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Old May 18, 2004, 12:44 PM   #1
Legs
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Default The Dark Horse years album reviews - Cloud Nine

“We had real saxes, real guitars, real piano’s, real drums, real people playing real songs.”
George on creating Cloud Nine.

Cloud Nine represents an return to old Harrison standards. George’s guitar work is brought more up front ,and while the 80’s most populair instrument the synth is still on the album, it isn’t used as much as on prevous albums, given a chance for other real instrumenst to breath through.

Some feel that Jeff Lynne has a to heavy hand in producing this album. But everything was already done by George before, on songs like “If You Believe” and “Don’t Let me Wait To Long”, which sounds like Jeff Lynne produced them, but it was pure George. All that Jeff did was bring out the best of George’s musical talents, his guitar and voice shines through on Cloud Nine.

Eric and George’s, call and answer guitar duels on the title track, are among the best they ever done, great to listen to. Lyrics are more simple, George is unassuming when he sings “you can have my love/ use it while it does you good”. On one hand it seems that the lyrics are built around the music and that the words are more of a afterthought, but then “Take my smile and my heart They were yours from the start”, are beautiful words.

Sometimes I get stuck writing reviews, and I understand why it’s dificult sometimes to write about music. I had to stop writing about That's What It Takes cause I just had to listen. This is another one of these songs, where every guitar bit, every note and word gets into my body, and I just stand there with a smile on my face listening, from the intro to the end.

Fish On The Sand is where Jeff Lynne comes in.The song has the most beatle-esgue sound on the album.The guitar sound, the backing and answer vocals, have that Beatles mark. No doubt Jeff Lynne has a hand in that, but there’s nothing wrong with bringing out the best from someone through his songs. I don’t know wheter George at one point felt he lost touch with God, but I can imagine that like every person he sometime has his doubts and strugles, and that he still was searching. The words “ I want to know that you're not lost inside of me” or as I sometimes hear them, “That you’re not lost sight of me”, shows some fear that he feels alienated from God.

“Basicly it’s really for anybody .Don’t worry about anything, just deal with one thing at the time.” George on the lyrics of Just For Today. Alcoholics Anonymous might be an inspiration, or a handfull of rock stars going in and out of diferent addictions.But I agree, anyone having a dificult time in life, can relate to this song. The beautiful mournful guitars, the music and backing vocals, completes the sad tone of this song.

This Is Love bring out George’s wonderful guitar skils throughout the song. I get shivers down the spine, to use that phrase again, everytime I hear that intro. A comercial song, but yet pure George and nothing to be ashamed of. Jeff’s touch can be heard on the falling chords, which he uses on at least one song, on every album he produces.

When We Was Fab ,back when income tax was all they had. A dream come true for Jeff Lynne on this built yourself a Beatles song. You either love it or hate it, I love it. Ringo’s drum fills the cello’s, the references to Beatles songs, most prominent is “I Am The Walrus” which “Fab” borrows a lot from, I really don’t mind.Some references to Dylan and Smokey are included as well.

Devil's Radio came when George passed a church in a litttle country town in England. The billboard outside read ‘Gossip The Devil’s radio. Don’t be a broadcaster’.Being subject of the gossip journalism, George takes them on in this solid rock song, with some great guitar parts.
Somehow, while it being a great rocking track, it’s not a favourite of mine. The production is a bit to overpowering, try to have as many instruments at once at full volume level.

Someplace Else , the love song for the naughty couple witten for Shanghai Surprise. This beautiful ballad with a strong melody is a rest point,after a few uptempo songs.The original demo of this song, found on bootlegs, sounds even more Beatle like, perhaps George thought it was to much and re-recorded it.

Wreck Of The Hesperus is similar in content as “Devil’s Radio” as George got out of the line of media fire, and emerges like the wall of China, rocking as good as Gibraltar, which he does on this song. The verse about “Poison penmen speak” is a clear attack at the media.

The chinese introduction to Breath Away From Heaven is a reminder of where the song comes from. Also written for the Shanghai Surprise movie, but the oriental sound doesn’t really fit on the album.True enough George likes to try out different styles, but in this case he just had to write it for a movie.”It’s supposed to be just slightly Chinese sounding”. A left over, but still nice to listen to.

Got My Mind Set On You the number 1 hit needs to introduction. A great solid rock version, of this Rudy Clark song. I haven’t heard the original version yet, but George’s cover supose to be totaly diferent then the original. “It rocks along”.

