How I’d create a Deluxe Edition of Roadmaster

 Roadmaster    2-CD DELUXE EDITION*

*An unofficial fantasy release

Above: Cover design contributed
by Court Hansen from Trapped in the Crates
BACKGROUND: 
Problem-ridden, misunderstood, stateless, shuttled from one guardian to another, Roadmaster is the unwanted foreign-born stepchild of Gene Clark’s catalogue. 

The album was originally conceived as a Terry Melcher-produced work, but health problems, ongoing paranoia about the Manson Family, and substance abuse issues forced him to pass off production duties to his 26-year-old assistant, Chris Hinshaw. Hinshaw, up until then a capable engineer with an impressive resume (that includes Sly & the Family Stone’s There’s a Riot Goin’ On and Taj Mahal’s Giant Step/De Ole Folks at Home) had also recently worked with Melcher on two Byrds albums, Untitled and Byrdmaniax. (Note: For more information on the original 1972 Roadmaster sessions, see Roadmaster: The Hinshaw Mix FAQ ).

With Hinshaw now at the helm, Gene’s work began afresh, with support from a dream team of L.A. country-rock session players: Clarence White (guitar); “Sneaky” Pete Kleinow (pedal steel); Chris Ethridge (bass) and Byron Berline (fiddle), plus Gene’s closest Byrds buddy, Michael Clarke (drums). Eight songs were completed before the project took a fatal blow when, in Gene’s absence, Hinshaw made a huge unforced error. After Sly Stone and others descended upon the studio for purposes of staging an extended lavish party, vast costs were charged to Gene’s account. A&M soon pulled the plug on Roadmaster before it could be finished. It appears that although Gene was not responsible for the breakdown, he was held responsible. 

Enter former Byrds manager Jim Dickson—who had unsuccessfully attempted to kickstart Gene’s solo career two years before with a planned 45 involving all five original Byrds—who saw an opportunity to salvage both projects, Roadmaster and the 1970 single. And then, augmented by what most fans (incorrectly) assumed to have been a single stray track cut with the Flying Burrito Brothers in 1970—Dickson created the 11-track Roadmaster we’ve come to know and love.

But if Roadmaster’s conception was akin to a dark Victorian novel—rife with sordid affairs centred around an abused, unwanted stepchild—its birth would add a few chapters of its own. 
Whereas A&M had seen fit to release Gene’s most recent album, 1971’s White Light, on three continents—North America (US), Europe (UK) and Australia—Roadmaster’s birth was a comparatively quieter, more sequestered affair. Like some Victorian maiden sent away under mysterious circumstances to give birth to her illegitimate child in a foreign land, Roadmaster was relegated to a rather muted, humble release facilitated through Ariola Records, a subsidiary of A&M’s Dutch operation. 

Its next noteworthy release came in 1986 via Edsel, a UK label—which is how I first acquired it as an import, sitting forlornly in the “Reduced Imports” dump bin, marked down to a mere $8.00. Astonishingly, although recorded in America, by American musicians, and bearing the name of an artist born and bred in Missouri, Gene Clark’s third solo album did not earn a release on an American label until Sundazed reintroduced it in 2011. 

So to recap, the original Roadmaster LP was cobbled together from three discrete sources:

  • Eight completed songs from the aborted 1972 sessions, the production duties for which were initially undertaken by Terry Melcher, and then handed off to his assistant Chris Hinshaw;
  • Sessions for a projected solo single, produced by Jim Dickson, with contributions from Roger McGuinn, David Crosby, Chris Hillman and Michael Clarke, and an uncredited Bernie Leadon;
  • A 1970 session with The Flying Burrito Brothers.

Despite its complicated pedigree, Roadmaster holds up remarkably well as an album. In spite of everything, it maintains its own unique flow, establishes its own personality, and ultimately, makes its own album-like statement. Its birth may not have been planned, but Gene’s fans have, over time, come to accept it as a bona fide, cohesive album; a worthy followup to White Light.

The Deluxe Edition that was never made

It’s astonishing to me that a “Deluxe Edition” of Roadmaster failed to materialize during the DE’s mid-to-late-2000s reign—you know, when seemingly anyone who ever made an album got the DE treatment. I think Roadmaster was as worthy as some I’ve seen. Because of its built-in duality—it exists as both a patchwork creation and standalone album—I think it’s an ideal candidate for augmentation. A DE could help flesh out its complicated history, provide aural colour and detail, answering any lingering questions (the Hinshaw mixes, the full story of Gene and the Burritos, etc).

