Clear Blue Sky - Out Of The Blue

Year of Release: 2001
Label: Aftermath Records
Catalog Number: AFT 1009
Format: CD
Total Time: 69:56:00

Clear Blue Sky recorded more material than ever actually made it to vinyl in the 70s. Their first and only contemporanously released album was 1971's Clear Blue Sky. Aside from the music it contained, the album is notable in that it featured the very first album cover from Roger Dean, an artist who has gone on to some reknown in progressive rock circles, designing covers for a little band called Yes, for example. Their second album of material wasn't released until some 20 years later on, that being Destiny. Compliations of other material have been released and last year a new album of new material Mirror Of The Stars was released. Out Of The Blue contains material recorded in 1968 and 1969 but released only last year. It features also live version of tracks from that first album.

There is no mistaking the music as having come from the late 60s as names like Cream, Yardbirds ("New Dream" and "Spooky"), Janis Joplin, Big Brother and The Holding Company, Jefferson Airplane, etc. all come to mind. In other words, blues influenced rock with some elements of jazz. CBS, in fact, played with many of those artists mentioned, and, according their bio, The Who's John Entwhistle had some help with their career, "and occasionally turned up unannounced at their gigs, and jammed with them, much to the astonished amazement of the audience!" You can hear snippets of their influences in the music. It's Eddie Cochran and Jimi Hendrix in "Veil Of The Vixen" where the main riff is concerned (a hint of "Summertime Blues") and the lead guitar work from Simms recalls that distorted tone of Hendrix's. In "Spooky," it's Clapton that's recalled at times, as well as Hendrix. "Man Of Stones," begins with a hint of "Love Potion No. 9" (which dates from the 50s, of course) in the way the verses are delivered, though the fuzzed, shrill and almost squeaky guitar tone from Simms' guitar is very much un-50s like. "Taxman" is heavy, with a very classic sound. Close your eyes listening to "Destiny" and you swear it was Rush, although they wouldn't, of course, come to formation for another five years or so. But CBS here have that same bass-heavy rhythm, Simms guitar sounds not unlike Lifeson's work on those early Rush albums - Fly By Night, for example, or Hemispheres (and points in between). Simms' vocal delivery even sounds like Geddy Lee at times. It's just very eerie... "My Heaven" has a psychedelic feel, which suggests Middle Eastern motifs (and there are), which themselves suggest Eastern mysticism, which, of course, was very much "en vogue" during the late 60s and early 70s. Or so our impression is looking back. If one visualizes psychedelic colors swirling about... another impression we look back upon the 60s with, due to the abundant use of CSO on taped performances and the use of background projection...

CBS were a trio of John Simms on lead guitar and vocals, Mark Sheather on bass and Ken White on drums. If their first album was released when they were 18, it's interesting to note that they were 16 when this stuff was recorded, though it seems much more mature than that would suggest. If Mirror... was a little light and airy, the material here on Out Of The Blue is fairly solid and serious. It's heavy and quite accomplished. For the live tracks the trio is Simms, at least two different bassists (on different tracks) Kraznet Montpelier and Ted Landon, the latter of whom is currently with the band. Also credited is Paul G., but other than on the sleeve of this CD, I see no other reference to Paul and what instrument he might have played, presumably bass.

To be honest, the overall mix is a litle muddy, but to apply today's technology to these pieces might just suck out the warmth they have. There is some drop out in the sound of "Joanna," like the source tapes may have worn a little thin in spots, muffling the sound a bit. And while some of the well-known groups of the 60s can be mentioned, CBS's sound followed more along the progressive, experiment path than the song path ... meaning there isn't anything as catchy as, say, "Sunshine Of Your Love" or "Foxey Lady."

The appeal and focus mainly resides in Simms' guitar playing, though Sheather and White hold their own, giving Simms a broad canvas to work with and upon. And though the first few pieces are short at barely exceeding three minutes, the album does have a number of longer compositions such as "Journey," which runs more than 11 minutes, "My Heaven" and more than 9 minutes, and both "Will You Lie" and "Veil..." run 8-plus and 7-plus minutes, respectively. So there's plenty to listen to.

Man Of Stones (3:08) / New Dream (3:08) / Spooky (3:26) / Will You Lie (8:46) / Veil Of The Vixen (7:23) / Taxman (5:06 / Joanna (5:00) / Journey (11:31) / Mystery (6:37) / Destiny (6:43) / My Heaven (9:08)

John Simms - guitars and vocals
Mark Sheather - bass
Ken White - drums
Kraznet Montpelier - bass
Paul G - bass?
Ted Landon ? bass

Clear Blue Sky (1971)
Heads Together/Round One (comp.; 1 track)
The Vertigo Trip (comp.; 1 track)
Destiny (1990)
Vertigo Classics & Rarities, Vol.1 (1990) (comp.; 1 track)
Cosmic Crusader (1991)
Still Dizzy After All These Years (comp.; 1 track)
Out Of The Blue/Live & Unreleased (2001)
Mirror Of The Stars (2001)
Time Machine (comp.) (2005)
Gateway To The Seventh Dimension (2007)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin UK

Added: December 2nd 2002
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website:
Hits: 867
Language: english


[ Back to Reviews Index | Post Comment ]