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Jeffrey Gaines
Galaxy
Galileo II
Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds
Galleon
Vincent Gallo
Elmer Gantry's Velvet Opera


G. Men  (Italy)

no image available

G. Men  (1974,  33.56)  ***/TTT

Riflessioni
La Mia Ragione

Pazzo Mondo
Ricordi Scoloriti
Cuore di Pietra
Preghiera
Notte Amara
Storia di Uomini
Errori Tuoi
Quei Momenti
G. Men, 'Oggi' 7"  (1975)  **/TTTT

Oggi
Riflessioni

Current availability:

Mellotron used:

Rimini's G. Men operated for a decade from the late '60s, largely in the soft rock/pop category, although their second album, 1974's G. Men, is closer to the softer end of the Italian progressive spectrum. I wouldn't seriously attempt to make comparisons with the incomparable PFM or Celeste, though; the Moody Blues might be a closer match, although Ricordi Scoloriti and Preghiera rock out in no uncertain style. There's a fair bit of (Giorgio Bersani's?) Mellotron, more Moodies than PFM, with strings all round, a touch of cellos on Storia Di Uomini and the odd flute line.

'75's Oggi 7" is a Mellotron string-laden ballad, featuring a couple of nice solo spots for the instrument, clearly more typical of the band's output and rated accordingly. An album of the same name from later that year turns out to be no more than a compilation of singles and popular album tracks, though. Perhaps I'm being a little harsh here; G. Men's not bad, just rather inconsistent, at its best when it sounds more like a '70s album, as against one from the '60s.

Peter Gabriel  (UK)

Peter Gabriel, 'Up'

Up  (2002,  66.48)  ****/½

Darkness
Growing Up
Sky Blue
No Way Out
I Grieve
The Barry Williams Show
My Head Sounds Like That
More Than This
Signal to Noise
The Drop

Current availability:

Mellotron used:

Peter Gabriel's first song-based album in ten years, and only his third in twenty craps from a great height onto its two predecessors, the overtly-commercial So and Us. More than anything, there are elements here of his third album (titled, as were all of his first four, Peter Gabriel), although it's a long, long way from being a copy. Up manages to be both contemporary and traditional, commercial and underground, English and 'world', all at the same time, in a way few (none?) of his contemporaries can, if they ever could. Rumours of Gabriel's illness of a few years ago are upheld by the downbeat nature of the record, with titles such as Darkness and I Grieve telling their own story.

I'll leave it to the Gabriel experts to review this rather excellent album properly, as I'm sure they already have, and I'll concentrate on the fact that there are, bizarrely, three tracks of Mellotron and one of Chamberlin to be heard here. The Barry Williams Show, My Head Sounds Like That and Signal To Noise all have Pete on 'Tron, and More Than This has the inimitable Jon Brion on Chamberlin, although there's one slight problem. None of the 'Mellotron' sounds like it - they all sound like generic string samples, and the Chamberlin's basically inaudible. So, is it or isn't it? I'm hoping someone will ask him in an interview some time (people ask the strangest questions) so I can find out for sure. Very odd.

Anyway, a marvellous return to form from the exceptional Mr Gabriel; if I wasn't offended by its contemporary sensibilities, nor should you be. And I didn't even mention Genesis once.

Official site

See: Genesis

Gabriel Bondage  (US)

Gabriel Bondage, 'Angel Dust'

Angel Dust  (1975,  35.56)  **½/½

Babylon
First Stone in a Pyramid
You and the Wind
Take My Eyes
Ladies and Gentlemen
Bondage
  Rust Flakes
  Dinosaur
  Implosion
Islands
Sing Me a Song

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Mellotron used:

Gabriel Bondage's first album was Angel Dust, a (mostly) laid-back, acoustic guitar-driven effort, operating in a sort of folk/prog area, although that doesn't really describe it properly. In all honesty, this isn't the most exciting album I'm come across lately, with far too much of the material sounding like CSN&Y wannabee stuff, but without their exquisite harmonies. About the only exception to the rule is the three-part Bondage, with a completely different feel to the rest of the album, adding electric guitars, raucous sax and other otherwise unheard elements to the mix, and is easily the best song here.

