Clare Torry

Heaven in the Sky

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Clare Torry will forever be known mostly as the guest session vocalist on Pink Floyd's "Great Gig in the Sky" on the Dark Side of the Moon album. However, in addition to singing on many other U.K. sessions from the end of the 1960s through the mid-'90s, she also recorded some obscure solo singles and wrote some of her own material. Heaven in the Sky collects 18 recordings from 1967-1984 on which she's the featured singer. From the otherwise thorough liner notes it's not entirely clear what has been previously released, but it does reach way back to the late '60s and early '70s for a few rare solo singles, including a 1970 45 she did under the name Alice Pepper. Because it's taken from numerous sources (including commercials, television themes, and soundtracks) reaching across almost two decades, it's unavoidably patchy. But it does sound as if, had things worked out a little differently, Torry might have had a career as a respectable singer/songwriter in her own right. She has a strong, soulful voice and exhibited some promise as a soul-pop composer, and certainly sounds like a greater talent than, say, her friend Kiki Dee. The highlights do tend to be the earlier tracks, such as the previously unissued 1969 outtake "Midnight Train," which is fine blue-eyed soul, and the melodramatic ballad (from the same year) "Love for Living," which Robin Gibb helped produce. And for those who liked her contribution to "Great Gig in the Sky," "Theme from Film 'OCE'" (from a 1977 film soundtrack) has more of the same kind of beautiful wordless high vocalizing, though she infers in the liner notes that she was reluctant to record in a style so explicitly reminiscent of that famous Pink Floyd guest spot. Much of the other material falls down not so much on the singing, which is usually good, as the material, which is often ordinary or even drab mainstream pop. Still, the better parts are impressive, and make one hope that some of the other rare/unreleased recordings referred to in the liner notes are eventually issued on CD.

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