Listen to this track by 90s ambient dub-centric comedown kids The Orb. It’s their 1990 hit single “Little Fluffy Clouds”, eventually appearing on the full-length The Orb’s Adventures Beyond the Ultraworld LP, which was released the following year. The song would be re-mixed and re-released a number of times during the decade, a fast favourite among the raver set.
The lead voice you’re hearing on this track is a head-cold afflicted Rickie Lee Jones, she of “Chuck E’s In Love” pop chart success, among other releases. In the song, she describes the striking childhood visions of Arizona skies, festooned apparently with the aforementioned little fluffy clouds.
Her voice is hypnotic, soothing, perfect for a comedown theme. And the samples that The Orb, and guest producer Youth from post-punk band Killing Joke have chosen create a sort of sonic pillow that make it a singularly comfortable listen, as as well as a great track to dance to. In short, this was the perfect single for the dance floors of the early 90s, particularly powerful as post-rave dawn approached.
Despite the chilled out groove, behind the scenes there was some drama where this track was concerned. It seems that Rickie Lee Jones wasn’t happy with her involuntary appearance on it. So, she sought legal action against the band’s label, Big Life Records. This was a bit of a comedown, of sorts. But, so much for chilled out.
Eventually, of course, it was all settled out of court for an undisclosed sum. And, ultimately this song was a success for the Orb for years after its initial release, scoring #10 on the UK charts in 1993 when it was re-released. That’s a lot of mileage for an unassuming little number that caused such a stir to the owner of the lead voice on it.
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