Keys man Conrad Green plays a soupçon of Mellotron strings on side one's Ladies And Gentlemen, but it has to be said it's not the heaviest use ever. Their second (and, I believe, last) album was Another Trip to Earth (***), and, while no classic, was a noticeable improvement on their debut, with a far more dynamic band sound. No Mellotron, though. So; you're rather unlikely to just stumble across a copy of Angel Dust, unless you live in the Chicago area (thanks, Unk), so don't go too far out of your way for a copy.

Paul Gaffey  (Australia)

Paul Gaffey, 'Mephistopheles'

Mephistopheles  (1974,  34.33)  **½/T½

Mephistopheles
So Sad
Dreamer of Dreams
Paradise
Dear People

Finale

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Mellotron used:

While on my second Aussie trip over the 2005/6 Christmas/new year period, I met up with friends in Sydney (hi, Shane), including a guy who tried to sell me a copy of Mephistopheles. I declined, not only because I couldn't afford it, but because it isn't actually that good. It's something of a moot point as to whether this should be filed under 'Gaffey', 'Mephistopheles' or even 'Various Artists'; Gaffey is credited on the sleeve as 'vocalist', but does that make it his album? In actuality, there isn't an artist credited at all, so Gaffey will do given no sensible alternative. The title track opens with a (real) string part, and isn't too bad until the vocals start. Oh dear... This is a seriously overblown concept effort in the grand (?) tradition, that may have a pseudo-religious agenda (hard to tell without the lyric sheet), but is pretty duff even if it doesn't; not exactly a classic of Aussie prog, then.

Although most of the album's string and choir work is real, for some odd reason, Peter Harris (of Madden & Harris) provides the same sounds from a Mellotron here and there. So Sad has both real and 'Tron strings and choir, with more of the same at the Paradise/Dear People crossover point, though we're really not talking classic stuff here. You're not going to find this cheap (note: now out on CD), so I suggest you don't bother finding it at all; dull, pompous music with little discernable melody and not even much 'Tron to liven things up. Avoid.

See: Madden & Harris

Scott Gagner  (US)  see: Samples

Jeffrey Gaines  (US)

Jeffrey Gaines, 'Galore'

Galore  (1998,  57.52)  ***/½

First Chapter's Last Page
Right My Wrongs
A Simple Prayer
Step By Step
Belle de Jour
Everything
Praise or Blame
Toast and Tea
Goodbye
To Love Her Inside
Anything New
Alone
Leave Her to Me

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Mellotron used:

Jeffrey Gaines is one of those artists who seems to have bucketloads of talent, but hasn't yet found a really suitable vehicle for it. His third album, Galore, has plenty of Sidemen To The Stars on it, including Reeves Gabrels (David Bowie) and the excellent David Sancious, but ends up having a rather bland, generic 'adult pop' sound to it, despite Gaines' wonderful voice. Relentlessly mid-paced, this is radical easy-listening for couples no longer young, yet not quite ready to wholly disengage with their past, although Gaines' songwriting isn't really up there with others of that ilk (Elvis Costello et al.).

Gaines plays 'Melotron' himself on album closer Leave Her To Me, though I'll be buggered if I can hear it over the string quartet, although it may be providing the string chords. Gaines has definitely used a Mellotron on at least two other albums, 1994's Somewhat Slightly Dazed and 2001's Always Be, though if it's no more overt than here, I doubt if they're worth the effort. Galore is a perfectly good album within its genre, but if you're looking for excitement (or Mellotron), you'd be advised to go elsewhere.