To a bootleg colector like me the bonus songs are nothing new this time. The good thing tho is that “Shanghai Surprise” is now finally released, and gets the recognition it deserved. Pardon the expresion but the song kicks ass.Good to have a good and clear version of it. Zig Zag is a nice little instrumental. Finally the booklet on the re-release is an improvement over the original, some liner notes and photo’s added, as well as the hand written lyrics of Cloud Nine, to bad that not all of the lyrics are included.

A great solid rock album.

Next Rob will take you to Japan, if I’m not mistaken.
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Old May 19, 2004, 04:14 AM   #2
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Default Re: The Dark Horse years album reviews - Cloud Nine

Great review Legs!! So good in fact there is nothing more I can say. This is a great album. I very much agree that Jeff brings some of the best of George, they make a very good team. There is no way I can pick a favorite from this one.

Thanks again for your insight!
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Old May 20, 2004, 09:56 AM   #3
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Default Re: The Dark Horse years album reviews - Cloud Nine

Quite some review Legs, it makes me want to play the album in full and loud, very loud, but I can't at the moment, however I will prepare a full reply with my thoughts on the album and your review on each song.

Give me a day or so to do it.
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Old May 21, 2004, 10:09 AM   #4
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Default Re: The Dark Horse years album reviews - Cloud Nine

Great review, Legs! This is such a great album, and the review makes me want to listen to it again all the more. My personal favourite is Someplace Else, but there are so many strong songs, like Fish on The Sand, That's What It Takes, and the title song. And Got My Mind Set on You is a brilliant little rocker!. The addition of Shanghai Surprise was very much welcomed by me. I have it on bootlegs, but I always thought it was such a shame that it never made it to an official album - until now.
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Old May 22, 2004, 12:52 PM   #5
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Default Re: The Dark Horse years album reviews - Cloud Nine

Legs, do you agree that the song You Took My Breath Away From Heaven should better have been put on a separate album as also the other Shanghai songs?

I agree to that, those are great songs and there should have been this separate album, which in fact George has been working on, really, and songs were recorded, but probably are waiting for someone to return from holiday

Your review makes me look back at the album.

Jeff Lynne to heavy on the album? I don't believe so, maybe When We Was Fab, but it was their both idea to go back in time and the producing is more related to the Strawberry Fields period. I always find it so 'simple' to say that about Jeff, but then people forget that for instance George wrote the many of the chello and violin parts on the Brainwashed album, and as for backing vocals maybe, listen to any George album and you hear a lot of them.

Like on bas, man Willie Weeks sure makes a bass sound like a slide guitar

I will write more about the album Legs , great review
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Old May 22, 2004, 01:02 PM   #6
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Default Re: The Dark Horse years album reviews - Cloud Nine

[ QUOTE ]
Legs, do you agree that the song You Took My Breath Away From Heaven should better have been put on a separate album as also the other Shanghai songs?


[/ QUOTE ]

Together with "The Devil's Radio has been busy" you mean?
It would have make a great album, I fish George would have finished it.

Yes Willie Weeks plays great bass on Cloud Nine, just fantastic.
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Old May 22, 2004, 01:06 PM   #7
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Default Re: The Dark Horse years album reviews - Cloud Nine

I was just thinking that Victor's Spinetti's drum is burried to much on the album, you can't hear the drum very well, but that's just a minor critigue on Cloud Nine.
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Old May 22, 2004, 02:15 PM   #8
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Default Re: The Dark Horse years album reviews - Cloud Nine

Victor, yeah that is cool. I heard a Roy Orbison version of Got My Mind Set On You and that was pretty awesome. Tom Petty doing some quality backing vocals.
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Old May 22, 2004, 02:22 PM   #9
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Default Re: The Dark Horse years album reviews - Cloud Nine

Are you sure it was Tom, I thought bob did the backing vocals on that version.
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Old May 22, 2004, 02:27 PM   #10
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Default Re: The Dark Horse years album reviews - Cloud Nine

Bob.... yeah I think so, with the funny hat
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Old May 22, 2004, 02:30 PM   #11
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Default Re: The Dark Horse years album reviews - Cloud Nine

[ QUOTE ]
FPSHOT Posted:
Bob.... yeah I think so, with the funny hat

[/ QUOTE ]

Not sure he wore one during the Cloud Nine sessions tho.
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Old May 22, 2004, 02:34 PM   #12
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Default Re: The Dark Horse years album reviews - Cloud Nine

Oh I may have mixed the hat with the three Wilbury Albums
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Old May 26, 2004, 08:59 AM   #13
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Default Re: The Dark Horse years album reviews - Cloud Nine

I apologize if people thought that this was a review of Cloud nine, intended for some discusions about the album.
I wouldn't want to do that, heaven forbid we have a good discusion about George's music.
No if I were to do a review it would be something like this.

