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

CLOUDS

Prog Related • United Kingdom


From Progarchives.com, 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

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)
Clouds, The Source, Very Good Maxi, Single USD $1.29 Buy It Now
David Arkenstone "Valley In The Clouds" CD Narada Records (1987) - Brand New USD $39.95 Buy It Now
CHUCK MANGIONE/CHASE THE CLOUDS AWAY US SP4518 USD $18.00 Buy It Now
MIGHTY CLOUDS OF JOY - 20th Century Masters: Millennium Collection - CD USD $17.49 Buy It Now
MIGHTY CLOUDS OF JOY - I Want to Thank You - CD ** Very Good condition ** USD $14.95 Buy It Now
MIGHTY CLOUDS OF JOY - I Want to Thank You - CD ** Brand New ** USD $17.95 Buy It Now
Through Gold and Silver Clouds (Hughes, Camerata Wales) CD NEW USD $8.10 Buy It Now
Black Gospel- feats Mighty Clouds/Sister Rosetta/Dixie Humm etc + FREE UK POST USD $13.80 Buy It Now
AVIATOR - HEAD IN THE CLOUDS,HANDS IN THE DIRT CD NEW+ USD $22.41 Buy It Now
Deep Cuts From Dark Clouds 0781676718528 by 16, CD, BRAND NEW FREE P USD $18.34 Buy It Now
QUA - Painting Monsters On Clouds - 2004 Adelaide CD USD $7.49 Buy It Now
FALL OUT BOY - From Under the Cork Tree [Limited "Black Clouds and Underdogs" Ed USD $43.49 Buy It Now
Vinyl LP Records P-10961A Firefall Clouds Across The Sun w/OBI Japan USD $25.90 Buy It Now
Sound Clouds - Martin & Douglas Finch Speake (CD Used Very Good) USD $4.99 Buy It Now
IRON MAIDEN-Empire Of The Clouds 12" G/F LTD 5500 PIC DISC RSD SEALED+SHIRT RARE USD $69.99 Buy It Now
PINK FLOYD OBSCURED BY CLOUDS LP USD $50.00 [0 bids]
DAVID LANE HEAD IN THE CLOUDS CD VGC USD $2.62 Buy It Now
The RAH BAND - Mystery - CD (Clouds Across The Moon) USD $104.11 Buy It Now
Mighty Clouds Of Joy Live At The Music Hall LP Peacock PLP134 EX/EX 1973 US pres USD $23.43 Buy It Now
Mighty Clouds Of Joy Live At The Apollo LP Peacock PLP173 EX/EX 1972 US 1st pres USD $15.62 Buy It Now
Mighty Clouds Of Joy The Best Of The Mighty Clouds Of Joy LP Peacock PLP136 EX/E USD $15.62 Buy It Now
LMC vs U2_Take Me To The Clouds Above_used CD-S_ships from AUSTRALIA USD $7.49 Buy It Now
ANDY KIRK & HIS 12 CLOUDS OF JOY "Git - Take A" (N-) COLUMBIA DB-5021 [78 RPM] USD $19.46 Buy It Now
CLARKE, Josienne & BEN WALKER - Through The Clouds - Vinyl (10") USD $12.94 Buy It Now
ANDY KIRK AND HIS 12 CLOUDS OF JOY - MARCH 1936 - UK EMI 1G/1G LP USD $9.10 Buy It Now
45 RPM BLACK GOSPEL: #3029.. THE CONSOLERS - LOOK BEYOD THE CLOUDS USD $5.00 Buy It Now
the Flaming Lips - "clouds taste metallic" USD $6.00 Buy It Now
New Million Clouds Maaya Sakamoto Amanchu OP CD Japan VTCL-35235 4580325322118 USD $39.00 Buy It Now
TIAMAT - Clouds/The Sleeping Beauty - CD ** Brand New ** USD $26.49 Buy It Now
TIM DUFFY Orchestra Of Clouds SSW 1977 Music Is Medicine LP USD $14.00 Buy It Now
The Flaming Lips - Clouds Taste Metallic - The Flaming Lips CD YCVG USD $6.40 Buy It Now
Various Artists - Clouds - Various Artists CD S4VG USD $23.48 Buy It Now
Johnsmith - Hole in the Clouds - Johnsmith CD JPVG USD $6.31 Buy It Now
Obscured By Clouds [Discovery Edition] - CD USD $15.51 Buy It Now
TIAMAT original CD "Clouds" 1992 on Century Media USD $14.82 Buy It Now
Ish self titled Promo Clouds Records Soul Funk Disco Modern Soul LP USD $2.99 Buy It Now
CLOUDS OCTOPUS ULTRA RARE AUSTRALIAN CASSETTE TAPE USD $14.93 Buy It Now
Mike Oldfield CD Single Far Above The Clouds remixes inc Jam & Spoon USD $16.92 Buy It Now
Clouds In Clowds (Shimon Remix) / Eraserhead XRS (ID:14788) USD $12.00 Buy It Now
