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Doismileoito
Dokken
Doleful Lions
Dolly Varden
Cristina Donà
Judy Donaldson
Tom Doncourt
Tanya Donelly
Donovan


Gabe Dixon Band  (US)  see: Samples etc.

Djam Karet  (US)  see:

Djam Karet

Melanie Doane  (Canada)

Melanie Doane, 'Shakespearean Fish'

Shakespearean Fish  (1996,  41.47)  **/½

Tell You Stories
All of Sunday
Never Doubt I Love
Forgive Me
Saltwater
Till I Start to Believe
Babe in the Woods
My Sister Sings
God So Loved
Silly Me
Shakespearean Fish

Current availability:

Mellotron used:

Shakespearean Fish was Canadian Melanie Doane's second album, and I think the one word that describes it to a T is: smooth. That doesn't have to be an insult, but it is in this case. This really is bloody dullsville; she's at the exceedingly sappy end of the singer-songwriter spectrum, with one of those voices that could so easily tip over into Shania bloody Twain territory, not to mention her anodyne, gutless songs. Bedsitter/wetter stuff, I think.

Well, that was a bit vicious, wasn't it? Sorry, but this sort of stuff really gets on my nerves, due to its complete adoption of one arm of the mainstream, although at least we're spared the 'sampled beats' you'll find on her more recent releases. Gack. Anyway, Mellotron on Saltwater from producer Rob Friedman, with some volume-pedalled chords that stop before they get anywhere, and a background flute part later in the song.

So; don't. Just don't. Just in case.

Official site

Allen Dobb  (Canada)

Allen Dobb, 'Bottomland'

Bottomland  (2002,  39.19)  ***/T

Bottomland
This Day
Rocks to Pick
Beer Bottle Chandelier
Big Wide Open
Jimmy Roy
Like an Angel
The Ballad of Willie Holmes
Road Song for a Sailor
Bellingham Rain

Current availability:

Mellotron/Chamberlin used:

Allen Dobb couldn't be more different to countrywoman Melanie Doane (above) if he tried; rough, authentic acoustic blues-rock, with a voice that sounds like it's been there, come back, then done the round trip several more times for good measure. Bottomland was his second solo album after working in the duo Dobb and Dumela in the early '90s, and while I'm not about to call it my New Favourite Album, it's perfectly listenable, with songs that will doubtless grow on me should I ever find the time to give them the chance.

Two tracks of tape-replay, with Dave Kershaw playing (unusually) quiet Mellotron vibes on Like An Angel, and both Chamberlin and Mellotron on closer Bellingham Rain, one covering the cello, and one the strings, though I've no idea which is which. So; a decent album in its style, though steer clear if the sound of slightly countryish acoustic blues turns you off. Minor tape-replay, too, so don't bother on that account.

Official site

Dr John  (US)

Dr John, 'Hollywood Be Thy Name'

Hollywood Be Thy Name  (1975,  40.20)  ***/T

New Island Soiree
Reggae Doctor
The Way You Do the Things You Do
Swanee River Boogie
Yesterday
Babylon
Back by the River
Medley:
  It's All Right With Me
  Blue Skies
  Will the Circle Be Unbroken

Hollywood Be Thy Name
I Wanna Rock

Current availability:

Mellotron used:

Mac "Dr John" Rebennack's career began in his teens in the '50s, doing sessions in his native New Orleans before inventing his Creole Witchdoctor alter-ego in the late '60s, Dr John the Night Tripper. After a move to L.A., his mangrove stew of soul, r'n'b, psychedelia, voodoo, jazz and anything else that took his fancy caught on quickly, 1972's Gumbo breaking him through to the world at large.

1975's Hollywood Be Thy Name was his first live album, although a few tracks sound as if they were put together well away from the stage. It typifies his style, taking standards and making them his own, combining them with traditional Louisiana songs and his own compositions in a live setting, complete with indispensible brass section. Ken(ny) Ascher (John Lennon, Airto Moreira) plays Chamberlin, with strings on an almost unrecognisable version of The Beatles' Yesterday, although (unless it's hidden away somewhere else) that would seem to be it.

This isn't going to appeal to most of my regular readers, I suspect, but it does what it does perfectly, although his mid-'70s show was probably better seen in person. A good album of its type, then, but not one to really showcase the Chamberlin.