Official site

Galahad  (UK)  see:

Galahad

Galaxy  (Germany)

Galaxy, 'Nature's Clear Well' Galaxy, 'Nature's Clear Well' German reissue

Nature's Clear Well  (1978, recorded 1975,  37.50)  ***/T

Nature's Clear Well
Warning Walls
I've Come From a World
You've Really Got it Fixed
Dreams Out in the Rain
Wish I Were Happy

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Mellotron used:

There seems to be some confusion surrounding Galaxy, not least in relation to their home country, oddly. The truth appears to be that they were actually called Waniyetula, a multinational band based in Frankfurt, although they (under both names) are frequently quoted as being Swiss. So where does Galaxy come in? Their US label decided to rename the band, without their permission, for their 1975 recording, released three years later as Nature's Clear Well, although they also managed a German release, A Dream Within a Dream, in '83, in a Saga vein.

To be honest, Galaxy/Waniyetula were one of those European progressive bands of variable quality, making it unusual that they had an American release at all. Nature's Clear Well is rather ordinary, if truth be told, with a good dollop of that 'German sound' that was so ubiquitous at the time; not that much variation in key/tempo, lots of string synth, you know the score. Saying that, the album does have its moments; You've Really Got It Fixed has some fairly frenzied instrumental parts, and Nature's Clear Well itself isn't bad, but it's all a little unadventurous, and I keep finding myself wishing they'd push the boat out a little more.

Norbert Abels only plays Mellotron on two tracks; choirs on the lengthy title track and flutes on Dreams Out In The Rain, but it's hardly over-used, to say the least. I believe the CD has a couple of bonus tracks, though I've no idea whether or not they have any Mellotronic input. So; an OK album, nothing too exciting, but not that bad, either. Damned with faint praise?

See: Waniyetula

Galileo II  (US)

Galileo II, 'Transmissions'

Transmissions  (1999, recorded 1984,  71.54)  ***½/TTTT

Ethereal Sky
Waiting at the Speed of Light
Automaton
Future Roads

I Can't Wait
Coming on
Song of the Siren
Orbiter 102
To the Stars
Man of the Hour

Circle of Fire
Illusion
Don't Look Back

Don't Take the Number
Automaton
Event Horizon

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Mellotron used:

Galileo II were an American hard rock/prog crossover outfit operating in the early '80s, with the inimitable Charles Thaxton on keys (see my Char-El reviews for coverage of Charles' recent work). Although the odd track features an unfortunate commercial influence (either AOR or, oddly, Cars-ish 'new wave'), most of them fall somewhere between a sort-of late-'70s science fiction-influenced US sound (think Rush) and, oddly, contemporaneous British prog. The sound quality on this disc isn't of the highest, but the tracks seem to have mainly been recorded live in the studio, I'd guess straight to a stereo master, and their resurrection fifteen years later unfortunately highlights sonic deficiencies that may not have been apparent at the time. Transmissions obviously isn't actually an 'album' per se, more an archive collection of all the tracks recorded by the band. It's a shame more lesser-known bands don't do this; I'm sure there's a wealth of decent material out there that could all too easily be lost forever.

Charles layers Mellotron all over the disc, with most tracks featuring at least a little, all strings and choir by the sound of it. Highlights include the excellent string chords on Future Roads and the powerful string part on Event Horizon, but it's all pretty good on the 'Tron front, unusually for any band of that era. Transmissions isn't commercially available as such, but you can mail Charles here to enquire about getting hold of a copy; also available on the same ad hoc basis is the similar archive CD-R of Magik Dayze material.

See: Char-El | Magik Dayze

The Galileo 7  (UK)  see: Samples

Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds  (UK)

Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds, 'Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds'

Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds  (2011,  45.20)  **/T½

Everybody's on the Run
Dream on
If I Had a Gun...
The Death of You and Me
(I Wanna Live in a Dream in My) Record Machine
AKA... What a Life!
Soldier Boys and Jesus Freaks
AKA... Broken Arrow
(Stranded on) the Wrong Beach
Stop the Clocks
Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds, 'Chasing Yesterday'

