Home
reviews
album list
Masters of Reality
Mastodon
Matchbox Twenty
Matching Mole
Matchstick Sun
Matheus
Matia Bazar
Glen Matlock
Mats/Morgan

Matthew
Dave Matthews Band
Wendy Matthews
Mattsson

Matumbi
Mauve Sideshow
Mavericks
Max


Master Musicians of Bukkake  (US)  see: Samples

Masters of Reality  (US)

Masters of Reality, 'Sunrise on the Sufferbus'

Sunrise on the Sufferbus  (1992,  42.38)  ***½/T½

She Got Me (When She Got Her Dress on)
J.B. Witchdance
Jody Sings
Rolling Green
Ants in the Kitchen
V.H.V.
Bicycle
100 Years (of Tears on the Wind)
T.U.S.A.
Tilt-a-Whirl
Rabbit One
Madonna
Gimme Water
The Moon in Your Pocket

Current availability:

Mellotron used:

The cheekily-named Masters of Reality lurched into view in the late '80s with their debut, Masters of Reality (a.k.a. The Blue Garden) (***½), a total anachronism at the height of heinous hair-metal, and all the better for it. Surprisingly, they were critically well-received, making it all the more strange that it took them four years to follow-up with Sunrise on the Sufferbus, featuring the inimitable Ginger Baker on drums. In fact, if they hadn't been signed to Rick Rubin's estimable Def American label, they probably wouldn't even have got a first chance, never mind a second, so hats off to the man with the beard.

Sunrise on the Sufferbus is a bit of a mixed bag, but includes some great material, although Baker's T.U.S.A., a monologue telling Americans how to make a cup of tea (!), isn't honestly among them. Opener She Got Me (When She Got Her Dress On) rocks nicely, as does V.H.V. and much of the rest of the record. Mainman Chris Goss gets a 'keyboard' credit, so I think we can assume it's him playing what sounds like real Mellotron strings on 100 Years (Of Tears On The Wind), with more of the same on Tilt-A-Whirl. Actually, 'Tron samples weren't widely used until later in the decade, and it's rough enough round the edges to be genuine, so hats off again.

So; if you're into '70s-style hard rock, or possibly stoner stuff, you stand a good chance of being into the Masters. While Sunrise on the Sufferbus is no Mellotron Album, it's still well worth hearing. Goss is credited with 'Mellotron' on two subsequent albums, '99's Welcome to the Western Lodge and 2001's Deep in the Hole, but it seems they're samples (reviewed here).

Official site

See: Samples

Mastodon  (US)

Mastodon, 'Crack the Skye'

Crack the Skye  (2009,  50.03)  ***½/½

Oblivion
Divinations
Quintessence
The Czar
  Usurper
  Escape
  Martyr
  Spiral

Ghost of Karelia
Crack the Skye
The Last Baron

Current availability:

Mellotron used:

Mastodon are one of the most ambitious of America's current crop of power/progressive metal outfits, concentrating on semi-concept albums and amazingly, picking up an audience at the same time, which isn't a criticism, more wonder that some people still want to listen to something with even a little musical depth. They're actually pretty good at it, as long as you like/can ignore the occasional growled vocal or blastbeat and don't expect anything that progressive.

Crack the Skye is their fourth album proper; the obvious reference point (for me, at least) is Baltimore heroes Crack the Sky, although I haven't seen them mentioned anywhere else. The official line on the title is that it's a tribute to drummer Brann Dailor's sister Skye, who tragically committed suicide aged 14, crossed with a reference to feeling that the sky has cracked when in the depths of despair. Lyrically, the album has some bizarre concept involving astral projection and Rasputin; if you really want to know more, track down the lyrics. Musically, it's vastly more interesting than most modern metal (I had the bad luck to be subjected to Machine Head recently - quite appalling), although a long way from the best of the '70s bands, but then, that's not really where they're coming from, so it's probably not fair to judge them on those criteria.

Touring keyboardist Rich Morris is credited with Mellotron, but you'll need sharper ears than myself to hear it, I suspect. Mind you, no-one's credited with the Hammond that crops up on a few tracks; maybe someone doesn't know their vintage keyboards? Actually, a really close listen unearths a few seconds of a choir sound of some description on closer The Last Baron, which has to be what we're looking for. It's probably elsewhere, too, buried under layers of heavily-distorted guitar, which all seems a bit pointless, but there you go.

Overall, then, a decent enough modern metal album with a modicum of intelligence put into it, though no real Mellotron use to speak of. Buy if you're into the heavier side of things.

Official site

Matchbox Twenty  (US)

Matchbox Twenty, 'More Than You Think You Are'

More Than You Think You Are  (2002,  50.11)  *½/0

Feel
Disease
Bright Lights
Unwell
Cold
All I Need
Hand Me Down
Could I Be You
Downfall
Soul
You're So Real
The Difference

Current availability:

Mellotron used:

I'm sorry, but what exactly is the point of this music? I know that's not a very positive way to open a review, but I'm most of the way through this thoroughly depressing album of Rock That Doesn't Rock (see: Train), beginning to wonder why I even bother. Ironically, for music that's often described as 'soulful', More Than You Think You Are has as much soul (and I don't mean stylistically) as... I dunno; I'm lost for words. Huey Lewis and the News? Actually, that's what I'm reminded of here; this is so unremittingly bland that it leaves no trace whatsoever, yet they're HUGE! That really says all I ever need to know about the taste of the general public (I don't mean you, dear reader). So; what do I hate about this? Where shall I start? Rob Thomas' infuriatingly touchy-feely voice, that makes me want to punch him out? The semi-gospel choir (is there such a thing?) on Downfall; why? To try to import some emotion into an utterly clinical effort? Oh, I give up.

Drummer Rob Doucette is supposed to play Mellotron on the album, Hand Me Down and You're So Real being the tracks most frequently referenced. Well, I'll be fucked if I can hear it, even in the 'quiet bit' in the latter. Plenty of Hammond and Rhodes for that all-important '70s credibility (read: sub-Counting Crows, in themselves not exactly an aural joy), but no audible Mellotron whatsoever. Please let me know if you can hear any, 'cos I can't.

So; I don't think anyone has any real idea how many albums have been produced that can loosely be described as 'rock'; a couple of million? Could be way off beam; I wouldn't even know how to find out. Whatever, most of them are better than this; not necessarily more professional, not necessarily with more memorable tunes, not necessarily better played or sung. But almost certainly made with a little more passion, a little less corporate arse-sucking and more genuine SOUL. This is truly horrible, and doesn't even have any audible Mellotron despite a credit. Just don't.

Official site

See: Rob Thomas

Matching Mole  (UK)

Matching Mole, 'Matching Mole'

Matching Mole  (1972,  40.04/125.38)  ****/TTT (TTT½)

O Caroline
Instant Pussy
Signed Curtain
Part of the Dance
Instant Kitten
Dedicated to Hugh, But You
  Weren't Listening
Beer as in Braindeer
Immediate Curtain
[Deluxe ed. adds:
O Caroline (single version)
Signed Curtain (single edit)
Part of the Dance Jam
Signed Curtain (take two)
Memories Membrane
Part of the Dance (take one)
Horse
Immediate Kitten [BBC]
Marchides/Instant Pussy/Smoke Signal [BBC]]

Current availability:

Mellotron used:

Matching Mole were a Soft Machine offshoot, named as a bastardisation of machine molle, French for 'Soft Machine'. Pretentious? Nous?! They fitted perfectly into the 'Canterbury Scene', such as it was; whimsical, jazzy progressive rock with a rather juvenile sense of humour (see: related artists Hatfield & the North). Matching Mole were, I believe, Robert Wyatt's last pre-accident band, with him presumably singing and drumming; while the style is definitely an acquired taste, Matching Mole is actually a pretty damn' good record. Opener O Caroline is a beautiful, strangely affecting ballad, albeit one with a couple of quirks, Signed Curtain a slightly less effective version of the same approach, while the bulk of the remainder consists of furious fusion workouts, the exception being stark closer Immediate Curtain.

As far as the Mellotron's concerned, Wyatt (for I believe it was he) switches between flutes and cellos on the whimsical O Caroline, then goes for a deranged solo flute part on Instant Kitten, before drenching Immediate Curtain in strings. Esoteric's two-disc version adds several more lengthy fusion workouts, for better or worse, the highlight being Signed Curtain (Take Two), loaded with Mellotron flutes and strings in fine style. This is actually pretty full-on stuff; I hadn't realised quite how much upfront Mellotron work there was on the album, leading me to say... Buy.

See: Robert Wyatt | Hatfield & the North

Matchstick Sun  (Norway)

Matchstick Sun, 'Flowerground'

Flowerground  (1989,  48.49)  ***/½

It's Just a Matter
We Seem to Vanish
Matchstick Sun
Edison Train
Flowerground
Too Many Girls
You and Me
Waiting for the Wrong
Jenny Jones
Funny Odd Men
Mighty Head of Fools

Current availability:

Mellotron used:

Although seemingly thought of as merely 'pop', Norwegians Matchstick Sun were, at least on their 1989 debut, Flowerground, a pretty decent '60s-influenced powerpop outfit, albeit one with some unfortunate '80s tendencies. Album highlights include opener It's Just A Matter, their 'theme tune', Matchstick Sun, Waiting For The Wrong and the interesting key-changes (despite the slightly over-enthusiastic vocals) in closer Mighty Head Of Fools, although the title track's attempt at synthesized '80s jazz and the awkward rock'n'roll of Too Many Girls could have been lost somewhere along the way.

Ivar Chr. Eidem plays Mellotron, with an occasional string line wafting around in the background on Edison Train, alongside real strings, although that would appear to be your lot. Do you bother? More to the point, how do you get to hear it anyway? Die-hard psych revivalists may wish to track this down once all the more obvious titles have been sourced, but you're certainly not going to bother for the Mellotron.

Matheus  (Norway)

Matheus, 'Musikk Fra Balders Hage'

Musikk Fra Balders Hage  (1974,  38.27)  ***/T

Lys
Ørnevisa
Tomme Ord Med Mening
Mislikerne
Crazy Shop
Kom Nærmere
Si So Mormor Sa
Isak
Frustrerte Ettermæle
Til Min Prinsesse
Alle Som Har Z
Så Langt Borte (Som du Er)

Current availability:

Mellotron used:

Like so many similar artists, I can't tell you very much about Norway's Matheus, although, going by 1974's Musikk Fra Balders Hage, they were a folky outfit with progressive touches, like many others at the time. The album's highlight is quite clearly opener Lys, a gorgeous folk/prog cross, a little like contemporaneous Strawbs, better other tracks including Kom Nærmere and balladic closer Så Langt Borte (Som Du Er).

Ulf Klemp plays beautiful Mellotron flute and string parts on opener Lys, enhancing what was already the album's best track. I don't believe this is on CD, so I really don't know where you're going to track it down; perhaps some kind soul has uploaded Lys, at least, to YouTube?

Matia Bazar  (Italy)

Matia Bazar, '...Berlino ...Parigi ...Londra'

...Berlino ...Parigi ...Londra  (1981,  42.21)  **½/T½

Lili Marleen
Io Ti Voglio Adesso

Passa la Voglia (Look at the Rain Fall)
Che Canzone È
Fortuna
Fantasia
Stella Polare
Zeta
Fuori Orario
Astra

Current availability:

Mellotron used:

Matia Bazar seem to be a fairly typical Italian pop group, representing their country in Eurovision in 1979, although I suspect they've got a few prog skeletons residing in the back of their collective cupboards. 1981's ...Berlino ...Parigi ...Londra (was that wishful thinking?) is mostly pretty crummy; Antonella Ruggiero's vocals display a Kate Bush influence in places, but that isn't enough to rescue this collection of mainstream pop nonsense. In fairness, the album has its occasional better moments; the odd chord sequence veers away from the norm and the vaguely rocking Fuori Orario could be worse, but by far and away the best things here are Mauro Sabbione's short piano solo, Zeta, displaying his classical/prog chops for all to hear and lengthyish closer Astra, a six-minute instrumental prog effort, hidden away at the end so's not to offend their fanbase.

Sabbione plays Mellotron choir, with a distant part on opener Lili Marleen, more obvious swells on Io Ti Voglio Adesso, a handful of chords on Fantasia and a more 'standard' part on Astra, although none of it's exactly what you'd call essential. If you find a copy of this dirt cheap, it's almost worth it for the two prog tracks, but the rest of it's fairly dire and the Mellotron use is unlikely to excite the seasoned listener.

Official site

Glen Matlock & the Philistines  (UK)

Glen Matlock & the Philistines, 'Open Mind'

Open Mind  (2000,  44.22)  ***/TTT

Open Mind
Regular Ray of Sunshine
Ducking and Diving

Sound of Swinging London
Idiot
Ambition
Gimme Gimme Gimme
Sad Meal for One
Mugs Game
Speed of Sound
Catatonic
Rattle Your Cage

Current availability:

Mellotron used:

I listened to the whole of (S)ex Pistol Glen Matlock's Open Mind under the impression it was a Mike Scott album, due to a mix-up on a long drive, and didn't realise my mistake until halfway through Scott's album, thinking it was Matlock. The confusion is understandable, as both records are largely mid-paced dad-rock, concentrating on 'the song', as against the sound, which isn't, to be honest, wildly exciting. Lyrically, the album references London a good deal and you get the feeling the music's mainly there as a vehicle for the lyrics, although, sadly, Matlock lacks the observational nous or the biting wit of a Richard Thompson or an Elvis Costello.

Surprisingly, Matlock plays Mellotron on most of the album's tracks, with several booklet pics of an M400, just in case you weren't sure. To be honest, it's not the most exciting use you'll ever hear, with vaguely orchestral string parts on all the highlighted titles above, but it's nice to hear a real one used at all these days, so that's enough carping. So; an OK if rather unexciting album, albeit one with halfway decent lyrics. OK 'Tron, too, although also not the most jaw-dropping use you'll ever hear. Given that Matlock was the compositional brains behind the Pistols' best songs, this is a little disappointing, although I fully accept that he's moved on and rightly so. One for Pistols completists who can't afford an A&M God Save The Queen, I think.

Official site

Mats/Morgan  (Sweden)

Mats/Morgan, 'The Music or the Money...'

The Music or the Money...  (1997,  95.04)  ***/T½

If I Only Had a Clavinet
Coco
I Wanna
Spinning Around
Daisy
If I Only Had a Pianet
Sylox
Hjortron Från Mars
Advokaten le Messian
Baader Puff
  l Grand Open
  ll Landby
  lll Simon

Watch Me Pleasure
Banned Again
Griefen
Secret Room Outtakes
Inget Har Hänt
Tyrschon
Asaw X
Q
3:rd Movement Farmor Märta
I Know Where I Have it
Bass
The Difference Between Powerful & Loud

Current availability:

Mellotron used:

Mats Öberg (keys) and Morgan Ågren (drums) were adolescent prodigies, first collaborating in their early teens, putting their own unique twist onto Frank Zappa material before being spotted by the man himself, quickly progressing from guesting at a Swedish gig to Ågren actually playing with him in the States. The duo released their first album together, Trends & Other Diseases, in 1996, following it a year later with The Music or the Money... (a suitably Zappaesque title), a partially improvised two-disc set split into Disc Mats and Disc Morgan, each member presumably taking the lead on their own disc. Disc Mats is the more cohesive (i.e. arranged) and is my personal preference, Disc Morgan having its moments, although far too much of it can be essentially described as manic drumming set to post-techno synths and dweeby samples. Nope, gimme Mats' disc, thanks.

Öberg plays clearly real Mellotron (whose?) on his own disc, with polyphonic flute parts on Coco, Spinning Around and Hjortron Från Mars. Y'know, this would've gained an extra half star and a higher T rating had I only reviewed disc one; Morgan has every right to inflict his mad, techno-jazz vision upon us, but I also have the right not to like it very much. Cuneiform reissued the album in 2010 credited to the Mats/Morgan Band with an extra forty-five minutes of music, although, given that the extras apparently feature 'their current band', I rather doubt whether there'll be any more Mellotron. Anyway, get hold of this and listen to disc one.

Official site

Matthew  (US)

Matthew, 'Everybody Down' Matthew, 'Everybody Down'

Everybody Down  (2002,  53.37)  *½/T

Everybody Down
Open Wide
In Your Car
This Time
Never
In the Wonder
Streams
The Darkest Night
Where Did You Go
Breathing
You Thought
Overboard

Current availability:

Mellotron used:

Going by their (they're a plural) debut, 2002's Everybody Down, Matthew are one of the blandest, most unoriginal guitar pop bands of the decade, which, believe me, really is saying something. Even kind online reviewers compare them to The Posies and early Radiohead, to which I'd like to add sodding Coldplay, complete with that horrible, pointless falsetto utilised on almost every track. I'm completely unable to dredge up anything even approaching a 'best track' (although Streams is the only thing here that contains any actual rock), stopping for just long enough to point out that 53 minutes of this guff is at least fifteen minutes too long. Actually, make that 53. What a waste of money and resources.

