In the music business there are many factors that define the razor edge between the "'Legends' and the Lost". The right sound, at the right time, in the right place are foremost on the list, but are not the only factors that will determine the placement of any musician in the history books. The pages are also subject to edit by record companies and producers, the fickle nature of fans, the general acceptance and understanding of your work by other musicians, and, of course, "Luck".
The Musicians profiled in "Through The Cracks" are those who, whether by chance or choice, never received their just due for the contributions they have made to the progression of music. The nature of this section, being on the obscurities of the music world, guarantees difficulty in obtaining adequate and accurate info, so feel free to add, correct, or debate the contents herein. Submission/comment
Clouds - a 1960s Progressive rock band that disbanded in October 1971.The band consisted of Ian Ellis (bass & lead vocals), Billy Ritchie (keyboards), and Harry Hughes (drums). Clouds were a fairly successful live act, whose performances and recordings often earned rave reviews from music critics, but their records never quite captured public imagination. More importantly though, in their earlier days as "1-2-3", they pioneered a sound and musical approach that became the blueprint for many successful acts, such as Emerson, Lake, and Palmer, Yes, The Nice, and King Crimson. 1-2-3 had a much different sound from any other band at that time , and have been described as "a unique group...who have created an entirely new sound in music". By all accounts, the music consisted of drastic re-writes of known material, infused with a mixture of classics, jazz, scat, acapella vocals, unusual time signatures and unexpected pauses, often all occurring in the same song. The Clouds were one of those unfortunate bands who were more appreciated by other musicians than by fans. They had a major influence on their contemporary musicians, and on the direction the art form took at this time in music history.
Clouds not only broke new ground with their approach to music, they were, by today's definition of the term, quite probably the first "Power Trio". The elimination of a lead guitar in favor of keyboards was virtualy unheard of at a time when lead guitarists were pushing to the forefront in most bands, and Ritchie's practice of "standing" at his keyboards instead of sitting was a format quckly adopted by others. Using both hands when playing leading lines or solos, Ritchie used harmonies to create an effect that has been the standard ever since, and shifted the role of keyboard from rhythm to lead. This gave the Hammond organ an exceptionally strong and dynamic sound, that was even more striking when he played electric piano and organ at the same time.
Hughes was a much-respected drummer's drummer, who was described (by Billboard Magazine) as 'surely the most technically-brilliant drummer of the early rock era'. He gave lessons to Bill Bruford ("Yes") and Carl Palmer ("ELP") among others, and produced one of the earliest drum tuition book and CD combination, sponsored by Premier Drums.
Ellis went on to become an in-demand bassist, playing and sometimes recording with an impressive collection of UK acts, including Alex Harvey, Savoy Brown, Steve Hackett, Ric Lee and The Mick Clark Band.
The earlier activities of the individual band members are somewhat sketchy at best, Ian Ellis and Harry Hughes were playing in a band called The Premiers with Bill Lawrence (bass guitar), ‘Shammy’ Lafferty (rhythm guitar),and Derek Reid (Lead guitar), when it was decided that an organ would help the sound of the band, and Billy Ritchie joined. After recording some demos in London, with little success, Derek Reid, Bill Lawrence, and James Lafferty decided to leave. At this point Ian Ellis decided that he would take up the position of bass guitarist as well as lead vocalist, and as a trio, the group decided to move in a new musical direction. With their new name " 1-2-3", and a new, very progressive sound the band moved from their home in Scotland to London, with hope that that their original music would catch on, but unfortunately their "early audiences were confused by the lack of a guitarist."
1-2-3 headlined at the prestigious the Marquee Club, and were described in the their newsletter as "a unique and completely individual group of musicians from Glasgow, who have created an entirely new sound in pop group music". The same publication referred to "the truly exciting nature of 1-2-3." Among the Marquee audiences at the time were future superstars such as Keith Emerson, Rick Wakeman, and David Bowie, who said, when interviewed by Record Mirror in 1967, that they were "three thistle and haggis voiced bairns [who] had the audacity to face a mob of self-opinionated hippies with a brand of unique pop music which, because of its intolerance of mediocrity, floated, as would a Hogarth cartoon in Beano.", also in the crowd were future members King Crimson, and Yes.
At the time the group was performing at the club, (1967), they were signed by NEMS management company and Brian Epstein of Beatles fame. This event was heralded in the National Press, complete with photograph and accompanying article, but with the death of Epstein the managerial relationship with NEMS soon floundered. While keeping busy playing clubs on the London circuit the band was discovered and signed by Terry Ellis to Chrysalis records. As Chrysalis Records rose to prominence so did Clouds, playing many major tours, and appearing at the Royal Albert Hall and many of the headlining concert venues in the world, including the Fillmore East in New York.1 The band released a number of albums during this period. The recordings were generally very well received by the critics, with respectable sales.2 Concert reviews were also favourable. A review of a 1970 concert at the Arragon ballroom, Chicago, began by saying 'This band will be a giant.'3 But despite some initial success for the band, Chrysalis increasingly focused its attention on Jethro Tull, and the momentum was lost. Only in hindsight was the pioneering role of the group revealed, and in that light, it was 1-2-3 who had carried the torch.4
*Yes: Early on, influenced by bands like 1-2-3 (later Clouds), the group earned a reputation for taking other people's songs and drastically changing them into expanded, progressive compositions.(^ Mojo Magazine November 1994 '1-2-3 and the Birth of Prog'; The Illustrated History of Rock ' Clouds by Ed Ward')
* King Crimson: Fripp had seen the band 1-2-3 (later known as Clouds) at the Marquee, which inspired some of Crimson's penchant for classical melodies and jazz-like improvisation. ^ Pascall, Jeremy (1984). The Illustrated History of Rock Music. Golden Books Publishing. Retrieved on 2007-09-04.
* The Nice : The Nice briefly considered looking for a replacement but, (according to sources such as Mojo magazine) they followed the example set by 1-2-3 (later Clouds), and decided to continue as a rock organ trio.
1) Fillmore East programme June 1970. Reprinted in Mojo magazine Nov 1994
2) Melody Maker ‘Album of the Month‘ (Scrapbook) Sep 1969. Kid Jensen radio show ‘Album of the week‘ (Watercolour Days) March 1971
3) Billboard Magazine concert review July 1970. Reprinted in Mojo Magazine Nov 1994
4) Mojo Magazine “1-2-3 and the Birth of Prog“ Nov 1994. Also reprinted on Clouds website. “The History of Scottish Rock and Pop“ by Brian Hogg (BBC/Guinness publishing)
Site Map Comments or Questions Submissions