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Jaguares
Sarah Jahn
Jakko Jakszyk
Bob James
Brendan James
Harmony James

Samantha James
JamisonParker
Jan & Dean
Jane


Jabladav  (US)  see: Samples etc.

Jack's Mannequin  (US)

Jack's Mannequin, 'Everything in Transit'

Everything in Transit  (2005,  45.22)  **½/T½

Holiday From Real
The Mixed Tape
Bruised

I'm Ready
La La Lie
Dark Blue
Miss Delaney
Kill the Messenger
Rescued
MFEO
  Part 1 - Made for Each Other
  Part 2 - You Can Breathe

Into the Airwaves
Jack's Mannequin, 'The Glass Passenger'

The Glass Passenger  (2008,  52.08)  **/T½

Crashin'
Spinning
Swim
American Love
What Gets You Off
Suicide Blonde
Annie Use Your Telescope
Bloodshot
Drop Out - The So Unknown
Hammers and Strings (a Lullaby)
The Resolution

Orphans
Caves

Current availability:

Chamberlins used:

Jack's Mannequin are ex-Something Corporate mainman Andrew McMahon's subsequent outfit, although they seem to be more of a solo project than an actual band. He/they debuted in 2005 with Everything in Transit, apparently a kind-of concept album about McMahon's move to California, featuring the odd nice touch, notably the Carl Wilson-style falsetto "Oo-wee-oo" after a line about The Beach Boys in Miss Delaney, but they're few and far between, I'm afraid. Good ol' Patrick Warren on Chamberlin (as ever), with what sounds like strings on The Mixed Tape, Bruised and closer Into The Airwaves, with strings and flutes on the surprisingly lengthy MFEO Part 2, You Can Breathe, although, as so often, little of it's essential. Nice sleeve, though.

McMahon took three years to follow his debut, chiefly due to being busy surviving a form of leukaemia, which, understandably, heavily informs 2008's The Glass Passenger. It's not dissimilar to its predecessor, although it lacks even that album's occasional charms, frankly, despite Suicide Blonde's pseudo-powerpop stance. Warren on Chamby again, with strings on What Gets You Off, Annie Use Your Telescope (most effectively), Bloodshot, Hammers And Strings (A Lullaby), The Resolution and Caves, although it's far enough in the background that its total rating remains low.

Overall, these are just too indie-pop/emo to appeal to a jaded old git like me; I suspect you have to be under, say, thirty to get this stuff at all. Passable Chamby use on The Glass Passenger, but nothing you're going to want to shell out hard cash to hear.

Official site

See: Something Corporate

Jackopierce  (US)

Jackopierce, 'Bringing on the Weather'

Bringing on the Weather  (1994,  45.08)  ***/½

Late Shift
Forces
Weather
Along for the Ride
Iron John
Jacob
Anderson's Luck
Free
Capable Girl
Witch in the Old Man
Be Your Man
Get to Know Me Better

Current availability:

Chamberlin used:

Jackopierce are essentially the duo of vocalist/guitarists Jack O'Neill and Cary Pierce, plus whoever else is needed to flesh out their sound. 1994's Bringing on the Weather was their third studio album, an appealing set of good, if fairly generic Americana, highlights including opener Late Shift, Iron John and Free, which reminds me of Richard Thompson's iconic Shoot Out The Lights. One of the album's plus points is the band's inspired choice of collaborators, including Benmont Tench (Tom Petty, a million others), whose Hammond playing informs the entire record and T-Bone Burnett.

Burnett plays Chamberlin, although the only obvious use is the cellos on Jacob, which seems like a slightly missed opportunity. So; probably not a classic, but something for Americana fans to get their teeth into, although not for its Chamby use.

Official site

Michael Jackson  (US)

Michael Jackson, 'Dangerous'

Dangerous  (1991,  77.08)  **½/½

Jam
Why You Wanna Trip on Me
In the Closet
She Drives Me Wild
Remember the Time
Can't Let Her Get Away
Heal the World
Black or White
Who is it
Give in to Me
Will You Be There
Keep the Faith
Gone Too Soon
Dangerous

Current availability:

Mellotron used:

In the late '80s, there was a great little independent record shop near where I lived in north London called Terrapin Trucking, run by an eccentric bloke called Steve, sadly no longer with us. He had a large poster at one end of the shop for Michael Jackson's Bad, upon which he had scrawled in black marker, "Bad, I'll say it's bad, Mr Jackson!", or words to that effect. Childish? Maybe, but it completely summed up Steve's disgust with the bland mainstream, where everyone listens to the same faceless, pointless music, rarely interacting with it on anything more than the most basic level. OK, there's no rule saying anyone should have to, but isn't it nice when you run into people who do? And they don't listen to Michael Jackson?

I'm surprised to learn that Dangerous has sold nearly 30 million copies to date, as its general perception is that of a failure, although its sales have now equalled those of Bad. However, unlike its predecessors, it's exceedingly thin on decent tunes, despite its double-album length, which merely gave Wacko Jacko the freedom to, er, 'stretch out' on most of the tracks, i.e. refuse to edit, in a similar manner to many artists when first given CD's extra half-hour over LP length, without any extra pressing cost (see: Oasis' dreadful Be Here Now). I can see that much of the material would appeal to his core fanbase, but it was the casual buyers who backed away here; I mean, anyone who wasn't utterly repelled by the stomach-turning Heal The World has to have a screw loose, although for sheer revulsion, it can't touch 1995's Earth Song, and as for the full chorale at the beginning of Will You Be There... Most of the material is his patented mixture of, er, 'pop, rock and soul', but it's all starting to sound a bit tired by this point, although it seems nearly 30 million people would disagree.

Unusually for 1991, there's what sounds like a genuine (credited) Mellotron on one track, Give In To Me, played by Bill Bottrell. The song starts with a cranky-sounding strings pitchbend, and while the major verse/chorus string part sounds like regular string samples, the 'Tron weaves in and out of the song fairly pleasingly, if rather ineffectually. So; all in all, this is one to avoid, in case you hadn't guessed. It gets the star rating it does for not being too overly offensive, but there is absolutely nothing here for the discerning music fan. Music for lifts. Not much 'Tron, either.

Official record company site

Jackson Heights  (UK)

Jackson Heights, 'King Progress'

King Progress  (1970,  36.00)  ***/T

Mr Screw
Since I Last Saw You
Sunshine Freak
King Progress
Doubting Thomas
Insomnia
Cry of Eugene
Jackson Heights, 'The Fifth Avenue Bus'

The Fifth Avenue Bus  (1972,  41.26)  ***/T½

Tramp
Dog Got Bitten
Autumn Brigade
Long Time Dying
Sweet Hill Tunnel
Laughing Gear
House in the Country
Rent a Friend
Luxford
Pastor Roger
Jackson Heights, 'Ragamuffins Fool'

Ragamuffins Fool  (1972,  38.17)  **½/TT

Maureen
Oh You Beauty

As She Starts
BeBop
Catch a Thief
Ragamuffins Fool
Chorale (Five Bridges Suite)
Chips and Chicken
Poor Peter
Bellyfull of Water
Jackson Heights, 'Bump'n'Grind'

Bump'n'Grind  (1973,  32.20)  **½/T

I Could Be Your Orchestra
Spaghetti Sunshine
Long Necked Lady
Public Romance
Bump and Grind
Cumberland County
It's a Shame
Ladies in the Chorus
Whatever Happened to the Conversation

Current availability:

Mellotrons used:

Jackson Heights (named in honour of the New York suburb) were formed by bassist Lee Jackson after the demise of The Nice, with the remit of making music as unlike The Nice as possible. As a result, King Progress is largely acoustic, although the occasional burst of electricity seeps through. From over three decades' distance, I'm afraid it all sounds a bit insipid, although I'm sure it made more sense in those post-hippy days. Best tracks? Probably the title track and opener Mr Screw, although none of it exactly leaps out and grabs you by the throat, to be honest. Guitarist Charlie Harcourt is credited with 'Melatron' (I know, I know), but, given that the strings on the title track are real, you'll only hear it on Insomnia, with a rather weak MkII string line that adds little to the song. So; neither a very interesting album nor one that contains any sensible 'Tron work, so don't go too far out of your way.

Two years on, more N.Y.C references in The Fifth Avenue Bus, possibly a marginally better album than its predecessor, though nothing exactly startling. Opener Tramp is quite nice, ditto House In The Country, but it's all a bit thin on the ground.. Mellotron from Brian Chatton this time, with gentle strings and flutes on House In The Country and strings on Rent A Friend, leaving the album's most unusual 'Tron work to the heavily pitchbent (MkII?) brass on Pastor Roger.

