CLEAR BLUE SKY – Gateway To The Seventh Dimension (Stargaze Int.)

Clear Blue Sky are responsible of one of the best unacknowledged UK rock albums of the 70’s, with their self-titled debut of 1971. 18 year old guitarist John Simms played way beyond his years to deliver some stunning solos, and it is a travesty that the band did not hit the big time. Thirty years later and they have finally come up with a follow-up, and while not in the same league as that debut, it is still a fine album. Original members Simms and drummer Ken White are joined on bass by Kraznet Montpelier, and as times and tastes change over the years, so ‘Clear Blue Sky’ have swapped their heavy riffs and extended solos for a more meditative and reflective sound, with the music expressing their views on life’s mysteries and possibilities. ‘Edge Of The Sky’ does feature some good riffing, showing that Simms has lost none of his edge, but songs like ‘Blue Star Of India’, ‘Love Inner Spiritual Awakening’, and ‘Voice Across The Water’ show a more lyrical side of the band. They can still rock out when needs be, though, as on ‘Ultramarine’ and ‘Vision At Chebar’, both of which feature some great riffing guitar. ‘The Unseen Place’ is an atmospheric mood piece, in keeping with the overall ‘spaciness’ of the album, while ‘Voice Across The Water’ is enhanced by orchestral backing on the chorus. The title track is the longest on here, at a tad over eight minutes, and is the first time that Simms gets a chance to stretch out, but it does give him the opportunity for some lyrical guitar work over the orchestral backing on the second half of the song. Overall this is a very enjoyable ‘classic rock’ album, with well played and well crafted songs, but definitely an old school feel to it. It is in no way comparable to their previous effort, as that came from a totally different era, and so treat this as a new band and enjoy this record for what it is. It is available from Stone Island Records, who are represented by my old friends Stone Premonitions, and the label looks like it will be boasting the same ideals as its partner, which is to bring great new music to the public attention, and with this album they are doing exactly that.