The 1967 Elektra psych classic resurrected in definitive fashion, with several unreleased cuts and the rare Brain Train single.
Clear Light’s eponymous 1967 album is one of the jewels of Elektra Records’ vintage catalogue, a record that still resonates with a singular power. While this short-lived Los Angeles aggregate is best known for including Doors session bassist Doug Lubahn and future CSNY drummer Dallas Taylor, the sound of “Clear Light” was cut from a quirky and quite brilliant cloth that embroidered folk-rock, jazz and harmony pop with songwriting strength and a visceral, fuzz-driven rock energy.
With hints of the Springfield, Doors and especially Love within the grooves, there is the gloss of the magical California rock scene within which the group had coalesced. The unprecedented double-drum format of Clear Light makes these Paul Rothchild-supervised recordings exceptionally powerful. But equally one senses the heady air of that brief moment when the possibilities for rock and pop seemed infinite. Each track sports rich and finely-wrought textures and ideas that continue to intrigue and reward.
This reissue finally pays “Clear Light” the attention to detail it truly deserves. On a trawl of the Warner Bros tape vault in North Hollywood some years ago, I was thrilled to discover early session tapes by the band that featured several previously undocumented tunes, all of excellent quality. Examination of the master reel for the album itself revealed that one song, the driving ‘Bye Bye Boogie Man’, had been inexplicably dropped from the tracklist just prior to release.
All of these goodies have been added to the re-mastered album as extras, helping cast an exciting fresh perspective on the band. Additionally this new package contains the celebrated non-LP flipside ‘She’s Ready To Be Free’, in both the original mono and a previously unissued stereo mix. Last but not least, the group’s earlier recordings as the Brain Train are also included.
An in-depth history by Clear Light biographer Gray Newell, featuring quotes from all the band members, demonstrates how the great promise of the outfit was cruelly dashed, not least by the machinations of their producer. It is a cautionary and slightly sad tale, but the remarkable music Clear Light made endures as their true legacy – and it’s best heard on this new Big Beat edition.