Progarchives, the progressive rock ultimate discography
Progarchives, the progressive rock ultimate discography


Prog Related • United Kingdom

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Clouds picture
Clouds biography
Starting life in Edinburgh, Scotland, as The Premiers, then, following a few personnel changes, enjoying some critical acclaim as innovative organ-led rock trio 1-2-3, The Clouds were at the epicenter of the thriving progressive rock scene from its inception in the mid-late 1960s. They remained there until 1971 but never really hit the big time and remain one of Prog's great unsung.

According to some sources, 1-2-3 were instrumental in influencing Keith Emerson's band The Nice to stop being P.P. Arnold's backing band and become a classically influenced organ-driven rock group themselves, although Emerson has never confirmed this. It is also likely that they were influential on the young Rick Wakeman and other future Prog Rock group members who were known to frequent the Marquee club at that time.

1-2-3 initially specialised in arranging pop and rock songs in extended and highly improvised formats, frequently including both citations and adaptations of classical music and jazz arrangements. One example of this is Simon and Garfunkel's America, arranged similarly 5 years later by Yes, into which 1-2-3 seamlessly incorporated quotations from Bach.

The band played extensively at the Marquee club in London in the late 1960s, notably early in 1967, alongside bands such as The Nice, The Syn (later Yes), Jethro Tull, The Yardbirds and Jimi Hendrix. A young David Bowie wrote an enthusiastic newspaper article on the band, a facsimile of which may be found on the band's website. They were taken on by NEMS management company, run by Brian Epstein, in late 1967.

After changing their name to The Clouds, they quickly got to work writing and recording the album Scrapbook, which was released in 1968 on Island Records. Deram (London) released the U.S. Export album in 1969, and it was not until 1971 that Clouds released their final album, Watercolour Days.

The band, Billy Ritchie, Ian Ellis and Harry Hughes, were reportedly never happy with the recorded work and felt it was not a true representation of what the band did in a live environment - and the material on Up Above Our Heads would seem to support this, as some of it is very different to the two Island/Chrysalis albums.

Clouds official website

CLOUDS MP3, Free Download (music stream)

Open extended player in a new pop-up window | Random Playlist (50) | How to submit new MP3s
No MP3/Stream available for this artist.
Collaborate with, learn how to submit new MP3s.

CLOUDS forum topics / tours, shows & news

CLOUDS forum topics Create a topic now
CLOUDS tours, shows & news
No topics found for : "clouds"
Post an entries now

CLOUDS Videos (YouTube and more)

Showing only random 3 | Show all CLOUDS videos (6) | Search and add more videos to CLOUDS

