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Various Artists

Full Circle: A Tribute to Gene Clark – 2000 (Not Lame)

Reviewed by Brian Baker

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By the time The Byrds called it a day, former member Gene Clark had been navigating a solo career for nearly five years. Most casual fans knew Gene Clark strictly through his Byrds affiliation, but the music community in the late '60's and early '70's knew well before any of us that Clark was a songwriter's songwriter, an amazing crafter of lyrical and musical intensity, able to work in a pop vein or a country mode or both simultaneously. Clark helped to define that style long before anyone suspected that you could jam rock and country together and make anything more than a mess. Clark's tenure with The Byrds may ultimately be characterized by his most famous composition, the stunningly timeless "Eight Miles High."

But, as Not Lame's brilliant double disc tribute proves in hyper detail, Clark was much more than one song, or one band or one style could tether. He may well stand as one of the most unheralded songwriting geniuses of the rock era. Because Full Circle is a Not Lame project, there is a gorgeous pop veneer to everything here, from The Kennedys' wonderful harmonic spin on "Here Without You" to Bill Lloyd's stellar "The World Turns All Around Her" to Andy Bopp's Myracle Brah treatment of "Eight Miles High."

But Clark's country love is not forgotten, as exemplified by Rick Clark's "Del Gato" and ex-Long Ryder Sid Griffin's "Why Not Your Baby" (Griffin also supplies liner notes to the package). If you are even marginally aware of Gene Clark's prowess and if you like a little fizzy pop with your twang, this loving portrait is an absolute necessity.