Gene Clark “No Other”

No Other

Barely understood when it was released in 1974, No Other is Gene Clark’s most polarizing record but generally considered essential today.

Almost every song an epic, Clark’s songwriting was never up for debate, nor his genuinely poetic verses, but it’s Thomas Jefferson Kaye’s production that would weed out hordes of would-be fans. I contend the producer made only one mistake: the use of “power gospel” backing vocals on every track is probably what turns most people off to No Other. Strike the voices and this record would be hailed as a mid-70s masterpiece for Clark’s efforts as much as its lush, candied orchestration.

The record starts off without skipping a beat from the Clark oeuvre; “Life’s Greatest Fool” sounds like a natural step forward from his earlier country rock. The supporting musicians are perfectly in tune with the vision; I want to dig in deeper with the sound every listen, so I hardly consider it overcooked. One tune does embody Gene’s new super-glam image in sound, where you can “hear the cocaine” churning the record: the sinister title track, “No Other,” is slathered with sleazy synth lines and electric guitars. Whether for camp or pure songcraft it’s an irresistable jam and centerpiece of the record.

All of the numbers possess the signature Gene Clark sound. Say when he waits for “Strength Of Strings” to reach full crescendo before sinking into his minor-tinged verse with that untouchable heartworn vocal. Clark is one of the world’s greatest songwriters, his skill in transforming traditional progressions to his unique brand of song unmatched.

Give this record the right chance and you’ll reach the point where you appreciate every overdone detail, down to the gorgeous sleeve and awesomely hideous poster of Gene decked in flowing garments, beads, and makeup in front of an airbrushed Gene Clark monument. I only have the record, but the CD resissue is reportedly worth it for the alternative versions and “Train Leaves Here This Morning,” a retake from the Expedition.

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“No Other”

:D CD Reissue | 2003 | WEA/Rhino | amazon ]
:) Orig Vinyl | 1974 | Asylum | search ebay ]
8-) Spotify link | listen ]

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  • Good post.

    You know what lp always gets panned by critics but I happen to love? The 1973 Byrds reunion album. I don’t think people gave it a listen, but the Neil Young covers are brilliant. I only have it on album, but songs like Changing Heart and Full Circle always blow me away. As a Clark fan I wonder what you thought of the record if you know of it. Take care…

  • This was my first Gene Clark solo album and was absolutely the wrong one to start with. I love the opening track, and find something kind of slimy/wonderful about the title track, but “Silver Raven” drives me up the wall – and it’s definitely Clark and not the producer or backing vocals that do it. Just can’t handle the lyrics or the performance… the rest of the album is good but I can’t say I find myself going back to it.

  • Brendan

    Hey Barry, good suggestion. I actually stopped before Byrdmaniax (which I’ve been warned not to get) and I think I even passed up Byrds 73 in a bin, thinking it was some kind of non-release. Thanks for putting it on my list.

    Scott, I guess I understand your complaints about the lyrics. One too many “sunbeams” and “stars” for your taste? But that was Gene’s style – staring up in to the moon and all – and he of all people could pull it off I think. I definitely dig the track.

  • Heed the warning on Byrdmaniax for sure unless you find it for a buck somewhere. Even the worst Byrds lp has 2-3 nuggets. Definitely grab Byrds 73 if you can find it. I don’t think it ever made it to CD.

  • dk

    Masterpiece! Yet another excellent selection…

  • I like it. Definitely makes his catalog more interesting.

  • Artog

    Let’s be honest, it’s all downhill after The Byrds but Gene Clark was the best songwriter among them and not even the Seventies can change that. The songs here are pretty good. What drags a few of them down are some choices which seem indulgent now but to be fair he was probably bored with what we all consider to be a classic sound. The good news is the demo versions on the cd are great. A case in point: Lady of the North – the studio version is a muso nightmare and almost unlistenable (at least to a sensitive soul like me) but the demo version is just beautiful.

  • W

    Friggin’ genius! And what’s this “all downhill after The Byrds” stuff Artog’s saying? This album was Clark’s high water mark in my books! W.

  • Johnny Livewire

    Artog – Gene Clark was the best songwriter in the Byrds and in my opinion his best songs were post-Byrds.

    Some of the production on ‘No Other’ is a little overbearing (on some of the songs), but it’s still a great record.

  • Johnny Livewire

    P.S. Byrds 73 is on CD. It’s called “Byrds” now.

    You can find a copy here

  • Stephen Reid

    Excellent post. I love Gene’s work, and ‘No Other’ is a fine creature of an album, but I think the criminally overlooked (and more accessible) ‘Roadmaster’ ticks all the boxes for me. In the singer-songwriter genre he reigned supreme.

  • Stephen Reid

    I think ‘No Other’ is one of those epiphany albums. I bought my copy about 6 months ago. I liked it, but wondered what all the fuss was about . I came back to it every couple of weeks, it sounded very good (see my previous comment). Then I listened to it seriously (music & lyrics) again just this week. This was the epiphany moment. Now I cant stop playing the damn thing! This an album that must be played very loud to be really appreciated .There is so much going on in each cut – apart from the in the fine G.C. vocal – that really draws the listener in and demands attention. Now I know what all the fuss was about. I’m very impressed.

  • Phil Roberts

    i bought ‘no other’ back in 74 when it came out….i was a big fan of Gene by then and though i dont mind the album , (it has its moments ) but to me it was a opportunity missed—-he was the real deal as far as country rock fans were concerned and i for one was looking to him to continue in the vein of the stuff he’d done with the Byrds reunion album , Roadmaster and Doug Dillard …..he didn’t !…….saw him at the hammersmith gig in London in 77, but felt his career was in decline by then and the early 80’s didn’t show much BUT thought his final release with Carla Olsen showed a real return to form. Great talent and i miss him to this day…..i’m sure he had more to give , if he could have just sorted himself out.

  • Cent

    I found a rare live Gene Clark song I heard a long time ago and made a video with it. Just wanted to share it.

  • Do you like apples? Well, I’ve been a working (or not) musician since 1965–My first band was with Leroy Preston who was one of the founders of Asleep at the Wheel. It was Leroy who turned me on to the Byrds and that’s how I became a Gene Clark fan. I am now, as we speak, working on a CD of Genesongs and Carla Olson is coming by my house tomorrow to sing harmony on my version of “Gypsy Rider” How do ya like them apples?

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