Buy CLOUDS Music

Right Now on Ebay (logo)
~COVER ART MISSING~ Winters CD Black Clouds in Twin Galaxies USD $4.77 Buy It Now
Grant Nicholas - BLACK CLOUDS [CD] USD $7.57 Buy It Now
Outrage / Black Clouds JAPAN Metallica P32P-20171 1ST PRESS!!!!! *Q USD $34.99 Buy It Now
CD - 7599-27446-2 - Joni Mitchell - Clouds - Super condition USD $6.58 [0 bids]
The Flaming Lips - Heady Nuggs 20 Years After Clouds Taste Metallic 19 (NEW 3CD) USD $22.41 Buy It Now
Kirk, Jeff: Clouds Audio CD USD $11.89 Buy It Now 5m 38s
Joni Mitchell - Clouds USD $2.64 [0 bids]
11m 2s
Pink Floyd LP Obscured By Clouds OST 1st pressing - EX/EX Harvest ST 11078 USD $12.50 [2 bids]
14m 2s
Lifescapes Above The Clouds USD $4.00 Buy It Now 30m 33s
Chou Wen-Chung: Clouds CD NEW USD $16.94 Buy It Now 36m 2s
Scott Riggan - Clouds & Fire [New CD] USD $12.34 Buy It Now 36m 48s
The Gouranga Powered Band ?* Clouds Of Illusion * CD ALBUM * BRAND NEW USD $3.96 [0 bids]
48m 31s
Comfort Clouds - Dinner Set [New CD] Duplicated CD USD $11.93 Buy It Now 1h 5m
Lloyd Cannady & Flying Clouds - Get Your Soul Right CD USD $5.99 Buy It Now 1h 7m
Willie Colon/Hector Lavoe(Ghana'E-Cambiare)Orig.Press.45rpm-Clouds-Barely Played USD $25.00 Buy It Now 1h 29m
Clouds Veil: Songs of the Celtic Soul by LAWTON,LIAM USD $5.43 Buy It Now 1h 51m
The Best Of The Mighty Clouds Of Joy Vol. 2 - MUSIC CD - SOUL - R USD $6.99 Buy It Now 1h 52m
VALLENATO "THROUGH THE CLOUDS" TOPY 071 (1994) 12" SINGLE EX USD $14.97 Buy It Now 1h 58m
JONI MITCHELL clouds Japan MINI LP SHM-CD USD $39.99 [0 bids]
2h 8m
CHUCK MANGIONE / CHASE THE CLOUDS AWAY, SP-4518, 1975 A&M, VG+/VG+ USD $5.00 Buy It Now 2h 12m
The Mighty Clouds Of Joy - Truth Is The Power 1977 vinyl LP vg++/excellent USD $2.62 [1 bids]
2h 45m
HEAVY CLOUDS In Trouble Again Danish Pop 45PS 1980s USD $8.72 Buy It Now 2h 45m
Kevin Devine & the Goddamn Band - Between the Concrete & Clouds (CD, Digipak) USD $9.51 Buy It Now 2h 48m
The Flaming Lips - Clouds Taste Metallic (1995) USD $2.62 Buy It Now 2h 58m
MIGHTY CLOUDS OF JOY It's Time Dunhill NM STONED WORLD Vince Montana USD $14.99 Buy It Now 3h 8m
Dennis Hart - Clouds & Dreams-Best of Dennis Hart 2 [New CD] USD $22.75 Buy It Now 3h 36m
PINK FLOYD Obscured by Clouds 1972 Harvest ST-11078 strong VG+ (play graded) USD $27.99 Buy It Now 3h 40m
Elephant Revival - Break in the Clouds [New CD] Digipack Packaging USD $16.35 Buy It Now 3h 42m
NEW With Our Heads in Clouds & Our Hearts in Fields (Vinyl) USD $39.83 Buy It Now 3h 45m
ENNUI 2015 Falsvs Anno Domini CD Funeral Doom Death Esoteric Evoken Clouds USD $9.99 Buy It Now 4h 2m
ALL ABOUT EVE In The Clouds Ltd. edition / poster Ex+ Mercury 1987 UK P/S 7" USD $5.26 [0 bids]
4h 9m
FUTURE CLOUDS AND RADAR - Peoria - CD - Import - **BRAND NEW/STILL SEALED** USD $22.95 Buy It Now 4h 16m
DONNA DEE & CLOUDS 1960 doowop 7" 45 the MORE I SEE HIM / OO-WE CAN'T YOU SEE USD $39.95 Buy It Now 4h 36m