Walkin' And Swingin' AFS1011 Andy Kirk & His Clouds Of Joy (ID:14754) USD $12.00 Buy It Now
MIGHTY CLOUDS OF JOY A Bright Side (CD, Oct-1998, Universal Sp... USD $8.99 Buy It Now
The Longed-For Season [Digipak] by When the Clouds. USD $17.45 Buy It Now
Buddy Knox, Long Lonely Nights / Storm Clouds, EX, Rockabilly, 1958, Roulette USD $11.00 Buy It Now
ELIS DARK CLOUDS IN A PERFECT SKY + BONUS TRACK CD NEW USD $7.66 Buy It Now
JACK GUTHRIE and HIS OKLAHOMANS Oakie Boogie & The Clouds Rained Trouble Down USD $9.99 Buy It Now
Clouds & Fire USD $5.45 Buy It Now
JUN MAYUZUMI AMONG THE CLOUDS near mint 1969 JAPAN VINYL 45 SINGLE USD $9.11 [0 bids]
Jayne Mansfield w Jimi Hendrix 12" Suey / As The Clouds Drift By VG+/M- USD $30.00 Buy It Now
Queen of the Clouds - Tove Lo New & Sealed Compact Disc Free Shipping USD $17.96 Buy It Now
Queen of the Clouds - Tove Lo Compact Disc USD $18.23 Buy It Now
Miroslav Vitous Mountain in The Clouds Jazz Funk LP USD $7.98 Buy It Now
B.J. THOMAS, CD "MIGHTY CLOUDS OF JOY" NEW SEALES USD $6.99 Buy It Now 2m
Above the Clouds Single by Amber CD 2000 Tommy Boy! USD $6.98 Buy It Now 12m 5s
Mighty Clouds of Joy "There's Love in the World" 45 SIngle PROMO Mono/Stereo USD $4.95 Buy It Now 22m 13s
Pink Floyd - Obscured By Clouds UK 1st Press Nice Copy USD $32.54 Buy It Now 29m 38s
Michael William Gilbert - Light in the Clouds [New CD] USD $17.01 Buy It Now 32m 6s
Donald Arquilla - Out of the Clouds Under the Covers Seasons of Love [New CD] USD $17.40 Buy It Now 32m 50s
MIGHTY CLOUDS OF JOY - BEST OF 2 NEW CD USD $8.23 Buy It Now 56m 15s
Those Glorious MGM Musicals Clouds Roll By & 3 Little Words 1973 2 LPs Sealed USD $24.99 Buy It Now 1h
Mighty Clouds of Joy You Are So Beautiful 1975 ABC DJ Copy Free Shipping VG++ USD $10.79 Buy It Now 1h
Till The Clouds Roll By Judy Garland MGM Microgroove E-501 10"33rpm 092016DBL USD $11.24 Buy It Now 1h 12m
CHUCK MANGIONE QUARTET - Chase The Clouds Away - A & M SP 4518 - 1975 - CANADA USD $3.90 [0 bids]
1h 26m
Pink Floyd - Obscured By Clouds on Harvest Records ST 11078 USD $54.99 Buy It Now 1h 51m
MIGHTY CLOUDS OF JOY * 45 * Might Clouds * 1974 * St/Mo DJ PROMO * UNPLAYED MINT USD $4.20 Buy It Now 1h 52m
MIGHTY CLOUDS OF JOY-BEST OF VOLUME II CD NEW USD $5.83 Buy It Now 2h 5m
Ash Valley, Castle In The Clouds, 10 Tracks USD $14.59 Buy It Now 2h 7m
DEAR BOY - GREY CLOUDS 7" VINYL PS USD $7.15 Buy It Now 2h 12m
whitewater lp springtime in the white clouds ah-401-41d vg+/vg+ USD $9.99 Buy It Now 2h 24m
Clouds by Joni Mitchell (CD, Apr-2011, Warner Reprise) WEA Mfg. USD $5.00 Buy It Now 2h 27m
LINO CASTIGLIONE - Clouds 180g Black Vinyl LP (REISSUE) Italian Library Music USD $38.98 Buy It Now 2h 34m
LMC v U2 ?- Take Me To The Clouds Above Cat No. CXGLOBE313 Cd Single USD $1.29 [0 bids]
2h 40m
Fall Out Boy FROM UNDER THE CORK TREE (BLACK CLOUDS & UNDERDOGS) New Vinyl 2 LP USD $29.99 [0 bids]
2h 47m
THE ORB-ADVENTURES BEYOND THE ULTRAWORLD 2-CD 1996 LITTLE FLUFFY CLOUDS AMBIENT USD $1.71 [2 bids]
2h 51m
Enya A Box of Dreams [3-CD] Taiwan Edition New & Sealed Oceans Clouds Stars USD $24.99 Buy It Now 2h 55m
" A WALK IN THE CLOUDS " OST CD MAURICE JARRE USD $19.52 [0 bids]
3h
A Holiday Gift Just For You LP 1973 ABC Records Sealed [Mighty Clouds of Joy] USD $15.00 Buy It Now 3h 12m
Rare 1991 The Orb Little Fluffy Clouds 5-Track DJ Club Remix US 12" Vinyl Single USD $23.85 Buy It Now 3h 14m
Group Image, The A Mouth In The Clouds Psych USD $1.29 [3 bids]
3h 27m
