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Monday, May 9, 2011

The Plastic Cloud - The Plastic Cloud (1968 canada, exceptional garage/ psych)

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.
by Jason Nardelli

1. Epistle To Paradise - 3:25
2. Shadows Of Your Mind - 4:10
3. Art's A Happy Man - 3:05
4. You Don't Care - 10:25
5. Bridge Under The Sky - 4:25
6. Face Behind The Sun - 4:43
7. Dainty General Rides - 4:05
8. Civilization Machine - 8:55

The Plastic Cloud
*Don Brewer - Vocals, 12-String Guitar
*Brian Madill - Bass
*Mike Cadieux - Guitar
*Randy Umphrey - Drums

Free Text


concrete_jungle said...

is anyone has news from Phrock Blog?

space88 said...

Good One!thanks!

Marios said...

see at the top center of my blog,
just click upon the word PHROCK.

trismegistos said...

Ευχαριστώ πολύ Μάριε.

danilo said...

Thanks for sharing

danilo said...

Thanks for sharing this great record

DanP said...

"Hard core, late night psych sounds"--I'll be glad to check this out on that basis!

War Oponda said...

This is my cup of tea. Got to get rid of my old copy. Many thanks Marios.

Remy said...

Thanks so much for posting this, Marios. Definitely a title I would not otherwise have encountered.

Quite evocative of the time period and very enjoyable from start to finish.

Sergey said...

Thank you very much! Good stuff

KarlR said...

great fuzzzzzzzzzzzed drenched album.many thanks for sharing

Kelhard said...

The BEST sounding CD version of this is the issue on "The Laser's Edge" from 1990. They did not use any noise reduction. They just ran the master tapes straight to digital. The Pacemaker issue, while very nicely presented and packaged (the vinyl edition is great,) sounds VERY tinny and uses noise reduction. Listen closely to the intro of "Civilization Machine" and you can hear the artifacts left behind by the noise reduction. So seek out the Laser's Edge version.

James Grainger said...

I have been looking for info on Randy Umphrey for a few years now.We were friends in high school and lost touch when he moved to Bay Ridges.Saw him once after he recorded the record at my mothers house.It would be nice to get in touch at

Marios said...

...Plastic ...up....Cloud

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the bump. This LP is an essential listen, a solid slab of Canuck syke, no doubt. More kids need to be turned on to gems like this if we are to be saved.

The fuzz is absolutely precious on some tracks. Kinda reminds me of Crystal Syphon, an equally heavy at times yet obscure band who needs better exposure, like these guys. There's no better time than now.

The Happy Chef

Anonymous said...

Thanks to Kelhard for pointing out the current best sounding version of this must-have release for fans of psychedelic rock. With all the legit & boot releases out there of obscure/pp/unknown bands it's great to have people share experiences on which version to seek out. Thanks to blogrunners for this all to happen AFTER ALL.