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CLEAR BLUE SKY

Heavy Prog • United Kingdom


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Clear Blue Sky biography
Originally a trio of friends from school, John Simms (guitar), Mark Sheather (bass), and Ken White (drums) grew up in the Acton area of London and started as a college circuit blues-rock band called JUG BLUES (later MATUSE and then X). Impressing manager Ashley Kozak, the band were given a deal with Vertigo, changed their name to CLEAR BLUE SKY and recorded a self-titled record under the production of Patrick Campbell-Lyons. Still only eighteen, the three musicians mixed hard blues with progressive and psychedelic rock in an unusually mature way, and the LP was released in January 1971 sporting one of Roger Dean's earliest album covers. The group was occasionally compared to CREAM, LED ZEPPELIN and early JETHRO TULL, though the music had a firm prog sensibility unlike CREAM or ZEPPELIN and sometimes may even remind of RUSH.

CLEAR BLUE SKY's 1971 debut (reissued on Repertoire,1991) is considered their most important and the LP is a collector's item. The second record, "Destiny" [Saturn, 1990], released twenty years after the first (and then again in 1999 on Aftermath in CD format), is old material but shows an improvement in form and approach from the first session. 1996 saw the part-concept album "Cosmic Crusader" and later another theme record "Mirror of the Stars". "Out of the Blue", a collection of live and unreleased material, came out in 2001.

Considering their partially forgotten status, CLEAR BLUE SKY is a surprisingly tight and accomplished band that probably deserve more attention than they got the first time around.


-- Atavachron (David) --




Why this artist must be listed in www.progarchives.com :
This band worked quietly alongside some of the best heavy rock and heavy prog acts of their day and proved themselves a group of young but very serious musicians, and have continued to make progressive rock despite many setbacks.



Discography:
Clear Blue Sky, studio album (1971)
Destiny, studio album (1990)
Cosmic Crusader, studio album (1996)
Out of the Blue, live (2001)
Mirror of the Stars, studio album
Gateway to the Seventh Dimension, studio album

Clear Blue Sky official website

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Clear Blue SkyClear Blue Sky
Import
Repertoire 2005
Audio CD$10.16
$21.54 (used)
Don't Mention Rock N RollDon't Mention Rock N Roll
Import
Ais 2013
Audio CD$20.67
Mirror of the StarsMirror of the Stars
Import
Aftermath
Audio CD$7.98 (used)
destiny LPdestiny LP
SATURN
Vinyl$50.00 (used)
S/T LP (Vinyl Album) European Akarma 2003S/T LP (Vinyl Album) European Akarma 2003
Akarma
Vinyl$34.99
Gateway to the Seventh DimensionGateway to the Seventh Dimension
Import
Stargaze 2007
Audio CD$50.97
$22.22 (used)
Cosmic CrusaderCosmic Crusader
Import
Aftermath
Audio CD$25.95
$9.95 (used)
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CLEAR BLUE SKY discography


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CLEAR BLUE SKY top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.06 | 32 ratings
Clear Blue Sky
1971
2.23 | 7 ratings
Destiny
1990
3.33 | 6 ratings
Cosmic Crusader
1996
3.95 | 2 ratings
Don't Mention Rock 'n' Roll
2013

CLEAR BLUE SKY Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

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CLEAR BLUE SKY Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Don't Mention Rock 'n' Roll by CLEAR BLUE SKY album cover Studio Album, 2013
3.95 | 2 ratings

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Don't Mention Rock 'n' Roll
Clear Blue Sky Heavy Prog

Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
Special Collaborator Symphonic Team

4 stars Clear Blue Sky made an impact in the early 70s with their debut then released a couple more, in 1990 and 1996, and disappeared. 2013 sees a return for the band some 17 years later. This is odd for any band but as long as they want to produce great new rock, no one should have reason to complain. There are some excellent songs on this latest offering "Don't Mention Rock 'n' Roll", and some incredible lead work too by John Simms, also an accomplished lead vocalist.

Immediately a 70s guitar riff pummels on the title track and 'Boneshaker'. There are blistering lead guitar solos on 'Warlords' and 'Rising With Light' over an incessant 70s distorted riff. The catchy chorus's even have an old school sound like the heavy 70s scene of Budgie, Cream or Led Zeppelin. The riffs are thunderous, the guitars are dirty and the vocals are like Robert Plant. The riffs crank along with a ton of distortion and attitude, such as on 'Where Are You?', with its manic bassline and an insane lead guitar solo. Simms makes his axe scream with wild sustain and very fast hammering. This has a Black Sabbath feel and the theme is occultic but overall the atmosphere is darkened by the synths.

A blues feel is prominent in a lot of the songs, notably the full blown 12 bar blues of 'Dare to Dream' reminding me of Budgie, Blue Oyster Cult, Spirit or Masters Apprentices. The organ grinding is a nice touch but one can never ignore the fret melting lead guitar outbursts. 'The Wheel of Time Comes Around' is more relaxed in the intro but soon launches into heavy riffing and a pulsating bassline over steady percussion. The instrumental break has nice Rush like harmonics reverberating, and sinuous bass with punctuating drums. The lead guitar is phased and hammers out improvised licks with some electrifying speed picking and upsweeps.

