For those unfamiliar with the band, Clear Blue Sky released a couple albums on the Vertigo label in the early 70s, and have sporadically put out new albums ever since. Their last full set of new songs was Gateway To The Seventh Dimension, released in 2007, an album that drew on every aspect of what Clear Blue Sky can be about, from hard Blues rock, progressive rock, psychedelia and space rock; a really interesting convergence of genres.
The mainstay of the band from the beginning has been singer/guitarist John Simms, and on the latest Clear Blue Sky album – Don’t Mention Rock ‘N’ Roll – he is joined by Kraznet Montpelier on bass, backing vocals and keyboards and Thomas Tiefenbacker on drums, forming the core band. Lee Limerick, Lucy Limerick and Maxine Marten provide additional backing vocals (Marten wrote most of the lyrics), and David “Ohead” Hendry contributes keyboards and “psychedelic dreamscapes”.
As the title suggests, this album is about ROCK! The set opens with the title track, a shit kickin’, Blues infused, guitar driven, 70s styled heavy rocker, with power chords that border on the metallic. Boneshaker is similar, being short and sweet at barely over 2 minutes, but it’s tightly wound, packs a punch and has some nasty ripping guitar licks. Warlords is both high powered and reflective, rocking hard, yet speaking emotional volumes. Simms cranks out one of the best solos on the album, communicating a mixture of Hendrix and the nastiest barroom rock, playing with real passion and intensity. I love the way The Colour Of Your Love rocks hard, with relentless in-yer-face drumming and searing guitar, while managing to retain the contemplative quality you might expect from a love song. Rising With Light is one of the more melodic and easy-paced songs of the set, yet still rocks hard with its underlying molten lava power chords and drumming. Great vocal harmonies too. Ditto for Where Are You, which includes orchestrated embellishments that work well precisely because they don’t overpower the dominant guitar and heavy rock elements. Dare To Dream features power Blues rock that’ll make you swoon. The Wheel Of Time Comes Around goes deeper into the cosmos, with spacey efx’d guitar, otherworldly heavy Blues riffs, and synth and soundscape colorings. Finally, Song Of The Universe sounds like it would have been right at home on the Gateway To The Seventh Dimension album, being a beautifully melodic and mind-bending Space-Prog song, with beautiful flowing keys from Hendry and space-Blues guitar from Simms.
In summary, think of the best 70s hard rock bands, with the best and tightest musicians; those who were white hot and took the music a step off the beaten path, given the progressive rock nature of the times, and you’ve got that with a contemporary twist on Don’t Mention Rock ‘N’ Roll. And this album will be a guitar fan’s wet dream, being a non-stop banquet of power chords, riffs and monster solos, all integrated seamlessly into the songs.
For more information visit the Clear Blue Sky web site at: http://www.clearbluesky.co.uk
Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz