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Clouds - Up Above Our Heads CD (album) cover




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3.51 | 24 ratings

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4 stars Above Some People's Heads.

This is not a 1 star album. It's simply too full of proggy ideas and catchy tunes.

Neither is it an essential, but should appeal greatly to ELP fans, and fans of the wilder, improvised stuff (and I don't mean noodling around a single chord, I mean proper, off-the- wall, over-the-edge-of-the-cliff improvisation).

It's like a missing link.

We all know that there's Prog, and then there's the stuff that came before.

People talk about jazz influences and classical influences, long songs, and so on, and, if you've heard Clouds' general release albums, you'll know that they played a progressive style of well crafted pop/rock with occasional jazz and classical forays.

Up Above Our Heads contains a couple of pieces from Scrapbook, reworked, and tributes to the jazzmen, particularly, it would seem, drummer wildman, Gene Krupa.

Imagine Me is a song crawling with infectious melody, walking jazz bass lines, and Manzarek style keyboard chops, interspersed with loose (indeed, slightly ragged) interjections, and amuses right to the end of the wild keyboard solo at the end.

Sing, Sing, Sing revisits the Krupa version of the Louis Prima number, with Billy Ritchie's sometimes lengthy trademark organ and piano interjections - often simultaneous, but mostly featuring Ian Ellis' meandering bass over Hughes' rock interpretation of Krupa's jazz drum soloing.

A manic, dangerously loose song "Take Me To Your Leader" follows, with added jazz, and blaring horn section.

This segues into "The Carpenter", followed by "Old Man", songs from Watercolour days, sounding much more polished than the newer material.

Two new songs follow, before the album is wrapped up with the Prog Epic "Waiter, There's Something in my Soup".

Big Noise From Winnetka is based on Gene Krupa's drum-oriented version of the Bob Haggart composition, but contains a lot of studio larking about, with some suprise noises and sounds - this one is really entertaining, and made me jump a couple of times.

In The Mine is the final new original composition for this album. An acoustic guitar intro preceeds a scene-setting dirge before the song kicks in. The familiar Clouds' looseness and over-production could spoil this for some, but to me, it just sounds as raw as it can get. It verges on the messy, but despite this, has a remarkable overall coherence, and moments of pure magic, with rhythmic passages that have since caused well-worn paths in progdom.

The various Spaghetti Western references in the music evoke Muse's Knights of Cydonia to some extent.

There are no drums on this track - but somehow, you don't miss them.

An excellent album - yet another flawed gem in the Clouds' catalogue.

It's a pity they haven't produced anything since Watercolour Days - this was a band with masses of potential and invention, and I'd really like to hear something with the polish that this music deserves.

Certif1ed | 4/5 |


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