Ed Ackerson guests on Mellotron, with the occasional pointless high string note on In Your Car, flutes on In The Wonder (huh?) and Breathing and a faint string part on closer (at last!) Overboard, all to little effect, frankly. This really is utterly horrible, aside from being wildly derivative, so with very little (real?) Mellotron content, I can only say: just say no.

MySpace

Dave Matthews Band  (US)

Dave Matthews Band, 'Stand Up'

Stand Up  (2005,  56.21)  **½/½

Dream Girl
Old Dirt Hill (Bring That Beat Back)
Stand Up (for it)
American Baby Intro
American Baby
Smooth Rider
Everybody Wake Up (Our Finest
  Hour Arrives)
Out of My Hands
Hello Again
Louisiana Bayou
Stolen Away on 55th and 3rd
You Might Die Trying
Steady as We Go
Hunger for the Great Light

Current availability:

Mellotron used:

Having heard several Dave Matthews Band albums (a band name which can be seen either as unpretentious or shatteringly unimaginative), I'm at a slight loss as to understand why they're lumped in with the 'jam band' scene. String Cheese Incident: yes. Phish: maybe. But the Dave Matthews Band? Maybe they let rip on stage, but on record, they're a desperately unexciting mix of singer-songwriter and mainstream rock, with country and folk influences thrown into the pot, all fronted by Matthews' careworn voice that you'll either like or, er, won't. Stand Up is his/their sixth album, not sounding that dissimilar to the others I've heard by him, and certainly no more interesting. OK, the occasional track shifts out of Matthews' comfort zone (see: the hip-hop-lite beats of Stolen Away On 55th And 3rd), but that's hardly a recommendation, more an observation.

Mark Batson's credited with Mellotron, with a very brief burst of strings on American Baby, and while it might be elsewhere on the album, it seems more likely to be the real strings that crop up in places. Overall, then, a pretty dull album with next to no 'Tron. The usual advice, then.

Official site

Wendy Matthews  (Canada)

Wendy Matthews, 'Lily'

Lily  (1992,  52.23)  *½/TT

Friday's Child
Walk Away
T.K.O.
Mother Can't Do
Quiet Art
The Day You Went Away
If Only I Could
Homecoming Song By Suzannah Castaway
Face of Appalachia
Naming Names
Inexorably Yours

Current availability:

Chamberlin used:

Although Canadian-born and raised, Wendy Matthews is usually regarded as Australian, having spent most of her career based in that country. Lily was her second solo album, and although it pains me to say it, it's a pile of shite. This is the sort of bland rubbish that clogs up your musical arteries and kills off your taste, leaving you a hollow, dried husk of a former music-lover... Er, sorry, am I ranting? This is spectacularly horrible, despite the presence on the album of a Chamberlin.

Speaking of which, it's played by Matthews herself, Robert James and producer T Bone Burnett, with strings on opener Friday's Child, a complex flute part on Homecoming Song By Suzannah Castaway, with a simpler one on Naming Names and what sounds like flutes and cellos on Inexorably Yours. Despite the horrors of the album's music, Homecoming Song is actually one of the more inventive tape-replay parts I've heard for a while, although it's rather overshadowed by its utterly insipid setting. So; some interesting Chamby work, but appalling music. If I hadn't, I wouldn't.

Official site

Mattsson  (Finland)

Mattsson, 'Another Dimension'

Another Dimension  (2000,  69.27)  **½/T

Hell
Crash and Burn
Don't Chain My Mind
Angel Blue
Burn the Witch
Burning My Soul
Don't Lose Your Patience
Another Dimension
Road of Babylon
In Both Ends
Save Our Souls
Memory Lane
Wait for the Angels
Cry No More

Current availability:

Mellotron used:

(Lars Eric) Mattsson, was discovered by the infamous Mike Varney, of Shrapnel Records, in the mid-'80s (thanks, Mike...), which should give you a pretty good idea of his style. Yup, it's 'neo-classical' metal, although I struggle to see in exactly what way this is 'classical'; all I can hear is sub-Rainbow moves, without an ounce of Blackmore's wit or talent. The ability to sweep-pick at 5000 m.p.h. doth not interesting records make, sir... Another Dimension is Mattsson's first album under his surname alone, after five credited to his full name and a handful with various bands. It's the expected sub-Rainbow/Yngwie J. Malmsteen (himself deeply sub-Blackmore) stuff; think: slightly more adventurous heavy end of AOR with slightly symphonic keyboards and adept, if clichéd guitar work. Fascinating. Even Ella Grussner's violin on Angel Blue can't drag this wildly overlong album up from the doldrums, I'm afraid.

