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Clouds - Up Above Our Heads [Clouds 1966-71] CD (album) cover

UP ABOVE OUR HEADS [CLOUDS 1966-71]

Clouds

 

Prog Related

4.14 | 13 ratings

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GruvanDahlman
4 stars From what I have gathered, my ears are facing the missing link between rock and prog, as it were. Mind you, the transition and development of rock'n'roll had been quite an impressive one. No matter where in time rock music was born (in 1948 or 1954 or whenever) the progression from basic three chord blues and/or country and folk to full blown psychedelica and early stages of hard rock was pretty impressive. The greats, like Rolling Stones, The Beatles and The Who (to name a few) had taken rock music to different heights and new territories which proved that pop and rock certainly could be just as much an art form as classical or jazz. All this laid the foundation for things to come. The melding and merging of different genres and styles eventually led to the creation of progressive rock.

Nowadays progressive rock is an array of styles and genres, and anything goes, but in the early stages of prog elements of classical and jazz seemed to be the dominator in rock, alongside folk. Maybe I'm ranting but when I listen to alot of the early bands, and certainly that's the case with Clouds, the influence of jazz and classical is very distinct.

Since there were no real prog to speak of in 1968, as in the movement we all know and love, bands had to invent it. Thus one had no ready made mould to go by. It was simply a strong desire and inclination to break out of the rock mould and expand into any other shape and form. As this review concerns Clouds I have to put forth that they, alongside other pioneers, at times do feel forced in their efforts. The experimentation with tempos and chord progressions are all very commendable but that does not mean it turns out in the best of fashions. They try too hard and the result is forced. Well, at times anyway.

There are obviously alot of talent in this band. Their first album (1968) is sort of typical for it's time. Baroque-ish pop but with aspirations. The lengthy "Waiter, there's something in my soup", for instance, hints at the desires of the band. But is it really all that great? I think it's okay, or slightly better, as far as ambitious song writing goes. The horns are quite effective in giving the track boost and there is an interesting dose of big band jazz. This is where their early prog leanings really comes to the fore. The next album (1969) is really the same album as the first but with the addition of a few tracks. The Benny Goodman number "Sing,sing,sing" is really the best of the lot, showcasing their progressive talents. Great organ, bass and drums. An amazing track.

The best of the three albums is "Watercolor days". Recorded in 1971 I do feel, though the album is a really good one, that time has passed them by. There were certainly other bands that had released progressive albums far more challenging than this one. It has an ELP-ish attitude, circa 1970, though a lot more accessible. I really feel that they fell into the backwaters of prog. If they, as I've been told, spearheaded the development of prog they had by this time become figures in the background. Competent and ambitious in their own right but no longer groundbreaking.

This compilation is really a very good one, encompassing almost their entire recorded output. All three albums, some singles and other treats gives this band a chance to glow. And it's cheap too! I got it for 10 and that's really a bargain. This is proto-prog and you may not find anything too challenging here but there's a whole lot of good things to enjoy, if you share my taste in late 60's, early 70's progressive rock. Interesting and charming. The organ is splendid too and that alone is worth the price for this wonderfully packaged compilation.

GruvanDahlman | 4/5 |

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