Get Him Eat Him
Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger
Giardini di Mirò
Giles Giles & Fripp
Find Shelter (2006, 35.13) ***½/T
|Tied to the Mountains
Walking on Someone Else's Name
Build and Work
Hand Me, Please, a City
Priests of Cholera
Tied to the Coast
Although best-known as producer for Joanna Newsom, Devendra Banhart and their ilk, Noah Georgeson is a talented musician in his own right. 2006's Find Shelter is his first album, featuring his startling voice, a powerful, Scott Walker-esque baritone that sounds like it could probably tackle The Great American Songbook, should he ever feel the urge. His classical guitar playing, allied to unusual arrangements and That Voice are a million miles away from what the media assumes people want to hear, although Newsom et al. are beginning to prove the lie to that particular theory. There isn't a bad track on the album, but highpoints include Glorious Glory, solo guitar piece Tied To The Coast and closer Angry Afternoon.
Georgeson plays (presumably real) Mellotron on two definite tracks, although the polyphonic flute part on Build And Work insufficiently prepares the listener for the loud-to-the-point-of-distorting choirs at the end of An Anvil. A quite unique record that demands your attention, then, with a smattering of Mellotron for good measure. Buy.
Gerard (Japan) see:
Excerpts From a Love Circus (1996, 51.55) ****/TT
|Baby on the Plane
A Beautiful Schizophrenic
I Love a Snot
Forget it's a Mystery
Singing to the Birds
Messages From Sophia
Big Big World
Apparently, Excerpts From a Love Circus is Lisa Germano's most upbeat album, which makes me worry about the state of her mental health, though in the nicest possible way. Chiefly a singer and violinist, Germano's actually a talented multi-instrumentalist, who knows how to put together an album or two of bittersweet, dark-but-somehow-uplifting songs such as Bruises. Often compared to the likes of P.J. Harvey or, oddly, Tori Amos, I'd actually say that Germano is the greater talent, with considerably more presence on record, and possibly better songs.
The CD digipack doesn't say who plays what, only who appears, so I've no idea who plays the haunting Mellotron flutes on Baby On The Plane (just about the first sound you hear on the album) and, particularly, A Beautiful Schizophrenic, but they sound highly authentic and are right up at the front of the mix. There's a possibility there's some more 'Tron on the album, but what with the real violin and possibly real flute, it's rather hard to tell. So; good album, great 'Tron, just not quite enough of it.
The World According to Gessle (1997, 53.21) ***/T½
Do You Wanna Be My Baby?
I Want You to Know
Wish You the Best
|Elvis in Germany (Let's Celebrate!)
I'll Be Alright
There is My Baby
Lay Down Your Arms
Mazarin (2003, 48.09) **½/T
|Vilket Håll du Än Går
Om du Bara Vill
På Promenad Genom Stan
Smakar På ett Regn
Sakta Mina Steg
Tycker om När du Tar På Mej
För Bra för Att Vara Sant
Här Kommer Alla Känslorna (På en Och Samma Gång)
Jag Tror du Bär På en Stor Hemlighet
Although I'd never previously heard of Per Gessle, it turns out he's vocalist/guitarist/all-round leader of Swedish megastars Roxette and the less well-known internationally though huge back home Gyllene Tider. Older than I'd expected, he formed the latter as far back as '77, forming Roxette in 1986, both bands still operating in one form or another.
The World According to Gessle, released as Gessle, is his third solo album, the first two dating from the mid-'80s. I am so relieved I don't have to listen to those. Er... Anyway, The World... has many things in common with classic powerpop, notably opener Stupid, although it spoils it with cheesy mainstream hit single stuff like I Want You To Know and B-Any-1-U-Wanna-B. Overall, the two just about balance out, giving the album a compromising three stars. Clarence Öfwerman plays Mellotron, with strings and quite overt flutes on I Want You To Know, background flutes on I'll Be Alright and phased strings on Lay Down Your Arms, which makes a nice change from most mainstream pop acts. Is it real? Who knows? Sounds like it, but I've been fooled so many times now I don't even trust myself any more.