Personally speaking, ever since the release of Flying High in 1998 (with those unexpected alt mixes of “She’s the Kind of Girl”/“One in a Hundred”) I’ve been creating my own Extended/Bonus Tracks-editions of the album, and updating whenever new tracks came to light. I remember when I learned of the existence of the much-vaunted Hinshaw mix, it opened up the possibility for a 2-CD set, if only in my own mind. 

So that’s what I’m sharing here today. What you see below is my own version of the Roadmaster Deluxe Edition, with notations about sources, although out of respect for the Estate and others, I will not share links to any downloads of the unreleased material. 

So record companies, listen up, this is what you should do. 
Oh, and 🤙?

Above: A list of ingredients to bake 
your own Roadmaster DE.

CD1 Roadmaster (Tracks 1-11 Original LP, released 1973)

1. She’s the Kind of Girl
2. One in a Hundred
3. Here Tonight
4. Full Circle Tonight
5. In a Misty Morning
6. Rough and Rocky
7. Roadmaster
8. I Really Don’t Want to Know
9. I Remember the Railroad
10. She Don’t Care About Time
11. Shooting Star
Bonus tracks (Green type indicates officially released track)
12. She’s the Kind of Girl (acoustic demo) The Lost Studio Sessions Bonus Acoustic CD EP
13. One in a Hundred (acoustic demo) The Lost Studio Sessions Bonus Acoustic CD EP
14. She’s the Kind of Girl (early run-through, Take 14) Roadmaster, Japanese SHM-CD UICY-75898
15. One in a Hundred (early run-through) Roadmaster, Japanese SHM-CD UICY-75898
16. She Darked the Sun (1970 recording with The Flying Burrito Brothers) The Lost Studio Sessions 1964-1982

Total time: 55:00

The Alternate Roadmaster

CD2

1. She’s the Kind of Girl (Produced by Jim Dickson, alt mix) Flying High
2. One in a Hundred (Produced by Jim Dickson, alt mixFlying High
3. Here Tonight (acoustic demo) Here Tonight: The White Light Demos
The Chris Hinshaw Mixes
4. Full Circle Song American Dreamer: 1964-1974
5. In a Misty Morning (Sierra Records 2017 Sampler 
6. Rough and Rocky unreleased
7. Roadmaster unreleased
8. I Really Don’t Want to Know  unreleased
9. I Remember the Railroad unreleased 
10. She Don’t Care About Time unreleased
11. Falling Star (Shooting Star) unreleased
Produced by Terry Melcher
12. Roll in My Sweet Baby’s Arms The Lost Studio Sessions 1964-1982
13. She Don’t Care About Time  The Lost Studio Sessions 1964-1982
14. Don’t That Road Look Rough and Rocky The Lost Studio Sessions 1964-1982
16. In a Misty Morning (Impromptu studio demo) unreleased (Producer unknown)

Total time: 59:00


Comments

FiveGunsWest said…
I ruminated over this for hours last night and I'm still unsettled in my mind about what I think about it all. First of all, I bought my first Byrds album in 1965/66 so I've known who Gene Clark is since Mr. Tambourine Man. What I somehow neglected to realize until I did two interviews with Barry McGuire a few years ago for the LA Free Press (both available on my blog) is that Gene was in the New Christie Minstrels, with Barry. My parents bought me all their records. How did I miss the connection.

I bought the Gene Clark - White Light album through Columbia Record Club 13 albums for a dollar. It's still on my Ipod these days and I listen to it or parts of it at least once a week. It's a damned stellar record filled with nuance, emotions, stories, and values we all once held.

I have Gene's other albums and Road Master has always eluded me. Now I can see why. My quandary, since White Light sets such a high bar, is how to move on from White Light and appreciate something like Road Master. Do I re-fan from the beginning? This is still very much on my mind as I read and re-read the article as I do all of your writing.

