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Monday, June 13, 2016

The Plastic Cloud

(Scott) this has been something of a fave of mine for a while as well, pretty certain I've not posted this one either (in case I didn't say so, John N sent me this one today as's some good light Canadian psych rock, and, I think, the review I located of it seems to sum it up well, so why not another cut/paste evaluation (trying to hurry getting ready for work, also)

The Plastic Cloud were a psychedelic rock band based out of Bay Ridges, Ontario.  Had their homebase been located elsewhere (San Fran, NYC, or LA) things may have been very different for the Plastic Cloud but instead this sole album has languished in obscurity.  Psych fans and collectors remain divided, however: collectors consider Plastic Cloud one of Canada’s best psych albums (or indeed the best from anywhere) while some jaded day-trippers merely find it just ok/nothing special.   All lyrics were written by guitarist/vocalist Don Brewer but other members were drummer Randy Umphrey, bass player Brian Madill, and guitarist Mike Cadieux.

At first listen I was not impressed with the Plastic Cloud’s only offering.  After reading all the hype about mind-jarring fuzz guitars and John Lennon-like vocals I found the disc rather mediocre and unimpressive.  After several more spins I began to appreciate the band’s intensity and lysergic charm: this disc truly does deliver the goods if you’re into hardcore, late-night psych sounds.  Two of the tracks (“Civilization Machine” and “You Don’t Care”) come close to or exceed the ten minute mark and both are repetitive but also very good.   “You Don’t Care” features nasty eastern style fuzztone and powerful drum work that never bores despite its 10.5 minute length.  Other tracks like “Epistle To Paradise” and the superb “Bridge Under The Sky” show a dreamy, softer folk-rock side which is equally appealing.  These tracks have a nice trippy production and attractive ringing guitars.  Another gem, the “Dainty General Rides Again” sounds like a lost British psych pop nugget and features a nice brief fuzz guitar break. 

While not a major classic, Plastic Cloud is surely one of the better Canadian psych albums and is consistently good throughout.  The guitarists’ tones vaguely remind me of Jorma Kaukonen's work with the Jefferson Airplane: these guitar tones coil, uncoil, and burrow deep into your head like all great psych guitar solos should.  Once again, if you enjoy great, ripping fuzz guitar and sinister vocals (check out “Shadows Of Your Mind”) this album is definitely for you.

Originals came out on Allied in 1968 and are very expensive.  The group also released a single off Allied in 1968 (“Shadows Of Your Mind” coupled with “The Dainty General”).  The best and only official cd reissue I know of is by Pacemaker (from 2005) although it offers nothing in the way of liner notes, just a couple of photos.  If Canada produced acknowledged, underrated classics like Spirit Of Christmas’ Lies To Live By (prog), The Guess Who’s It’s Time (garage/beat), The Sinners Vox Populi(psych pop/garage) and Kensington Market’s Aardvark (psych pop) then Plastic Cloud is just a notch or so below these records but still a great album.


Pretty accurate, I'd say, but I think maybe I like the album a bit better than does the reviewer..... psych fans, this has all the elements of the stuff we love, fuzz guitar, 10 minute songs, Eastern-style dabblings...... not a "classic" so to speak, but I find it a damn solid, and not that well known album. See what you think, I like this one a good bit.

PLASTIC CLOUD-01 Epistle to Paradise/02 Shadows of Your Mind/03 Ain't A happy Man/04 You Don't Care/05 Bridge Under the Sky/06 Face Behind the Sun/07 Dainty General Rides/Civilization Machines

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