Mar 19, 2009
CLEAR BLUE SKY - CLEAR BLUE SKY (VERTIGO 1970) Jap mastering cardboard sleeve
Clear Blue Sky were just one of these bands that have a most definite blues influence. However, their ability to introduce a number of variations within their musical structure such as subtle classical influences as well as a degree of complexity that went beyond the average band enabled their music to be appreciated by a wider range of audiences.
The album starts with the suite, "Journey To the Inside Of The Sun" which occupied the whole of first side of the original vinyl album, and is in itself subdivided into three tracks. The opening Sweet Leaf is a real stomper, with a classical blues riff. As can be expected, a line-up comprising guitar, bass and drums could be rather limited in the amount of musical diversity that can be created, yet on the other hand the band manage to carry this off well. The opening nine and a half minutes (all of Sweet Leaf) are instrumental with John Simms belting out one guitar solo after the other, ably backed by Sheather and White. On the other hand one can note the classical influence on these musicians when occasional the stomp is abruptly stopped with a short classical interlude (played on guitar) taken from Dvorak's New World Symphony.
The Rocket Ride starts with a Hendrix-like riff, however the track takes an unexpected twist with some rapid changes in time signature and key just before the entry of Simms on vocals. It proceeds on a blues-based foundation though the occasional twist and turn does occur, as happens also with I'm Comin' Home. At times there are traces of Cream, whilst at others one feels that the riffs that shift from an almost acoustic feel to a more abrasive distortion are on a par with Jimmy Page's riffs with Led Zeppelin.
You Mystify has the band letting all hell let loose with Simms' searing guitar work. The shifts in time signature are continuous, once again proving the group's ability to go beyond the routine twelve bar format. Tool Of My Frade also has a backing Hammond, which stays firmly in the background, just adding to the fullness of the sound thus allowing for Simms to do away with the distortion, and even introduce an acoustic guitar. As always the guitar work is fantastic, but a word must be put in for the rhythm section, most notably Ken White's drumming which is constantly changing creating the perfect backbone for Simms and his guitars.
My Heaven and Birdcatcher bring the album to a close. My Heaven could be considered to be the mellower of the two blending both hard and acoustic rock, making it one of the more easy listening tracks on the album. On the other hand Birdcatcher is a straight forward track with Budgie-sque riff featuring plenty of blues influences. Of particular interest on this closing track is use of a flute which adds that Jethro Tull touch to the track. This touch as well as the interlude halfway through the track which has just flute and guitar with footsteps used to keep the beat create and incredibly fantastic atmosphere...[net]
"Patrick Campbell-Lyons was responsible for producing some of Vertigo's most fascinating releases. Among them was the debut album from Clear Blue Sky, which in my own estimation rates as the label's finest work. The band was a three piece from Acton, who were only 18 years old when the album was issued in 1971. Their album is now very collectable, and they are easily the match of any of their contemporaries."
Barry Winton/Record Collector/'The Vertigo Label'