Official site

Dr Rubberfunk  (UK)

Dr. Rubberfunk, 'My Life at 33'

My Life at 33  (2006,  52.04)  **½/T

Live Wired
Taking Over
Theme for a Latter-day Lothario
Baby Bossa
Watch the Tables Turn
The Rooster
All Day Playing
Riding With the Ratman
Blow Away the Grey
Minus Three and Falling
Father's Lament
Dr Rubberfunk, 'Hot Stone'

Hot Stone  (2010,  38.44)  ***/½

Part of Me
Trouble Woman
Northern Comfort
It's Not Clear
Get Away
Theme From Hot Stone
Rising Steps
Magic Beans
You're No Good
Sunset Breakup

Current availability:

Mellotron used:

Dr Rubberfunk is the nom-de-plume of Simon Ward, a British DJ/hip-hop type whose took his first musical steps in the late '80s, becoming Rubberfunk in 2001. 2006's My Life at 33 (r.p.m., of course) mixes'n'matches influences with gleeful disregard for convention; all well and good if that's what you're after, but his approach will probably turn off more than it'll turn on. Two credited Mellotron tracks, with Ward adding real-sounding strings to All Day Playing, although there's nothing audible on Father's Lament.

2010's Hot Stone is his fourth full album under that name, a soul/funk/jazz/hip-hop crossover effort, guests including Roachford and Sitzka, with some decent instrumental work, not least Ben Castle's sax and bass clarinet contributions. Ward is credited with Mellotron on Theme From Hot Stone, although the only thing on the track it even might be is an otherwise uncredited vibes part towards the end. OK, we'll assume it's real until/unless we discover otherwise.

So; good-at-what-they-do albums that don't appeal to me personally, which accounts for the relatively poor ratings above; I'll almost certainly never listen to them again. Don't bother for the Mellotron, though.

Official site

Fritz Doddy  (US)

Fritz Doddy, 'The Feeling of Far'

The Feeling of Far  (2004,  58.54)  ****½/TTT½

Cynical Eye
Amieveliano
The Feeling of Far
It's Only a Dream

All the Best
In the Tree
Over You
God is Hiding
Nothing But Laughter
The Lonely Path
Cynical Eye (radio mix)
It's Only a Dream (radio mix)

Current availability:

Mellotron used:

Fritz Doddy makes music for a living, but hasn't allowed the experience to affect his ability to produce a personal, heartfelt album in The Feeling of Far. All the right influences are present and correct; The Beatles, Big Star, Jellyfish even, all of which add up to a near-perfect album of 'intelligent pop', for want of a better phrase. Impeccably put together, the album is pretty much a 'how to' primer for anyone wishing to work in the field, although I suppose Fritz has an unfair advantage in his years of experience producing music for others. And this is a problem? The songwriting, playing and production are all spot-on, giving the impression of a big-production major label effort, rather than the completely homegrown artefact it actually is.

All sorts of people guest, including Susan McKeown, herself an occasional 'Tron user; it seems that Fritz's entire family appear somewhere or other, including his dad shouting at him (!), and even his dog. Fritz plays his (very real) Mellotron on several tracks, sticking mainly to the familiar strings and flutes, although a couple of choir chords sneak in here and there. He resists the temptation to overuse it, too, unlike a few I could name, with a sizeable 'Tronless chunk around the middle of the record. Of particular note are the string intro and 'Strawberry Fields' flutes of Cynical Eye and the flutes on the title track, although all the 'Tron work is (along with just about everything else here) quite exemplary. My only gripe (and it's a very small one) is the wisdom of putting radio edits of two tracks on the end; as Fritz says in his liner notes, "I mixed this album to flow with minimal interruptions of silence and I think it's best enjoyed when listened to from beginning to end", which is slightly disrupted by the 'bonus' tracks. Oh well; hit the 'stop' button after track ten if you're that bothered.

Fritz actually gave me my copy of The Feeling of Far when we met up in London in earlyish 2005. He really is the nicest chap you can imagine, which has absolutely nothing to do with my review; he did say, "Be honest", and I have been. This really is an excellent piece of work, which I unequivocally recommend to anyone who appreciates good songwriting with a largish side-helping of Mellotron. No, really. Fritz even drinks British beer and does a passable London accent. What can I say? Buy.

Official site

Dog Named David  (US)  see: Samples etc.