Thanks.
Tom Sandford said…
Thank you for your considered comment. I appreciate your taking the time to write it, and express yourself in such a thoughtful way. I think if Roadmaster hasn’t resonated with you in the same way as White Light, then there’s really no need to force it. It may not ever hit you in the same way. However, my own *struggles* with it may be of some help.
If you’ve read my blog, then you know that my acquisition of Roadmaster in 1987 from Records-On-Wheels in London, Ontario, looms large in my personal mythology. But the truth is, after I purchased it, the only tracks I liked were the first four. The rest seemed relentlessly dreary. And as I grew to love Gene’s writing, the more I resented the placement of three covers in a row (Rough & Rocky, Roadmaster, I Really Don’t Want to Know). To me, that seemed like an affront to Gene’s songwriting ability.
Over time, I grew to adore Rough & Rocky (it’s now my favourite cover performance by Gene), but I tolerate the other two; they have never really grown on me. But it’s still Gene, still Clarence doing some nice picking, still Michael doing his loveable “horses clomping” drumming, as Crosby called it. So in the end, it’s the choice of material that put me off those two, not the performances. Any chance to hear Gene’s voice at its absolute peak is a gift, IMO.
I don’t know what happened to open my eyes for the remainder of side 2.. I do have a memory of putting “I Remember the Railroad” on a mix tape, and being stunned by the transition from the previous song to it, because the contrast was so dramatic. IRtR comes at you from the get-go, there’s no long intro. It made me appreciate the song on a standalone basis, as opposed to thinking of it as “the short one on side 2.”
Elsewhere, I did not think much of “Shooting Star”—until, that is, I sat down one day and read the lyrics, really took them in, what Gene was saying. The hugeness of the ending—the rising swell of the guitars, Sneaky Pete’s excursions into the cosmos—struck me as prelude to what would come on No Other, and it all suddenly made sense: a rebirth. I realize I’m not the first person to make the connection between “Shooting Star” and No Other, but it was a personal revelation at the time.

But again, thanks for the comment.
FiveGunsWest said…
I'm still ruminatin'. I ain't done yet. Just wanted to acknowledge your comment as I congitate some more. I think White Light is just a damned genius album that no one could touch. Look what was out there at the time....the anemic kick me in the balls flatulacents of 'You've Got A Friend" and all that mind rot. Made me an Amboy Dukes fan. Took years to shake that malady.

Had I heard Road Master first. I would think differently. I pursue this as I don't want a mind like a steel trap, snapped shut. I want to free the mind and hear without expectation but it's easier said than done. I'll have to listen to everything else, even the New Christie Minstrels, and regain my total fandom, I guess. I don't generally spend my time wrestling with my records....or have a good mind to run it by. Thanks immensely. I'll be back.
Paul said…
I really enjoy your blog. With GeneClark.com, and most Byrds sites, shut down, your blog seems to be almost the only Byrds related site still going. Is there any other good source of Byrds/Gene Clark info out there?

I love Roadmaster. I probably prefer it to White Light because of the virtuoso musicianship (although there's nothing on it as good as "Spanish Guitar"). And it's my favorite Flying Burrito Brothers album!

Tom Sandford said…
Hi Paul,
Thank you very much!
Yes, sadly, GeneClark.com is gone, but I give my highest possible recommendation to @neon_brambles’ wonderful Gene Clark site, https://www.gene-clark.com/
Tom/Clarkophile
Jim said…
Regarding "Here Tonight," would you mind elaborating on your statement, "what most fans (incorrectly) assumed to have been a single stray track cut with the Flying Burrito Brothers in 1970"? Was there more to it than just some guys messing around in the studio? For the times,the song might have worked as a single. I read somewhere that there was never any talk about asking Gene to join the FBB,which makes sense because Chris had already worked with him twice in the Byrds and probably didn't want him in his band. But there was effort put into the recording,which makes me think there was something planned for it. Did Gene and the FBB collaborate on anything else during that period?

The Clarkophile said…
Hi Jim,
All I was saying there is that for decades, “Here Tonight” has always been thought of as a one-off collaboration between Gene & the FBB.
The release of The Lost Studio Sessions 1964-1982, however, blew apart that understanding, because it contained a hitherto unknown recording of She Darked the Sun by Gene & the Burritos, both of which were recorded in 1970.
Jim said…
I see. Thanks, Tom.