­ten­tial in their re­spec­tive cat­e­gories to merit being stocked by most dealers and rack job­bers han­dling that cat­e­gory.”

Using the Cash Box re­view, GENE CLARK WITH THE GOSDIN BROTHERS had a re­lease date of no later than Jan­uary 30, 1967. Of course, the Bill­board check­list in­di­cates that it could have been is­sued even ear­lier.

In So You Want To Be a Rock ’n’ Roll Star, Hjort merely, and ac­cu­rately, stated that the album would be re­leased in Jan­uary 1967 (page 109).

 

Byrds YoungerThanYesterday cover back 600

The back cover of Younger Than Yes­terday fea­tured with mod­er­ately in­ter­esting col­lage. Had this been cropped and placed at the top of the cover with liner notes below it I would have been a hap­pier Byrds fan in 1967.

Thoughts and words

If my con­clu­sions are correct—and I wel­come anyone with better data or even a better “theory” to con­tact me via the com­ments sec­tion below—then GENE CLARK WITH THE GOSDIN BROTHERS and YOUNGER THAN YESTERDAY were not re­leased on the same day. They ap­pear to have been re­leased at least three weeks apart. Of course, a few weeks or the same day are still close to­gether.

It is this prox­imity that forms the basis for the ar­gu­ment that the Byrds album ham­pered the pos­si­bil­i­ties for the com­mer­cial suc­cess of the Clark album. In his ex­cel­lent bi­og­raphy of Gene Clark, John Einarson stated:

“In a bizarre mar­keting move, Co­lumbia re­leased [YOUNGER THAN YESTERDAY] two weeks after Gene’s album, thereby di­viding fans loy­al­ties and dooming Gene’s chances to stand alone in the mar­ket­place. Quite simply, his album was over­whelmed by the much better-known Byrds and Gene lost in the shuffle.” ( Mr. Tam­bourine Man, page 116).

This ar­gu­ment has been bandied about for decades, al­though I never un­der­stood the ra­tio­nale. Why would a new Byrds album have any ef­fect on a Gene Clark album? The loy­al­ties of Byrds fans would have made them more likely to pur­chase Gene’s album or any solo Byrds ven­ture at that time!

 

GeneClark Gosdins Col DJ

Mono copies of Gene Clark’s first were shipped to radio sta­tions for air­play, al­though few sta­tions any­where played the damn thing. These copies often in­cluded having a paper banner with the song ti­tles and time lengths af­fixed to the front cover.

There was no celebrity media

It would seem to me that the best thing Co­lumbia could have done was make as many con­nec­tions be­tween the Byrds and the Clark album as possible—to make people aware that Gene Clark was an orig­inal Byrd.

During the ’60s, there was no “celebrity media” as we know it today. Aside from the Bea­tles (who were more pop­ular than you-know-who) and maybe Mick Jagger, very few people knew the names of the mem­bers of even the most suc­cessful pop groups.

For ex­ample, while Brian Wilson has been a fa­miliar face for decades, even disc-jockeys failed to rec­og­nize his name on his first solo record (“Car­o­line No”) in 1966. And that was at the height of the Beach Boys’ pop­u­larity with radio sta­tions and record buyers!

In 1967, the re­sponse of people who ran a record store when asked to order copies of GENE CLARK WITH THE GOSDIN BROTHERS would have been, “Who the heck is Gene Clark?”

It cer­tainly wouldn’t have been, “Why should I stock a Gene Clark album when I al­ready have the new Byrds album?”

 

GeneClark Echoes pose3 1

Gene Clark posing for photos that were sued to pro­mote his first single Echoes, re­leased in late 1966 to al­most no air­play and fewer sales.

I found you

There are many rea­sons for the lack of ac­cep­tance of GENE CLARK WITH THE GOSDIN BROTHERS, no­tably that it didn’t fea­ture a hit single. It was also one of the first forays into what would later be called country-rock, a year be­fore Sweet­heart of the Rodeo.

This was a time when rock music fans ab­horred red­neck music al­most as much as country music fans hated long­hair music. Ex­cept for an ap­pre­ci­a­tion of Buck Owens and His Bucka­roos due to the Bea­tles, most people who bought rock al­bums wouldn’t have touched a country album with the prover­bial ten-foot pole!

Rather, a host of poor de­ci­sions ap­pear to have ham­pered the suc­cess of GENE CLARK WITH THE GOSDIN BROTHERS, from its title to its pack­aging. As few people knew Clark and no one but their family knew the Gos­dins, why wasn’t the album ti­tled some­thing that hinted at Clark’s past, like First Flyte? In­stead of listing the ti­tles of eleven un­known songs on the front cover, why not a blurb calling at­ten­tion to the first solo album by a member of the Byrds?

It is ob­vious that Co­lumbia did not do a lot to pro­mote Clark or the album. Per­haps Co­lumbia had al­ready thrown in the towel after the huge flop that was the album’s lead single, “Echoes.”

Per­haps the same prob­lems that caused Clark to leave the Byrds man­i­fested it­self in his re­la­tion­ship with his record com­pany. (Prob­lems that would man­i­fest them­selves with al­most every record com­pany he worked with.)

Without name recog­ni­tion, a hit single, or a big pro­mo­tional cam­paign, why would anyone that owned a record store spend any of their lim­ited budget on an un­known artist? We don’t need a magic bullet to ex­plain the lack of suc­cess of GENE CLARK WITH THE GOSDIN BROTHERS any­more than we need one to ex­plain JFK’s as­sas­si­na­tion. (And whoo boy is that an­other topic for an­other story.)

Gene Clark With The Gosdin Brothers has grown from a small hard­core fan fol­lowing to a larger fan and crit­ical fol­lowing over the past few decades. Click To Tweet

GeneClark Gosdin 1500 orange

FEATURED IMAGE: Since most of the im­ages in this ar­ticle are ei­ther black & white, I thought I would add a little color. I cropped Clark’s face from the cover of the GENE CLARK WITH THE GOSDIN BROTHERS album and played with the color tools on the GIMP photo ap­pli­ca­tion. While still some­what somber, they are in­ter­esting. I used one of them here (cropped chin) and the other (full chin) as the fea­tured image for “The Echoes in Your Head Con­tinue Showing.”

 

 

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