Dog That Bit People  (UK)

Dog That Bit People, 'The Dog That Bit People'

The Dog That Bit People  (1971,  44.36)  ***/TT

Goodbye Country
The Monkey and the Sailor
Lovely Lady
Sound of Thunder
Cover Me in Roses
Someone, Somewhere
A Snapshot of Rex
Red Queen’s Dance
Mr Sunshine
Tin Soldier
Walking
Reptile Man

Current availability:

Mellotron used:

When organist Norman Haines left Locomotive to form The Norman Haines Band (subsequently producing the fab Den of Iniquity), bassist Michael Hincks and drummer Bob Lamb added two guitarist/vocalists and formed The Dog That Bit People. Their sole, eponymous album from '71 is the kind of stylistic mish-mash that usually gets labelled 'progressive' these days, despite having next to nothing in common with the brand leaders. OK, I suppose it's 'progressive' compared to the mainstream pop and rock of the day, but it's not a particularly adventurous album, opening badly with the overly gentle Goodbye Country, while halfway decent proto-prog like Cover Me In Roses is followed by the good-time country-rock of Someone, Somewhere. Closer Reptile Man is the most rocking thing here, with its distorted vocal, but it's a case of too little, too late.

Keith Millar plays Mellotron, with a string part towards the end of opener Goodbye Country, more of the same (endearingly out of tune) on Cover Me In Roses and (in tune this time) Walking. Overall, then, The Dog That Bit People isn't a hidden artefact from the era, just a rather ordinary album with a couple of good points, just scraping three stars, with some welcome Mellotron work.

MySpace

Dogbowl & Kramer  (US)

Dogbowl & Kramer, 'Gunsmoke'

Gunsmoke  (1995,  40.56)  ***/T½

Pollyana Penelope
Gunsmoke
I'm Not Insane
Nothing Better
Huge, Horrible Carrot
She and Me
Paperman
Cindy on the Sidewalk
Waiting Room
Blue
Fallen Angel (of Amsterdam)
Goin' to the Hashbar

Current availability:

Mellotron used:

Stephen "Dogbowl" Tunney is a somewhat singular artist, whose superficially pretty songs conceal a seriously warped sense of humour. You don't believe me? Gunsmoke is a rumination on homosexual cowboys, years before Brokeback Mountain, Nothing Better describes both varieties of oral sex in excruciating anatomical detail, while Goin' To The Hashbar is pretty much self-explanatory. The infamous (Mark) Kramer presumably plays most of the album's instrumentation, making it unsurprising that the end result sounds a lot like his other productions, a lo-fi aesthetic running through all twelve tracks.

Kramer plays Mellotron, with muted flutes and strings on Nothing Better, flutes on Paperman, only obvious at the end of the track and more upfront flutes and strings on Waiting Room, although none of it that overt, sadly. Well, this isn't yer average album, to say the least, but if you like the sound of lo-fi, (deliberately) lowbrow humour with a smattering of muffled Mellotron, you might just go for this.

Official Dogbowl site

Official Kramer site

See: Kramer

Døgntank  (UK)

Døgntank, 'Døgntank'

Døgntank  (2006,  42.04)  ****/TT½

Long Time Dead
Lucifer
Feel the Pain
Weird Sisters
Bad Sign
The Unjust Survive
Outpatient Blues
Waitin' 4' Tomorrow
Deep Seed
Job 2:6
Wandering Star
Stoned Out of My Mind

Current availability:

Mellotron used:

Døgntank is Julian Cope associate Anthony "Doggen" Foster's solo project, whose eponymous 2006 release is mostly a (clearly deliberate) spot-on copy of any number of mid-to-late '70s American hard rock albums, just before Van Halen's iconic debut turned the scene on its head. Is this irony? Homage? Both? This is like finding acetates of an unheard Y&T album in an attic, or hearing an unreleased Ted Nugent session recorded between his debut and Free for All, only without The Nuge. They've got the era's production techniques down pat; spot the stereo echo on Weird Sisters, just before the double-tracked guitar solo. YES! I know people whom, were I not to tell 'em it's a pastiche, would love this to bits. Things actually go slightly awry towards the end (on purpose?), Job 2:6 (complete with solo trumpet part) sounding too much like Spiritualized for its own good (never a good thing), while Neil Young-esque balladic closer Stoned Out Of My Mind is a little inauthentic for the genre, but these are minor quibbles in the grand scheme of things.

