Sunday, November 27, 2011

Gene Clark 2: Fantastic Expedition Of Dillard & Clark

Having seen zero success with his solo debut, Columbia dropped Gene Clark, who found his way over to A&M Records, which would pick up on another Byrds offshoot ere long. This time he hooked up with another country iconoclast. Doug Dillard had been part of a family-based bluegrass band that were semi-regulars on The Andy Griffith Show before he started doing sessions, playing banjo for the likes of the Monkees. Having shared management with the Byrds, he and Gene teamed up as Dillard & Clark, eventually recording another short yet worthy album.
The Fantastic Expedition Of Dillard & Clark is an intriguing stew of traditional country, without drums, and mild psychedelia, thanks to an occasionally prominent electric harpsichord. Chris Hillman adds mandolin to two tracks, but the most prominent contributor outside of Dillard & Clark themselves is one Bernie Leadon, who added banjo and guitar and co-wrote several of the songs.
Gene comes off strong with another hidden gem, the mildly brooding “Out On The Side”, then “She Darked The Sun” is pure porch music, at least up until the mildly atonal finish. His honking harmonica opens “Don’t Come Rollin’”, which tumbles into stacked rhymes and warnings, while “Train Leaves Here This Morning” would one day feature on the debut Eagles album, but once again we’re getting ahead of ourselves.
“With Care For Someone” is stuck between a hoedown and descending minor key mystery, but the upbeat chorus wins the battle. Not so for “The Radio Song”, which has a dusty lyric but is beholden to that harpsichord, providing an out-of-body experience. The hoedown returns on a cover of Lester Flatt’s “Git It On Brother” and “In The Plan”, and “Something’s Wrong” nicely bookends the set.
Coming so soon after Sweetheart Of The Rodeo, The Fantastic Expedition Of Dillard & Clark got decent reviews from critics who still remembered who they were, but once again didn’t move any copies (Gene still not into touring by airplane). It’s gone in and out of print over the years, but the version to find adds three non-album singles, including the lost masterpiece “Why Not Your Baby”.

Dillard & Clark The Fantastic Expedition Of Dillard & Clark (1968)—3

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