The Fantastic Expedition of Dillard & Clark (1968)
"The cover really gives the wrong impression, doesn't it?"
Uh. Yeah. All "sidecar" jokes aside, I cannot speak for the physical chemistry between Dillard and Clark, but I can say this - this is a hell of an album. They may resemble a kooky TV sitcom couple (or just a regular couple), but when Doug Dillard and Gene Clark got together, the product was one of the best country albums of the sixties.
Gene Clark was the original lead singer of The Byrds (before that whole "Gram Parsons" guy), while Doug Dillard was the heart and soul of his own band, The Dillards. Clark is considered one of the most under-appreciated artists of his time - a fantastic songwriter with a great ear for a hook but a strong sense of history and affinity for classic American country music. If you haven't listened to his great solo record Echoes...well, I hadn't. So I totally understand. I'm not judging you. It's really good, though.
The opener, Out On the Side, is a great introduction to both the album and Gene Clark's songwriting. Very reminiscent of his work with The Byrds, it rolls along at an easy pace, and the vocal harmonies on the tag line are wistful and haunting at the same time. Being full of wist is a tough emotion to pull off, but it's pitch-perfect here.
Train Leaves Here This Morning is probably my favorite track. With a jug-band base line and an expert minimalist banjo part by Doug Dillard (minimalist except for the killer fifty-two second solo in the middle) , it could be the soundtrack to a sixties version of 3:10 to Yuma starring Peter Fonda that I just made up in my head. Mostly because it's about a train, and so was that movie.
This album is the perfect kind of record for this project. For music junkies like myself, there is no better feeling than exposing someone to something new, and seeing them love it. And from father to son it's even more special - every time he pulls a record out I've never heard, it feels like I'm fifteen again, and he's showing me something new. It's our common language. I may not have inherited his analytical intellect or his obsession with statistics, but with every Dillard & Clark sent my way, and every Wilco I send back to him, we grow closer.
Who knows? Maybe someday he'll even get me to like Jackson Browne.
[ mp3 ]: Dillard & Clark - Train Leaves Here This Morning
[ mp3 ]: Dillard & Clark - Out On the Side
**** Full album not available to stream. Read rave reviews and buy it HERE.