Gene Clark

Two Sides to Every Story

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Gene Clark's 1974 album No Other has come to be seen as a masterpiece in the decades after its release, but that was hardly the consensus at the time, and the album's considerable production cost and negligible sales quickly made Clark persona non grata in the music business. It would be three years before Clark made another album, and Two Sides to Every Story was a very different affair; Clark and producer Thomas Jefferson Kaye (who was also behind the console for No Other) cut the album on their own dime without a record deal in place, and they opted for a simpler, more direct musical approach, with a handful of session pros going through their paces as Clark and Kaye aimed for an organic sound. Two Sides was made at a time when drink and drugs were starting to take their toll on Clark, and the material is uneven, especially when Clark and the band try to rock out (Clark's half-hearted stumble through Ronnie Hawkins' "Marylou" is easily the album's low point) and on a curiously upbeat run through the classic murder ballad "In the Pines." But Clark's muse invariably guided him well even under awkward circumstances, and Two Sides has a number of superb moments, including the heartfelt coal miner's tale "Give My Love to Marie," the literate heartache of "Past Addresses," and the nautical philosophizing of "Silent Crusade." While one can hear moments of wear in Clark's vocals, his instrument is usually strong and so is his spirit, with his phrasing smart and effective, while the musicians (including Doug Dillard, Byron Berline, John Hartford, Al Perkins, and Jeff Baxter, with Emmylou Harris adding harmonies) deliver the goods for the legendary Byrds vocalist. RSO Records eventually signed on to release Two Sides to Every Story, but in typical fashion they had no idea how to promote it and it soon fell out of print (don't feel bad for them -- RSO released the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack a few months later); it turned out to be Clark's last solo album for a major label, but if this is well short of a masterpiece, it's still clearly the work of a masterful singer and songwriter, and the best moments here are honestly magical.

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