Clearlight - Forever Blowing Bubbles. 1975 France
1975 Virgin (UK)
Select LP issues: 1975 Virgin; 1976 Virgin (Japan); 1982 Virgin (Japan)
CD reissues: 1989 Virgin (Japan); 1990 Mantra; 1997 Virgin (UK); 2000 Clearlight (USA); 2001 Spalax; 2003 Arcangelo (Japan mini-LP); 2008 Captain Trip (Japan mini-LP); 2014 Gonzo (UK)
Following the success of their debut, Clearlight (the Symphony moniker removed) continued on where the '2nd Movement' (from the debut) dropped off, with an emphasis on more rocked out cosmic themes. 1975's Forever Blowing Bubbles opens with 'Chanson', a bizarre five minute piece, and quite a bit different from anything found on the debut. Somewhat of a straight song with vocals, electric violin (from King Crimson's David Cross), and flute. The listener must have been surprised by this new found interest in traditional songwriting (for Clearlight anyway). 'Without Words' has Clearlight back on the path towards heavy duty space jamming, driven by Cyrille's piano and plenty of overlays from guitar, synths, mellotron, and saxophone. And so it goes through the course of the album: Tripped out jam sequences offset by more somber songcraft. Listen for the "synth bubbles" that connect each composition. This album certainly has more variety, in terms of both songwriting and instrumentation, than the debut. Though perhaps not quite up to the same standard consistently throughout. A classic all the same, and a must own.
As an original LP, Clearlight's second is about as easy and inexpensive to find as any European import will ever be. If you're just getting into vinyl, this is a great entry point, considering the quality of the music. I've had my copy since the mid 80s. Even though there is a domestic French press on Virgin, the UK release is generally regarded as a true original. There are multiple Japanese presses as well. The Arcangelo Japanese mini-LP is the same mastering as the Spalax CD from 2001. I didn't do a sound comparison against the Clearlight reissue before selling it years ago. Oh well.