Cope plays 'Tron, with choirs on Lucifer, background strings on Outpatient Blues, upfront cellos on Job 2:6, a string part on Wandering Star and high-end cellos on Stoned Out Of My Mind, all in his usual 'non-prog' style. Listen, you have to hear this for its sheer chutzpah, not to mention the fact that this is actually better than many of the albums it's emulating/referencing, amusingly. Contrary to popular opinion, I'm not quite stupid enough to take this seriously, any more than Doggen and co. have, but Døgntank was obviously a fuckload of fun to write and record, not to mention to listen to, with a reasonable amount of Mellotron to keep people like me happy. Recommended.

MySpace

See: Julian Cope | Sons of T.C. Lethbridge

Lou Doillon  (France)

Lou Doillon, 'Places'

Places  (2012,  40.16)  **½/½

ICU
Devil or Angel
One Day After Another
Defiant
Same Old Game
Jealousy
Make a Sound
Hushaby
Questions and Answers
Places
Real Smart

Current availability:

Mellotron used:

Lou Doillon is Jane Birkin's daughter, so no great surprise that she's gone into music, although her main career is as an actor; easy when papa's a director, eh? Anyway, 2012's Places is a passable English-language singer-songwriter effort, with a discernible French influence on most tracks. Is it any good? Good at what it does, as far as I can tell, but it probably isn't going to excite you any more than it did me.

Alexis Anérilles plays distant Mellotron strings on Make A Sound and Questions And Answers, although as to whether or not it's real... Sorry, but I really can't get too excited about this; file under 'adult pop', I think.

Official site

Julie Doiron  (Canada)

Julie Doiron, 'Loneliest in the Morning'

Loneliest in the Morning  (1997,  37.03)  ***½/T½

So Fast
Dance Me
Sorry, Part 1
Tell You Again
Explain
Crying Baby
Sweeter
Tonight We Sleep
Mother
Love to Annoy
Creative Depression
Sorry, Part 2
Condescending You
Le Soleil

Current availability:

Mellotron used:

After a spell in Eric's Trip, Julie Doiron released Broken Girl under that name in 1996, producing Loneliest in the Morning the following year under her own name. It's an incredibly sparse album, largely consisting of Doiron's broken tones (Broken Girl indeed) accompanied by her own guitar, with hints of other instrumentation dipping in and out of the mix. My main criticism would be that there's a certain sameyness to many of the tracks, although I'm sure their separate identities become apparent on repeated plays, and no, I'm not being sarcastic. For once. Originally released on SubPop, it's now available, expanded, on Jagjaguwar, and is definitely worthy of being kept on catalogue.

Howe Gelb of Giant Sand and Doug Easley both play Mellotron, although, despite the album's overall emptiness, it's not always easy to determine exactly where it's being used, as distant sustained guitar sounds infuriatingly similar to 'Tron cellos when low in the mix (see: Sorry, Part 1). The two definite sightings, though, are the woefully (deliberately?) out-of-tune flutes towards the end of Mother and a distinct cello arrangement on Sorry, Part 2. This is an album for the very quietest person you know, I suspect. It could be seen as depressing, or oddly uplifting in a downbeat kind of way, depending on your viewpoint, but I'm certain the songs will grow on me in the unlikely event that I should ever find the time to play this more often. Good album, passable 'Tron, your choice.

Official site

Doismileoito  (Portugal)

Doismileoito, 'Doismileoito'

Doismileoito  (2009,  39.17)  **/½

O Caminho Que Fazias Ganhou
  Silvas e a Tua Gaveta Pó

A Ponte Findling
Acordes c/ Arroz
Cântico Protoneo
Cabanas (Peterpanismo)
Caratéquide
Bem Melhor 12200074
SO05/SO06
A.T.L.
Música d'Homens
Tempo a Mais
Engate ao Espelho

Current availability:

Mellotron used:

I'm struggling to find out anything much about Portugal's Doismileoito; I think their eponymous 2009 album is their debut, but only because I can't find any references to anything earlier. It's... well, it sounds like an unholy cross between modern U2 and Rage Against the Machine in an indie setting, to my ears. Unappealing? Yup. I'd be lying if I said it had a 'best track', but piano ballad SO05/SO06 might just be the worst.

André Aires plays Mellotron on opener O Caminho Que Fazias Ganhou Silvas E A Tua Gaveta Pó, with an undistinguished flute part that I couldn't honestly say especially enhances the song. Doismileoito is pretty terrible; indie/rock for Portuguese teenagers who can't get to see their English-language heroes often enough. Avoid.

