Clouds - Watercolour Days CD (album) cover




Prog Related

3.85 | 18 ratings

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4 stars A brave attempt to marry the opposing elements in the previous two records; pop adventurism with the needs of virtuoso musicianship. The constant battle between these two forms within the band makes interesting listening, at times one winning, the song emerging or the band imposing its identity, but always an uneasy marriage.

The tragic consequences are plain to hear. 1-2-3's originality was born of rewriting other people's songs, not their own, but the often-mentioned blueprint that other bands took from 1-2-3 was transformed in the hands of a band like Yes into what it should have been; the real marriage of musicians with their own musical compositions, perhaps reaching true fruition at last in King Crimson.

This is what Clouds couldn't achieve, despite Ritchie's songs being among the best of pop writing at the time. The band could not make that transition, and that's why they were ultimately left behind when their contemporaries moved into the new age. Ritchie, though probably the greatest Rock organist of them all, was also at least partly responsible, being unable or too slow to move into the era of synths and alternative keyboards, being left far behind in that sense by those who he had influenced in the first place like Emerson and Wakeman. As has been already pointed out, the textures on this album were already sounding dated in 1971. The towering impressive organ is still something of an anachronism for the 70s, a lingering almost nostalgic whiff of the sixties spilling over into the new decade. It's as if Ritchie has his head so down among his own meanderings, he hasn't noticed that the gears have changed and the open road ahead is now a motorway.

The title track is a glorious goodbye, the sheer cleverness of the arrangement, and the opening section wrapped around a gorgeous tune with typically-poetic lyrics hitting dead centre, though at times it's more like the Beatles or ELO than anything progressive. Every so often, something of this elusive and magnificent quality pushes its way through the wandering music, seemingly searching for coherence, finding itself somewhat in Long Time and I am the Melody in particular.

This unique and crucial band nevertheless remains lost somehow on its own bridge between the past and the future.

giselle | 4/5 |


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