Chasing Yesterday  (2014,  43.55/63.44)  ***/TT

Riverman
In the Heat of the Moment
The Girl With X-Ray Eyes

Lock All the Doors
The Dying of the Light
The Right Stuff
While the Song Remains the Same
The Mexican
You Know We Can't Go Back
Ballad of the Mighty I
[Deluxe ed. adds:
Do the Damage
Revolution Song
Freaky Teeth
In the Heat of the Moment (remix)
Leave My Guitar Alone]

Current availability:

Mellotrons used:

What does Noel Gallagher do after Oasis? Solo career, of course, although he's actually named his band Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds, apparently in tribute to Jefferson Airplane. To absolutely no-one's surprise, his/their eponymous 2011 debut sounds an awful lot like his old band, minus their charismatic, if awful vocalist. You know 'that' Noel melody line? He uses it everywhere; please can you write something different, sir? Frankly, this is an overproduced mess; I mean what's with the choir (actually London's Crouch End Festival Chorus, one member of whom I've met) on several tracks? Completely overblown. Or the misplaced brass on Dream On? I also feel I have to take issue with the cover pic: it's apparently a famous petrol (sorry, 'gas') station somewhere in Beverly Hills, that should make a great picture. Unfortunately, this isn't it.

Mike(y) Rowe and Gallagher play one or more of Noel's growing Mellotron collection, although it's far from easy to tell where, with so many elements thrown into the mix. Flutes on Everybody's On The Run? Can't tell. Definite strings on AKA... What A Life!, heard on their own at the song's conclusion and on AKA... Broken Arrow and choirs on Soldier Boys And Jesus Freaks, but there could easily be more hidden away. I'm sure you already know whether or not you're going to bother with Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds; in fact, if you're going to buy it, chances are you already have. If this album has an overriding fault (and believe me, it does), it's that it's boring. Dull, dull dadrock for people who ask for nothing more from their music than something that's easy to sing along with and vaguely memorable. Welcome to Oasisland.

Three years on (no rush with vanity projects), the rather better Chasing Yesterday (no shit!) limped out, admittedly to reasonable reviews. Better tracks include the energetic Lock All The Doors, the John Barry-esque The Right Stuff and the trippy Ballad Of The Mighty I, Johnny Marr guesting, but the bulk of the album's the same old same old, I'm afraid. The deluxe ed. actually diminishes the album as a whole, sounding like the bunch of outtakes that it is. Worst track? Leave My Guitar Alone, with its clichéd lyrics and Hey Jude piano rip. Noel and Paul Stacey play Mellotron (Noel's M4000?), with brass on opener Riverman and The Right Stuff, distant choirs on In The Heat Of The Moment, strings and flutes on The Girl With X-Ray Eyes, although the strings on regular release closer Ballad Of The Mighty I are real and there doesn't appear to be anything on the bonus tracks. Still: mostly harmless.

Official site

See: Oasis

Galleon  (Sweden)

Galleon, 'Heritage & Visions'

Heritage & Visions  (1994,  67.43)  **½/T

Lullaby
Sniper
Permanent Vacation
Intentions
Beat of a Different Tree
Lights
Bobo the Gardener
Short Story
Tribute

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Mellotron used:

I was surprised to find that Heritage & Visions was only Galleon's second album, after '93's Saga-influenced Lynx (***). Sadly, Saga seem to've been dropped in the interim, to be replaced by generic neo-prog as the band's overriding musical mentor, their sound having slipped into 'bastard offspring of Marillion with bits of Rush' territory, like so many other bands around the same time (Short Story's intro is effectively Rush's Subdivisions, only less punchy and with no atmosphere). Suffice to say, despite a reasonable analogue keys input (actually, so what?), this is tedious run-of-the-mill stuff, pretty much indistinguishable from dozens of other Euro-progsters of the time, only with impeccable English pronunciation.

Both Ulf Pettersson and bassist/vocalist Göran Fors (whom I once met - a lovely guy, despite his music) plays keys on the album, both playing analogue Oberheim polys, with Pettersson also using (his own) MiniMoog and Korg MS20, and a borrowed Mellotron (from where, I have no idea). Unsurprisingly, we're not exactly talking the heaviest use ever, with flutes in the quiet section of opener Lullaby, a little burst of strings in the lengthy Permanent Vacation (haven't we heard that title somewhere before?) and what I think are background strings and choir in Short Story, along with various digital recreations.

