Clouds (2) ‎– Up Above Our Heads

Deram ‎– DES 18044, London Records ‎– DES 18044
Vinyl, LP, Album

Tracklist Hide Credits

A1 Imagine Me
Written-By – Ritchie*, Hughes*, Ellis*
A2 Sing, Sing, Sing
Written-By – Prima*
A3 Take Me To Your Leader
Written-By – Ritchie*, Hughes*, Ellis*
B1 Carpenter
Written-By – Ritchie*, Hughes*, Ellis*
B2 Old Man
Written-By – Ritchie*, Hughes*, Ellis*
B3 Big Noise From Winnetka
Written-By – Crosby*, Haggart*, Rodin*, Bauduc*
B4 In The Mine
Written-By – Ritchie*, Hughes*, Ellis*
B5 Waiter, There's Something In My Soup
Written-By – Ritchie*, Hughes*, Ellis*

Companies, etc.



Released on a maroon/white Deram label.

''A product of London Records, Inc.

Other Versions (2 of 2) View All

Cat# Artist Title (Format) Label Cat# Country Year
DES 18044 Clouds (2) Up Above Our Heads(LP, Album) Deram DES 18044 Canada 1970 Sell This Version
BELLE 172833 Clouds (2) Up Above Our Heads(CD, Album, RE, RM, SHM) Belle Antique BELLE 172833 Japan 2017 Sell This Version



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October 7, 2010
This album is in some ways the most problematic of the three released by Clouds. It is indisputably the best example of the musicianship, yet it contains the least of the composition and excellent song-writing which defines the other two releases, The Clouds Scrapbook and Watercolour Days.
In fact, each snapshot you get of this group seems to show something different, organic changes abound. From the striking invention and jazziness of 1-2-3, through the mixture of songs and creativity of The Clouds Scrapbook, followed by the muso concert phase which contains Up Above our Heads, to the uncut diamond that is Watercolour Days. Each phase shows aspects of a group that are difficult to pin down by trite phrases or neat labels.
Imagine me opens the album, careering along a dizzy path of improvisation and a decent song too, a blistering organ ends proceedings, topped off by a spine-chilling vocal rall from Ellis. This is how the band must have sounded ‘live’ circa 1969-70.
Sing Sing Sing is the old jazz-swing classic, complete with instrumental solos from all three musicians, stand-out piano and organ underlines Ritchie’s reputation as one of the great keyboard players of the era, while Hughes’ drumming bristles with technical excellence and Ellis gives value for money in bass invention and solid support for his two virtuoso sidekicks.
Take me to your Leader yet again reveals the schism between group and song-writing. This is effectively a non-song, an excuse to show off jazz sensibilities, and the band, with the always-excellent David Palmer’s help, pull off the performance well. Just that worry over content.
Carpenter is something of the same ilk, a slightly-better ‘song’, but essentially, a platform for musicians rather than a statement of any real substance. One of several tracks lifted from The Clouds Scrapbook for inclusion here.
Old Man is the Ellis song, previously-heard on the first album. Neat and well-presented, but artistic content is again at issue here. Though on the first album it lent something in blues credibility to offset against the more mainstream offerings, it seems unnecessary here, with all that surrounds it. Surely a chance missed to record something different for posterity?
Big Noise from Winettka, along with Sing Sing Sing, somewhat defines the character of this album, and perhaps the group at this point, a Rock version of Swing’s most emblematic numbers. This one is put together well, excellent harmonies and re-writing of melody, but the central point, the drumsticks playing on the bass guitar, while no doubt excellent in concert, doesn’t carry the same weight on record. Perhaps that’s why the gimmicky effects were introduced? The number is probably included here because of the concert popularity of the bass-drums novelty. To be fair, when seen on the video ‘live’ from Beat club (included here on Prog-archives), the technique is something of a tour-de-force by Hughes and Ellis, but has to be seen as much as heard.
In the Mine is, with the possible exception of Imagine Me, perhaps the only full-blown new song included on the album. That familiar melodic grandeur and serious tone once again pervades proceedings, with a beautiful 5/4 interlude which would have sounded quite breath-taking were it not for its shaky moments in performance. As an ideas band, Clouds were second to none, only the studio time and experience was needed to complete the circle, but it never happened, and this has to be a cause for great regret.
As if to underscore that point, the album closes with Waiter there’s something in my Soup, from the first album, but a slightly-different mix or pressing, giving more dynamics at some points (and some strange noises at others!). As mentioned before, the song-drama is a wonderful piece of invention, with sometimes-fragmented edges not quite coming off, but the reward is in some of sections where it is nothing less than classic in its timeless quality, suggesting something far more serious than mere Rock music. David Palmer has once again to be commended for his part in this production with his fine and thoughtful orchestrations.
Up Above our Heads is an excellent album, albeit containing that familiar and frustrating mix of brilliance and sloppiness so prevalent to Clouds. It also contains the strains of the tension between songs and group music, though in the case of this album, the group has won – the opposite perhaps of the first album, which puzzled the Clouds audience at the time. Perhaps this album was to appease those disgruntled fans of the ‘live’ band. If so, it was a mistake, as the album remains the lesser-known of the three, something of an obscurity, though apparently a CD release is on the horizon.