Jackson Heights' chief problem was their frequent and irritating lapses into piano-driven pub singalong stuff, spoiling what might otherwise have been at least passable albums. Chips And Chicken (should've known with that title) and Bellyfull Of Water are the culprits on their second album of '72, the grammatically-challenged Ragamuffins Fool, a pretty dull record all round, to be honest. Chatton and John McBurnie add 'Tron to a handful of tracks, with pitchbent strings on opener Maureen, more 'regulation' ones on Oh You Beauty and BeBop, reserving easily the nicest work on the album for the volume-pedalled strings on Chorale (Five Bridges Suite), presumably something to do with the Nice piece.

The sexistly-sleeved (so what's wrong with being sexy, anyway?) Bump'n'Grind is no better than its predecessor, with no standout tracks at all. Instrumentally-speaking, about the only addition to their (very) slightly proggy mainstream rock is the synth on a couple of tracks, which isn't exactly enough to liven things up any. Despite being credited on several tracks, it's quite difficult to hear where Chatton and McBurnie used the 'Tron this time round. Spaghetti Sunshine has some vocals that sound more real than 'Tron, ditto It's A Shame, ditto, well, every other credited track, actually. Maybe they got Streetly to record their own voices onto Mellotron tapes? They wouldn't be the last... The end results aren't that great, to be honest, so you aren't going to go after this for its 'Tron use, or probably anything else, really.

So; a rather disappointing band all round, I'd say, although their first three albums have the occasional nice Mellotronic Moment. Good musicians disappearing up their own fundaments, while their ex-colleague goes on to fame and fortune by being as crass as possible. There's a lesson to be learnt there somewhere, I fear.

See: The Nice

The Jacksons  (US)

The Jacksons, 'Triumph'

Triumph  (1980,  44.45)  ***/T

Can You Feel it
Lovely One
Your Ways
Everybody
This Place Hotel
Time Waits for No One
Walk Right Now
Give it Up
Wondering Who

Current availability:

Chamberlin used:

1980's Triumph was the Jackson tribe's fourth album since dropping the '5' and moving to Epic from Motown in the mid-'70s. It's precisely what you'd expect of the group: slick, commercial, danceable pop/soul, although, to their credit, they largely avoid the era's throwaway disco clichés, material like opener Can You Feel It and Everybody presaging the style that would make Michael (chief vocalist here, unsurprisingly) a global megastar a couple of years on.

Someone (most likely Ronnie Foster) plays, of all things, Chamberlin on Your Ways, with a female voice part that might have remained undiscovered, were it not for this page, which appears to be r'n'b producer etc. Questlove's Instagram whatever-you-call-it. It isolates the Chamby (and the finger-snaps) well enough to identify it, although, in fairness, even buried in the mix, it sounds too stilted to be real b/vs. Given the era, a Fairlight seems the obvious choice for a deliberately artificial part, but perhaps the Chamby was lying around in the studio. Who knows? Anyway, you're really not going to buy this for a background Chamberlin part that really could be almost anything, are you? Thought not. (p.s. Thanks for this one, Matthias).

Official site

Jacques  (UK)  see: Samples etc.

Jadis  (UK)  see: Samples etc.

Jaga Jazzist  (Norway)

Jaga Jazzist, 'What We Must'

What We Must  (2005,  46.05)  ***½/T

All I Know is Tonight
Stardust Hotel

For All You Happy People
Oslo Skyline
Swedenborgske ROM
Mikado
I Have a Ghost, Now What?

Current availability:

Mellotron used:

Jaga Jazzist are a particularly difficult band to place, genre-wise: jazz? Nope, not really. Post-rock? Sort of. Progressive? Not as such, although that's a good description of their overall outlook. I think I was actually expecting something a bit more, well, you know, radical, of What We Must; it's actually a lot smoother than I'd expected, and consequently slightly less interesting. Saying that, there's some excellent material on board; opener All I Know Is Tonight has a great melody line, and Oslo Skyline is particularly powerful, although some of it sails a little too close to smooth jazz for its own good.

The album's much-heralded Mellotron use, from Lars Horntveth and Andreas Hessen Schei, actually only amounts to flute chords on All I Know Is Tonight and choirs on Stardust Hotel, although the strings on the latter sound like generic samples, and I suspect the flute you can hear at the of Mikado is real. So; not a bad album, but less striking than its reputation would have you believe, with very little 'Tron use, to be honest, so don't go buying it on that account.

