Not as rough as demos but not as glossy as completed tracks, the 14 songs on Gene Clark Sings for You are remarkable not only for what they are, but for what they might have been if the former Byrd had ever gotten around to finishing them.
The LP is culled from a legendary 1967 acetate and another group of songs Clark recorded to present to the Rose Garden for consideration for their first – and only – album.
The songs mostly fall somewhere between the Byrds’ folk-rock and psychedelic periods. There are exceptions, including the harmonica-driven, 12-bar blues of “Big City Girl” and the Bob Dylan-meets-George Harrison acoustic folk of “A Long Time” and “On Tenth Street.”
The majority of the tracks feature a full band and reveal for those who weren’t already aware what a huge part of the Byrds’ sound came from Clark, who died in 1991. The music could have benefitted from a new mix – the drums in particular are often overbearing, Clark hits a few bum notes and the musicians nearly get lost in a couple of spots – but fiddling with the acetates’ sound would have stripped them of their aural patina.
And while releasing these long-coveted sessions may have wiped away some of their mystique, their mass availability more than makes up for that.