1936 Jazz 78 ANDY KIRK & TWELVE CLOUDS OF JOY Corky / Blue Illusion on Decca HEA USD $10.00 Buy It Now 4h 37m
Chase the Clouds by Keedy (CD, 1991) Sealed LONGBOX USD $0.99 Buy It Now 4h 41m
MEL GRIGGS & SONS OF SADDLE Clouds Roll By ATOMIC 241 Hillbilly Country Bopper USD $16.00 Buy It Now 4h 53m
Harriet Schock "She's Low Clouds" 1974 Country/Folk LP, SEALED/ MINT!, Original USD $6.50 Buy It Now 4h 57m
Mighty Clouds of Joy GOSPEL 45 Nearer to Thee / Youll N USD $8.98 Buy It Now 5h 8m
bobby henderson a home in the clouds lp promo USD $15.99 Buy It Now 5h 20m
DREAM THEATER - Black Clouds & Silver Linings 3 CD/ 2 LP Vinyl BOX SET SEALED USD $161.87 Buy It Now 5h 23m
???? JUN MAYUZUMI ???? SHOWA KAYO Japan Ex 7"45 ?????? AMONG THE CLOUDS USD $14.99 Buy It Now 5h 25m
Ostinato - Billy & The Clouds 2 LP Mint- HS 025 Vinyl 2001 Italy Future Jazz USD $12.00 Buy It Now 5h 29m
TOVE LO - QUEEN OF THE CLOUDS CD NEW+ USD $15.39 Buy It Now 5h 37m
Till the Clouds Roll By: The Songs of Jerome Kern by Jerome Kern (CD, Oct-2001, USD $4.99 Buy It Now 5h 39m
Pink Floyd Obscured By Clouds CD 1972 Capitol Records USA CDP 7 46385 2 Original USD $14.95 Buy It Now 5h 42m
Space Dark Clouds UK CD Single USD $3.94 Buy It Now 5h 43m
CARLY SIMON "Clouds In My Coffee 1965-1995" 3-Disc Box Set 1995 OOP USD $14.99 Buy It Now 6h 15m
DESTRUCTORS 666/WHITE CLOUDS AND GUNFIRE Caveat Emptor CD UK Rowdy Farrago 2008 USD $10.14 Buy It Now 6h 44m
ENOS MCLEOD Grass Geysers Carbon Clouds CD US Touch And Go 2007 12 Track CD In USD $16.47 Buy It Now 6h 45m
SOURCE Clouds CD UK Xl 1997 7 Track Now Voyager Radio Edit B/w Boris Dlugosch USD $3.15 Buy It Now 6h 45m
TWO CLOUDS ABOVE NINE Various DOUBLE LP VINYL UK Tomato 1992 10 Track Double LP USD $6.58 Buy It Now 7h 8m
CLOUDS (ROCK/PROG GROUP) Watercolour Days LP VINYL UK Chrysalis 1971 9 Track USD $62.96 Buy It Now 7h 8m
PINK FLOYD Obscured By Clouds LP VINYL UK Harvest 1972 10 Track Textured USD $69.89 Buy It Now 7h 8m
SOUNDS ORCHESTRAL Clouds LP VINYL UK Pye 1974 12 Track (Nspl41026) USD $6.58 Buy It Now 7h 8m
JOHN JAMES Head In The Clouds LP VINYL UK Transatlantic 1975 11 Track Tiny Seam USD $8.96 Buy It Now 7h 9m
HARRIET SCHOCK She's Low Clouds LP VINYL UK 20Th Century 1974 10 Track (Bt460) USD $5.53 Buy It Now 7h 9m
(DV148) Keith, Up In The Clouds - DJ DVD USD $2.62 Buy It Now 7h 13m
Randy Newman-1968 US Debut LP w/Original "Clouds" Cover-CLEAN! USD $19.99 Buy It Now 7h 16m
Obscured By Clouds Pink Floyd South African vinyl LP album record SHSPJ4020 USD $208.03 Buy It Now 7h 35m
Pink Floyd Obscured By Clouds - US Contract Pressing UK vinyl LP album record USD $175.03 Buy It Now 7h 35m
Nigel Holton : Above the Clouds CD (1998) USD $3.29 Buy It Now 7h 42m
ROCK MO RECORDS Disco Classic Comp 12" RECORD CLOUDS I KNOW YOU I LIVE YOU USD $9.95 Buy It Now 7h 45m
BOBBY CALDWELL: Can't Say Goodbye USA Clouds NM 45 Promo DJ USD $10.00 Buy It Now 7h 56m