MySpace

Dokken  (US)

Dokken, 'Erase the Slate'

Erase the Slate  (1999,  47.35/54.53)  ***/T

Erase the Slate
Change the World
Maddest Hatter
Drown
Shattered
One
Who Believes
Voice of the Soul
Crazy Mary Goes Round
Haunted Lullabye
In Your Honor
Little Brown Pill
[Bonus tracks:
Upon Your Lips
Sign of the Times]

Current availability:

Mellotron used:

Don Dokken's long-running outfit are often thought of as typical '80s 'hair metal', although their roots lie at the beginning of that decade; I'm sure they 'glammed up' when everyone else did, but they remain a hard rock band, rather than heavy metal. Saying that, they're not especially interesting hard rock, although by 1999's post-post-reformation effort, Erase the Slate, they were ripping riffs and vocal harmonies from King's X with the best of 'em, sadly to little effect. It's not that it's a bad album, just a rather uninspired one, in a genre that ran out of steam a long time ago. Ex-Winger (stop laughing) guitarist Reb Beach, filling in for the departed George Lynch, does a decent enough job, but it's all a bit sub-Eddie Van Halen, as are practically all modern metal players.

Bassist Jeff Pilson plays Mellotron, as he was to do on 2003's Wicked Underground, with Lynch as Lynch/Pilson. All we get here, though, is a so-so string part on In Your Honor that seems to sustain for too long in places, although studio trickery could easily accomplish that. Hardly a Mellotron classic, then, but it's unexpected enough, given the genre. So; an average modern hard rock record with a bit of Mellotron. Your call.

Official site

See: George Lynch | Lynch/Pilson

Doleful Lions  (US)

Doleful Lions, 'Motel Swim'

Motel Swim  (1998,  37.54)  ***½/½

The Sound of Cologne
Respirator
One Revolution (Around the World)
A Viper in Hiding
Motel Swim
Gulliver Diver
Advanded Japanese Candlestick Man
Hang Around in Your Head
All Winter Long
Down Tiger, Down Tiger

Current availability:

Mellotron used:

The Doleful Lions are a powerpop outfit in the grand tradition, albeit with an indie tinge to some of their material. Their debut, 1998's Motel Swim, is a very likeable album, if somewhat in thrall to their forebears, which is a nice way of saying they're a little unoriginal, but if the songs are good, does it matter that much? Top tracks include opener (as you'd expect) The Sound Of Cologne, Hang Around In Your Head and All Winter Long, although there are no duffers, which is quite a result in itself.

Jeff Hart plays Chamberlin, with strings on One Revolution (Around The World), mixed with synth, by the sound of it, although that appears to be it. To be honest, it's not something that actually enhances an already perfectly good album, making you wonder why anyone bothered, but there you go. So; good album, pointless minor Chamby contribution.

MySpace

Dolly Varden  (US)

Dolly Varden, 'The Dumbest Magnets'

The Dumbest Magnets  (2000,  43.04)  ***½/T

Apple Doll
The Thing You Love is...
The Dumbest Magnets
Second Chance
Progressive Note
I Come to You
Balcony
Be a Part
Along for the Ride
Too Good to Believe
Some Sequined Angel
Simple Pleasure

Current availability:

Mellotron used:

One of the joys (or otherwise) of reviewing so many essentially random albums is frequently not having the faintest idea what a band may sound like before hitting 'play'. More often than not, they're indie, or that dreadful post-rock/pop crossover area, but every now and again, it all comes out in the wash. Dolly Varden (named for a mode of dress popular for a few years in the Victorian period, itself named after a Dickens character) are led by husband/wife team Steve Dawson (not the Canadian Americana guy) and Diane Christiansen, who share lead vocal duties. They play a very acceptable form of Americana, at least on their third album, 2000's The Dumbest Magnets, top tracks including opener Apple Doll, the rockier I Come To You and closer Simple Pleasure. To be honest, there isn't actually a duff effort here, which makes a welcome change.

Drummer Matt Thobe plays Mellotron, with strings all over the title track and occasional ones on Some Sequined Angel. Real? As so often, almost impossible to say, although the overly-consistent attack is a little suspect, frankly. Do you bother with this? Do you like Americana? It's pretty much that simple, although not worth it for the possibly-not-even-real Mellotron.

