Gene Clark

Gypsy Angel: The Gene Clark Demos 1983-1990

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In 1990, Gene Clark was blocking out plans for a second album with Carla Olson after their 1987 duo set, So Rebellious a Lover, became the most popular work of his career after leaving the Byrds, and he recorded a batch of acoustic demos that year in preparation for the project. However, Clark died in the spring of 1991 before he could take any of the songs into the studio. Gypsy Angel: The Gene Clark Demos 1983-1990 compiles eight songs from the casually recorded 1990 sessions, with four tunes Clark demoed in the mid-'80s. The biggest problem with the material on Gypsy Angel is that these recordings were clearly demos (the fidelity isn't especially good, and except for one song, these demos feature just Clark and his rudimentary acoustic guitar), and one wonders if some of these songs were in their finished form yet; the songs are quite long (the eight 1990 cuts clock in at over 53 minutes), and while they boast the sort of lovely melodies that were second nature to Clark, nearly all of them would have benefited from some judicious editing. In the last years of his life, Gene Clark's health was in serious decline, and it's hard not to tell on this album; his voice is not in especially good shape (especially on "Rock of Ages"), and even on the selections where his pipes rise to the occasion, he sounds a bit tired, as if he's not running at full-strength (and he almost certainly wasn't). By comparison, the four 1983 recordings find Clark in much stronger form, with his voice sounding strong and sure and the songs better-crafted and more concise. To say that Gene Clark deserved a better shake from his career is an understatement, and by all accounts he left behind a treasure trove of unreleased material that deserves to be heard. Gypsy Angel, however, is hardly the best place to start exploring the work he left behind; fans may find it intriguing, but it's by no means an essential listen.

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