Band members Related acts
Line up 1 (1968)
- Buzz Clifford (aka Reese Francis Clifford) -- vocals, guitar
- Steven Bruton -- guitar
- Joseph Burnett -- keyboards
- Mike clough -- percussion
- Glenn Crocker -- organ
- Jack Dalton -- concertina
- David Doud -- guitar, bass
- Micahel Doud -- bass
- Robbie Edwards -- guitar
- Clark Garmon -- guitar
- Dave Jackson -- bass
- Jim Keltner -- drums
- Bernie Leadon -- dobro
- Ed Livey -- recorder
- Dan Mani -- keyboards, organ
- David Marks -- guitar
- Dan Moore -- guitar, keyboards
- Matt Moore -- keyboards
- Gary Montgomery -- keyboards
- Kay Montgomery -- pipe organ
- David Potter -- drums
- Carl Radle -- bass
- Carp (Buzz Clifford)
- Hamilton Streetcar (Buzz Clifford)
Rating: 3 stars ***
Title: See Your Way Clear
Country/State: Berwyn, Illinois
Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+
Comments: small cut out hole bottom left corner
Catalog ID: 6184
I stumbled across singer/guitarist Buzz Clifford as a result of his work with the short-lived Hamilton Streetcar and a connection he had with the bands Colours and Moon (two personal favorites - check out my entries on both bands). While I admittedly didn't put a great deal of effort into the process and it isn't particularly rare (or expensive), it took me three years to actually score a copy of Clifford's post-Streetcar solo LP.
Clifford's recording career stretches back to the late 1950s when as a 15 year old he was signed by the King Records affiliated Bow label, releasing a pair of instantly obscure singles:
- 1958's '14 Karet Fool' b/w 'Gosh Golly Oh Gee' (Bow catalog number 308)
- 1958's 'Piddle (The Car with One Light)' b/w 'For Always' (Bow catalog number 308)
Spotted by Mitch Miller, he was signed to Columbia Records where he released a string of singles, scoring a major pop, R&B, and country hit with 1961's goofy 'Baby Sittin' Boogie' which of course led to a supporting album "Baby Sittin with Buzz Clifford". It also saw Columbia trying to figure out how to market Clifford who'd recorded everything from pop to rockabilly. A sign of the times, the label eventually decided to position him as a clean-cut Pat Boone-styled crooner (check out the change in image shown on the picture sleeves). Columbia spent considerable energy marketing Clifford, including tours and television appearences, but the follow-on hits didn't happen.
- 1960's 'Blue Lagoon' b/w 'Hello, Mr. Moonlight' (Columbia catalog number 4-41774)
- 1961's 'Baby Sittin' Boogie and Driftwood. (Columbia catalog number 4-41876)v# 6 pop, # 27 R&B, # 28 country
- 1961's 'Three Little Fish' b/w 'Simply Because' (Columbia catalog number 4-41979) # 102 pop
- 1961's I'll Never Forget' b/w 'The Awakening' (Columbia catalog number 4-42019)
- 1962' 'Magic Circle' b/w 'Forever' (Columbia catalog number 4-42280)
Within a year Clifford found himself dropped by Columbia. An aptly titled one-shot deal with Roulette failed to revive his career.
1962's 'More Dead Than Alive' b/w 'No One Loves Me Like You Do' (Roulette catalog number 4451)
Frustrated with music, Clifford joined the National Guard. When his enlistment was up in 1964 he relocated to Los Angeles where he was hired by Hastings Music as a songwriting, placing material with the likes of Keith Barbour ('Echo Park') Petula Clark, Kris Kristofferson, and Leon Russell.
So jump ahead to 1968 when he was brought into the band Hamilton Streetcar as a replacement for guitarist Michael Georgiades. The Streetcar managed to record one interesting pop-psych LP before calling it quits at which time Clifford decided to resurrect his solo career. On the strength of his Streetcar credentials and his songwriting successes (notably Keith Babour's 1969 hit with 'Echo Park'), he was signed as a solo act by Dot (which had coincidently been Hamilton Streetcar's label),. The resulting album 1969's "See Your Way Clear" was produced by former Challengers drummer Richard Delvy who had also produced the Hamilton Streetcar album. The collection teamed Clifford with an extensive collection of friends, including members of Colours (Jack Dalton, Robbie Edwards, and Gary Montgomery), The East Street Kids (David Doud, Mark Doud and David Potter), and Moon members David Jackson and David Marks. With Clifford responsible for penning nine of the eleven tracks, musically the album was quite diverse including stabs at Delaney and Bonnie-styled blue-eyed soul ('Procter & Gunther'), country-rock ('Hollywood Joe'). pop ('(Baby I Could Be) So Good At Loving You'), and conventional rock (a toughened-up cover of Hamilton Streetcar's 'I See I Am'). As a singer Clifford didn't have the most dynamic voice you've ever heard, but his voice was versatile and made the most of his chops.