Official site

Dolores  (US)  see: Samples etc.

Alex Domschot  (US)  see: Samples etc.

Cristina Donà  (Italy)

Cristina Donà, 'La Quinta Stagione'

La Quinta Stagione  (2007,  38.19)  **½/T

Settembre
Universo
L'Eclisse
I Duellanti
Migrazioni
Come le Lacrime
Niente di Particolare (a Parte il Fatto
  Che Mi Manchi)
Laure (il Profumo)
Non Sempre Rispondo
Conosci

Current availability:

Mellotron used:

Cristina Donà has an Afterhours connection, which isn't exactly a recommendation and a Posies one, which is. Going by her fifth album, 2007's La Quinta Stagione, her own material veers between balladic stuff and 'alt.rock', seemingly neither better nor worse than that from the English-speaking world. Take that as you will; it's harmless enough, but makes little impression on the jaded listener (i.e. me).

Lorenzo Corti plays Mellotron flutes on opener Settembre, to pleasant enough effect, but it's hardly enough to recommend this rather ordinary album. Its most interesting aspect? The Photoshopped sleeve image of Donà with an unfeasibly long neck. Yup, the album's that good.

Official site

Manir Donaghue  (UK)  see: Samples etc.

Judy Donaldson  (US)

Judy Donaldson, 'Sings About My Wonderful Lord'

Sings About My Wonderful Lord  (197?,  27.25)  ½/TT

My Wonderful Lord
The Way That He Loves
He Never Has Failed Me Yet
Till There Was Jesus
Something Worth Living for
I'd Rather Have Jesus
There's a Deep Settled Peace

Above All Else
I've Found the Way
My Heavenly Father Watches

Current availability:

Mellotron used:

Judy Donaldson's the latest site entry from the seemingly-inexhaustible well (black pit?) of squeaky-clean, Christian slop from an unidentifiable point in the mid-'70s. It's every bit as horrible as almost everything else my good friend (?) Mark Medley sends me, lovingly digitised from thrift-shop vinyl, presumably before being destroyed. Hopefully with extreme prejudice. Upon opening Mark's jpeg of the sleeve, I actually jumped in my seat, an involuntary "Urh!" escaping my lips at the sight of the fragrant Ms. Donaldson (not that Christians ever use 'ms', of course. Far too liberal). The rear sleeve actually manages to outdo the front (well, almost), picturing Judy's lovely family (I'll spare you), one of whom looks brain-damaged. Don't tell me, don't tell me, she IS brain-damaged, right? And I'm going to rot in hell? Whatever.

The contents of this horror (engineered by Jay Petach, incidentally, Mellotron player for the likes of The Regals) are, to absolutely no-one's surprise, the kind of whiter-than-white, rhythm-free 'gospel' (no drums. Too black) that bears precisely zero musical comparison with the genuine article. The lyrics? Guess. For some reason, this is actually nastier than most similar, or is it simply that I haven't heard any of this crud lately, losing my natural immunity? Anyway, one Margie Vangilder plays electric piano, organ and 'Melotron', with pseudo-orchestral strings on opener My Wonderful Lord, more of the same on I'd Rather Have Jesus, There's A Deep Settled Peace and My Heavenly Father Watches, improving them not one jot. Horrible, horrible, horrible.

Tom Doncourt  (US)

Tom Doncourt, 'The Mortal Coil'

The Mortal Coil  (2014,  56.28)  ****/TTTT

House in Paradise
Black Square Golden Crown
Breaking Up in Bali
Constellation Orpheus
Which Fades Faster?
Darkness of Wings
Defy Gravity From Under the Ground

Highway 3000
Horde of Bones
Moon Turns Orange Then Green
Philosophers Path
Princess Reindeer
Ragged Light
Whirlpool
Tom Doncourt, 'The Moon Will Rise'

The Moon Will Rise  (2015,  50.22)  ***½/TTTT

Diorama
First
The Curtain
A Trip to Oregon, pt. 1
April
Secret River
Moon and Sixpence

A Trip to Oregon, pt. 2
Skeletons of Penn Station
Maps
Torn
A Trip to Oregon, pt. 3
Tom Doncourt, 'House in the Woods'

House in the Woods  (2017,  52.08)  ****/TTTT½

The Breeze By the Bay
Frontier
River Reed
Especially for You
Magical Thinking
House in the Woods
Medicine Buddha
How We Face the Wave
Turning
Moon in the Garden
Abandoned Gallery