'Song of the Universe' closes the album with some preternatural effects eliciting deep space atmospheres. The vocals are more psychedelic too along with the trippy lyrics; "gazing at the sky, infinity, something incredible, mystery, time and space, once so fragile but now so strong, going home where I belong." The lead guitar is spacier and this one really is out of the box compared to the heavy prog offered previously. Overall the album is a nice heavy dose of 70s style rock with prog influences. The lead breaks are killer and worth hearing and of course it is always nice to see a classic 70s rock band returning to the scene.

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 Clear Blue Sky by CLEAR BLUE SKY album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.06 | 32 ratings

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Clear Blue Sky
Clear Blue Sky Heavy Prog

Review by Sinusoid
Prog Reviewer

2 stars There may have been a fair amount of great hard rock bands of the early 70's that got unfairly overlooked or set aside, but Clear Blue Sky is not one of those lost classic bands. Even after hearing their only effort from the 70's, I still can't quite figure this group out or why I decided the time was right for me to get a Clear Blue Sky album.

Right away, the opener hits you and the gigantic problem with the record smacks you in the face; it's production is miserable. Apart from sounding like a lesser hybrid of Jethro Tull and Black Sabbath (and the title of their first track is ''Sweet Leaf''?coincidence?), the production sounds too unnecessarily loud to the point where the guitars sound like they're going to vomit. And it may be extreme nitpicking, but the volume on the cymbals sounds awful.

I like riffs as much as the next hard rock fan, but the riffs here are largely forgettable, and typically songs use about three unrelated riffs that are so poorly connected that any semblance of a fluid track is mostly lost. A track like ''You Mystify'' might have been a great lost rock classic if the actual song could progress with some finesse, but it ends up being a jumbled menagerie of muck.

This especially becomes a gaping problem on their attempt at a sidelong epic track; the three movements have barely any resemblance other than chugging away at riffs hoping for some lasting appeal. The aforementioned ''Sweet Leaf'' is the worst of the lot as it sounds completely without any direction and runs for far too long (at eight minutes, it's the longest of the album).

And yet, this album still manages to have an actual great tune in ''My Heaven''. It's the one time where there's a song that really functions like one. Had the muddy production not been there, this would have been a lost classic.

If the idea of checking out lo-fi hard rock sounds like fun to you, then check out CLEAR BLUE SKY. The idea of ''raw rock'' went a mile too far here.

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 Clear Blue Sky by CLEAR BLUE SKY album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.06 | 32 ratings

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Clear Blue Sky
Clear Blue Sky Heavy Prog

Review by stefro
Prog Reviewer

3 stars A thunderous, bluesy power-prog trio who released this self-titled debut in 1972, Clear Blue Sky belong to that select group of artists whose legacy has, for one reason or another, been exhumed and re-examined thanks to the excellent re-issue label Repertoire Records. Now available in a beautifully-packaged, mini-vinyl gate-fold replica edition, 'Clear Blue Sky' has been released under the dubious 'lost classic' tag that record companies give to albums that failed to succeed either commercially or critically in their own time, thus the opportunity to foister the music upon unsuspecting music fans who either do not remember or simply weren't alive the first time round. Though by no means a classic album, it is still a worthy entry into the prog canon, with an edgy, metallic sound undercut by bluesy rhythms and hoarse vocals that give the music a very slight punk aesthetic. Fans of Steamhammer and The Groundhogs may find much to admire, especially in the album's 18 minute long opener 'Journey To The Centre Of The Sky' which assaults the listener with a barrage of buzzing riffs and tribal drumming and, most importantly, never gets dull despite it's epic length. The shorter, sharper, more melodic songs that fill out the second-half of the album, such as the catchy 'You Mystify' and 'Tools Of My Trade', bring a touch of funk into the equation, again with John Simms brazen guitars pushed to the fore. A nice little bonus is the understated artwork from a certain Mr Roger Dean(one of his earliest pieces), and the only disappointment is the fact this under-rated threesome failed to record again until 1990, when they released a hugely-belated follow-up that is a Clear Blue Sky album in name only. STEFAN TURNER, LONDON, 2010

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 Clear Blue Sky by CLEAR BLUE SKY album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.06 | 32 ratings

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Clear Blue Sky
Clear Blue Sky Heavy Prog