Official site

Jagat Skad  (Germany)  see: Samples etc.

Marike Jager  (Netherlands)

Marike Jager, 'Here Comes the Night'

Here Comes the Night  (2011,  38.56)  ***/T

Here Comes the Night
Listen to Your Baby
Traveller
Natural Way
Break the Law
Keep Me Warm
Rusty
Faster
Covered
Don't Erase Me
Back Home

Current availability:

Mellotron used:

Marike Jager is a young Dutch singer-songwriter, whose third album, 2011's Here Comes the Night, is apparently a break from the style of her first two releases. This time round, she favours a kind of '40s jazz aesthetic, alongside a (slightly) more contemporary folky influence, top tracks including the opening title track, Natural Way and the gentle Keep Me Warm, although nothing here made me reach for the 'next' button.

Henk Jan Heuvelink plays Mellotron on Natural Way, with nicely upfront flute and string parts, sounding pretty authentic at the end of the track. It's possible it's hidden away on another track or two, but I suspect that's real strings we're hearing on a couple of tracks. So; Nothing groundbreaking, but a well-crafted album that deserves to do well.

Official site

Mick Jagger  (UK)

Mick Jagger, 'Goddess in the Doorway'

Goddess in the Doorway  (2002,  56.21)  **½/T½

Visions of Paradise
Joy
Dancing in the Starlight
God Gave Me Everything
Hideaway
Don't Call Me Up
Goddess in the Doorway
Lucky Day
Everybody's Getting High
Gun
Too Far Gone
Brand New Set of Rules

Current availability:

Mellotron used:

Why does Mick Jagger bother making solo albums? She's the Boss used to be a second-hand shop perennial, presumably until all known copies became landfill fodder, and since then no-one much seems to have bought anything else he's done. Goddess in the Doorway takes four tracks to pick itself up from the mid-paced chug of its opening numbers, at which point God Gave Me Everything then outstays its welcome by at least a minute. There are some more energetic efforts, to be fair, but overall, it's a pretty unexciting affair.

Matt Clifford gets some passable Mellotron work onto the album, though, with a high repeating string line in the title track and an orchestral string arrangement in Brand New Set Of Rules, although it's rather less audible in the other two credited tracks. Not exactly a 'Tron classic, then, and certainly not a classic of any other sort. File under 'dull'. Stick with The Stones, Mick.

Official site

See: Rolling Stones

Jaguares  (Mexico)

Jaguares, 'Cuando la Sangre Galopa'

Cuando la Sangre Galopa  (2001,  65.56)  **½/T½

Cuando la Sangre Galopa
El Secreto
Como Tu
Estoy Cansado
En la Tierra
La Vida No es Igual
Por un Beso
Contigo
El Aislamiento
Viaje Astrol
El Momento
El Ultimo Planeta
¿Viejo el Mundo?
Dime de un Amor Que No Ha Sufrido

Current availability:

Chamberlin used:

Jaguares come across as a generic indie outfit crossed with a Latin version of U2, maybe, if you can imagine that band periodically breaking out into something samba-influenced. Their third album, 2001's Cuando la Sangre Galopa, is a passable enough effort, though most unexciting to ears used to music more dynamic than 'alt.rock', final, bluesy 'hidden' track Dime De Un Amor Que No Ha Sufrido managing to be about the best thing here.

Patrick Warren plays Chamberlin once more, with a nicely upfront part on Contigo and flutes and strings on El Momento, without causing too much excitement overall. So; a typical 'local market' band, I suspect: play a generally popular style in the local language, making yourselves accessible to fans of that style in your own country. An old ploy and a successful one and who am I to argue?

Official site

Sarah Jahn  (US)

Sarah Jahn, 'Sparkle'

Sparkle  (1997,  37.56)  **½/TT

Brand New Name
Drinking Water
Crucible
Face
Love Learn Happy

Paradox
Chronic
Lullaby
I Found the Time
Home

Current availability:

Mellotron used:

Sarah Jahn was pushed as a Christian artist, but listening to her debut (and to date, I believe, only) album, 1997's Sparkle, is more like listening to a typical Lilith Fair female singer-songwriter than some awful, preachy CCM artist, which has to be a bonus. The album's instrumentation is atypical in places, with unexpected accordion on a few tracks, reminding me slightly of Jewel Kircher's earlier work.