2003's Mazarin is his solo follow-up (under his full name this time), a rather different album, largely because it turns its back on the international market, reverting to being sung entirely in Swedish, as were his first two. Sad to say, it's far blander than its predecessor, being mostly ballads and mainstream pop; about the best thing here is probably Jag Tror Du Bär På En Stor Hemlighet, with its electric 12-string and nice bottleneck work. Öfwerman on 'Tron again, with strings on Tycker Om När Du Tar På Mej, sounding as if they're combined with synth strings, but despite the rumoured use on Om Du Bara Vill and the title track, all I can hear is real strings.
So; a pop artist who manages to be occasionally semi-interesting. Better than one who doesn't, I suppose... If you really feel you have to hear the man's solo work, get The World According to Gessle, but despite the odd 'Tron track, I'm really not recommending these to anyone not already a Gessle/Roxette fan.
Geography Cones (2005, 36.44) **½/½
Pardon My French
Not Not Nervous
Shirt Like a Couch
Early Scarlet Globes
Going by their debut, 2005's Geography Cones, the Rhode Island-based Get Him Eat Him (stupid name, if nowhere near as bad as Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly) played a form of vaguely '60s-inspired indie. Infuriatingly, its snatches of interesting music are swamped by some acreage of by-numbers indie, making this a difficult listen for anyone not already immersed in the genre.
Matt LeMay plays Mellotron flutes on closer Early Scarlet Globes, effected in places; real? Who knows? Anyway, for indie fans only, I think.
Hypnotic Underworld (2004, 70.42) ****/TT
God Took a Picture of His Illness on This Ground
Escaped and Lost Down in Medina
Aramaic Barbarous Dawn
Leave the World!
Dominoes - Celebration for the Gray Days
Ghost are an institution in the lysergically-inclined world of current Japanese psych, having released a sizeable number of albums of stoned-out, semi-improv'd weirdness. Hypnotic Underworld is merely the latest of the band's psychedelic creations, moving between various styles in the manner of a silverfish flitting around your house, almost undetectable, but... OK, I'll shut up. Ghost are extremely talented, though, shifting from the freeform drones of the first part of the album's title track, God Took A Picture Of His Illness On This Ground, through more high-energy stuff like Holy High to the early-'70s style folk/psych of Kiseichukan Nite. Some listeners may be in favour of opening the album with a 13-minute stoned jam, but I'd have rather they'd kicked off proceedings with something more cohesive, but that's just my prog roots showing, I think.
Kazuo Ogino's Mellotron crops up on their cover of an obscure Earth & Fire b-side, Hazy Paradise, with a full-on string part, then short bursts of strings on the other tracks highlighted above, though no extended use anywhere. I'm all for subtlety, but a little more 'Tron wouldn't have hurt... They even get a few chords onto their epic version of Syd Barrett's Dominoes, which they've subtitled Celebration For The Gray Days, for reasons best known to themselves.
Although Hypnotic Underworld has prog touches, it's definitely more psych than progressive, so don't buy it expecting a full-on prog-fest (ho ho), or indeed, a 'Tron one. Five 'Tron tracks, but none of them outstanding in that area. Your call.
See: Samples etc.
Midnight Sun (2014, 49.43) ***/TT½
The Devil You Know
Poor Paul Getty
Don't Look Back Orpheus
Moth to a Flame
The Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger (a.k.a. GOASTT) are Sean Lennon's latest project, a full-blown psychedelic exploration, whose second release, 2014's Midnight Sun, sits somewhere on the boundary between '60s-influenced psych and modern indie. Better material includes Beatlesque opener Too Deep, the rocking Animals, the wispy Johannesburg and the lysergic Last Call, while Golden Earrings (as covered in wildly camp style by The Enid a few decades earlier) provides some light relief.
Jared Samuel plays Chamberlin on several tracks, with contributions from a couple of others, with full-on flutes and strings on Xanadu, pitchbent Chamby guitar (and strings?) on the title track, upfront strings (from Pete Drungle) on Last Call, orchestralish strings and bells on Golden Earrings and Lennon on not-immediately-obvious oboes on Great Expectations is it real? Far harder to tell with a Chamberlin than a Mellotron, so I think we'll have to assume so without receiving information to the contrary. Is this actually any good? Like the curate's egg, in places, but trimming a couple of its less interesting tracks might possibly have made for a stronger album.
