Dillard & Clark - The Fantastic Expedition Of Dillard & Clark (1968)

Dillard & Clark were a pioneering country-rock group based around singer-songwriter Gene Clark and banjo virtuoso Doug Dillard, along with a shifting lineup of other well-known musicians.

Gene Clark had originally been a member of the folk-rock pioneers The Byrds. He had left them due to a fear of flying, and released a solo album entitled Gene Clark With The Gosdin Brothers. This album had featured an appearance from banjo player Doug Dillard, who had previously been with bluegrass group The Dillards. The two of them got on well, and decided to record together some more. Though generally referred to as a duo, the reality is that The Dillard & Clark Expedition was a full band fronted by Clark, though its membership was never exactly concrete throughout its short tenure.
The first album is often considered an important early example of country-rock - in line with what the Byrds were doing at the same time with Sweetheart Of The Rodeo. The Expedition fused folk, country, rock and bluegrass, and played almost exclusively in an acoustic context. Clark sang lead and played acoustic guitar and harmonica, and Dillard played banjo, fiddle and guitar. The rest of the group was made up of Bernie Leadon (lead guitar, bass, banjo and vocals), David Jackson (bass) and Don Beck (mandolin and dobro). The songs were originals written by Clark, Dillard and Leadon together, along with a bluegrass cover. The album was definately much more country than rock, mosty performed in an acoustic bluegrass-style format, the notable exception being the opening tune "Out On The Side" (which featured drums, organ and a bit of electric guitar). It also featured guest appearances from Clark's old Byrds bandmate Chris Hillman (on mandolin), fiddler Byron Berline and Andy Belling on harpsichord.
The album proved to be a hit with the critics, but unfortunately missed the charts completely (a fate that would shadow most of Clark's post-Byrds adventures).
After its release, they were joined by drummer Michael Clarke (another old bandmate of Clark's) to help with live performances. Around this time Don Beck also dropped out. This lineup recorded one non-album single, "Lyin' Down The Middle", which had more of an electric rock sound, and was a country radio hit in California. It's b-side was a cover of Elvis Presley's "Don't Be Cruel".
Clarke then left to join the Flying Burrito Brothers, and was replaced by John Corneal (who had been one of the session drummers on the first Burritos album). Dillard's girlfriend Donna Washburn also joined as harmony vocalist, and this lineup released another single, "Why Not Your Baby", which was again a bit different in its use of strings.
This version of the album includes both singles as bonus tracks, including "Don't Be Cruel".

|> Through The Morning, Through The Night (1969)



Elliot Knapp said...

Great album, love the bonus track "Why Not Your Baby" too--hard to believe that one didn't succeed as a single. Just wrote about this one too on my music blog. Have a good one!

Doug said...

Gotta agree ... this is one great album.Thanks.