Jeremy Bose and producer Glenn Rosenstein both play Mellotron, with Bose also chipping in on Chamberlin, with what I take to be background Chamby strings on Face, a (Mellotron?) flute solo on Love Learn Happy, Chamby strings on Chronic and (probably) Mellotron ones on Lullaby. Overall, though, this is a pretty unexciting work, although a few tape-replay tracks make it marginally more appealing. But only marginally.

Official site

Jaime Sin Tierra  (Argentina)  see: Samples etc.

Jakko Jakszyk  (UK)

Jakko Jakszyk, 'Silesia'

Silesia  [as Jakko]  (1982,  43.04)  **½/½

I'll Stand on My Own
Grab What You Can (Biez Co Mozesz)
Something in the Mirror
If it Should Be Today
Straining Our Eyes
One More Time
This is Me
Mills & Boon
Tell Me Where to Run
Silesia
Ingmar Bergman on the Windowsill

Current availability:

Mellotron used:

I first encountered Jakko Jakszyk (born Michael Lee Curran, adopted by the Jakszyks at 18 months) during his stint with the now sadly defunct 21st Century Schizoid Band, various ex-early Crimso members playing their early repertoire with Jakko handling the two missing parts, vocals and guitar, both with aplomb. It seems he's been around since the late '70s, although his career path has steered carefully around my taste, consisting of various fusion outfits and a spell with Level 42 (heinous haircut obligatory).

He recorded an album around 1980 with various friends, not least David Jackson/Jaxon (Van der Graaf) and Dave Stewart (Egg, Hatfield & the North, National Health, a million others), lined up for release on the fiercely independent Chiswick Records (first Motörhead album, The Damned, many more), although they went bust before it came out. To be honest, I find them a strange home for an album of this kind; it's a Japan-in-their-funkier-moments-esque effort, very proto-'80s, although Jakko's voice and excellent guitar work save it from sounding like Japan's biggest creditors, Duran Duran, its better moments including opener I'll Stand On My Own and the brief, ambient title track. Jakko's claimed he played Mellotron on the album, and I suppose the choirs on If It Should Be Today and Tell Me Where To Run could well be tape-driven, but it's all a bit tenuous, really.

Jakko's actually credited with The Beast on his 2006 solo effort The Bruised Romantic Glee Club, but given that it's almost certainly sampled, that's where I've stuck it. As far as Silesia goes, now that it's properly available, you might wish to dip a fetid toe if you like the sound of it, but don't bother for its exceedingly minimalistic Mellotron.

Official site

See: Samples etc. | 21st Century Schizoid Band

Bob James  (US)

Bob James, 'One'

One  (1974,  34.07)  ***½/T

Valley of the Shadows
In the Garden
Soulero
Night on Bald Mountain
Feel Like Making Love
Nautilus

Current availability:

Mellotron used:

Born in the dying days of the '30s, American jazz keyboardist Bob James recorded several trio albums in the early '60s before immersing himself in session work for a decade. The bulk of 1974's One, his first album as band leader (a peculiarly jazz concept, with seemingly little meaning outside the genre), has little in common with the slickness of smooth jazz, the genre he later helped to establish. Perhaps surprisingly, the album features a heavy classical influence: In The Garden is an instantly-recognisable Pachelbel piece, Mussorgsky's Night On Bald Mountain (also tackled by Fireballet, amongst others) gets the James funk/jazz treatment, while Soulero, despite being uncredited, is clearly based on Ravel's subsequently famous piece. Of the rest, dynamic, Rhodes-led opener Valley Of The Shadows is a highlight, while closer Nautilus is decent enough, leaving the slushy Feel Like Making Love as the album's one real letdown; OK, maybe I take it back about the smooth jazz...

James adds uncredited Mellotron to a couple of tracks (thanks, William), with distant choir parts on Valley Of The Shadows and Night On Bald Mountain, neither of which exactly stands out, although they enhance the pieces well enough. Fans of James' later work are likely to hate this, which probably makes it worth checking out for the rest of us. Not a classic, but anyone wishing to hear a rare jazz/classical/prog crossover could do a lot worse, although not worth it for the Mellotron.