See: Sean Lennon
36 Seasons (2014, 40.21) ***/TTT
Love Don't Live Here No More
Here I Go Again
It's a Thin Line Between Love and Hate
The Dogs of War
Pieces to the Puzzle
Blood in the Streets
Call My Name
I Love You for All Seasons
Dennis "Ghostface Killah" Coles is a member of the currently nine-strong Wu-Tang Clan; if the other members keep up his workrate, fandom must be a full-time operation, as 2014's 36 Seasons is his eleventh solo album over a two-decade period. It is, of course, hip-hop, but a refreshing lack of macho bullshit makes it far more listenable than anything you'd care to name by the likes of 50 Cent et al. Actually, I'd say that there's a heavy soul influence here, doubtless aided by producers The Revelations; closer I Love You For All Seasons appears to be entirely their work. The album should apparently be approached as an 'audio comic', alongside the actual one in the CD booklet, telling the story of a Staten Island resident, home after nine years' incarceration (thus the title), which accounts for the vastly-more-thoughtful-than-expected lyrics.
There are no fewer than five credited Mellotron players: Gintas Janusonis, Adam Klipple, Wes Mingus, Daniel Schlett and Josh Werner and I have to say, what we're hearing has a pleasing ring of authenticity about it, although I'm not sure how much that means these days. Anyway, we get strings on It's A Thin Line Between Love And Hate, choirs and volume-pedalled strings on The Dogs Of War, choirs on Double Cross, a flute line on Pieces To The Puzzle and strings on Homicide, Call My Name and I Love You For All Seasons, assuming I haven't missed anything. Not one for your prog fan, then, but, assuming I'm correct, it's nice to hear a well-used Mellotron in an unusual genre.
Two Years to Never (2000, 52.13) **½/½
|One Step Away
Two Years to Never
All That I am
|Next to Me
Means to an End
Ghoti Hook were a Christian ska/punk band (!), whose name apparently derives from George Bernard Shaw's amusing illustration of the irregularities of the English language, 'ghoti' being pronounced 'fish'. Work it out for yourself. Their last full studio album, 2000's Two Years to Never, is far more punk than ska, better tracks including the punky title track, All That I Am and the jammed-out instrumental stuck at the end of the disc, after a lengthy gap, removed from the timing above.
John Davis plays pretty real-sounding Mellotron strings (complete with pitchbend) on opener One Step Away, although I can't hear it anywhere else. While competent enough, I can't find it in myself to recommend this on any level, as everything it does has been done better by someone else, not least its Mellotron use.
Bimba (1977, 37.09) **/0
Il Vecchio Antonio
Se Vuoi Nasconderti
Il Tempo dell'Amore
Quel Gioco Stupido
|Che Cosa Rimane
Sandro Giacobbe is a mainstream Italian singer, active from the beginning of the '70s to the present day. His fifth album, 1977's Bimba (more easily found in its Spanish release, Niña), is a collection of decidedly ordinary late '70s pop/rock, whose music is more than likely little more than a vehicle for the lyrics, not only meaningless to a non-Italian speaker, but most likely pretty anodyne anyway.
Danilo Vaona plays Mellotron (it's actually credited on the inner sleeve), although, assuming it hasn't been used as a catch-all phrase meaning 'something that sounds like strings', it's presumably hidden in the mix, possibly under the real strings evident on several tracks. So; mainstream foreign-language pop with no Mellotron. No, no, no.
A Giant Crab Comes Forth (1968, 44.49) **½/T (T½)
|A Giant Crab Comes Forth
It Started With a Little Kiss
Watch Your Step
Intensify Your Soul
Hot Line Conversation
I Enjoy Being the Boy
Thru the Fields
The Chance You Take
Believe it or Not
The Answer is No
Hi Ho Silver Lining
Why am I So Proud?]