Pink Floyd Obscured By Clouds - 3rd vinyl LP album record French 2C066-05.054 USD $62.83 Buy It Now 8h
Pink Floyd Obscured By Clouds - 1st vinyl LP album record New Zealand SHSP4020 USD $135.43 Buy It Now 8h
ROSE MELBERG Cast Away The Clouds LP VINYL UK Where It's At 2007 13 Track With USD $26.96 Buy It Now 8h 2m
PARK Abigail's Flying Through The Clouds 7" VINYL UK Fatal Generation 1999 USD $4.73 Buy It Now 8h 2m
RAYMONDO Nobody Knows 12" VINYL Clouds 5 Track (Trclst021) USD $4.14 Buy It Now 8h 2m
DAVID GATES Clouds 7" VINYL Brazillian Elektra 1973 B/W I Use The Soap But Has USD $4.14 Buy It Now 8h 2m
MEZZOFORTE Rockall 7" VINYL UK Steinar 1983 B/W Gazing At The Clouds (Ste710) USD $5.53 Buy It Now 8h 2m
TONY BRENT Clouds Will Soon Roll By 7" VINYL UK Columbia 1958 B/w Don't Save USD $6.58 Buy It Now 8h 2m
MIGHTY CLOUDS OF JOY Mighty High 7" VINYL UK Abc 1975 B/W Touch My Soul USD $6.58 Buy It Now 8h 2m
HORRELL MCGANN April Fool LP VINYL US Clouds 1977 10 Track Still Sealed USD $8.56 Buy It Now 8h 3m
PASSING CLOUDS Protect Your Baby Ears EP 12" VINYL UK Bite Back 1991 4 Track EP USD $6.58 Buy It Now 8h 3m
JOHN JAMES Head In The Clouds LP VINYL UK Transatlantic 1975 11 Track Matrix USD $11.73 Buy It Now 8h 3m
MIGHTY CLOUDS OF JOY Stoned World 7" VINYL UK Abc 1975 Demo B/W Heart Full Of USD $4.14 Buy It Now 8h 3m
ALL ABOUT EVE In The Clouds 7" VINYL UK Mercury 1987 B/W She Moves Through The USD $4.14 Buy It Now 8h 3m
MEZZOFORTE Gazing At The Clouds 12" VINYL 2 Track White Label Test Pressing USD $4.14 Buy It Now 8h 3m
PINK FLOYD Obscured By Clouds LP VINYL European Parlophone 2016 10 Track LP 180 USD $30.72 Buy It Now 8h 3m
TILL THE CLOUDS ROLL BY Motion Picture Soundtrack LP VINYL US Mca 1986 8 Track USD $4.14 Buy It Now 8h 3m
PINK FLOYD Obscured By Clouds LP VINYL Italian Harvest 1972 10 Track USD $29.73 Buy It Now 8h 3m
HOYT AXTON Della And The Dealer 7" VINYL UK Youngblood 1979 Clouds Label Design USD $5.53 Buy It Now 8h 3m
ANDY KIRK Twelve Clouds Of Joy LP VINYL UK Ace Of Hearts 12 Track Mono Pressing USD $6.58 Buy It Now 8h 3m
PASSING CLOUDS Protect Your Baby Ears EP 12" VINYL UK Bite Back 1991 4 Track USD $6.58 Buy It Now 8h 4m
DENNIS LOTIS Clouds Will Soon Roll By 7" VINYL UK King 1965 B/W There Is A Time USD $4.14 Buy It Now 8h 6m
CLOUDS (INDIE GROUP) Moon Llama EP 12" VINYL UK Wobble 1991 4 Track White Label USD $6.58 Buy It Now 8h 7m
VERONICA ADAMS/MIGHTY CLOUDS Believe In What You See/Wiseman Dub 7" VINYL UK USD $4.14 Buy It Now 8h 7m
B.J.THOMAS Mighty Clouds Of Joy 7" VINYL US Scepter B/W Life (Sce12320) USD $5.53 Buy It Now 8h 7m
PASSING CLOUDS Creation's Happy Reel EP 12" VINYL UK Bite Back 1992 4 Track USD $4.14 Buy It Now 8h 7m
ROCKEY CAMPBELL Can't Say Bye 12" VINYL UK Clouds 2 Track B/W Bye By One Man USD $6.58 Buy It Now 8h 8m
PASSING CLOUDS Breaking Up With Me 7" VINYL UK Philips 1974 B/w Sally's Song USD $6.58 Buy It Now 8h 8m

