Gene Clark

Here Tonight: The White Light Demos

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White Light is perhaps the greatest of Gene Clark's solo albums, arriving just after the former Byrds guitarist/singer severed his alliance with Doug Dillard. White Light was released in 1971 and while it was trippier, dreamier than anything Clark produced before, it paled in comparison to the wild, intricate psychedelia that came later, particularly on 1974's coke-blown No Other. Compared to that, White Light feels minimalist but Here Tonight: The White Light Demos, a collection released by Omnivore in 2013, is even sparer, capturing Clark alone with his acoustic guitar, working out the songs that would wind up on the finished album, along with tunes that would surface later: two songs ("Opening Day," "Winter") wouldn't show up on the 2002 reissue of the LP; three ("For No One," "Please Mr. Freud," "Jimmy Christ") have never been released; another ("Here Tonight") wound up on the Flying Burrito Brothers collection Close Up the Honky-Tonks. This Spartan setting accentuates the broken heart at the center of the songs, underlining the melancholic undercurrent that flows beneath White Light, and it's certainly possible that some listeners may prefer the melancholic immediacy of these unadorned recordings. Often, the richer production is a benefit -- certainly it adds to the dreaminess of White Light -- but, stripped to the basics of guitar and voice, these songs retain their spooky, otherworldly quality and, arguably, are even eerier in this early incarnation.

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