Little Fluffy Clouds

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"Little Fluffy Clouds"
Little Fluffy Clouds (The Orb album) coverart.jpg
Single by The Orb
from the album The Orb's Adventures Beyond the Ultraworld
B-side"Alternate mixes"
ReleasedNovember 1990
Format12", cassette, CD
GenreAmbient house
Length4:27 (Album version)
LabelBig Life
Songwriter(s)Martin Glover, Alex Paterson, Steve Reich
Producer(s)The Orb
The Orb singles chronology
"A Huge Ever Growing Pulsating Brain That Rules from the Centre of the Ultraworld"
"Little Fluffy Clouds"
"Perpetual Dawn"

"Little Fluffy Clouds" is a single released by the British ambient house group The Orb. It was originally released in November 1990 on the record label Big Life and peaked at #87 on the UK Singles Chart. The Orb also included it on their 1991 double album The Orb's Adventures Beyond the Ultraworld. "Little Fluffy Clouds" was re-released several times with different b-sides, with its 1993 re-release reaching #10 in the UK.

It ranked number 275 in NME's list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.[1] Pitchfork Media ranked it at number 40 on their list of the Top 200 Tracks of the 1990s.[2]


Alex Paterson had previously worked with Jimmy Cauty as The Orb. Upon Cauty's departure from The Orb, Paterson began work on "Little Fluffy Clouds" with ex-Killing Joke member Martin "Youth" Glover.[3] However, because of other production obligations, Glover did not become a permanent member of The Orb. Kris "Thrash" Weston joined The Orb soon after. Weston mixed and engineered several versions of "Little Fluffy Clouds", including the version on The Orb's Adventures Beyond the Ultraworld.[4]


"Little Fluffy Clouds" makes extensive use of clips from an interview with American singer Rickie Lee Jones[5] in which she recalls picturesque images of her childhood. Critics and fans sometimes attribute the odd nasal tone of Jones' voice to drug use, though Jones later said she had had a heavy cold.[6] The samples are widely believed to have come from a conversation between Jones and LeVar Burton on the children's television programme Reading Rainbow,[3] but in fact originated from an interview disc that was issued with some promotional boxed copies of her album Flying Cowboys. The interview was not conducted by Burton.[7]

Interviewer: "What were the skies like when you were young?"
Jones: "They went on forever – They - When I w- We lived in Arizona, and the skies always had little fluffy clouds in 'em, and, uh... they were long... and clear and... there were lots of stars at night. And, uh, when it would rain, it would all turn - it- They were beautiful, the most beautiful skies as a matter of fact. Um, the sunsets were purple and red and yellow and on fire, and the clouds would catch the colours everywhere. That's uh, neat 'cause I used to look at them all the time, when I was little. You don't see that. You might still see them in the desert."

Jones' record company was upset at the unauthorized use of her voice and initially sought to pursue a claim via the legal system.[3] Big Life chose to settle out of court for an undisclosed sum of money for use of her voice on The Orb's recording: in 2016, Paterson said the record company paid $5,000 to use the sample.[8]

The song also uses a harmonica sample from Ennio Morricone's The Man With The Harmonica (from the film Once Upon a Time in the West) and parts of Electric Counterpoint, a piece for multi-tracked guitars composed by Steve Reich and recorded by Pat Metheny. According to Glover, the inspiration for the track came when an Orb fan who worked in a Birmingham record shop sent him a tape with Electric Counterpoint on one side and the Rickie Lee Jones interview on the other.[8] Reich was "genuinely flattered"[9] by The Orb's use of his work and instructed his record company not to sue.[10] Despite this The Orb did receive a letter from Reich's lawyers several years later, but Paterson described Reich as "a proper gentleman: he wanted 20% from then on and asked us to do a remix of one of his tunes, which we did".[8] Alex Paterson also suggested that the drum track is sampled: “If anyone actually knew where the drums on 'Little Fluffy Clouds' came from, they'd all just die, but I'm not at liberty to tell. Record companies have always warned me, ‘Don't tell anyone where you got your samples until we get them cleared!’”.[11] He later said that the drum track was sampled from Harry Nilsson's album Nilsson Schmilsson,[12] and others have specifically identified this as a sample of Jim Gordon's drum solo from "Jump Into the Fire", slowed down approximately from 45 to 33 rpm.[13] The use of a slowed-down "Jump Into the Fire" was acknowledged by Paterson in a 2016 interview with The Guardian, in which he also said the track included a Lee "Scratch" Perry sample.[8]

In 2006 a previously uncredited sample from "Little Fluffy Clouds" was recognised by MTV label director Dan Waite, who identified the first voice heard on the song as that of his cousin John Waite. A 1990 John Waite BBC Radio 4 broadcast for the programme You and Yours was sampled and features at the beginning of the track. John Waite can clearly be heard saying, "Over the past few years, to the traditional sounds of an English summer, the drone of lawnmowers, the smack of leather on willow, has been added a new noise...". In 2013 the Orb management asked John Waite to join them on their 25th Anniversary tour to read the classic line live on stage.

Commercial reception[edit]

"Little Fluffy Clouds" reached #87 on the UK Singles Chart and was a dancefloor success.[3] After the popularity of following Orb albums, "Little Fluffy Clouds" was re-released several times, including a 1993 edition which peaked at #10 on the UK charts.