More places to buy CLOUDS music online Buy CLOUDS & Prog Rock Digital Music online:
CLOUDS has no upcoming shows, according to LAST.FM syndicated events and shows feed

CLOUDS discography

Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help to complete the discography and add albums

CLOUDS top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.48 | 26 ratings
3.51 | 22 ratings
Up Above Our Heads
3.86 | 24 ratings
Watercolour Days

CLOUDS Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

CLOUDS Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

CLOUDS Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.04 | 8 ratings
Scrapbook/Watercolour Days
4.13 | 12 ratings
Up Above Our Heads [Clouds 1966-71]

CLOUDS Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

CLOUDS Reviews

Showing last 10 reviews only
 Up Above Our Heads [Clouds 1966-71] by CLOUDS album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2010
4.13 | 12 ratings

Up Above Our Heads [Clouds 1966-71]
Clouds Prog Related

Review by GruvanDahlman
Prog Reviewer

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.

 Up Above Our Heads [Clouds 1966-71] by CLOUDS album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2010
4.13 | 12 ratings

Up Above Our Heads [Clouds 1966-71]
Clouds Prog Related

Review by DiamondDog

5 stars Its funny the way things turn out; this group, lost to history, turns out to be THE prime catalyst for UK progressive rock, yet due to lack of early recordings, even now it doesn't get the credit it deserves, not even on this site, which owes them so much. Then again, this is partly their own fault. When the group finally did record, we got Scrapbook, which is caught between pop and progressive, and full of stuff the band didn't even play on stage. Then Up Above Our Heads, with long boring solos, maybe the odd good song, but nothing that can give younger proggers, stuck with accepted history, a clue about the validity of the claims made on behalf of the band. Even Watercolour Days, perhaps the most clear and finest album of the three, is lagging behind the progressive rock of the day, especially in the realm of keyboards, relying on organ and piano, not synths, sound and style lagging behind ELP, Yes, Crimson, hugely ironic when you consider how this thing got started in the first place. The bonus tracks don't help much either, mainly that same mixture of pop and early prog that seems largely unexceptional in style for that time, albeit containing some stand-out songs and playing. Its only when we get to the live track of 1-2-3 playing America at the Marquee in 1967 that we begin to see what the fuss was about, the whole reason why we have Yes, The Nice, King Crimson etc. In isolated quality, these albums would earn somewhere between 3 and 4 stars, but we must give 5 stars for the importance and potency of this great lost group.
 Up Above Our Heads by CLOUDS album cover Studio Album, 1969
3.51 | 22 ratings

Up Above Our Heads
Clouds Prog Related

Review by b_olariu
Prog Reviewer

3 stars 3,5 for sure

The band, Billy Ritchie, Ian Ellis and Harry Hughes known as Clouds is a very intristing band in my opinion. I mean this album issued in 1969 named Up above our heads is quite very promissing and full of great ideas for that period, verz proggz and with some memorable passages for sure. I was very pleasently surprised by this band and this album specialy, because they sounded diffrent then the rest of the bunch from that era, with some exception of course, they offer some organ progressive rock verz catchy in arrangements, even in places the album gets the impression is dated, not realy it was a very talented and full of great ideas this Clouds. In places they remind me of The Nice, and is couple of years before ELP makes any ripples around them with the first album, a quite groundbreaking release in his own way that is for sure. The music is very chalenging, symphinic passages interluded with jazzy moments make from this album a pleasent journy. The voice of Ian Ellis is great, warm and typical for that period and combined with the hammong origan of Billy Ritchie and quite intrsting druming of Hughes makes from this album a winner. The opening track is a killer , or at least for me, even is quite dull in places, another highlight is the lenghtier piece of the album named Sing, Sing, Sing with catchz arrangements, jazzy monets and szmphonic passages, quite a musical ride for 1969. So, overall a good towards great album, with plenty of memorable passages, specialy the hammond is realy intristing and inventive , that gives the path to progressive rock a couple of years later, even this band was totaly unknown and still is to largerar public. Recommended album to a point where some of you can dig ELP, The Nice and bands similar in attitude and sound.

 Up Above Our Heads [Clouds 1966-71] by CLOUDS album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2010
4.13 | 12 ratings

Up Above Our Heads [Clouds 1966-71]
Clouds Prog Related

Review by giselle

4 stars An important anthology, bringing together at last the three crucial recordings of an enigmatic but essential band. Already extensively reviewed in these pages, the three albums tell the somewhat sad tale of a trio that was the catalyst for much that happened, yet it remains quite unknown in vast swathes of the public mind.