Metamorphosing out of the beat-era Ernie & the Emperors, Santa Barbara's superbly-named Giant Crab consisted of two sets of brothers, the Oroscos and the Fricias, who released their debut, A Giant Crab Comes Forth, in 1968. Now, if ever there were a band who weren't sure what they wanted to be, it's Giant Crab. The bulk of the album harks back to the sound of a couple of years earlier, soul-inflected, brass-driven pop, probably not unlike the band's earlier incarnation, with a few psych numbers (already a year late) thrown in for good measure. Unsurprisingly, it's the latter we're interested in here, highlights including Hot Line Conversation's proto-hard rock moves and Lydia Purple and Groovy Towne's slightly stiff psych feel, presumably from a band who hadn't quite got to grips with the new regime. Lowpoint? Definitely the expanded CD's awful Hi Ho Silver Lining, a waste of space if ever I heard one.
Although it's uncredited, it seems likely that keyboard player Kenny Fricia plays the tape-replay instrument here (presumably a Chamberlin), with string parts on I Enjoy Being The Boy and Lydia Purple and strings and flutes on CD bonus Why Am I So Proud? (the album's top tape-replay track, source unknown, as it doesn't appear to be a b-side). Is this worth the effort? 'Possibly' for psych obsessives, 'possibly not' for tape-replay enthusiasts, although Why Am I So Proud?'s a minor classic in its own right.
Chore of Enchantment (2000, 59.53) ***½/T
Dusted (for the Millennium)
Temptation of Egg
Dirty From the Rain
Astonished (in Memphis)
Bottom Line Man
Way to the End
...Is All Over the Map (2004, 47.57) ****/T
NYC of Time
Flying Around the Sun at
Les Forbats Innocents
Hood (View From a Heidelberg Hotel)
A Classico Reprise
Anarchistic Bolshevistic Cowboy Bundle
Howe Gelb's brainchild, Giant Sand's 13th album, 2000's Chore of Enchantment, is typical of their skewed take on Americana, sounding like it was recorded in a desert full of cranky old keyboards. Highlights include the creepy Dusted (For The Millennium), the abrasive 1972 and the acoustic Dirty From The Rain, but there's nothing here that will offend those used to a bit of pre-country. Mellotron from three different players, Big Star producer Jim Dickinson, Rob Arthur and Kevin Salem, although there's not actually that much to be heard on the album. Dusted (For The Millennium) has flutes and very background strings, with brief double-tracked, panned strings on Shiver, although it's possible that various cellos and vibes are Mellotronically-produced, too.
A bizarre little coincidence that happened while I was listening to this album: Satellite features the line, "You could get Leonard Nimoy to play the part of Leonard Cohen". What am I reading at the time? Nimoy's second autobiography, 1995's I Am Spock. Much too weird, and probably very Giant Sand.
2004's ...Is All Over the Map caries on in similar style, sandblasted Americana with squalling punk rock guitars, not least on the bizarre Anarchistic Bolshevistic Cowboy Bundle, a segue of Anarchy In The UK and a maudlin country toon; no, I don't know why, either. Other top tracks include Cracklin Water and the Italianate Napoli, which highlights the nearest this album has to a problem: maybe it's just a little too diverse? Anyway, Mellotron from John Parrish on Flying Around The Sun At Remarkable Speed, with a high string threnody, with more of the same on Muss, while Fool remains resolutely 'Tron-free until its dying seconds, when a creakily real-sounding Mellotron choir appears to pipe the song out.
Essentially, if you like Giant Sand, you'll like both these albums, and if you don't... Neither of them's that heavy on the 'Tron front, but they're both good albums in a twisted Americana kind of way.
See: Howe Gelb | Calexico
Song of Solomon (1975, 33.58) **½/TTTSong of Solomon
Darkness Before the Dawn
Christ of Galilee
Billows and Waves
One More Mile to Go
I can't tell you much about Pete Giardina, other than he was a Christian singer-songwriter from Indiana who released Song of Solomon in 1975. It's a sort of soft rock/prog-lite effort, notably on its twelve-minute opening title track, intercut with spoken-word passages from Giardina relating to the book of the same name from the Hebrew Bible (good old Wikipedia, eh?). Unfortunately (if predictably), the rest of the album consists of decidedly ordinary generic soft rock with exceedingly overtly Christian lyrics, although compared to most modern CCM, it's really pretty inoffensive.