Track listing[edit]

7": Big Life / BLR 33 (UK)[edit]

  1. "Little Fluffy Clouds [seven inch mk 1]" (4:05)
  2. "Little Fluffy Clounds [ambient mk 1]" (4:29)
  • Released November 1990

12": Big Life / BLR 33T (UK)[edit]

  1. "Little Fluffy Clouds [dance mk 2]" (8:26)
  2. "Into The Fourth Dimension [edit]" (7:03)
  3. "Little Fluffy Clounds [ambient mk 1]" (4:29)
  • Released November 1990
  • Into The Fourth Dimension mix also called "essenes beyond control" version
  • also released on CD - BLR 33CD

12": Big Life / BLR 33R (UK)[edit]

  1. "Little Fluffy Clouds (drum & vox version)" (7:10)
  2. "Little Fluffy Clouds [seven inch mk 1]" (4:05)
  3. "Into The Fourth Extension" (9:05)
  • Released November 1990
  • Remix 12"
  • Reissued November 1993

CD: Big Life / BLRD 98 (UK)[edit]

  1. "Little Fluffy Clouds [seven inch mk 1]" (4:05)
  2. "Little Fluffy Clouds [dance mk 2]" (8:26)
  3. "Into The Fourth Dimension [edit]" (7:03)
  4. "Little Fluffy Clounds [ambient mk 1]" (4:29)
  • Re-released 1 November 1993

12": Mercury / 865139-1 (US)[edit]

  1. "Little Fluffy Clouds [Cumulonimbus Mix]" (6:10)
  2. "Little Fluffy Clouds [Dis joint don't argue mix]" (6:38)
  3. "Little Fluffy Clouds [Seven Inch MK 1]" (4:05)
  4. "Little Fluffy Clouds [Inner Master Mix]" (3:58)
  5. "Outlands [Fountain of Elisha]" (8:00)
  • Released November 1991

CD: Mercury / 865139-2 (US)[edit]

  1. "Little Fluffy Clouds [Seven Inch MK 1]" (4:05)
  2. "Little Fluffy Clouds [Inner Master Mix]" (3:58)
  3. "Little Fluffy Clouds [Cumulonimbus Mix]" (6:10)
  4. "Little Fluffy Clouds [Dance MK 2]" (8:26)
  5. "Little Fluffy Clouds [Heavyweight Dub]" (6:30)
  6. "Outlands [Fountain of Elisha]" (8:00)
  • Released November 1991


There have been an extensive number of remixes of "Little Fluffy Clouds" due to its popularity. Many mixes were created by both The Orb and other artists. Most of these have appeared as B-sides on Little Fluffy Clouds or other singles by The Orb. All remixes listed are by The Orb unless otherwise noted.

  • Aerium - Aftersurf (Forerunners vs Little Fluffy Clouds Edit) (4:01)
  • Youth & Thrash - Dance MK II (8:26)
  • Ambient MK I (4:28)
  • Pal Joey - Cumulonimbus Mix (6:10)
  • Coldcut - Dis Joint Don't Argue Mix (6:38)
  • Coldcut - Inner Master Mix (3:58)
  • Coldcut - Heavyweight Dub (6:30)
  • Youth - Drum & Vox Version
  • Thrash - seven inch mk 1
  • Tokyo 2.7.93 - From Live 93
  • Danny Tenaglia - Downtempo Groove (8:35)
  • Danny Tenaglia - Detour Mix (10:15)
  • Adam Freeland & Kevin Beber - Tsunami One Remix (7:57)
  • Jutta Jaw, OTP - One True Parker Mix (5:52)
  • Hellpass - Little Cheeky Clouds
  • Little Fluffy Clouds (Oooh Mix) (6:23) - Free download of a previously unreleased alternate remix, available only for 24 hours on Orb web store.

In addition, a version arranged for strings was released by the group Instrumental on their 1999 album Acoustek.


  1. ^ NME staff and writers (8 February 2014). "NME 500 Greatest Songs Of All Time".
  2. ^ "The Top 200 Tracks of the 1990s: 50-21". Condé Nast. 2 September 2010.
  3. ^ a b c d Bush, John. "The Orb Biography". Allmusic. Retrieved 2006-10-09.
  4. ^ Kris Weston. "rant". Archived from the original on 23 July 2014.
  5. ^ "The Orb's Samples". Melody Maker. October 1993. Retrieved 2008-08-28.
  6. ^ McCusker, Eamonn (2003-10-15). "The Orb - Adventures Beyond the Ultraworld". CD Times. Archived from the original on 2006-03-15.
  7. ^ Goodes, Grant (1999-02-16). "Rickie Lee Jones Sample in LFC Confirmed". KLF Online. Archived from the original on July 17, 2011.
  8. ^ a b c d Simpson, Dave (7 June 2016). "How we made the Orb's Little Fluffy Clouds". Retrieved 7 June 2016.
  9. ^ "Steve Reich". The Wire. 1996-11-01.
  10. ^ Martin Johnson. "Classical Composer Steve Reich Gets Remixed and Loves It". Barnes & Noble. Retrieved 2006-10-11.
  11. ^ Silva, Joe (2001-02-01). "Living in Orblivion". Remix Magazine. Archived from the original on 2006-05-07.
  12. ^ Thomas, Rich. "In About Four Seconds A Teacher Will Begin To Speak—Dr. Alex Paterson Of The Orb". Interview.
  13. ^ "The Orb's 'Little Fluffy Clouds' sample of Harry Nilsson's 'Jump Into the Fire'". Retrieved 16 May 2015.

External links[edit]