“Only Colombe”: No Longer Unreleased

I stumbled upon a Gene Clark “never released” 45 that had finally been issued in 2008 — 40 years after its original recording date — by those fine folks at Sundazed.

Artist:  Gene Clark
Producer:  Gary Usher
A-Side:  “Only Colombe”
B-Side:  “The French Girl”
Recorded:  April 24, 1967
Released:  May 27, 2008

This item appeared in the 45Cat database, interestingly enough, when I used the search term, “Boettcher.”   As it turns out, Curt Boettcher would appear on this recording as a guest vocalist.  Gary Usher, in fact, would use Boettcher’s backing band, The Ballroom, for support, as well as vocal assistance from future Together recording label artists, Michele O’Malley and Sandy Salisbury.

Sundazed’s Scott Schinder tells how this came to be:

“[Gene Clark’s] reticence to tour outside California, combined with the fact that [his debut LP] was released virtually simultaneously with The Byrds’ Younger Than Yesterday all but guaranteed that Clark’s solo debut would fail to find a wide audience.

“That April (1967), in the wake of the album’s disappointing reception, Clark cut a pair of new tracks – the brooding original composition “Only Colombe” and a haunting reading of Ian and Sylvia’s “The French Girl” for release as a prospective single …

“‘Only Colombe’ and ‘The French Girl’ would go unheard by Clark’s admirers until 1991, [with Sony CD, Echoes] the same year that the artist died at the age of 46.  This release marks the first time that these historic tracks have been issued in their original mono mixes.”

Gene Clark 45

“Sister Marie”: Not Meant for LP

Sister Marie” – a great song that slipped between the cracks – found belated release as a bonus instrumental on the CD release of Sagittarius’s Present Tense (1968 Columbia LP, originally).  According to the liner notes:  “Gary Usher recorded this backing track with Sagitarrius in mind but decided to give it to Chad & Jeremy instead.”  Chad & Jeremy’s version of “Sister Marie,” meanwhile, was released as a non-LP single (that didn’t chart), while Nilsson’s version would end up a mere B-side.  I agree with the 45Cat contributor who declares “Sister Marie” to be “one of the great lost Nilsson recordings”:

“Sister Marie” by Harry Nilsson — February, 1968

In a fascinating bit of coincidence, Nilsson would release his B-side in February of 1968 at the same time Columbia would issue for the German market an A-side also entitled, “Sister Marie,” by the artist, Marquis of Kensington.  Not the same tune, as you can hear:

“Sister Marie” by Marquis of Kensington — February, 1968

[streaming audio no longer available – holding out hope]

Says Chad Stuart on the Chad & Jeremy website:

“‘Sister Marie’ was our last single and if it does anything at all, it clearly illustrates the production expertise which comes from a lot of hours in the studio.  Curt Boettcher’s higher-than- high voice is evident on this track, as is the technical wizardry of Keith Olsen.  Jeremy hated all that “ear candy” as it later came to be called, and in retrospect, I can understand how a Moody Blues sort of bloke like I was then would not get along too well with a J. J. Cale kinda guy like Jeremy aspired to be!”