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Clouds

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Clouds Scrapbook album cover
3.45 | 18 ratings | 8 reviews | 6% 5 stars

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Studio Album, released in 1968

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Introduction - Scrapbook (1:07)
2. The Carpenter (3:27)
3. The Colours Have Run (2:58)
4. I'll Go Girl (3:19)
5. Grandad (2:08)
6. Ladies And Gentlemen (3:06)
7. Humdrum (1:05)
8. Union Jack (1:23)
9. Old Man (3:23)
10. Waiter, There's Something In My Soup (7:00)
11. Scrapbook (2:47)

Lyrics

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Music tabs (tablatures)

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Line-up / Musicians

- Billy Ritchie / Hammond organ, piano, guitars, vocals
- Ian Ellis / bass, acoustic guitar, vocals
- Harry Hughes / drums
Orchestrations written and conducted by DAVID PALMER

Thanks to Certif1ed for the addition
and to Snow Dog for the last updates
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CLOUDS Scrapbook ratings distribution


3.45
(18 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of rock music(6%)
6%
Excellent addition to any rock music collection(50%)
50%
Good, but non-essential (33%)
33%
Collectors/fans only (0%)
0%
Poor. Only for completionists (11%)
11%

CLOUDS Scrapbook reviews


Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Certif1ed
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Scrapbook

The Clouds' debut album, like all their album releases, is a bit of a curio, but makes perfect sense in terms of progressive music.

It lives up to its name very well - the 11 pieces of music are very different to each other, and 4 are sub 3 minutes - 3 of these barely clocking in over one minute - giving a real patchwork effect, as different but related pictures pasted into a scrapbook. Yet somehow it all coagulates into one, with assorted musical flavours spilling out in rapid progression, primarily in 5 colours;

Hard bop / progressive jazz styled rock, retrospective, epic ballad with string arrangements a la Moody Blues, quirky English humour reminiscent of the Kinks, and the softer side of Crimson-esque Progressive Rock. It might be unfair to call it "Crimsonesque", given that it was released the year before, but that is the closest familiar term of reference I can think of.

The albums' concept is described in the bands' Wikipedia entry, and lyrically matches the musical approach. But this is very different to the kind of music the band formerly played live, and might well have been a source of confusion to their fans. Gone are the extended improvisations and crazy jazz arrangements of popular numbers, instead, a number of hastily recorded self-composed tunes.

Scrapbook opens with a self-titled introduction - a slow, nostalgic piece with vocals pre-echoing Greg Lake in some ways.

Then the mayhem begins, in the frantic jazz-rock number, The Carpenter. There is probably about 10 minutes worth of material condensed into this 3 and a half minute assault on your senses, which predicts ELP - and I'm put in mind of Bakerloo's self-titled debut of 1969 too.

With dynamic panache, the next number is a laid back acoustic based one, but is not simple chords accompanying a voice - rather it is a dialogue akin to some of Simon and Garfunkels finest moments. I am reminded quite strongly of Bookends, stylistically, especially when the orchestration joins in with similar scrunchy harmonies (and even the dropping two chord motif of the Bookends theme). There is added alliteration here, though, the smudgy harmonies and falling woodwind motifs illustrating the running colours.

Up next is a spine-shivering rendition of I'll Go Girl, the number featured on the You Can All Join In compilation. The tremolo effect on the piano is a masterstroke, and Merseybeat flavours of the Righteous Brothers and the Beatles pervade the song. Ellis provides a strong McCartney-esque rolling bassline above Hughes' Ringo styled drum beats, both providing elaborate and dramtatic fills. Strong vocal harmonies and lead guitar interjections complete this number, which builds to a strong climax.

Although melodically pleasing there's something about the overall production and arrangement which stops just short of being a pop single - the melody lines and chord progressions are just too elaborate for standard rock. This is a bit of a wolf in lambskin.

Grandad is empatically not the Clive Dunn number, although it does bear the hallmarks of a novelty item. I'd say it's more quirky in the same way that The Kinks were quirky than simply novel, with the atmospheric backing chat and pub singalong styled chorus. Again, the melody lines are deceptively complex, and the chord progressions not always what you'd expect. The trombone solo is a bolt out of the blue, and the sudden drop in dynamic for the coda is a natural surprise.

