The Bouffant-a-delic Chris Clark
“Listen – Love’s Gone Bad MP3″
Greetings, and a happy midweek to you all.
I hope the day du humpe finds you all well, and ready to continue the moebius strip of groove that we have going here – as well in all points blogroll.
First off, a note… the guest mix that I did for the Galactic Fractures radio show has been posted on their sit. You actually get the entire show (the mix makes up the first half of the playing time), which is a groovy thing because PJ has deep crates and excellent taste, so he won’t leave you hanging. I will probably repost a file of the mix (as well as a zip) sometime in the future, probably on a Friday when the summer sun has sucked all the ambition from my typing fingers.
I first heard today’s selection earlier this year courtesy of the outstanding Office Naps blog. Danny has a good thing going over there, and I will be forever in his debt for turning me on to this record.
Now, when I say that I never heard the song before, I should mention that I did know about the singer, i.e. Miss Chris Clark, via her popularity with soulies the world over. I can’t say that I was avoiding her (as you already know I dig me some blue-eyed soul), but our paths never crossed in the world of vinyl, and as you’ll see(hear) when you get to downloading the ones and zeros, that was a tragedy.
Clark, who recorded a number of 45s for Motown and its subsidiary VIP, as well as a couple of LPs for Motown*, started out working behind the scenes in the label’s Detroit offices.
‘Love’s Gone Bad’ was released in 1966** (it was also covered by the Underdogs, also on VIP), and is simply put one of the finest records to be released by Motown, by anyone (and in 1966 you know that’s saying a lot).
The sad thing is, that as far as I can tell, she never equaled it’s intensity again. This is of course an old story in all forms of music. How many artists seemingly gave their all to a single, pure work of genius, followed more often than not by utter silence, or in Clark’s case, a couple of albums of pretty good pop soul?
I mention this at the risk of damning Chris Clark with faint praise, but once you give the song a listen you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about.
The first time I listened to ‘Love’s Gone Bad’ the end of the record was followed only by my own stunned silence, followed directly by no less than three or four repeated plays.
Written by Holland-Dozier-Holland (and produced by Holland/Dozier) ‘Love’s Gone Bad’ is a perfect storm of musical coolness, in which hard edged soul is mixed with pop flavor, including pounding drums (the repeated snare/rack tom triplet is a thing of beauty), combo organ and garagey fuzz guitar. This is all of course lashed together by Clark’s gritty vocal. While I would hesitate to call Clark a soul singer (especially in contrast to her fellow Motown-ians), she was indeed soulful, and attacks the song with a real edge in her voice that combines sexiness with agony over love lost.
The closest parallel to the overall feel of ‘Love’s Gone Bad’ is oddly enough another record on VIP by a white singer, that being ‘There’s a Ghost In My House’ by R. Dean Taylor (who also worked as a songwriter at Motown, and went on to AM radio fame for ‘Indiana Wants Me’ in 1970). Though I feel that ‘Love’s Gone Bad’ is the superior side, ‘There’s a Ghost In My House’ (huge, I say HUGE in the world of Northern Soul) is an equally propulsive dance record with a fuzzed out, rockish edge to it, and like Clark’s record should have been (and wasn’t hardly) a major hit.
Why is this?
Dunno…but it could have been a couple of things. It’s possible that audiences (across the color spectrum) weren’t receptive to white artists on a traditionally black label, but it’s just as likely they had no idea what color Clark and Taylor were (at least not at first). The second explanation – and the more likely one from where I’m sitting – is that ‘Love’s Gone Bad’ and ‘There’s a Ghost In My House’ were, like countless other great but obscure records, simply lost in the shuffle.
If you pick up any of the Complete Motown Singles sets, the first thing that hits you is how many of those records you’ve never seen before, in addition to the diversity of what Motown was issuing on their subsidiary labels (which at one time or another encompassed C&W, comedy, novelty, jazz and straight ahead, wholly unsoulful mainstream pop). It also pays to keep in mind that Motown was notoriously uneven in the attention they paid to certain artists (case in point Brenda Holloway).
Whatever the reason was for Chris Clark’s failure to make a bigger splash, it has been remedied to some extent by the popularity of ‘Love’s Gone Bad’ with new generations of soul fans, as well as reissues of her best work.
Either way, download this and let it rip at your next house party.
*her last LP ‘CC Rides Again’ was actually the only disc ever released on the Motown subsidiary Weed Records
**This recording is ripped from the 1967 stereo issue of the ‘Soul Sounds’ LP.