“One in a Hundred”: Gene Clark’s Appeal to the 1%

It’s nice to see Gene Clark getting more recognition in recent years for his role, along with Mike Nesmith, Hearts & Flowers, Byrds, Dylan (and others), in helping to forge a “country-rock” (or as Gram Parsons envisioned it, “Cosmic American”) sound.  Last year, in fact, folks on the East Coast had the chance to see Gene Clark’s 1974 cult album,      No Other, brought to life by a mini Who’s Who of modern pop (who did a splendid job,     by the way) — as reported by Pitchfork:

“The band will include Beach House’s Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally.  Lead vocal duties will be handled by Fleet Foxes’ Robin Pecknold, Grizzly Bear’s Daniel Rossen, the Walkmen’s Hamilton Leithauser, Iain Matthews of Plainsong/Fairport Convention, and Victoria Legrand.  The rest of the band features Wye Oak’s, Jenn Wasner, plus members of Lower Dens, Cass McCombs’ band, Celebration, and Mt. Royal.”

At the time of its release, however, No Other was a critical and commercial failure from which Clark would never recover.  In a particularly cold-blooded move, Asylum would delete the album from their catalog just two years after its release.  And yet, Clark considered the album (produced by Thomas Jefferson Kaye) to be his masterpiece.

Gene Clark LPAfter the euphoria of the No Other concert had subsided, a friend (Tom Avazian) suggested that I make acquaintance with Clark’s 1971 album, White Light – his first of two for A&M.  Curiously, each of these albums would include a song named “One in a Hundred” — here’s the one from White Light:

Jesse Ed Davis:  Mischief Man-in-Charge

Sid Griffin’s CD liner notes:  “Choosing Jesse Ed Davis as a producer from Leon Russell’s army of ex-pat Oklahomans then working in L.A. with Taj Mahal meant two things:  a warm and honest acoustic sound in the studio and a hell of a lot of Good Times on the side.”   But wait, there’s more — “This duo was both a wealth of musical talent, as well as a two-man Rat Pack.  In March 1971 they began recording at A&M’s own studios but dissatisfied, they quickly moved to Village Recorders, using another Taj Mahal crony, Gary Mallaber, on drums with ex-Flying Burrito Brother, Chris Ethridge, on bass.”