An unknown musician (Giardina himself?) plays Mellotron strings on the title track, Christ Of Galilee, Billows And Waves and One More Mile To Go to decent effect, although the last three named are all pretty ordinary musically. This goes for silly prices second-hand, but downloads are out there (ahem), so if you feel a yen to hear some Mellotron-heavy early CCM, feel free.
Rise & Fall of Academic Drifting (2001, 53.20) **½/TA New Start (For Swinging Shoes)
Pet Life Saver
The Beauty Tape Rider
Trompsø is OK
Rise and Fall of Academic Drifting
Punk... Not Diet (2003, 44.53) **½/½Too Much Static for a Beguine
The Swimming Season
Given Ground (Oops... Revolution on Your Pins)
Connect the Machine to the Lips Tower (Be Proud of Your Cake)
Once Again a Fond Farewell
The Comforting of a Transparent Life
When You Were a Postcard
Last Act in Baires
Dolphins Are Here to Watch Your Blue Blood Flow
Ah, post-rock. Italy's Giardini di Mirò's debut offering, Rise & Fall of Academic Drifting, initially struck me as sounding not dissimilar to, say, Pineapple Thief, maybe, although as it progressed it became apparent that Mogwai were probably a safer comparison. Something mostly instrumental, rather drifting and not particularly interesting, anyway. Sorry, does that come across as a bit narrow-minded? I've listened to quite a bit of this stuff in the course of my unpaid 'duties', and little of it holds my attention for very long. Am I missing the point somewhere along the line? Anyway, the enigmatically-named Giacomo F. guests on Mellotron, with a string line under real violin on Pet Life Saver and another background string part on Penguin Serenade, neither anything to write home about.
By the even more oddly-named Punk... Not Diet, from two years later, the band had incorporated vocals as a regular feature, using them on around half the album's tracks. The material is, sadly, no more exciting than before, the album's chief plus point being that it's 'vinyl length' and doesn't outstay its welcome. Mellotron from Luca di Mira this time round, with just flutes on (inhale) Connect The Machine To The Lips Tower (Be Proud Of Your Cake) (exhale), although I can't say they add to it particularly.
Is the Mellotron on either of these albums real? Will we ever know? Does anyone care? Two not especially interesting albums that seem to ride piggyback on others' stylistic achievements, which they have in common with most others bands, sad to say. Even if the 'Tron's real, it's all rather unexciting, so I wouldn't bother if I were you.
Blue Apple (1974, 40.46) ***½/TTBlue Apple
Don't Waste Your Time
Go to Find a Way
Reflections Part I & II
Left the Past Behind
Blue Apple was German hard rock outfit Gift's second and last album, and the only one to utilise keyboards, from Dieter Frei. The music is that typically mid-'70s mix of lighter and heavier rock, with a noticeable blues base, but way better than that produced by many of their countrymen, including Jane and Epitaph. There isn't actually a bad song on the album, with top marks going to the high speed Purple/Heep-ish Everything's Alright, complete with Speed King-style classical organ intro.
Frei's Mellotron is apparent from the off, with a 'Tron flute melody running through the title track, and strings on the other credited tracks. It's a shame more bands from the heavier end of the spectrum didn't use Mellotron, as it can work well in that area; kudos to current outfits such as Sweden's Spiritual Beggars for doing exactly that (although it seems they actually used samples). So, against all expectations, Blue Apple is actually very good, and will definitely be played again. Buy? If '70s hard rock's your thing, yes. Pity about the rather crass sleeve, but it was 1974...
Terra in Bocca (1971, 46.40) ****½/TTTTTTerra in Bocca parte I
Avanti Tutto - Brutto Momento - Plim Plim
Plim Plim al Parossismo - Delicato Andante
Rumori - Fine Incombente
Terra in Bocca parte II
Fine Lontana - Allegro per Niente
Tanto va la Gatta al Lardo - Su e Giù
Larghissimo - Dentro Tutto
Alba di Note - Rimbalzello Triste
Rimbalzello Compiacento - Ossessivo Ma Non...
