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Clouds - Up Above Our Heads CD (album) cover




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3.53 | 26 ratings

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Most music fans interested in Clouds know little about this album, as it was only released in the USA and Canada on the Deram label, not on Island, as were the other two Clouds albums. It is one that any fan of Clouds, or any fan of Prog, should seek out, as it contains some quite brilliant musicianship and jazzy ideas that are perhaps a further extension of what you hear on the other two albums. Whereas The Clouds Scrapbook was mainly an album of songs interspersed with invention and musicality, and Watercolour Days a wrestling match between the songs and the group, Up Above our Heads is consumed by dazzling virtuoso playing and showy pieces that display the band's range and power, but somehow at the expense of the fine song-writing we know from the other recordings.

Listening to Imagine me, the last paragraph becomes a contradiction. This is a muso Clouds piece that somehow is still a fine song, but with that dynamic organ pressing the accented tune through a roller-coaster ride of impressive drums and catchy melody with a hairs-on-the-back-of-the-neck organ and vocal ending that whacks you round the ears then belts you over the head for good measure.

Sing Sing Sing, a bow to Benny Goodman and the Big Bands era is exuberant and effective, outstanding organ and piano take centre stage, with a climactic ending that must have had concert-goers off their seats.

Take me to your Leader , with fine brass arrangement from David Palmer, may not be much of a song, but it's a jazz-syncopated outing that dances confidently on the ledge of timing, and pulls it all off with aplomb.

The Carpenter is the song taken from The Clouds Scrapbook for inclusion here. Yet another jazzy offering, with exciting organ and vocals.

Old Man , another inclusion originally from the previous album, is a Fever-like song with nice harmonica and tight rhythm .

Big Noise from Winnetka, another nod to the Big Bands, is probably included because of the very visual showpiece with Hughes playing his drumsticks on the strings of Ellis' bass guitar. Although not a totally original idea, Haggart & Budauc deserve the credit for that , this is probably the most technically difficult version, something of a tour-de-force by Hughes & Ellis. The new arrangement is well worked and neat, though the gimmick effects can by annoying and out-of-date in their humour.

In the Mine is another gem of a song, much more of a song than a band showpiece, it contains a mid-section with a building harmony structure that is nothing less than brilliant in its concept, if not exactly perfect in performance.

Waiter there's Something in my Soup , also previously included in The Clouds Scrapbook, closes the album. This marvellous piece is nothing less than a Rock drama, and, as it has been noted, is a true precursor of Progressive Rock.

The album in general suffers somewhat from the infusion of musical expression in favour of a diluted injection of songs and melodic content, but it is still a piece of the fascinating and incomplete jigsaw that defines Clouds contribution to music. 4 stars.

resurrection | 4/5 |


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