So; save your money, buy something else. Sorry, 'cos I know Galleon work hard, and now have a considerable back catalogue, but this is utterly derivative, and not even of anything good. The bulk of the keyboard work is tediously digital, and the band take no risks anywhere. Rubbish 'Tron, too.

Official site

Gallery  (Norway)  see: Samples

Vincent Gallo  (US)

Vincent Gallo, 'When'

When  (2001,  42.59)  ***½/TT½

I Wrote This Song for the Girl
  Paris Hilton

When
My Beautiful White Dog
Was
Honey Bunny

Laura
Cracks
Apple Girl
Yes I'm Lonely
A Picture of Her
Vincent Gallo, 'Recordings of Music for Film'

Recordings of Music for Film  (2002, recorded 1979-98,  59.21)  ***½/½

Her Smell Theme
The Girl of Her Dreams
A Brown Lung Hollering
The Way it is Waltz
Glad to Be Unhappy
Brown Storm Poem
Good Bye Sadness, Hello Death
Brown Daisies
And a Colored Sky Colored Grey
Fishing for Some Friends
Six Laughs Once Happy
Sunny and Cloudy
No More Papa Mama
Fatty and Skinny
Her Smell Theme (Reprise)
Lonely Boy
A Falling Down Billy Brown
Drowning in Brown
A Somewhere Place
A Wet Cleaner
Sixteen Seconds Happy
With Smiles & Smiles & Smiles
A Cold and Grey Summer Day
Brown 69
Dum Beet
Me and Her
Ass Fucker
Ass Fucker (Reprise)
I Think the Sun is Coming Out Now

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Mellotrons used:

Noted independent director/producer/screenwriter/artist/model/actor/musician Vincent Gallo seems to irritate and delight people in approximately equal numbers; notorious for his arrogant and vindictive pronouncements, he's nothing if not a 'character', and maintains several different careers simultaneously. What we're interested in here, of course, are his musical endeavours; he's played in bands since his teens in the '70s, including a stint with the not-yet-famous New York artist Jean Michel Basquiat, and while he's actually appeared on very few recordings, he's notorious 'round these parts for including material by both Yes and King Crimson on the soundtrack to his best-known production, Buffalo 66.

His first non soundtrack-related solo album, 2001's When, released on small-but-trendy UK label Warp, is a vinyl-length CD of windswept, haunted songs and instrumental pieces, ideally suited for films, strangely enough. He maintains the album's vibe pretty well for most of its length, but it does all get a bit wearing towards the end of the disc, to be honest; the last track, A Picture Of Her, with its out-of-tune-and-time guitar, is really quite unnecessary, though I'm sure Mr. Gallo would disagree. Gallo plays and sings everything on the album, proving himself reasonably competent at most of them, though his drumming leaves something to be desired, and although his tremulous voice may not be to everyone's taste, it actually suits this material perfectly.

Gallo is known as a Mellotron/Chamberlin owner, once boasting of having given a stupidly rare Chamby M4 to his friend Sean Lennon. It seems likely that he's using an M300 on this album; every sound used falls within the M300A tape set (there were two slightly different sets, A and B). A fractured flute melody opens the ridiculously-titled I Wrote This Song For The Girl Paris Hilton, with low strings (the M300's two violins) on My Beautiful White Dog and clunky vibes on Was. I'm assuming (maybe wrongly) it's M300 organ on Honey Bunny, which may or may not be inspired by either his band with Lukas Haas, Bunny, or his other well-known celluloid production, the infamous The Brown Bunny, which apparently caused some consternation at Cannes that year.