Ex-beat group I GiGanti's last, and sole progressive release, Terra in Bocca, is apparently a concept album based around the Mafia - a brave subject to tackle at any time, but especially in early-'70s Italy. It's characterised by many multi-part vocal sections, though not in the harmonic sense; this is an album that will make very little sense to the non-Italian speaker, to be honest. For all that, it's a wonderful piece (the album really has to be taken as a whole), being an excellent early example of typical Italian symphonic prog; don't forget, this is actually pre- the first PFM album. Multiple tempo/mood changes abound; this is a band who had obviously listened to King Crimson, then applied the lessons learned to their own cultural influences, resulting in something quite unique.
Much Mellotron throughout, from Francesco "Checco" Marsella, with flute, brass and (especially) string parts throughout; given the year it came out, I rather suspect that what you're hearing is one of the few Mark IIs to make their way to Italy, rather than those three sounds on an M400 tape frame. The 'Tron certainly has that particularly rich, reverbed sound that only really comes from a Mark II, although this is a good year before the first known appearance of the M400 choirs, so their lack proves nothing. Actually, this really is something of a 'Tron monster; I know there's still plenty of extremely 'Tron-heavy albums I've never heard, but it's still sometimes surprising to come across one as powerful as this. Marsella obviously had excellent technique, as it never sounds 'clunky', as it can with rather lesser practitioners.
So; Terra in Bocca really is a rather special album. If the Italian vocals aren't a problem, I can highly recommend it, both for the music and the Mellotron. Buy.
Flippin' Out (1993, 50.17) ***½/T
Ride on Baby Ride on
Where I Find My Heaven
The Gigolo Aunts (formed as far back as 1981) are, of course, named for one of Syd Barrett's finest solo moments. 1993's Flippin' Out is only their third full-length album, full of the kind of powerpop that's now become rather clichéd, but was still relatively fresh back then, given that it was already a second-hand style. Irritatingly, there seem to be two different versions of the album, the original release on Fire, then a resequenced one with a couple of different tracks on RCA, which is the one I'm reviewing here. It's a good album, very good in places, but without that certain je ne sais quoi that can make an album great, despite tracks of the quality of opener Cope, Lullaby and Gun.
Mike Denneen plays Chamberlin, with distant strings on Figurine, Where I Find My Heaven and Pin Cushion, none of which particularly enhances the tracks, unfortunately, which isn't to dismiss its use. Powerpop fans who don't already own this should purchase forthwith, however, although anyone after some major tape-replay work should probably look elsewhere. Recommended, though not for the Chamby.
Gila [a.k.a. Free Electric Sound] (1971, 37.57) ***½/TAggression
Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee (1973, 35.00/40.50) ***½/TThis Morning
In a Sacred Manner
The Buffalo Are Coming
Black Kettle's Ballad
Mindwinds and Heartfrost]
Gila are the sort of German band who fall into the 'are they or aren't they?' debate re. 'Krautrock'. By no means as experimental as early Tangerine Dream or as trippy as, say, Amon Düül II, they were certainly more 'out there' than Eloy, Jane, or many of the other relatively mainstream acts of the time. Their style was based firmly on jamming around a basic song structure, or at least it was on Gila (a.k.a. Free Electric Sound, for some reason). The material's actually very good, although both 'Kommunikation' and 'Kontakt' do go on a bit, to be honest; it's all very druggy, with echoes of early Floyd (pun intended), but there's a solid core of good songwriting, putting them several notches above many of their contemporaries. As well as the ubiquitous organ, there's a little of Fritz Scheyhing's Mellotron to be heard on the album, with the unusual combination of brass and flutes on 'Kommunikation', topping and tailing the lengthy piece (and isn't that a riff later purloined by Porcupine Tree?).