Pär Lindh plays piano, Hammond and Mellotron, so at least we know it's real, for once. He's only credited on one track, but it's quite clearly 'Tron flutes on Angel Blue, unless that's Mattsson. Eric Norlander also guests on keys, but only the synth solo on Don't Chain My Mind, by the looks of it. The strings on Don't Lose Your Patience have a 'Tronlike feel to them, but are more likely to be generic, ditto the choirs in the title track and Memory Lane, leaving the heavily reverbed choirs in Save Our Souls as the album's other Mellotronic contribution.

Lars Eric Mattsson isn't a man to straddle genres or to go boundary-breaking. He's a neo-classical widdler and proud of it. As a result, it's dead easy to decide whether or not you're likely to find Another Dimension listenable: do you like neo-classical metal? It's as simple as that. Maybe if I'd been thirteen when this stuff came along, rather than over twenty, I would, too. Let's be thankful I wasn't.

Official site

Matumbi  (UK)

7"  ( 1973)  ***/TT

Brother Louie
Brother Louie (instrumental)

Current availability:

Mellotron used:

Although now seemingly only really remembered by the faithful, Matumbi were one of Britain's top reggae bands of the '70s, actually going down better than The Wailers at a concert in 1973, to their embarrassment. Although their first album didn't appear until 1978, they'd been releasing singles for several years by that point, the first (possibly) being Brother Louie. Falling somewhere between The Wailers' rebel-rousing and Dandy Livingstone or Johnny Nash's pop-reggae, it's a decent enough effort, deserving to do better than it did on its original release.

Organist Nick Straker played Mellotron strings on both sides of the single (the 'instrumental' version on the flip is actually the vocalists toasting over the backing track), with a nice, memorable part that should've helped to sell the record. The a-side's available on Trojan's Music in the Air: Anthology, but if you want to hear the flip as well, you'll have to track down a second-hand copy of Trojan's 1977 compilation, The Best of Matumbi.

Mauve Sideshow  (US)

Mauve Sideshow, 'Stray Apparitions From the Mauve Sideshow'

Stray Apparitions From the Mauve Sideshow  (1991,  41.57)  ***½/TTT

Beneath the Rose
Stray Apparitions

Lost
Mauve Sideshow, 'Mauve Sideshow'

Mauve Sideshow  (1993,  46.19)  ***½/TTT½

Golden Sand
Beneath the Rose
Barricades
Jet Girl Talks in Her Sleep
Hide in the Rain
Stray Apparitions

Current availability:

Mellotrons used:

Mauve Sideshow are one of the earliest incarnations of a linked series of American 'darkwave' outfits, including Mistress of Strands, Torn Curtain, Angel Provocateur, Minus Infinity and Thistle, all of whom are supposed to have used Mellotron at one point or another. It seems they all highlight different aspects of their gothic inclinations, with one being more electronic, one more ambient, one more atonal, etc. I believe most (if not all) of the disparate outfits are essentially the husband-and-wife team of Dusty Lee (Mellotron, electronics) and Treva Dea (vocals, electronics), leading me to believe that Lee is the male half of the team.

Their first two releases were vinyl-only albums, 1990's Dark Flowers and Stray Apparitions From the Mauve Sideshow from the following year. The mere half-hour Dark Flowers consists of atonal-yet-ethereal soundscapes, for want of a better term, with mostly wordless female vocals and muttered threats drifting in and out of the mix, alongside echoed synths and other unidentifiable sounds. However, I'm pretty sure there's no Mellotron on the album, despite thinking I heard some flutes on opener Golden Sand, reiterated on their eponymous compilation, below.