Ladies and Gentlemen seems to be a mixture of everything that was great about the late 1960s with sumptuous orchestration, and strong hints of the Kinks, the Beatles, the Moody Blues and the Small Faces. Everything feels so natural and tightly interwoven in this piece that it would be easy to put it down as a standard pop song - and you end up wondering how come you feel like you know it, even though you've never heard it before.

The next short piece is essentially a tasteful drum solo, but with very clever and amusing musical interjections, and anything but Humdrum. A musical joke no less!

This is followed by Union Jack, a Kinks or possibly Sgt. Pepper/Beatles inspired caricature and intriguing play on words.

Old Man is based on a standard falling jazz progression with tasteful blues harmonica in an engaging and nicely produced arrangement. I feel a little worried about the timing in places, though.

Next up is the Epic Waiter, There's Something in My Soup, with stunning orchestration and a strong resemblance to some of the material being released on the KPM library discs at that time - the legendary Alan Hawkshaw springs to mind. But this song is densely packed with all manner of changes, all of which seem to springboard off each other in a progressive manner, yet so many of which are blatantly plundered from popular culture, it's hardly surprising that this band divided opinion so strongly.

For my money, this is a great piece, fully deserving the title of Progressive Rock before Progressive Rock came to light - although Progressive Pop would be an equally fitting label. There are moments where I find the execution less than convincing, and I'm not completely struck by the lyrics - but there's nothing wrong with the composition; On the contrary, this is progressive writing at its finest.

Rounding things off is an orchestrated reprise of the title track far more reminiscent of the Moodies than Clodagh Rogers, who later covered the song.

All in all, a very worthy addition to anyone's Prog collection, but particularly of interest to Prog historians and fans of early Prog. It's one of those albums that gives up more of its content on each listen too, because the music is so surprisingly and deceptively dense while at the same time being immediately accessible.

4 solid stars.

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Send comments to Certif1ed (BETA) | Report this review (#216448) | Review Permalink
Posted Monday, May 18, 2009

Review by Tarcisio Moura
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Quite impressive debut by this obscure 60´s scotish band. I had never heard of them before reading a glowing review here on PA. And when I got their first album I was quite surprised to find they were just a trio. And the lead instrument is definitly the organ, not the guitar (rarely used, by the way). One thing is for sure: they were terrific players, singers and songwriters. And why they didn´t gain more atention is one of rock music´s mysteries.

When I heard the first track I thought Scrapbook would be one of those average pop albums of that period. It reminded me of Bread´s Diary in structure and arrangement, but that´s misleading. The second tune is a powerful jazz-rock-pop tune thaht will make you pay atention to them! Each track brings something different, but they still kept a very good 60´s pop flavor on most of the songs. Clouds major difference from other groups is their strong jazz background that pops up every now and then with ease (Humdrum, for exemple, is a solo drums number in a Gene Kuppa style with some interesting vocal harmonies by the second part).

Part of the lyrics seem to have that quirk british humor of bands like The Kinks. the trio is argumented on some tracks by some very good orchestrations done by a then your David Palmer (who would later be such important part of Jethro Tull´s history). Influences here, jazz and classical music aside, are The Beatles, The Moody Blues and, of course, The Kinks. The last track, Waiter, There's Something In My Soup is also their longest (7 minutes) and most extravagant with some unexpect changes and arragnements. Quite interesting and indeed progressive. Nothing groundbreaking but it showed the band had potential for greater things.

Conclusion: a surprising album,. Not a masterpiece in any way, but very good for a debut. Those guys were skillful musicians and talented songwriters. If you´re interested in those 60´s pop/rock bands that had something extra to offer, then this album is for you! Scrapbook spurred my curiosity to hear their latter works and see how they evolved.