Anyway, two years later, Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, with its Native American theme, is a very different album to its predecessor, being less trippy and more folky, with much 12-string acoustic from Conny Veit. Decidedly more song-orientated than Gila, Bury My Heart is generally regarded as a Krautrock classic, though with three decades' hindsight, it probably fits the so-called 'acid folk' genre better. Coincidentally, the two Mellotron tracks are probably also the best musically, though others may disagree. Piano and Mellotron are played by, of all people, the now sadly late Florian Fricke, soon to be the one man musical whirlwind otherwise known as Popol Vuh (German version). There's actually very little audible 'Tron; all I can hear is cellos on In A Sacred Manner, and flutes (as against Veit's real one) on probably the album's trippiest track, Little Smoke. I actually find the album slightly less engaging than their debut, though I can see why some listeners prefer it. Oh, and the CD's bonus track, Mindwinds And Heartfrost, is there more for completion's sake than anything else, as it's very average, with terrible vocals.
So; Gila's a good, if trippy, album, with a little Mellotron among the more usual stuff, while Bury My Heart is folkier, making (in my humble opinion, of course) their debut the better of the two albums, though neither's one's really worth it for the 'Tron.
Thud (1995, 49.50) *****/TT
|When You Give Your Love to Me
Tea for One
The Tears of Audrey
Shrug (Because of Me and You)
|All Fall Down
Song for a Dead Friend
Thud EP (1995, 24.35) ***½/TTTKashmir
Waiting (the other version)
Joytown (live acoustic)
Shadow Self (edit)
Jim Rigberg again, folks.
The music business, like life, is brutally unfair. 'Stars' are manufactured, their crappy music - and, more importantly for sales, their attractive images - are pumped into the ears and eyes of our impressionable youngsters, and genuine talent is ignored, routinely. Kevin Gilbert got the royal shaft from the music business. By all accounts, a musical prodigy - capable of playing any song he heard on any instrument handed to him - Gilbert possessed an impeccable sense of melody and a biting, cynical wit. He found some measure of success, to be sure - he was in big demand as an engineer, and worked (undoubtedly, much to his personal distaste) with Michael Jackson, Madonna, and other '80s luminaries. However, he had little luck getting much attention for his own work which, in addition to his two releases, included the excellent Toy Matinee (*****), released in 1990. Gilbert dated Sheryl Crow; he and his buddies were responsible for writing much of the music on her multi-platinum debut. However, once that album took off, Crow dumped him and never looked back. Of course, to add insult to injury, Gilbert then had to go and accidentally kill himself. Life really sucks sometimes.
Anyway, Thud is a somewhat 'lost' masterpiece (like many others before him, Gilbert, ironically, developed a following after he died that he couldn't swing while alive). Each song is expertly written, arranged, played, and produced. The stand-out, both from an overall and a 'Tron point of view (for me, anyway) is Shadow Self, a mini-prog epic about the devil inside us all. The chorus of this song includes the most sinister sounding 'Tron choirs under equally sinister chanting. Sublime. The 'Tron on both Goodness Gracious and Shrug is almost as good; both tracks have perfectly thought-out flute melodies that are repeated throughout. The former track also ends in some great polyphonic 'Tron flute-meandering, much like the reprise of Strawberry Fields Forever. Shrug scatters some interesting spooky block string chords here and there, as well.
Though I can't positively identify it as 'Tron, the 'organ' in Waiting sounds suspiciously like it's being generated via tape; it is the most unstable sounding organ I've ever heard. However, given the presence of strings, flute, and choir on the remainder of the album, I admit it seems unlikely that Gilbert had another frame with organ on it. On the other hand, he was a vintage keys freak, so I guess it's not out the question. There may also be 'Tron brass mixed with real brass in All Fall Down.
Overall, this is prog-pop heaven and should be purchased immediately. It also happens to include three amazing 'Tron tracks. If you like this, you must also get Gilbert's posthumously-released The Shaming of the True (*****), his ode to the fucked-up music business.
n.b. Having finally heard this myself, several years later, I can confirm that it's a Mellotron on Waiting, possibly a church organ/something else (real Hammond?) mix, although there's nothing to be heard on All Fall Down. I'd probably give this ****/TT, but since Jim reviewed it originally, his rating stands.
