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Rock - Released November 8, 2019 | 4AD

Hi-Res Distinctions Best New Reissue
Though wildly misunderstood when first released (like most art that’s ahead of its time), Gene Clark's third solo album—his most focused and intricately-produced shot at musical immortality—is now revered as something of a lost masterpiece. Expectations were high for the former Byrd, who had signed a solo deal after he’d been the bright spot in the band’s abortive 1973 reunion. Clark seemed poised to write and record a blockbuster that could power his solo career; the studio was filled with choice players like Allman Brothers drummer Butch Trucks, percussionist Joe Lala, ex-Byrd Chris Hillman on mandolin, Steve Bruton, Jesse Ed Davis, Danny Kortchmar on guitars and Claudia Lennear on vocals. Instead, No Other busted its recording budget, disappointed its label and perplexed fans—an expensive commercial flop that hung over Clark’s career until his death at 46 in 1991. Remastered with a brighter, more multidimensional sound for its 45th anniversary reissue, the original eight tracks are supplemented by twenty extra takes from sessions that show the songs’ evolutions, including a slow, loopy version of Clark's earlier hit, "Train Leaves Here This Morning," co-written by Bernie Leadon and later recorded by The Eagles. Producer Thomas Jefferson Kaye (aka Tommy Kontos) grew close to Clark during the sessions and came to share his vision for the project. Their collaboration proved to be the doubled-edged sword at the heart of No Other, one that fashioned a mystical, multi-layered, intricately-arranged singer/songwriter album with forward looking psychedelic and R&B touches. The strongest tracks, the menacing synth-backed folk of "The Silver Raven" (written about his wife's shoes), the fragile melody of the seemingly anti-drug themed "From A Silver Phial" (which speaks of "a mind that sleeps inside tomorrow,") and the glorious title track, with its sinuous changes and low keyboard line doubling the vocal choruses, are among the best of Clark's short career. And his singing throughout is extremely moving. He clearly believed in this project. And yet the overdubbed production confounded many. Slow ballads and mid-tempo songs predominate, and as Chris Hillman points out in the liner notes, Clark refused to tour, do interviews or participate in any promotional efforts, essentially dooming an ambitious project to failure. Original label Asylum refused to employ any marketing muscle and the album was deleted from the label's catalog within two years. Genius or a colossal miscalculation? This confounding prism continues to turn. © Robert Baird / Qobuz
CD$20.99

Rock - Released November 8, 2019 | 4AD

Though wildly misunderstood when first released (like most art that’s ahead of its time), Gene Clark's third solo album—his most focused and intricately-produced shot at musical immortality—is now revered as something of a lost masterpiece. Expectations were high for the former Byrd, who had signed a solo deal after he’d been the bright spot in the band’s abortive 1973 reunion. Clark seemed poised to write and record a blockbuster that could power his solo career; the studio was filled with choice players like Allman Brothers drummer Butch Trucks, percussionist Joe Lala, ex-Byrd Chris Hillman on mandolin, Steve Bruton, Jesse Ed Davis, Danny Kortchmar on guitars and Claudia Lennear on vocals. Instead, No Other busted its recording budget, disappointed its label and perplexed fans—an expensive commercial flop that hung over Clark’s career until his death at 46 in 1991. Remastered with a brighter, more multidimensional sound for its 45th anniversary reissue, the original eight tracks are supplemented by twenty extra takes from sessions that show the songs’ evolutions, including a slow, loopy version of Clark's earlier hit, "Train Leaves Here This Morning," co-written by Bernie Leadon and later recorded by The Eagles. Producer Thomas Jefferson Kaye (aka Tommy Kontos) grew close to Clark during the sessions and came to share his vision for the project. Their collaboration proved to be the doubled-edged sword at the heart of No Other, one that fashioned a mystical, multi-layered, intricately-arranged singer/songwriter album with forward looking psychedelic and R&B touches. The strongest tracks, the menacing synth-backed folk of "The Silver Raven" (written about his wife's shoes), the fragile melody of the seemingly anti-drug themed "From A Silver Phial" (which speaks of "a mind that sleeps inside tomorrow,") and the glorious title track, with its sinuous changes and low keyboard line doubling the vocal choruses, are among the best of Clark's short career. And his singing throughout is extremely moving. He clearly believed in this project. And yet the overdubbed production confounded many. Slow ballads and mid-tempo songs predominate, and as Chris Hillman points out in the liner notes, Clark refused to tour, do interviews or participate in any promotional efforts, essentially dooming an ambitious project to failure. Original label Asylum refused to employ any marketing muscle and the album was deleted from the label's catalog within two years. Genius or a colossal miscalculation? This confounding prism continues to turn. © Robert Baird / Qobuz
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Electronic/Dance - Released May 28, 2012 | 4AD

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Alternative & Indie - Released February 13, 2006 | 4AD

Even if it had been available only in a steel box stuffed with thousands of Styrofoam peanuts, Lullabies to Violaine would be a welcomed and indispensable part of Cocteau Twins' discography. In just about every way imaginable, the compilation outdoes the title-less ten-disc singles box released by 4AD in the early '90s. It certainly looks and feels different: the sturdy flip-top box of old housed the singles in individual jewel cases, while this set squishes most of the old contents, and then some, into four discs that are wrapped in a foldout package that seems to be made of an exotic wintertime plant, which is then encased in a rice-paper-like sheath. You'd be wise not to handle the thing more than a couple times. In fact, just to be cautious, you probably shouldn't stare at it too long. Completists might be miffed to discover that it is missing a few things that the old box did contain, such as the 12" mixes of "Peppermint Pig" and "Pearly Dewdrops' Drops," and the four tracks that appeared on a bonus disc. Robin Guthrie also substituted a couple alternate mixes, but as he argued on his weblog, it's not a big deal: "It's a singles and EPs record, all the singles are there, where is the f*cking problem?" (Well, here's one problem: "Millimillenary," a gorgeous track left to languish on the out-of-print The Pink Opaque, shouldn't have been excluded.) The old box covered the 4AD years and therefore held the singles through Heaven or Las Vegas. This one covers the same ground on the first two discs; discs three and four cover the remaining A-sides, B-sides, and EP tracks through Milk & Kisses (secretly the band's third or fourth best album). Since the Cocteaus typically put the same amount of energy into their singles and EPs as their albums, Lullabies to Violaine features a prolific sum of prime material. The sheer breadth of content is a major factor, but the set is, by a wide margin, the best way to hear how this band consistently developed and constantly switched tacks, from punishing and stark, to elegant and dense, and many places between. It also doesn't hurt that the sound is pristine, improving upon whatever murkiness was audible in the initial round of CD issues. You might call all of the content amorphous goop, but the Cocteaus covered a wide range of emotions with a large set of colors, no matter how blurred they were at times. In fact, "The Spangle Maker," with its tidal structure and mixture of dread and bliss, indicates this in less than five minutes. There are 59 tracks in all, and they're not all overflowing with dreamy exotic genius, but they do form the equivalent of six good-to-tremendous stand-alone albums. For the fans who didn't go any deeper than the studio albums, this will be almost exactly like falling in love with the band for the first time. [4AD also split this into two separate volumes.] © Andy Kellman /TiVo

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