The Plastic Cloud
The Plastic Cloud
Allied - 1968
In July of 1967, the Jefferson Airplane took up a week-long residence at the massive O'Keefe Centre in Toronto, and then played an additional outdoor freebie in front of some 20,000 souls in the sun-drenched and spanking-new Nathan Phillips Square. Grace Slick's soaring vocals and Jorma Kaukonen's searing electric guitar must have had a huge influence on young bands like Oshawa's Reign Ghost and the Plastic Cloud from Bay Ridges, Ontario, just east of Toronto. Both bands recorded superb and highly sought-after psychedelic LPs for the Allied label, with the discs changing hands for upwards of $1000 these days.
The four-piece Plastic Cloud were led by guitarist and singer Don Brewer, who penned the eight songs on this, their only LP. The Plastic Cloud is essentially two discs in one, bookending the summer of love with alternating mid-sixties folk-rock gems and extended tracks of blistering late-sixties guitar work. The somewhat wooden harmonies on 'Epistle to Paradise' and the bucolic guitar of 'Bridge under the Sky', which open sides 1 and 2 respectively, are fine examples of the former, recalling the pre-psychedelic work of the early (pre-Grace Slick) Airplane or the starry-eyed folk of the Youngbloods. 'You Don't Care', the ten-minute swath of lysergic fuzz guitar that closes out the first side, and which is by far the best of the latter, must surely be what all the fuss is about. Scorching solos, George Harrison-esque singing, a rousing refrain - this is definitely worth searching out!
Released at the tail end of 1968, and thus wedged in between the Beatles' White Album, Hendrix's Electric Ladyland, and Led Zeppelin, The Plastic Cloud drifted into the bargain bins without much notice. Still, the record never quite fell off the radar among collectors, and was lovingly reissued by the good folks at Pacemaker, from the original masters, replete with lyrics and a facsimile of the promo insert that was included with the original vinyl.
(Record geeks can salivate over the fact that a sealed copy of The Plastic Cloud turned up at a Salvation Army in Windsor, Ontario in the late 1990s...though, alas, not in these hands.)
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