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Send comments to Tarcisio Moura (BETA) | Report this review (#279692) | Review Permalink
Posted Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Review by Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars You can all join in now

The story of Scottish band Clouds is one of missed opportunities. The band came about in the late 1960's after paying their dues under other names. Noteworthy individuals such as Brian Epstein, Robert Stigwood and Terry Ellis were all involved in their career, they recorded music which was quite simply ahead of its time and they were around when prog was born, yet few even in these parts will remember them. Clouds may well have become a household name in 1969 along with acts such as Traffic and Jethro Tull had things been slightly different. The pioneering Island record label released their first sampler "You can all join in" around then, to great acclaim. This low priced LP contained tracks by a fine selection of proto prog bands and artists, and sold in great quantities. Many of us went off to explore the albums of the acts on that album, but when we went to find the album containing "I'll go girl" by Clouds (according to the sleeve notes called simply "Clouds"), no such album could be found.

This album, often simply referred to as "Scrapbook" but actually titled "The Clouds scrapbook", appeared a few months later, once the politics had been resolved. Before it was completed, the band's manager Terry Ellis had decided on the tracks to be included and arranged for some to be orchestrated. I actually bought it not long after it came out, and it has been a personal favourite ever since.

The resultant album is a wonderful myriad of ideas and styles. These range from the minute long drums'n'scat of "Humdrum" to the genuine proto prog of the 7 minute "Water there's something in my soup". There are the beautifully arranged pop prog ballads "I'll go girl" (with Alvin Lee of Ten Years After on guitar) and "Scrapbook", the latter bookending the album perfectly. There is the whimsical tongue in cheek British pop of "Grandad" and "Union jack" and there is the creeping blues of "Old man".

For me, one of the best tracks is the superbly arranged "Ladies and gentlemen" a song which is styled lyrically as if the singer is delivering a very self indulgent speech.

Musically, the album is devoid of lead guitar but heavy on the organ, leading to comparisons with fellow travellers Rare Bird and perhaps the Crazy World of Arthur Brown/Atomic Rooster. In terms of content though, the inclusion of so many many different styles combined with the highly melodic, quasi-symphonic recordings also brings to mind the first album of Barclay James Harvest.

Given that the album was recorded over 40 years ago, it sounds as fresh and invigorated today as it did then. Naturally, it will not have the impact now that it had then and it is easy to overlook the place of this album in the time-line of prog and indeed rock. "The Clouds Scrapbook" is though a superb set of great diversity and invention.

While the LP has long since been out of print, the recently released 2 CD set "Up above our heads" offers a superb way to obtain the album in full.

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Send comments to Easy Livin (BETA) | Report this review (#397339) | Review Permalink
Posted Thursday, February 10, 2011

Latest members reviews

4 stars The brilliance of this band was never really captured on record. The influence it had was profound; the credit received for that influence was minimal. But even with that said, the records still contain flashes of pure genius, in both writing and instrumental technique ' Hughes and Ritchie wer ... (read more)

Report this review (#428286) | Posted by giselle | Wednesday, April 06, 2011 | Review Permanlink

3 stars The missing link between The Beatles and The Nice. What a revelation this album is to those of us who wondered what happened after the release of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. Clouds from Edinburgh, Scotland took up the baton and made a good run with this album, their debut album. ... (read more)

Report this review (#378047) | Posted by toroddfuglesteg | Tuesday, January 11, 2011 | Review Permanlink

4 stars How anyone could undervalue this album is beyond me. It would have to be someone from Mars, or someone so locked into their own sole perspective that they can't see the wood from the trees. You don't have to like this album, you just have to understand what it stands for. This is the closest we ... (read more)

Report this review (#361990) | Posted by JeanFrame | Thursday, December 23, 2010 | Review Permanlink

4 stars THE CLOUDS SCRAPBOOK Make no mistake. This is a significant recording. Listening with today's sensibilities, many of the tracks seem innocuous enough. Even the impressive musicianship can be put into a context we understand only too well in the present age of multi-music. But in historical ... (read more)

Report this review (#293757) | Posted by resurrection | Sunday, August 08, 2010 | Review Permanlink

1 stars I would not recommend Scrapbook by Clouds. There is not the slightest bit of progressive music on it. The songs are mostly poorly written pop ballads. The production and recording are pretty bad. They're supposed to be one of the first bands to use organ as the lead instrument, But you'd never kn ... (read more)

Report this review (#228800) | Posted by philhepple | Tuesday, July 28, 2009 | Review Permanlink

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