Part of the fault for that lies in the inability of the group to transform itself into the new age. After laying the foundations for much of what became known as progressive rock, the band curiously failed to capitalise on their own advantage, staying almost stuck in the mud, unable to transform their own writing into something comparable to the exciting re-inventions of existing compositions that had so transformed musical thinking in 66-67. We get a glimpse of the real thing in the bonus tracks, with the sole known recording of 1-2-3 and America. It's difficult now to transport ourselves back to 1967 and imagine the impact this kind of arrangement made on young impressionable and talented musicians, such as the members of Yes, The Nice, King Crimson. Yes later even produced their own version of the same song, arranged in the same fashion as 1-2-3, but the originators of the form faltered and lost their way.

This sad trail is laid out on a plate in these three albums, wonderful songs (but stilted at times by uneasy performances and a band unsure of what to do with them) sitting awkwardly side by side with riff-like pieces (often somewhat mundane constructions whose purpose was to enable the individual musicians to parade their particular talents), the two never really meeting in harmony, except at rare moments, such as in the opening section and verses of Watercolour Days (the title track), the middle section of Waiter, the verses of I am the Melody. These fleeting moments give glimpses of a rare talent that never truly found expression.

The remaining bonus tracks only add fuel to this theory, the striking moments are almost exclusively Ritchie's songs, Why is there no Magic, A Day of Rain, Clockwork Soldier; lovely indeed, sometimes profound, but what have they to do with Clouds? Not much. This is the fatal schism of songs and band, still exposing itself 40 years on.

 Watercolour Days by CLOUDS album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.86 | 24 ratings

Watercolour Days
Clouds Prog Related

Review by giselle

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.

 Scrapbook by CLOUDS album cover Studio Album, 1968
3.48 | 26 ratings

Clouds Prog Related

Review by giselle

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 were among the greatest of Rock's talents, and Ellis was no slouch either. It's ironic that this record is probably the most uneven of the three Clouds albums, yet it's the most important, standing on the very edge of pop and progressive, the bridge that traverses the gulf, the unique flavour of 1-2-3 sifting through Ritchie's pop ballads and whimsical sixties ditties, the two meeting head on in Waiter there's something in my Soup, with its sometimes clumsy words and images clattering into moments of sheer beauty and sublime inspiration. An oft-unappreciated and misunderstood treasure.
 Up Above Our Heads [Clouds 1966-71] by CLOUDS album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2010
4.13 | 12 ratings

Up Above Our Heads [Clouds 1966-71]
Clouds Prog Related

Review by Easy Livin
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin

4 stars I've looked at Clouds from both sides now

Having disbanded after the release of their third album "Watercolour days" in 1971, the world quickly forgot about Clouds. This travesty was finally put right in 2010 when BGO records put together this superb compilation. Not only do we have for the first time ever, all three of the band's albums, regardless of whether you live in Europe, North America or anywhere else, but we have a selection of 9 well chosen bonus tracks not previously available anywhere.

All three albums are carefully remastered, bringing out the essence of each perfectly. The first CD gathers in the band's first album "The Clouds scrapbook" (released in Europe only) and their second album "Up above our heads" (released in North America only). The three tracks which appeared on both are only present once, slightly disrupting the running order of "Up above our heads". It would have been good though if the full running order of that album had at least been listed somewhere within the package.

The band's third album "Watercolour days" (was this "Watercolor" in North America?!) occupies the first half of the second CD. Reviews of all three albums are of course posted under the Clouds entry on this site.

It is though to the bonus tracks that we head for this review. The first pair of these are a single A and B side from 1968, the band's first recordings as Clouds having changed their name from 1-2-3. The A-side, "Make no bones about it" is very much of its time, offering a Barrett-era-Floyd/Wood-era-Move like slice of psychedelia, but it failed to garner much interest. Had it done so, which in retrospect with the right exposure it could easily have done, the single may have set Clouds on the road to fame and fortune. The B- Side "Heritage" is a more ambitious story song, which now sounds a little clumsy but at the time would have certainly been viewed as progressive. The track features a captivating organ interlude, but the vocals are weak.

