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What might have been,
This review is from: Up Above Our Heads (Clouds 66-71) (Audio CD)
Many years ago, in mid 70s, I bought an Island sampler album (I don't remember the title, I lent it to a ¿friend? and never returned it). In that album there was a song called 'The Carpenter', by an unknown band called Clouds. I remember them because they sounded like The Nice, they were an organ leaded power trio, but with more raw sound and power. I never could get any Clouds album, in Spain or in some trip to London or Paris. With the renaissance of prog rock in the last times, Beat Goes On Records have released a 2 CD compilation, collecting all the music The Clouds recorded in those five years 66-71: the two UK official albums (Scrapbook and Watercolour Days) and the USA album (Up Above our heads). And many more songs from singles or rare archive items hidden in the vaults (i.e., Paul Simon's 'America', many years before Yes covered it).
The liner notes are complete and tell a sad story, about a band that was in the wrong place (Chrysalis), with the wrong manager (Terry Ellis) and in the wrong time (because of the emergence of certain band fronted by one-legged flute player that monopolized the manager's efforts).
But the music speaks for itself, and only 'Watercolour Days' keep a reasonable balance between power and musicality. The other albums are plenty of ups and downs. The drummer (Harry Hughes) was fantastic, and Billy Ritchie played organ with talent and energy. Sadly, Billy or Ian Ellis voices were not as good as their skills on their instruments and the songs sometimes were long and boring improvisations. These two albums were lacking in cohesion but you could find somehow good tracks in them.
Don't try to listen the two CDs in a row. It's better to take the first album (Scrapbook), and spin it two or three times. And the same with the rest (as if you were listening the LPs, not the CDs). Then you will be able to appreciate the sound of this band, rough and ready but quite interesting.
There were many bands that followed the path open by The Clouds, as The Nice, EL&P or Atomic Rooster, to quote just a few ones.
This pack, IMHO, is not a must-have, nor a masterpiece, but bring us back from the vaults an interesting band to re-discover in modern times.