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Articles Home » 1984 Articles » Clark, Gene - 1984 Firebyrd
Clark, Gene - 1984 Firebyrd

ARTIST: Clark, Gene
ALBUM: Firebyrd
LABEL: Takoma
YEAR: 1984
CD REISSUE: 1986, Takoma, CDP-72812


LINEUP: Gene Clark - guitar, lead vocals * Greg Douglas - lead & slide guitars * Bret Bloomfield - bass * David Ossie Ahlers - keyboards, synthesizers * Andy Kandanes - drums, background vocals * Bud Shenk - flute * Herb Pederson, Chris Hillman, Thomas Jefferson Kaye - background vocals

TRACK LISTING: 01 Mr. Tambourine Man * 02 Something About You Baby * 03 Rodeo Rider * 04 Rain Song * 05 Vanessa * 06 If You Could Read My Mind * 07 I'll Feel A Whole Lot Better * 08 Made For Love * 09 Blue Raven

Gene Clark had a tough go of it in the 1980's. What seemed like a lifetime from his groundbreaking jangle pop days in The Byrds, his return to the spotlight with his former buddies in McGuinn, Clark and Hillman sparked a top forty hit in 1979 but not much else and by 1984 the music business had changed significantly and country rock a long dead genre. In an attempt to recapture some of the style's former glories, Clark formed the group Firebyrd with former Firefall bassist Mark Andes and his brother Matt on guitar. The group sneakily named after the trio's former band's, toured throughout 1983 but Mark left Firebyrd for what would become a lucrative opportunity in Heart with the remaining band going their separate ways. Blowing caution to the wind, Clark carried on and recorded this album which was released in 1984 on the tiny folk oriented Takoma label who had very limited distribution, not helped by the critical drubbing the record took from the press.

The Songs
Indeed, those hoping for something along the same lines as his soft-touch and ultimately moody as heck solo's released years earlier were severely disappointed. The tone is modern, upbeat with more rock and pop than Clark followers were willing to surrender to. Further griping from the self-appointed bumpkins of cool was Clark's choice of covers including a shot at Bob Dylan's everlasting classic `Mr. Tambourine Man' which was and still is The Byrds signature tune. Gene's version is deliberately slower but not awful and neither is the album really. Ok it's spotty perhaps, but those into `Lost in a Dream' REO Speedwagon and the later Poco and Vince Gill era Pure Prairie League albums will find `Firebyrd' a sweet surprise on catchy cuts like the mid-tempo keyboard driven `Something About You Baby' and the hokum pop rock of `Rodeo Rider'. Clark's faster-paced reworking of Gordon Lightfoot's `If You Could Read My Mind' is hauntingly beautiful and almost preferable to the original while closing out with the flute-rich and very Firefall sounding `Blue Raven' captures the essence of Gene Clark finding his musical voice in a world that no longer cared.

In Summary
The remainder of the decade found the musician struggling with drugs and alcohol which brought him to near destitution although appearances with roots-rockers The Textones and a critically praised duet album with the band's vocalist Carla Olson showed glimmers of hope, but it was downhill from there on and Clark passed away in 1991 at the far too young age of 46.

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