Pink Floyd Obscured By Clouds LP 1972 Harvest ST-11078 USD $24.99 Buy It Now 3h 27m
PINK FLOYD, Obscured By Clouds ... rare CD (mini LP) USD $9.10 [0 bids]
3h 33m
SUPERSIFFIC VS WOODFINN - CLOUDS / SUNRISE - 12" RECORD - EQUILIBRIUM - EQ 007 USD $3.58 Buy It Now 4h 11m
78 RPM RECORD PAINTING THE CLOUDS WITH SUNSHINE ROY POWELL DUBIN BURKE AL FOSTER USD $50.00 Buy It Now 4h 20m
Pink Floyd - Obscured by Clouds - New 180g Vinyl LP - Pre Order - 23rd September USD $27.32 Buy It Now 4h 23m
SILVER JEWS Send In The Clouds 3 Track CD! Pavement Stephen Malkmus USD $5.19 [0 bids]
4h 23m
THE SPACEMEN: The Lonely Jet Pilot / Clouds ALTON Rock & Roll 50s 45 Hear USD $8.00 Buy It Now 4h 26m
NOKKO - CRAZY CLOUDS 3'' CD SINGLE VERY RARE ( JAPANESE POPS ) USD $13.02 Buy It Now 4h 30m
Pink Floyd Obscured by Clouds LP sealed 180 gm vinyl RE reissue USD $29.98 Buy It Now 4h 39m
Helen Habershon - Beyond the Clouds [2011] (Audio CD) in excellent condition USD $9.75 Buy It Now 4h 48m
Tiamat Clouds CD USA Original Press Century Media ?- 7736-2 USD $14.99 Buy It Now 4h 57m
All That I Am Chapter 1 - Mighty Clouds Of Joy (CD Used Very Good) USD $10.58 Buy It Now 4h 59m
MEET ME AFTER THE SHOW-PAINTING THE CLOUDS WITH SUNSHINE-LP-CALIBAN 6012-SEALED USD $9.99 Buy It Now 5h 27m
Earl Lee and his Songsters-Jazz-Painting The Clouds With Sunshine-P6-V+ USD $6.00 [0 bids]
5h 28m
Black Clouds and Silver Linings by Dream Theater (Vinyl, Oct-2013, 6 Discs, Road USD $99.99 Buy It Now 5h 43m
Aileen Stanley-Everybody Loves My Baby/Vernon Dalhart-De Clouds Are Gwine To USD $10.00 Buy It Now 6h 56m
Joni Mitchell Clouds RS6341 Records 33 Record LP U.S.A. USD $4.99 Buy It Now 7h 22m
Pauline Murray LP Storm Clouds vinyl '89 chilton OG NM punk wave martin hannett! USD $42.00 Buy It Now 7h 25m
Obscured by Clouds [LP] by Pink Floyd (Vinyl, 1972, Pink Floyd) USD $19.00 [0 bids]
USD $30.00 Buy It Now
7h 29m
Mcgeorge, Kenny Above the Clouds & Rain CD ***NEW*** USD $14.26 Buy It Now 7h 43m
Black Clouds in Twin Galaxies by Winters (CD, Jul-2007, Candlelight Records) USD $4.25 Buy It Now 7h 52m
CD - Collage by Clouds (Australia) - Disc Excellent USD $5.00 Buy It Now 8h 2m

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 Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

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

3.48 | 26 ratings
Scrapbook
1968
3.51 | 22 ratings
Up Above Our Heads
1969
3.86 | 24 ratings
Watercolour Days
1971

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
1996
4.12 | 11 ratings
Up Above Our Heads [Clouds 1966-71]
2010

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
4.12 | 11 ratings

BUY
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
4.12 | 11 ratings

BUY
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

BUY
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
4.12 | 11 ratings

BUY
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

BUY
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

BUY
Scrapbook
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
4.12 | 11 ratings

BUY
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

BUY
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

BUY
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" (www.progarchives.com/album.asp?id=11440) 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

BUY
Scrapbook
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: JazzMusicArchives.com — jazz music reviews and archives | MetalMusicArchives.com — metal music reviews and archives