Official site

Brendan James  (US)

Brendan James, 'The Day is Brave'

The Day is Brave  (2008,  42.55)  **/T

Green
All I Can See
Hero's Song
Early April Morning
The Other Side
Run Away
Begin
The Sun Will Rise
Manchester
Let Your Beat Go on
Take the Fall

Current availability:

Mellotron used:

New Englander Brendan James' debut album, 2008's The Day is Brave, is a thoroughly wet effort, all faux-heartfelt balladry and emotional overflow. Early April Morning is particularly bad, while he sings noticeably flat on Run Away, closer Take The Fall (just piano and voice) being about the least bad thing here.

James is credited with Mellotron, although it's impossible to tell whether or not the melodic flute part on The Sun Will Rise is genuine or not. To be perfectly honest, you really don't need to hear this to decide for yourself, anyway.

Official site

Harmony James  (Australia)

Harmony James, 'Tailwind'

Tailwind  (2009,  56.08)  ***/T

Come on Back to Me
Tailwind
Fly
Drifter
Painted Pony
Precious Little
Good Enough
Send Down an Angel
Somebody Stole My Horse
Pretty
The Only Good Thing
Cold Cold Rage
Some People Give
The Way That I Felt
Home
Call of the Currawong (live)

Current availability:

Mellotron used:

Harmony James' slightly fragmented life could probably be said to have informed her career as an Australian country singer, her 2009 debut, Tailwind, straddling the fence between 'trad' and 'Americana' styles. Best tracks? Opener Come On Back To Me, the Spaghetti Westernisms of Drifter and major hit Somebody Stole My Horse, perhaps surprisingly. Why three stars for an album that is, at heart, quite traditional country? I rarely hear it done this well, this earnestly, with this little schmaltz, that's why.

Clayton Doley plays (real?) Mellotron, with chordal flutes on Send Down An Angel (one of the album's cheesier efforts), although the track's strings are real. So; hardly one for those with an (understandable) allergy to country, but at least it's done well, for a change.

Official site

Samantha James  (US)

Samantha James, 'Rise'

Rise  (2007,  55.45)  *½/½

Rise
Enchanted Life
Breathe You in
Angel Love
Come Through
Living Without You
I Found You
Deep Surprise
Send it Out to the Universe
Rain
Right Now

Current availability:

Mellotron used:

Samantha James' debut album, 2007's Rise, is the kind of dance/pop record most of you would probably run some distance in bare feet on broken glass not to hear. A completely professional, technically proficient album, its musical content hovers around the zero mark; its one saving grace is that many of the tracks are so bland that it's quite easy to tune them out. I just have.

Producer Sebastian Arocha Morton plays Mellotron, amongst other keyboards, with a flute part running through Rain, although it could easily be either samples, or a sampled phrase from a real machine. Or, of course, it could've actually been played properly. Either way, you don't need to hear it. Next...

MySpace

James Farm  (US)  see: Samples etc.

JamisonParker  (US)

JamisonParker, 'Sleepwalker'

Sleepwalker  (2005,  40.24)  *½/T½

Alcohol of Bandages
Best Mistake
Goodbyes
Tearing Through Me
Paper, Rock, Scissors
Emergency Room Romantic
Dusk, the Day After
Slow Suicide
Here's Everything I've Always Meant to Say
The Here and Now
I Should Mean More

Current availability:

Mellotron used:

The rather unwieldily-named JamisonParker were the duo of Jamison Covington (the singer) and Parker Case (the musician, ex-Astoria), whose sole album, 2005's Sleepwalker, is the kind of mainstream indie pop/rock record that Planet Mellotron usually hates. True to form, it hates this one, too, wondering just when, exactly, Joshua Tree-era U2 became a major influence on bands? (See: The Temper Trap for details). Not that we actually have anything against said album, just bands influenced by it, with the honourable exception of Sigur Rós. Christ, this is like Keane on downers. OK, more downers.

Ken Andrews plays Mellotron, amongst other things, with strings and flutes on Best Mistake and flute lines on Tearing Through Me and closer I Should Mean More. It could be present on a couple of other tracks, but it could just as easily be generic sounds. The duo's one saving grace is that they had the good manners to split up after producing something so nasty. Listen, this is truly horrible. Please don't buy it. Thank you.

