Forgotten series: The Plastic Cloud – The Plastic Cloud (1968)

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by Beverly Paterson

Sorely overlooked when it was originally released on the Allied label in 1968, The Plastic Cloud — the solitary album by this Bay Ridge, Canada band — has since reaped the critical accolades it deserves and has attracted a wider audience, thanks to keen collectors and those seeking obscurities.

Made up of lead singer and guitarist Don Brewer (not to be confused with the drummer of Grand Funk Railroad of the same name), guitarist Mike Cadieux, bassist Brian Madill and drummer Randy Umphrey, the Plastic Cloud had so much going for them. For one thing, they housed a great songwriter in Don Brewer, whose deep and meaningful lyrics combined surrealistic signals with a social awareness. To top it off, the band’s sound corresponded right in unison with the poetic lyrics, resulting in a perfect fit all the way around.

Layers of hissing fuzz guitars, quivering with distortion dominate The Plastic Cloud (Pacemaker Entertainment), while ghostly vocals recite the verse. The drumming is steady and the bass riffs are thick and heavy. Paralyzing rhythms sire a hypnotic tone, placing the tunes in a hemisphere that can only be described as otherworldly. A distinctive style that is both consistent and rather unusual pilots the disc.

The Plastic Cloud really bears no direct resemblance to any of their peers, but it’s not hard to spot reflections of the Doors (minus the keyboards) and the Beatles (specifically the psychedelic indentations of songs like “She Said She Said” and “Tomorrow Never Knows”) rising through the grooves of their moody missives. “Shadows of Your Mind,” “You Don’t Care,” “Face Behind the Sun,” “Epistle to Paradise” and “Civilization Machine,” an 8:55 blast of mind-numbing freaky flavored garage rock, rest among the stand out cuts on the record.

Clingy melodies lend further appeal to the platter, and the arrangements are pretty gosh darn catchy as well.

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Beverly Paterson

Beverly Paterson

Beverly Paterson was born the day Ben E. King hit No. 4 with "Stand By Me" -- which is actually one of her favorite songs, especially John Lennon's version. She's contributed to Lance Monthly and Amplifier, and served as Rock Beat International's associate editor. Paterson has also published Inside Out, and Twist & Shake. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.
Beverly Paterson
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