Cloud Nine was George Harrison’s first studio album in five years, and the absence from the recording studio served him well. He put together a very accessible release which provided him with a much needed comeback from 1985’s abysmal Gone Troppo. Unfortunately, it would be the last studio album to be released during his lifetime.
His first stroke of genius was to ask Jeff Lynne of The Electric Light Orchestra to co-produce the album. If there is one thing Jeff Lynne can do, it is produce a pop album. He would remain a fixture in Harrison’s life through their work with The Traveling Wilburys. It would be his most commercially successful album since All Things Must Pass reached number eight on the American album charts and received a platinum award for sales in excess of a million copies.
He assembled a number of long term friends to provide support. Guitarist Eric Clapton, pianists Elton John and Gary Wright, drummers Ringo Starr and Jim Keltner, bassist Jeff Lynne, and sax player Jim Horn all provided stellar backing on the album.
Cloud Nine yielded two hit singles which were both catchy concoctions and rank with his better compositions. “Got My Mind Set On You” was an odd and brilliant choice for a cover song. It was written by Rudy Clark during the fifties and released as an obscure single by James Ray in 1962. Harrison would turn it into a pop masterpiece which would top the American singles charts in October of 1987.
The flip side of the 45 was the long lost “Lay His Head,” which had been rejected by A&M for inclusion on his last album. “When We Was Fab” was also a hit single. It was an amusing tune about The Beatles when they were famous. It even included Harrison playing the sitar. The video featured Elton John dressed as a walrus.
There were a couple of other songs of note. “This Is Love” was well crafted, melodic, and featured some nice guitar playing from Harrison. “Wreck Of The Hesperus” has a nice bluesy feel.
Not all was well with the album. “Breath Away From Heaven” and “Someplace Else” were pulled from the film Shanghai Surprise and make it seem as if he had run out of new ideas. “Just For Today” is a track that just falls short.
Cloud Nine was not a perfect album, but in the final analysis was pleasant and entertaining. Once you get past All Things Must Pass and Concert For Bangladesh, this is probably the one to own.