Current availability:

Mellotrons/Chamberlin used:

Tom Doncourt played keyboards with legendary one-shot US proggers Cathedral, in both their original and reformed incarnations, later releasing the sole (at least to date) FauveMuseum album. 2014's The Mortal Coil is his first solo release, its fourteen relatively short compositions probably best described as progressive songs, for want of a better phrase; mostly in the three-to-four-minute bracket, yet complex and inventive enough to fit the broader definition of progressive rock. Echoes of Discipline-era Crimson and Talking Heads reverberate around the record, elements of various electronic and 'ethnic' musics cropping up in places, highlights including Breaking Up In Bali, Constellation Orpheus, Defy Gravity From Under The Ground and the angular Horde Of Bones.

Tom plays both his M400 (the original Cathedral machine) and his Chamberlin M1 on all but one track, with (all Mellotron?) strings on House In Paradise, Black Square Golden Crown, Constellation Orpheus and Which Fades Faster?, strings and (Chamby?) flutes on Breaking Up In Bali, strings and flute lines (quite distinct from the real flute heard on a few tracks) on Darkness Of Wings, Defy Gravity From Under The Ground and Princess Reindeer, cello, (Chamby?) strings and Mellotron church organ on Horde Of Bones, background strings and flutes on the ambient Moon Turns Orange Then Green, strings and cellos on Philosophers Path, flutes and Chamby strings on Ragged Light and strings and brass on Whirlpool. Enough tape-replay for you? To my ears, Tom's album works best when he incorporates both light and shade into a composition, a couple of lighter pieces working less well, but, overall, something of a triumph.

The following year's The Moon Will Rise continues down Tom's song-based progressive rock journey, highlights including The Curtain, Moon And Sixpence and lengthy closer A Trip To Oregon, Pt. 3. Tom's added a new M4000 Mellotron (the real one, not that jumped-up sample player from Sweden), playing it and his Chamby with strings on most tracks, plus a flute run on Diorama, flutes and choir on Skeletons Of Penn Station and upfront flutes on Torn. 2017's House in the Woods sees Tom's muse strengthen, highlights including opener The Breeze By The Bay, Especially For You, Turning and closer Abandoned Gallery. Mellotron and/or Chamberlin strings of one kind or another on almost every track, plus flutes on River Reed, flutes and choir on How We Face The Wave and brass on Turning.

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See: Cathedral | FauveMuseum

Tanya Donelly  (US)

Tanya Donelly, 'Beautysleep'

Beautysleep  (2002,  47.14)  ***/T

Life is But a Dream
The Storm
The Night You Saved My Life
Keeping You
Moonbeam Monkey
Wrap-Around Skirt
Another Moment
Darkside
So Much Song
The Wave
The Shadow
Head for Math

Current availability:

Mellotron used:

Tanya Donelly has had a pretty high-profile career, moving back and forth between Throwing Muses, The Breeders (with the Pixies' Kim Deal) and Belly, finding success with all three, which has to be fairly unusual in itself. Oh, and she's somehow found time to squeeze in a solo career, four albums and several EPs long at the time of writing. 2002's Beautysleep is her second full-length effort, capturing that '4AD sound' perfectly; you know, laid-back yet indefinably edgy, melancholic yet positive... The album's far from short of more energetic moments: Wrap-Around Skirt lurches along, overlaid with some incongruous rockabilly guitar, while Wave builds up to a mid-paced acoustic strumalong from a slow start, along with several tracks' intros, although the record's general default setting seems to be 'slow'. Best track? Possibly 'official' closer The Shadow, a doomy effort that precedes two minutes of silence and a 'hidden' track, Head For Math.

Donelly plays what have to be high Mellotron cellos on Moonbeam Monkey and Another Moment, although they're not specifically credited. This really isn't what you'd call a Mellotron album, it has to be said, but it's good enough at what it does, although I suspect fans of the lady and her style and 4AD groupies are its most likely audience.

Official site

The Donkeys  (US)  see: Samples etc.