Somewhere In England - bad album
Gone Troppo - not so bad
Cloud nine - good album.

Thought to clear things up, so it's alright to post here, don't worry.
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Old May 26, 2004, 06:19 PM   #14
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Default Re: The Dark Horse years album reviews - Cloud Nine

Well I for one really want to talk about which parts of which songs his voice sounds the sexiest
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Old May 26, 2004, 09:42 PM   #15
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Default Re: The Dark Horse years album reviews - Cloud Nine

Sorry SMP and Siobhan, I haven't missed your posts and FPSHOT will follow, but that's usually it. I am a bit disapointed in that. No-one even noticed the bunch of nonsense between FPSHOT and me, Willie Weeks isn't on Cloud Nine for example, but no-one seems to care or read this anyway.

But anything is better then nothing, so I go with the voice discusion. I believe that over the years George got a more deeper voice, and woman find that sexy.
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Old May 27, 2004, 12:09 AM   #16
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Default Re: The Dark Horse years album reviews - Cloud Nine

[ QUOTE ]
Legs Posted:
No-one even noticed the bunch of nonsense between FPSHOT and me, Willie Weeks isn't on Cloud Nine for example, but no-one seems to care or read this anyway.


[/ QUOTE ]
Legs, I think there is a lot of PM's going round now from members wondering which 'bunch of nonsense' you mean
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Old May 27, 2004, 03:08 AM   #17
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Default Re: The Dark Horse years album reviews - Cloud Nine

I personally always get a good giggle reading all the nonense I figure the two of you need your 'space' sometimes and just let you go. That doesn't mean we don't read it. Or enjoy it.

As for the voice, I feel George always had that 'sexy' low voice. for example the way he sings Glad All Over on the BBC cd. There has always been discussion in my household on Paul's voice range (and I don't disagree with this) but I also believe George has an intersting range himself. And I find that the way he uses his voice in songs to be a big factor in my enjoyment of the songs. I am amazed at the amount of emotion he can transmit.
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Old May 27, 2004, 05:06 AM   #18
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Default Re: The Dark Horse years album reviews - Cloud Nine

and btw, the 'wanting to discuss his voice' was kind of a tongue in cheek comment, but I still love to talk about it!
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Old May 28, 2004, 01:59 PM   #19
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Default Re: The Dark Horse years album reviews - Cloud Nine

Oh, tomorrow I am going to put my review up here and yes the voice will be included too
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Old May 30, 2004, 08:20 AM   #20
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Default Re: The Dark Horse years album reviews - Cloud Nine

Okay, I finally got round to the review.

Yes Legs, also in a Cloud 9 interview, George said that he set out to not use drum computers and midi-keyboards for a start. He wanted to make records like in the past, a bit more human.

Much is said about Jeff's influence - if any - but George in the same interview said that he approached Jeff to work with him, also because George new the ELO music and thought that Jeff would be thé one to work with. In another interview George says that in fact he did most of the producing till then by himself. And on this record, he did not want to be by himself. So that's when Jeff came to Friar Park for dinner, to meet, and then later George called him up and said "well, I'm going to make a record soon, do you want to do it". He said "I thought he'd be perfect for me, which he was".

Did you ever notice the difference between the album title and the album first song? 9 and Nine

Yes Legs, like you say, what people may call 'over production' maybe, was already done. How about Wah Wah and all the tambourines on ATMP, all the George O'Hara Smith's? And on each album after ATMP there is some of what we find on Cloud Nine. I actually think it is quite a Non-overproduced album. Songs like Fish On The Sand, This Is Love, Wreck Of The Hesperus, Got My Mind Set On You are pretty old fanshioned rock & roll?

Anyways, why bother anyway.. I love the way George makes his music, from a Deep Blue to a When We Was Fab.

Okay, then the songs, well the kick off

Cloud 9 opens with what I love about George. His slide guitar and buddy Eric joining, whereas Jim Keltner is very present on a striking beat. What an opening huh
Funky, as George calls it, also by what Jim Horn adds. Funk/Blues is what I'd call it, listen to that bass sound...

It was meant to be a cross between J.J. Cale and James Brown, "if there could be such a thing".