The Thud EP (for want of a better title) was given away with initial copies of the album, led by a drastic(-ish) reworking of Kashmir, starting off acoustic before letting rip, albeit in 4/4, which sort of works. Sort of... Two album tracks (one edited) are bolstered by a different (and superior?) take on Waiting and an acoustic version of Joytown, recorded for Westwood One Radio, apparently, not that you'd know it. Although the only credited Mellotron is Dave Kerzner's work on 'The Other Version' of Waiting (brass, by the sound of it), it's also present on Kashmir (strings, much as on the original) and the album versions of Goodness Gracious and Shadow Self.
See: Toy Matinee | Giraffe
The Cheerful Insanity of Giles, Giles & Fripp (1968, 40.52/59.33) ***½/TT
One in a Million
Digging My Lawn
|How Do They Know
The Sun is Shining
She is Loaded
Under the Sky
|One in a Million (mono single version)
Newly-Weds (mono single version)
Thursday Morning (mono single version)
Thursday Morning (stereo single version)]
I expect these names are familiar to most of you; two-thirds of the initial King Crimson lineup, with the other Giles playing on their second album. Cheerful Insanity... is a very odd record; very much of its time, it works its way through all the usual psych bits without ever really transcending the genre. Saying that, Suite No.1 is an interesting little piece, with some excellent guitar work by the young Mr. Fripp (one of his surprisingly rare writing contributions here). Unfortunately, most of the songs tend towards the whimsical, with the end result being a less than totally essential addition to the psych fan's collection. One of the album's better features is/are the little spoken-work vignettes between some of the songs, collectively entitled The Saga Of Rodney Toady, although the humour hasn't really dated that well.
There are a few bits of Mellotron on the album, apparently played by Fripp, particularly on the slightly cheesy One In A Million, but like many of its contemporaries, Cheerful Insanity... isn't exactly awash with the thing. Buy if you see it cheap, or you're a mad Crimson collector. Nice, but inessential. Incidentally, thanks to Jochen for extra information.
See: King Crimson | 21st Century Schizoid Band
Gilgamesh (1975, 37.02) ***½/½One End More/Phil's Little Dance (for Phil Miller's Trousers)/Worlds of Zin
Lady and Friend
Island of Rhodes/Paper Boat (for Doris)/As if Your Eyes Were Open
For Absent Friends
We Are All/Someone Else's Food/Jamo and Other Boating Disasters (From the Holiday of the Same Name)
Another Fine Tune You've Got Me Into (1978, 37.48) ***½/TDarker Brighter
Bobberty - Theme From Something Else
Gilgamesh are a classic 'Canterbury Scene' band; led by ninja keyboard god Alan Gowen, they coalesced in 1973, split in '75, then re-coalesced in '77 before splitting again, this time for good. Musically, they had an awful lot in common with Hatfield & the North, so it comes as no surprise that Dave Stewart was briefly involved with the band; think: prime Brit-fusion, somehow managing to make that so American of musics, jazz, sound relatively un-American. An un-American activity? Let's hope so.
The first lineup's only release, 1975's Gilgamesh, is exactly what you'd expect of it; mad, instrumental jazz-rock, with surprisingly little showing-off, all musicians concerned playing their hearts out in a tightly arranged formation. Individual plaudits are irrelevant; all players and tracks display the levels of virtuosity you'd expect, although the concept of 'tunefulness', outside the hermetically-sealed world of jazz is another matter. Gowen played the tiniest amounts of Mellotron possible, seemingly emulating the Hatfields, with a smidgeon of strings on One End More and only slightly more on Notwithstanding.
After the aforementioned split and reformation, the band's second lineup released Another Fine Tune You've Got Me Into in '78, following the path laid down by their debut with little deviation, despite the vast changes wrought on the industry in the intervening three years. The album's one Mellotron track is Underwater Song, with a quiet flute part running most of the way through the piece, though not exactly something any self-respecting Mellotron nut couldn't live without.
Fans of that peculiar brand of British Canterbury jazz-rock almost certainly own both these albums already, but should they not, they need to invest right now. Fans of major Mellotron use, on the other hand, should probably save their hard-earned shekels for any one of a thousand or more albums more suited to their very particular tastes. Tragically, Gowen died of leukaemia in 1981, denying the world his very considerable talents; for more of his work, listen to National Health, essentially a Gilgamesh offshoot.