Donovan  (UK)

Donovan, 'Sunshine Superman [US]'

Sunshine Superman  [US version]  (1966,  43.38)  ****/½

Sunshine Superman
Legend of a Girl Child Linda
Three Kingfishers
Ferris Wheel
Bert's Blues
Season of the Witch
The Trip
Guinevere
The Fat Angel
Celeste
Donovan, 'Sunshine Superman [UK]'

Sunshine Superman  [UK version]  (1967,  49.08)  ****/½

Sunshine Superman
Legend of a Girl Child Linda
The Observation
Guinevere
Celeste
Writer in the Sun
Season of the Witch
Hampstead Incident
Sand and Foam
Young Girl Blues
Three Kingfishers
Bert's Blues
Donovan, 'Cosmic Wheels'

Cosmic Wheels  (1973,  38.54)  ***½/½

Cosmic Wheels
Earth Sign Man
Sleep
Maria Magenta
Wild Witch Lady
The Music Makers
The Intergalactic Laxative
I Like You
Only The Blues
Appearances
Donovan, 'Sutras'

Sutras  (1996,  50.53)  ****/TT

Please Don't Bend
Give it All Up
Sleep
Everlasting Sea
High Your Love
The Clear-Browed One
The Way
Deep Peace
Nirvana
Eldorado
Be Mine
Lady of the Lamp
The Evernow
Universe am I

The Garden

Current availability:

Mellotrons/Chamberlin used:

Donovan (Leitch)'s first two albums, What's Bin Did & What's Bin Hid and Fairytale were distinctly Dylan-lite, but with his star in the ascendant, he recorded the innovative Sunshine Superman in '66, only to have Pye UK dick about with it for nearly a year, losing him considerable momentum at a crucial point. His US label had no such qualms, however, putting it out ahead of the psychedelic pack in late '66, ensuring in the process that most of his future success would lie in the States. It's a remarkable pot-pourri of an album, moving from the driving pop of the title track through the lengthy acoustic Legend Of A Girl Child Linda and the eastern-flavoured Three Kingfishers in the first ten or so minutes, showing nearly as much variety over the ensuing half-hour. Best track? A toss-up between Guinevere and Celeste, although the album contains two major hits in the title track and Season Of The Witch.

There isn't an awful lot of Mellotron on the album, to be honest, with nowt but a sparse string line on Celeste, so don't buy it on those grounds, but if you want to hear top-notch folk/psych, you could do a lot worse. Donovan's US follow-up was Mellow Yellow, once again unreleased in Britain, meaning that its infuriating title track would be unavailable here on album until 1969's Donovan's Greatest Hits. Pye eventually capitulated, cherry-picking twelve tracks from the two US albums for the UK Sunshine Superman, although in retrospect, they haven't all stood the test of time as well as some that were left off (although Hampstead Incident's a highlight), although at least we're spared the cheesy Mellow Yellow.

After a rather fallow, post-fame period, Donovan returned for one last real career peak with 1973's fairly cohesive Cosmic Wheels, almost entirely connected with the return of Mickie Most to the (co-)producer's chair. The puerile The Intergalactic Laxative aside, the album holds together really rather well, and surely it's only a matter of time before someone covers the downtuned title track in a heavy stylee? Mellotron on one track only; Sleep, with what sounds like cellos, but it's all a bit background, to be honest. Played by "Rabbit" Bundrick, incidentally, stupidly misspelled 'Bundick', which must've cheered him up no end. Mind you, the album also credits 'Cosy' Powell on drums, so there you go.

23 years later, Sutras was Don's first album in over a decade, and sadly didn't include any of the new material he previewed on his heroically lengthy '92 UK tour, including a genuinely brilliant song called Against Your Will. Anyway, it was produced by Def Jam supremo Rick Rubin, with guests including the inimitable Danny Thompson (Pentangle, Richard Thompson), the also inimitable Benmont Tench (Tom Petty) and the slightly less inimitable but more famous Dave Navarro (Jane's Addiction, Red Hot Chili Peppers), who played both Mellotron and Chamberlin. The beautiful Everlasting Sea has 'Tron flutes alongside real cellos, The Evernow has (presumably) 'Tron flutes in a more upfront role, while Universe Am I has (I think) 'Tron flutes and Chamby woodwind, alongside real cello again. Incidentally, interesting to note that both these albums contain completely different songs called Sleep, despite Don's penchant for dodgy re-recordings of his hits.

Unsurprisingly, Sunshine Superman's the best of these albums, although, at least to my ears, Sutras is definitely the better of the two later releases, both musically and Mellotronically, although Don's older fans would probably disagree. His best work was largely recorded in the late '60s, but as a late-period album from someone once very famous indeed, it's very much worth the effort.

Official site


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