Way Clear" track listing:
1.) Procter & Gunther (Buzz Clifford) - 2:10 rating: *** stars
Geez, how best to describe 'Procter & Gunther' ? Um, to my ears this one sounded like something out of Delaney and Bonnie's collaboration with Eric Clapton (think along the lines of "Delaney & Bonnie On Tour with Eric Clapton". A gospel-tinged blue-eyed soul number, the song shared the same raw, bluesy vocal style Delaney brought to the table. The comparison was underscored by the Clapton-styled slide guitar. If you liked that genre, then this was a great song. Otherwise ... not so much. Dot tapped it as an instantly obscure single:
1969's 'Proctor & Gunther' b/w 'I Am the River' (Dot catalog number 45-17344)
2.) I Am the River (Buzz Clifford) - 2:45 rating: *** stars
'I Am the River' was a pretty, slightly acid-tinged ballad that would have been even better without the heavy orchestration. Anyone know what the weird sound effect was ?
3.) Hollywood Joe (Daniel Moore) - 3:12 rating: *** stars
An early stab at country-rock, 'Hollywood Joe' again recalled something out of the Delaney and Bonnie catalog. The song actually picked up considerable speed as it went along and served as a nice platform for one of the album's best guitar solos.
4.) Ocean Liner (Buzz Clifford) - 2:37 rating: *** stars
Every time I hear 'Ocean Liner' I reminded of a Young Rascals song. Like the best of Felix Cavaliere and company, this one had a distinctive blue-eyed soul feel and a nice pop-rock melody. It also sported another fantastic guitar solo - anyone know what the effect was ?
5.) Hawg Frog (Buzz Clifford) - 4:00 rating: **** stars
'Hawg Frog' (love the title) found Clifford beating Joe South at his own game. Want to hear a real swamp rocker that embeds a truly funky beat ? Well here's the song you need to hear. The song also featured a great freak-out organ solo. My pick for standout performance on the album. As someone on YouTube said - "hidden greatness".
6.) Angeline (Buzz Clifford) - 1:35 rating: *** stars
'Angeline' was a breezy acoustic pop number that bore more than a passing resemblance to something out of Nilsson's mid-1960s catalog,
Side two opened up with one of two non-originals - a cover of Ricky Sheldon's 'We'll All Get By'. I'm not a big country fan so this one had limited appeal to me. The song did sport an interesting guitar riff and Clifford's snarling vocal (a countrified Elvis sneer) was kind of cool.
2.) Children Are Crying Aloud (Buzz Clifford) - 3:03 rating: *** stars
A couple of years ago I put this album on CD and one day I was driving a friend somewhere when 'Children Are Crying Aloud' came on. My friend had no idea who was on the CD but mentioned something to the effect he'd never heard this Crowded House song. Thing is he was right on target. A pretty, heavily orchestrated ballad, the song does bare an uncanny resemblance to a Tim Finn song.
3.) Echo Park (Buzz Clifford) - 3:29 rating: ** stars
Keith Barbour enjoyed a top-40 hit with his cover of 'Echo Park'. I can't say I ever liked it all that much - overly sentimental and emotive. Clifford's version of his own song was marginally better ... The country-soul acoustic guitar helped a but.
4.) (Baby I Could Be) So Good At Loving You (Buzz Clifford) - 2:45 rating: *** stars
Quite unlike anything on the rest of the album, '(Baby I Could Be) So Good At Loving You' almost sounded like a raw demo recorded to showcase Clifford's knack for penning catchy pop melodies. It actually had more of a 1966 feel than 1969, but was quite enjoyable and would have made a nice am radio single.
5.) I See I Am (Buzz Clifford) - 8:18 rating: **** stars
Clifford's 'I See I Am' had previously been released on the Hamilton Streetcar album. Here it was given an extended, eight plus minute running time and considerably toughened-up arrangement. The instrumentation was occasionally a bit fussy, but the overall results were quite impressive, showing that Clifford could easily handle tougher rock arrangements. Great bass line on this one, though for some reason it always reminds me of Carole King's 'Tapestry'. One of the best songs in the album.
Well worth looking for, as is the Hamilton Streetcar album !!!
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