The following three tracks were recorded for the "Watercolour days" album, but to the dismay of the band they were omitted from the track listing by band manager Terry Ellis. "Why is there no magic" is a multi-tracked Beatles like pastiche with a strong melody. The track's omission from the album borders on the criminal, this being one of the band's strongest recordings ever. "The world is a madhouse" and "Shadows" are interesting but less essential, the Jim Morrison like vocals betraying an obvious attempt to imitate the Doors.

"Once upon a time" appears to be a leftover track from "Up above our heads", but this time the decision to overlook it was probably justified. Not a bad song, just undistinguished. "A day of rain" and "Clockwork soldier" are further leftovers from "Watercolour days". These tracks though were only seen through to the point of being demo tracks at the time, although the band had written them some years earlier. The sound on these tracks is different though, with a more modern feel. It turns out this is due to Billy Ritchie revisiting the recordings some years later, and adding synthesisers and processing the vocals! Admittedly he has done a good job on them, even if the authenticity has been tarnished. "Clockwork soldier" is based on the reading of a poem over sympathetic instrumentation, and as such sounds as if it has been lifted straight from Jim Morrison's solo album "An American prayer".

The most significant of the bonus tracks here is an 8 minute live recording of the band's cover of Simon and Garfunkel's "America". Proving that there is nothing new under the sun, this interpretation pre-dates the famous Yes version by some distance. While by no means identical to Yes' version, many of the nuances are the same. This track alone finally confirms Clouds rightful place in prog history, the recording actually coming from a time when they were still known as 1-2-3. It also demonstrates how much Terry Ellis sanitised their work before the début album was released.

The package is rounded out by an excellent booklet containing an essay on the entire history of the band and the lyrics to the first album (reproduced from the gatefold LP sleeve).

In short, a wonderful way to discover the criminally under-appreciated history and influence of this fine proto-prog band.

With grateful thanks to our Interviews guru Torodd, who drew my attention to the availability of this superb package, which retails at a very reasonable price.

 Watercolour Days by CLOUDS album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.86 | 24 ratings

Watercolour Days
Clouds Prog Related

Review by Easy Livin
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin

4 stars Art rock

In the late 1960's and early 1970's, Clouds enjoyed increasing recognition of their talents on both sides of the Atlantic. Unfortunately for them, this was a great time for music though, and other bands were securing far greater commercial success. One such band was Jethro Tull, who were also managed by Clouds manager Terry Ellis. Ellis became ever more committed to Tull, leaving Clouds twiddling there collective thumbs waiting for him to devote some time to them. It was therefore some 2 years after their "Up above our heads" release that this their third and final album was recorded.

By 1971, those who had discovered Clouds through their previous albums had probably assumed that the band had come and gone, so interest in "Watercolour days" was somewhat limited. In the US, the album at least attracted a handful of favourable reviews, but in the UK both the record company and the music press were united in their apathy.

"Watercolour days" sees the band refining the contrasting works of their UK début ("The Clouds Scrapbook") and their North America début ("Up above our Heads"), with proto-prog explorations standing alongside pop orchestrations. By this time of course, music, especially prog, had moved on at an astonishing pace. Such was the extent of the progress that in two short years, the band went from being ahead of their time to sounding rather antiquated.

There are certainly similarities here with the early work of Yes, whom Clouds pre-dated by some distance. The frantic"Cold sweat" has some fine organ playing supporting an adventurous arrangement. It seems reasonable to assume that a young Tony Banks of Genesis may well have heard tracks such as this when advancing his early style. There is also a fair hint of Emerson to be found too!

On the ballad side, "Lighthouse" is a natural development of the avenues explored on "Scrapbook" (the track). "Leaving" has all the mood of a Scott Walker classic, the sensitive orchestration sitting well alongside the drifting organ.