I'd say thet the song started with the basic riff, drums and bass and then the words came in. About the voice it is rather low for George's standards?

I dig the lyrics and a real George kinda thing is that it is such a love song all the way, reaching out and trying to say "here is my love... it will be great... take it and we'll be on cloud 9.....(and then haha) but if you want to quit, that's fine"

That's What It Takes in the beginning was my favorite song, also because I love the sound of many acoustic guitars and played along so much. This is the first song George wrote with Jeff. So Legs, I feel that Jeff steps in already here.

Well there is indeed a sort of introduction from Jeff on this one. "here I am" the backing vocals, some keyboards, the famous one-finger-note-touching up or down the tone ladder, on piano and keyboard which we hear on many songs where Jeff is involved.

George and Jeff wrote most of this, but Gary Wright added a pieve of chord changes which he had and Jeff added the chorus which he had lying somewhere, so in fact it is built from three bits of songs.

I love this one so much, the great vocals, all the guitars, and then in the end this amazing solo by Eric.

Lyrics like really on a George album, not the simple thing about two people together, but beautiful poetry.

Fish On The Sand has Ringo on drums. It is about and from Yogananda. Very direct words. Great Rock & Roll, and a somewhat echo sound in the vocals.

George wrote this the night before the basic sessions started, so most of it is his and he used the old Rickenbacker from Ticket To Ride on it.

Just For Today opens with George on piano in a big oak hall at FP.. George and Jeff did the choir backign of which George says it was supposed to sound like a big Welsh choir.

About the lyrics George says that "the song is also to remind myself, because we all need a reminder that there is so much happening and we try to deal with all those things. We get worn out, run down and ratty. It's nice that it reminds us we have to live now , deal with this moment and don't worry about everything else that is going on". George said the vocal reminded him of John.

It is great words and indeed can be taken for many things in life. Like "Be Here Now". It sounds like a sasd song, but I believe it has a very spiritual content. Brings you back to earth.

This double guitar solo part is magnificant and fits so well. Partly it sounds like a steel guitar.

And what a beautiful end.

This Is Love is for a long time now, my absolute favorite Harrisong. Making fools of everybody who don't understand? naahhh

But everything about this is just perfect to me, the tempo, the guitars, that Jeff riff hahah and the lyrics, because it says a lot about Love. Problems are often our own creation.... it is true.

I have the shivers too, Legs, and even more when playing the video.

And actually, funnny thing is that it is mainly Jeff's song, he wrote most of it.

When We Was Fab is very special because as you say Legs, it must have been awesome for Jeff, as Beatles fan, to have all these bits and pieces fitting together, like The Beatles did in a certain period, and also George said about this song that he loooved doing this...with Jeff, because he totally respected Jeff and this is the one song he wrote with someone else that was a true collaboration and with which they were both pleased.

The "Fab" thing did not relate to The Beatles only, but all in that period, so that is why these references to others.

It is a masterpiece, these Lynne/Beatles like backing vocals, the intervals, slide guitars....

Devil's Radio is a cool rocker again, just a song that is made for George and Eric on guitars, leading the song and a backing band for the drums, piano and bass. Elton, Ray, Ringo, Jeff... quite a set-up.

Appeared to be a great song for live shows and it's a pity he didn't do it more.

I see what you mean Legs about the volume, yeah.

Someplace Else got to me when I was writing something here about the Shanhai Surprise period. What a beautiful love song.

I hardly hear anyone mentioning this song, whilst there for instance is this wonderful story and a fantastic guitar solo.

Wreck Of The Hesperus also has grown to me over the years. What a great set of guitars here, amazing. George and Eric again, wow they must have fun recording this album, doing all these songs together.

It's a bit of an early Brainwashed, quite snapping cynical words here. "Brainless Riders ... "

Great song !!! that one part with the ending and then the guitars come in again for a fascinating ending.

Breath Away From Heaven should have been leading on the suggested soundtrack album. A real soundtrack song, which now on this album seems a bit out of place maybe to some. But I love it, it is so special and has the most amazing lyrics.

The title comes from something George's Mom used to say to him... Oh you look like the ...

A very remarkable tune... a reminder of the film, but with this sound, what can you do with it to make it less Shanghai-ish? And... why do it?

Got My Mind Set On You the single with the great videos and another rocker. A good end to this album, clear rock.

The album as a total to me is a real Rock & Roll album

When I hear these songs with Eric, I am sure that Vatican P2 Blues was played with Eric on it too, or at least it comes from the same sessions, it would have fitted great on this album.
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