Review by Starless

4 stars A blast from the past this one. Released in January 1971, I bought this from a remainder bin in 72 or 73 and I still play it now. Although following the power trio format popular of the time, their sound is actually quite distinctive with a definite psych/prog crossover element. As it says on the spine of the original LP "Play It Loud" (perhaps the album was originally going to be called this, but Slade had beaten them to it?). IMO The Groundhogs sound like their biggest influence, which is no bad thing, but they do have their own sound. The side long track Journey To The Inside Of The Sun has some great interplay, and considering these lads were only 18 at the time, it is quite an achievement. The first part of this epic, Sweet Leaf, has some good boogie action, interspersed with quieter psychy phases, follwed by Rocket Ride, played in a Groundhogs style. The track finishes with I'm Coming Home which although a little disjointed is still a decent work out. Side 2 starts with the great You Mystify, with some basic time changes and lots of reverb on the chorus vocals. A great bit of fret wizardry too. Tools Of My Trade is very Cream like in places, but with enough style of its own to shine. builds nicely in the middle section. Things slow down for My Heaven which is the most psychedlic of all the songs and has some nice instrumentation. The closer Birdcatcher, has good riffage and a very odd ending fading away with flute and lazy hand clapping. Very stoned. As with most Vertigo acts of the time virtually nothing was spent on promotion and unfortunately Clear Blue Sky did not get the chance to develop as they should have done, and split up soon after, only reforming many years later.

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 Clear Blue Sky by CLEAR BLUE SKY album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.06 | 32 ratings

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Clear Blue Sky
Clear Blue Sky Heavy Prog

Review by Discographia

3 stars The sound is heavy, dirty, and few expressions of d has an average age of 18 musicians. with influence hendrix, T2 and cream. The music is very heavy with the sounds of guitar unfortunately poorly produced too much distortion. Lot of energy emerges from the album, domage that production has not been a more accurate picture of the jacket, which she signed beautiful Roger Dean (Yes, Uriah Heep, etc. Gravy Train. The titles are very heavy and hard rock, progressive little except'' 'Journey To The Inside Of The Sun''which remains progressive. The melodies are sophisticated musicians who unlike them are talented. The music is heavy with classic progressive sounds strange sometimes, on certain securities, including mixtures very aggressive and mixed with the flute and some sound effects.

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 Destiny by CLEAR BLUE SKY album cover Studio Album, 1990
2.23 | 7 ratings

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Destiny
Clear Blue Sky Heavy Prog

Review by ZowieZiggy
Prog Reviewer

2 stars Like ''T2'', this heavy band has acknowledged some revival much later than their debut album. In their first release and there were apparently more material available from that period. They will see the light some twenty years later.

The band showed some tendency to develop a more melodic music than their usual trio based counterparts of the era. The title track for instance, is a combination of pure heavy blues-rock with melodic passages. It is strange to listen to this though. Not really expected, but pleasant. It is the most interesting track form this record and the only one unfortunately to show this.

Most of this album is basic rock music, with no prog elements (being heavy or not). Not bad at all, if you are into these early seventies sounds (like I am), but quite conventional (''Pick Up'' and '' Bottom Of Your Soul'').

There is even a full ''Velvet Underground'' inspired track under the form of ''Back on The Road Again''. I'm far to dislike it of course, but it is quite strange to discuss this on PA.

To be honest, apart the good opening song, this album doesn't hold any counterpart. The music sounds a bit more polished than the songs released in '71, but they remain left over as far as I'm concerned (''Vagabonds''). The band is also investigating sothe jazzy/funky beats: some trumpets adding to the feeling (''When I Call Your Name''). You might know that I'm not at all a fan of these sounds. Press next.

Some straight good rock music with ''Waiting for the Day'' is the last decent song from this album saved from the vault. Not really essential by any means. Two stars.

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 Clear Blue Sky by CLEAR BLUE SKY album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.06 | 32 ratings

BUY
Clear Blue Sky
Clear Blue Sky Heavy Prog

Review by ZowieZiggy
Prog Reviewer

3 stars These three very young lads were quite gifted musicians. John Simms (guitar) even joining Ginger Baker for some touring in the seventies. The music they played is a trio based guitar - bass - drums as it was popular those days (remember Hendrix, Cream, T2 etc.).

The music is quite heavy and little melodic as one could have imagined. While the musicianship is solid, the vocals aren't quite of the same level. This is probably why I prefer the first part of their suite called ''Journey To The Inside Of The Sun''.

It is called ''Sweet Leaf'' (huum, I've heard this before.) and is a pure jamming and good effort for over eight minutes. Actually, this might well be part of a so called suite (or epic) but none of the parts are linked whatsoever. It is more a collection of three songs than a one-piece unit. It falls a bit flat during ''The Rocket Ride'' and ''I'm Comin' Home'' (second and third parts).

Their heavy music is tinted with blues and psychedelia (''You Mystify''), but this no big news for the period of release. It was quite conventional for such a trio to play this type of music. But they are probably more personal than a band as T2 for example who was too closely related with Hendrix Experience.

Nothing as such here. There is a definite prog feel when you listen to ''Tool Of My Trade''. It is not a ballad of course, but it swaps nicely between heavy passages and more sophisticated music. A highlight, for sure.

The more the album advances, the more diversified is the music. ''My Heaven'' demonstrates some Eastern influences delicately painted with some fine psychedelia. Some acoustic guitar is even featured and the interplay with distinct percussion is just perfect. To have reached this level at the age of eighteen is quite impressive. The album closed on some sort of heavy Tull piece (''Birdcatcher''). Aren't these fine references?

Three stars.

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Thanks to Atavachron for the artist addition.

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