Jan & Dean  (US)

Jan & Dean, 'Save for a Rainy Day'

Save for a Rainy Day  (1966/96,  26.59/65.41)  ***½/T½ (TTT)

Yellow Balloon
Here Comes the Rain
Lullaby in the Rain
Taste of Rain

Yellow Balloon
Here Comes the Rain
Pocket Full of Rainbows
When Sunny Gets Blue
Like a Summer Rain
Rain Drops
Rain on the Roof
Cryin' in the Rain
Taste of Rain
Save for a Rainy Day Theme
Yellow Balloon
Taste of Rain
Rain Clouds Long Gone
When Sunny Gets Blue
Pocket Full of Rainbows

Rain on the Roof
Yellow Balloon
Taste of Rain
Save for a Rainy Day Theme

Current availability:

Chamberlin used:

Strictly speaking, Save for a Rainy Day isn't a Jan & Dean album at all; it's a Dean Torrance album, recorded after Jan Berry's catastrophic car crash, legendarily near Dead Man's Curve in L.A. Unfortunately, between Berry (the brains behind the duo)'s disapproval and legal problems, Columbia refused to release the album, which eventually appeared on Torrance's own J&D imprint. Those excellent people at Sundazed have finally given it a proper release almost thirty years later, much expanded (the extra tracks are italicised above), although the running order they've given it rather wrecks the feel of the original. The album's concept is, fairly self-evidently, songs about rain, tied together with rain sound effects, although most of the album was apparently largely recorded in their friend Joe Osborne's garage, making it a wonder it sounds as good as it does.

As with most of Jan & Dean's output, The Beach Boys are a major reference point, Brian Wilson having co-written much of their best work, although Save for a Rainy Day is more lightweight than anything Brian would produce, particularly by the mid-'60s. The concept is actually pretty good, giving the songs a common mood, but it's a bit middle-of-the-road in places, notably When Sunny Gets Blue, certainly compared to Brian's jaw-dropping work of the same era. Best songs? Probably Yellow Balloon and maybe Taste Of Rain, although nothing here actively offends. Anyway, if you want to hear the original album, uninterrupted, programme your CD player to tracks 5-14, sit back and enjoy.

Larry Knechtel played Chamberlin on the album, presumably in the garage, although a real string section shows up in places (notably on Taste Of Rain), presumably in a studio. On the original album, we get nice, upfront flutes on Pocket Full Of Rainbows, strings and flutes on When Sunny Gets Blue and strings on instrumental closer Save For A Rainy Day Theme. Sundazed's bonus tracks add a murky orchestral string part on the demo version of Taste Of Rain, slightly blocky flutes and strings on the When Sunny Gets Blue demo and flutes and something else (female vocal?) on Pocket Full Of Rainbows. It sounds like something in the tape-replay vein on the final version of Yellow Balloon, too; a variety of woodwind? The final Taste Of Rain sounds a lot like the first version on the disc, with the same murky strings, with the closing Save For A Rainy Day Theme having what sounds like the same strings as the original album take.

So; those eager for more Californian sunshine pop will slather over Save for a Rainy Day, assuming they don't already own a copy. The rest of us? Although it's perfectly good at what it does (thus its rating), we'd probably be better off sticking to Pet Sounds or, of course, Brian's forty year-overdue Smile. Surprisingly high Chamberlin content, though, in an era when studio string sections seemed to be ten a penny.

Sort-of official site

See: The Beach Boys

Jane  (Germany)

Jane, 'Here We Are'

Here We Are  (1973,  33.33/47.46)  **½/T

Redskin
Out in the Rain
Dandelion
Moving
Waterfall
Like a Queen
Here We Are
[CD adds:
Daytime
Hangman
Here We Are
Redskin]

Current availability:

Mellotron used:

Like so many other similar outfits, Jane are usually lazily dubbed 'Krautrock', although what their brand of psychedelic-ish bluesy hard rock has to do with the wild experimentation of Cluster, Ash Ra Tempel et al. is completely beyond me. I expect they were better live, but having now heard three of their albums (including Jane Live...), I have to say that in the cold light of thirty years later, they're a pretty unexciting proposition generally. Did they sound this clichéd in early-'70s Germany, I wonder? I believe they did pretty well; they certainly have a large back catalogue, but I shan't be rushing out to buy any more of it, to be honest.

While none of the material on their second effort, Here We Are is specifically bad, none of it's really that good, either, so I'd better refrain from comment on the subject, to be honest. Organist Werner Nadolny contributes (doubtless hired-in) Mellotron strings to Out In The Rain and Like A Queen, but I'm sure I can hear string synth on the latter, too, so this is also a long way from 'essential' on the 'Tron front, too. Mediocre.

Official site


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