Stray Apparitions From the Mauve Sideshow is a full-length LP featuring all of three tracks (hey, it's prog! OK, it isn't). More atonal madness, unsurprisingly, just in longer form here, just about the only thing distinguishing it from its predecessor being its Mellotron use. Lee adds cellos and strings to Beneath The Rose, while Stray Apparitions is the 'Tron classic here; cellos, flutes and strings all duel for the first couple of minutes of the piece, and various sounds (including choirs) dip in and out over the succeeding ten minutes, although the near-twenty minute Lost has to be the most challenging track on the album, but then we all like a nice challenge, don't we? DON'T WE??!

1993's Mauve Sideshow is a compilation of tracks from the above two LPs, with one new track. The compilation's probably best described as 'very weird shit indeed'; Mauve Sideshow are most certainly the 'atonal' part of the collective's oeuvre, and unless you're well into avant-garde oddness, you'll find this very hard going indeed. Lee's Mellotron appears at odd moments throughout the album, on the two tracks from Stray Apparitions and strings on Hide In The Rain, the one track unique to this compilation.

But seriously, folks... Mauve Sideshow are most decidedly uneasy listening, but if you're prepared to persevere with their stuff, it's (probably) worth it, and the 'Tron's good, too. They've made another three albums since: Meet Me in the Wasteland and The Girl (both '94) and Blood Will Tell ('97). More news when/if I get to hear any of 'em.

See: Angel Provocateur | Kangaroo Kourt | Steeple of Fyre | Torn Curtain

The Mavericks  (US)

The Mavericks, 'The Mavericks'

The Mavericks  (2003,  44.13)  **½/½

I Want to Know
In My Dreams
Shine Your Light
I'm Wondering
By the Time
Would You Believe?
Too Lonely
Time Goes By
San José
Because of You
The Air That I Breathe

Current availability:

Mellotron used:

This is the second eponymous album by Florida's Mavericks, but thankfully, it's the first not to be stuffed to the gills with cheesy mainstream country'n'western. The Mavericks is more mainstream pop/rock, to be honest, with side helpings of Latin (they've been here before, apparently) and, would'ja believe, Sinatra-style crooning? Is doesn't start too badly, with I Want To Know being a breezy, uptempo sort of thing, but by four or five tracks in, they've descended into MOR hell, though at least it isn't bloody country. Many reviewers have detected a strong Roy Orbison influence on mainman Raul Malo's vocals, and I have to say, Too Lonely is a seriously Orbison-lite waltz-time ballad; well, no-one else much is doing it at the moment, are they? And I think we could all have done without a faithful cover of The Air That I Breathe, thank you.

Gordon Mote plays Mellotron, but not a lot; the only things I can hear that even might be the mighty 'Tron are the weird, muted strings on By The Time and The bloody Air That I Breathe. Another 44 minutes of my life flies by. Anyway; while this is along way from the country slop I was expecting, I still wouldn't go too far out of your way to hear it, especially The Air That I Breathe. And now I've got that fucking song stuck in my head.

Official site

Max  (UK)

Max, 'Max'

Max  (1974)  **½/½

Stephanie
Rolling Up
Cell Block E
Shapes and Spaces
Witch Woman
Troublemaker
Dance of Death
All I Know

Current availability:

Mellotron used:

It seems highly likely that the Max Handley who released what appears to be his sole solo album, Max, in 1974, is the same Max Handley who was involved with the iconoclastic International Times in the late '60s and wrote three bizarre SF novels during the following decade. The album's one of those mid-'70s 'rock' efforts that falls between the cracks, due to its lack of any definable direction and its refusal to fit into any of the genres subsequently imposed upon its era. Saying that, it's not an especially interesting record, probably made while its chief protagonist was completely off his tits on the finest Moroccan money could buy (see: Rolling Up), although the talking blues of Troublemaker raises a smile. Handley's careworn blues voice is the album's strong point, but both the material and the overall sound have dated badly, leaving the kind of album that seems unlikely to receive a CD reissue any time soon, or indeed, ever.

Drummer Chili Charles plays Mellotron on acoustic ballad Cell Block E, with a cello part that could easily pass for a real one if it wasn't credited. You're unlikely to find this easily or cheaply, although I stumbled across a copy in a charity shop for a quid (it happens), only missing its lyric sheet. To be frank, it's not worth splashing out all that much for, although if you get a chance to hear it, it's an occasionally interesting curio, albeit with very little Mellotron.


previous pagenext page