One of the best tracks is the protest song "Mind of a child", which has something of a John Lennon feel to it, both lyrically and in the echoed vocals. The title track also raises the bar considerably, its intense arrangement testing the band well. Band member Billy Ritchie says of the track that he would have preferred not to have sung on it as it was not in his key, but he does a fine job of it nonetheless.

Overall, there is a maturity to the package this time, with progressive elements being developed well. The lack of lead guitar is no great issue in the main, although some variation in the organ backing would have been good. Those in Europe who enjoyed "The Clouds Scrapbook", and those in North America who enjoyed "Up above our heads" should find this to be an interesting yet natural development.

Significantly, while the band were given almost total freedom while recording the album, history now records that at the behest of manager Terry Ellis a number of tracks were dropped unbeknown to the band. These tracks can now be found on the newly released "Up above our heads" compilation.

This would prove to be the band's final album, collective disillusionment setting in when it failed to find the recognition it deserved. Fortunately, having lain dormant for 40 years, the work of Clouds is now gaining some of the recognition it deserves.

 Up Above Our Heads by CLOUDS album cover Studio Album, 1969
3.51 | 22 ratings

Up Above Our Heads
Clouds Prog Related

Review by Easy Livin
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin

3 stars Clouds over America... but nothing for Europe

Clouds felt that their début album "The Clouds Scrapbook" did not fully succeed in capturing the essence of the band. The diversity of the selected tracks and the orchestration of a number of the songs were by and large due to the intervention of their manager and their record company. As a result, the style they had developed during the preceding years was to some extent repressed.

When the band set about recording their second album "Up above our heads" (get it? Clouds!) they were determined that it be much more representative of the way they wished to portray themselves. By this time, Clouds were starting to break in North America and this would be their first release there. Ironically though, the album was never released in their homeland UK. This was almost certainly because it contained three tracks already included on the début album. Those three tracks, "The Carpenter", "Old man" and the wonderfully proto-prog "Waiter there's something in my soup" were presumably selected as the band felt they fitted in with their intentions for the album, and that the North American audience should not miss out.

The difference between the first and second albums is therefore enormous. The opening "Imagine me" is not too much of a shift, being a 60's pop organ based romp which includes a burst of "Nutrocker", as previously made famous by B Bumble and the Stingers and later adopted by ELP.

It is though the 13+ minute "Sing, sing, sing", a cover of the Benny Goodman number, which is the first truly different piece. This drums, organ, piano and scat based track sounds largely improvised, having been developed over several years, even before the band took the name Clouds. The track is firmly rooted in jazz, with little real rock or prog as such. The excessive and overt nature of the drums on the track may suit some, but to these ears it is an indulgence too far.

Things get back on track with "Take me to your leader" a short burst of organ fuelled brass rock. It is all wonderfully dated sounding proto-prog, and over in under 3 minutes. As mentioned, "The Carpenter" and "Old man" are recycled from the previous album. "Big noise from Winnetka" is a sort of cut down version of "Sing sing, sing", although here bass guitar gets to take centre stage too.

"In the mine" sees the band successfully putting together their most complex vocal harmonies, creating a song of considerable beauty and mystique. The 7 minute closing track "Waiter there's something in my soup" was a feature track on "The Clouds Scrapbook".

In all, an enjoyable album, but one which for me is flawed. This may be more representative of what the band were seeking to achieve, but when indulgence is allowed to prevail, things take a definite dip. There is some fine music here though, and it is good to hear the missing link between the band's two official UK releases.

Footnote, the wonderfully flawed masterpiece UK sampler "Bumpers" ( contained the track "Take me to your leader" which it claimed was from "Clouds forthcoming (UK) album", but the track was never actually available in the UK on a Clouds album. The sleeve notes to the recent Clouds reissue also go on to point out that European releases of "Bumpers" contained a non-album single by Clouds instead!

 Scrapbook by CLOUDS album cover Studio Album, 1968
3.48 | 26 ratings

Clouds Prog Related

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.

Thanks to certif1ed for the artist addition.

Copyright Prog Archives, All rights reserved. | Legal Notice | Privacy Policy | Advertise | RSS + syndications

Other sites in the MAC network: — jazz music reviews and archives | — metal music reviews and archives