A year later, Gallo released another album on Warp, Recordings of Music for Film. Exactly what it says on the tin, this is his original soundtrack work to not only Buffalo 66, but also three early works, If You Feel Froggy, Jump ('79), Downtown '81 (er, '81) and 83's The Way It Is. All of them, even the late-'90s work, were recorded on low-tech gear; two-track reel-to-reels, various acoustic instruments and analogue keyboards. It seems Gallo has owned at least one Mellotron since the late '70s, although, unlike on When, he hasn't used it/them overmuch on his soundtrack work, to the point where I think that's M300 cellos, possibly treated, on The Way It Is Waltz, but I wouldn't actually swear to it.

One amusing/disturbing facet of this album is Gallo's sleevenotes. Six closely-typed pages of invective, where he manages to say nice things about precisely two people, while dismissing practically the entire female gender at a stroke, not to mention specific unpleasantnesses. Vincent Gallo makes interesting films and fascinating soundtracks, but you get the feeling you probably wouldn't want to spend an evening with him in the pub. Especially if you're a woman. Especially if you don't possess a B cup, as "I like B's", apparently, and he ain't talking Hammond organs. If Gallo isn't a total misanthropist, he's doing a good impression of one, but it has made for some interesting work. Hey, since when did 'normal' people make great art?

Anyway, these albums are very similar, proving that Gallo invented post-rock about 15 years early, and if you like low-fi, blasted weirdness, you'll probably love these. I quite like them myself, as you can see from my ratings above, but I doubt if I'll play them too often. They make me want to see his films, though, so they've achieved something. When is borderline 'worth it for the 'Tron', but Recordings, unless I'm missing a whole load of odd Mellotron work, is practically devoid of the instrument, despite Gallo's claims that it was used on all of the soundtracks contained within.

Gallo live in Japan, 2003.

Official site

Unofficial site concentrating on Gallo's music

Gandalf  (Austria)  see:

Gandalf

Elmer Gantry's Velvet Opera  (UK)

Elmer Gantry's Velvet Opera, 'Elmer Gantry's Velvet Opera'

Elmer Gantry's Velvet Opera  (1967,  34.09/50.59)  ***/TT

Intro
Mother Writes
Mary Jane
I Was Cool
Walter Sly Meets Bill Bailey
Air
Lookin' for a Happy Life
Flames
What's the Point of Leaving
Long Nights of Summer

Dream Starts
Reactions of a Young Man
Now She's Gone

[CD adds:
Flames
Salisbury Plain
Mary Jane
Dreamy
Volcano
A Quick "B"]

Current availability:

Mellotron used:

David Terry, frontman of Five Proud Walkers, changed his name to Elmer Gantry after the Sinclair Lewis novel (or, more likely, the film version), his band simultaneously changing their name to Elmer Gantry's Velvet Opera. After an initial single, they bashed out their sole album under this name in late '67. It's a strange mixture of the sort of soul the likes of Simon Dupree & the Big Sound had been pumping out for a while and a more-in-tune-with-the-times fuzzed-out psychedelia, making for a slightly schizophrenic record, especially when they combined the styles in the same song, as on Flames (a reworking of their debut single).

For some strange reason, after eight 'Tronless tracks, the Mellotron (unknown player) suddenly kicks in well into side two. What's The Point Of Leaving features some accordion (?) and flutes, with the flutes reappearing on the following track, Long Nights Of Summer, along with a full-on strings/brass part. I can't quite tell if there's anything on Dream Starts, but the original album's last two tracks, Reactions Of A Young Man and Now She's Gone both have muted, but perfectly audible string parts. The CD adds both sides of their three singles, adding the background flutes of Salisbury Plain to the list.

So; not so much not a classic of the genre, as not sure to which genre it belongs. Soul/psych? Hmmm. As with Simon Dupree, the best tracks tend to be the ones lying furthest from their roots, which (probably un-) coincidentally tend to also be the ones with the 'Tron content. One for psych completists, I think, although it has its moments, and it's not really worth it for that Mellotron. Oh, and after the band finally split, their rhythm section, Richard Hudson and John Ford went on to join The Strawbs.

See: The Strawbs | Hudson Ford


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