"Like all truly great bands, The Byrds were greater than the sum of their parts. While Roger McGuinn was the focal point of the band and both Chris Hillman and David Crosby went on to even greater post-Byrds commercial success, Gene Clark was the heart of the band (until his early departure after their first two albums).
While Clark had a sporadic solo career, the 22 tracks on this disc are all Byrds recordings beginning with early pre-fame demos through the band's 1973 reunion album. In addition, Clark wrote or co-wrote all but one of these tracks. [The lone exception is Neil Young's "Cowgirl in the Sand" which Clark sang on THE BYRDS reunion album.]
Of special interest is the inclusion of "She's the Kind of Girl" and "One in a Hundred." While these two songs were originally released on Clark's 1972 solo album ROADMASTER, they were actually recorded in early 1970 with all five original Byrds participating.
In January of 1991, Clark was on hand to perform with the rest of the Byrds following their induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. The following May, he was dead at the age of 46. This album is a fitting tribute to a gifted singer-songwriter. For further listening, check out Raven's 1997 equally excellent compilation AMERICAN DREAMER, which also covers Clarks solo career. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED"
Gene What Might Have Been
S. F Gulvezan | Grosse Pointe Woods, Michigan USA | 01/06/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"As McGuinn said in a recent interview, most groups had one or two people who were really first-rate at what they were doing. He went on to say that The Byrds had four people who were first-rate (and by first-rate, Roger means the best): Gene Clark, who was a first-rate song writer, Crosby, Hillman, and McGuinnn, who were, acccording to McGuinn, first-rate at harmony, bass, and lead guitar. After they lost Gene, they lost their best songwriter. This CD shows that McGuinn was right. When they lost Gene, they lost the center of their group."
Gene Clark In The Byrds - 'Set You Free: 1964 - 73' (Raven)
Mike Reed | USA | 04/09/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I give it 4 1/2 stars. Top of the line compilation of some of the Bryd's earliest material, for until now, I had no idea that Gene Clark (R.I.P.) had exited the group after their first two albums. Also features some cuts from their 1973 reunion lp. Some, many in fact would tell you that Clark was the 'heart' of the Byrds. He's been credited for being a highly talented songwriter as well as vocalist. This disc SHOULD prove that because all except one of the 22 tracks were either written or co-written by Clark. Some of the tunes I thought made this CD a keeper were their Turtles cover "You Showed Me" (actually, it's the other way around, Clark penned this tune for the Turtles), "Tomorrow Is A Long Way", "You Won't Have To Cry", the memorable counter-culture anthem (maybe?) "Eight Miles High", "If You're Gone" and "Changing Heart". Some of the best folk rock ever to be released. Comes with a 12-page full color booklet packed with liner notes and exclusive photos. Would make a nice gift for any old time Byrds fan. Would go great right next to your CD's by Buffalo Springfield, Roger McGuinn, Bob Dylan, The Youngbloods and the Flying Burrito Brothers."
As the cognomen says regarding this epochal songwriter
David Chirko | Sudbury, Ontario Canada | 11/05/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
""Set You Free: Gene Clark in the Byrds 1964-1973," by the Byrds, is a compendium like "no other" (pun intended), because Harold Eugene Clark (1944-1991), was a founding member of the legendary, Los Angeles Byrds, considered by some cognoscenti the greatest and most influential band in rock history. Clark stood at centre stage during their concerts, with hauntingly good looks and his ubiquitous tambourine. From the inception of the Byrds (originally the Jet Set, later, the Beefeaters) in 1964, to the time Gene first left the group in March, 1966, he had composed twenty-two (including eight co-written with other Byrds, et al) recorded and eventually released songs for them--more than the next two most efficacious fellow Byrds, David Crosby and Jim (Roger) McGuinn, combined. This garnered him more in royalties, making him the envy of the other Byrds. Of the total twenty-seven songs (if one includes "Get To You," which McGuinn explains in John Einarson's book "Mr. Tambourine Man The Life and Legacy of the Byrds' Gene Clark," was written by he and Clark--not Chris Hillman) he wrote from 1964-1973, while sporadically with the group, he was joined by co-writers on only nine. This all exemplifies his strength as an independent songwriter. In this handsome twenty-two song collection by "The Famous Five" are twenty-one pieces penned by Gene Clark, plus the song "Cowgirl In The Sand," which, although performed by Gene and the Byrds, was written by Neil Young and therefore does not belong on this Byrds disc of Clark composed works. There are, as well, five previously released Clark written Byrds songs from the 1964-1965 period missing: "The Only Girl I Adore" (which McGuinn publicly insists he co-wrote with Gene, not Crosby--as some sources credit); "You Movin'"; "It's No Use"; "Why Can't I Have Her Back Again?" (available on Raven's "Byrd Parts 2"); and the instrumental, "You And Me." Although, one has to admit, not all of Clark's later, solo work approaches the calibre of the masterpieces featured on this compilation, his oeuvre, unequivocally, eclipses that of any former Byrd's. All of the torch ballads and songs by Gene Clark--rock's most underrated "songwriting genius" (what rock expert Michael Fremer called him, as quoted in senior audio reviewer John Nork's article, "The Byrds Box Flying Again," in the March/April, 1991 issue of "The Absolute Sound")--on this CD are exquisitely mellifluous, with their enchanting harmonic modulations; embellished by romantic, yet simplistic, poetic lyricism. My favourites on this disc are: "Please Let Me Love You," where, particularly, Gene's voice--which was the most expressive in all of the Byrds, with the exception of David Crosby's--glows. Their passionate "Oh yeah's" (also present in the next mentioned Byrds song) were actually first uttered by the Bee Gees on their 1962 "Three Kisses Of Love" single. I also adore "I Knew I'd Want You," which contains a waltz-like quality. In it one can almost see the girl Gene emotes over, when he and his band mates bellow, "But I felt so close to you, when you said hello." Then there's "One In A Hundred," a most penetrating threnody, with words like, "Hear the bells ring, morning has come/Over the town the morning star fades in the dawn" complemented by the Byrds' trademark harmonies and McGuinn's Rickenbacker 12-string electric guitar, chiming like soft and distant church bells. Get this masterwork by the Byrds, "Set You Free: Gene Clark in the Byrds 1964-1973" into your life now, because Gene Clark's music is like--as inscribed on his epitaph--"No Other," and is, as the cognomen says regarding this epochal songwriter."
Gene Clark, true genius
Rob L. | Texas | 07/22/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I have all the respect in the world for the icon Roger McGuinn, the harmony and talent of David Crosby, the blooming greatness that was showing itself in Chris Hillman and Michael Clarke one of the truly overlooked pioneers of rock. However, Gene Clark was the genius in the early Byrds. Listening to his solo work and that with the Byrds you can easily see that here was one of the true originators of folk/rock-country/rock Americana. It is a crime that most people do not know who he is or the body of his work. He died too young."