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Madeleine Peyroux
Phantom Planet

Phantom's Divine Comedy
Phenomenal Handclap Band
Phil & John

Glen Phillips
Grant-Lee Phillips
Sam Phillips


Rudy Perrone  (US)

Rudy Perrone, 'Oceans of Art'

Oceans of Art  (1981,  40.32)  ****/TT

Morning Songe for Peace
The Second Fantasy
Lowell Avenue
Oceans of Art
The Conversation
Contemplation
The Jetty Incident
The Cusp
To You
Violent Silence
The Adolescent

Current availability:

Mellotron used:

Rudy Perrone was guitarist with Cathedral (US version), playing on the sole album from their original incarnation, 1978's semi-legendary Stained Glass Stories. 1981's Oceans of Art is his only solo album from the period, surprisingly progressive given its relatively late date, built around Perrone's superb acoustic guitar work, most tracks also featuring vocals, in case you were getting the impression this was a typical 'guitarist's' album. This approach is abandoned towards the end of the album, with the new wave/prog (uneasy bedfellows, as you can imagine) crossovers of To You and closer The Adolescent and Violent Silence, like a more compact version of Cathedral's sound, making for some welcome variety on an otherwise slightly samey release.

Cathedral's keyboard player, Tom Doncourt (Quiet, Fauve Museum), adds Mellotron to three tracks, with string section and choir on the title track, string section on The Cusp and regular strings on Violent Silence, enough to make their mark on the album, without overwhelming it. Rumour has it that this will get a proper CD issue sometime soon, although there's no mention of the project on Perrone's site. As a result, I've no idea where you might find this, but if you can track a copy down, it's worth the effort.

Official site

See: Cathedral

Persephone's Dream  (US)  see: Samples

Peter & Gordon  (UK)

Peter & Gordon, 'In London for Tea'

In London for Tea  (1967,  30.05)  **½/T

London at Night
The Jokers
I'm Your Puppet
Here Comes That Hurt Again
You've Got Your Troubles
Sally Go Round the Roses
Sunday for Tea
Red, Cream and Velvet
Stop, Look and Listen
Please Help Me, I'm Falling
Goodbye My Love

Current availability:

Mellotron used:

Peter & Gordon, a.k.a. Peter Asher (brother of Jane, relevantly then Paul McCartney's girlfriend) and Gordon Waller, were sounding like men out of time by 1967, as their lightweight harmony pop sank slowly in a sea of psychedelia. Macca wrote several of their hits, sometimes under a pseudonym, but his interest in the duo was probably on the wane by this point and, going by their (unbelievably) ninth album in four years, In London for Tea, they'd become pastiches of themselves anyway.

The album was presumably aimed at the American audience, as I can't see the Brits taking its picture-postcard view of our capital particularly seriously; I've read that it wasn't even released in the U.K., which would make some kind of sense. I'm sure the Suits looked at Herman's Hermits' massive transatlantic success, playing the quirky Brit bit to the hilt while laughing all the way to the bank and thought, "If it works for them..." However, without an ersatz Peter Noone, any chance of reproducing their feat in the long-term was doomed from the outset, I suspect. It's not a bad album as such, just not an especially good one, with too many so-so songs (see: the actually pretty godawful Please Help Me, I'm Falling), although a few psych/chamber pop touches like the harpsichord on the ridiculous Sunday For Tea (their last hit of any kind) redeem it slightly.

Mellotron from an anonymous session musician, with brass and strings on The Jokers, although all the album's orchestrations are real. So, why this one track? Who knows? It enhances a passable song well enough, but is pretty inessential in the grand scheme of things (then again, so's this site, for what it's worth). Unless you're a big fan of orchestrated '60s pop (yes, I know you're out there), you're probably not going to go a bundle on this, although it has its occasional moments, its lone 'Tron track among them.

Duane Peters & Pascal Briggs  (US)

Duane Peters & Pascal Briggs, 'Suicide Child' 7"  (2003,  10.35)  ***/0

Suicide Child

Cold, Cold Ground

Current availability:

Mellotron used:

Duane "The Master of Disaster" Peters seems to be known more as a professional skateboarder than as a musician, although he was mainman of late-period American punks U.S. Bombs, while Pascal Briggs seems to have no skating background. Er... The pair collaborated on Suicide Child in 2003, a brutal song played in an almost-acceptable style, while the flip, their version of a Tom Waits song, is as endearingly nihilistic as you'd expect.

Jens Schilling is credited with Mellotron on the 'A', although the only thing it could even vaguely be is the background choir part running through the song, which, to be honest, sound more like actual backing vocals to my ears. Like Johnny Thunders? Stiv Bators? Richard Hell? Get hold of a copy of Suicide Child.

Official Duane Peters site

Pascal Briggs' MySpace

Andrew Peterson  (US)

Andrew Peterson, 'Clear to Venus'

Clear to Venus  (2001,  45.28)  *½/0

No More Faith
Mary Picked the Roses
Isn't it Love
Song & Dance
Loose Change
Hold Up My Arms
Steady As She Goes
Let Me Sing
Alaska Or Bust
Venus
Why Walk When You Can Fly
Land of the Free

Current availability:

Mellotron used:

Andrew Peterson is (wait for it) a Christian singer-songwriter whose lyrics (gasp!) proclaim his undying love for and allegiance to a wholly imaginary deity for which there is not one shred of actual, real, hold-in-your-hand proof. Utterly bizarre, although I believe over half the Earth's population has a similar, irrational belief. Education, education, education... Peterson's second album, 2001's Clear to Venus, is a fairly typical God-bothering effort, although, in fairness (why?), some of its contents are less offensive than others (Isn't It Love, Hold Up My Arms), but the bulk of the record is, to be honest, an utter dog.

Glenn Rosenstein (Sarah Jahn, the horrible Plumb) allegedly plays Mellotron on Hold Up My Arms, but whatever he adds to the track is entirely inaudible, drowned out by the Hammond. More CCM with no obvious Mellotron? I can't even be arsed to give my usual damning pronouncement.

Official site

Tom Petty (& the Heartbreakers)  (US)

Tom Petty, 'Wildflowers'

Wildflowers  (1994,  62.49)  ***½/T

Wildflowers
You Don't Know How it Feels
Time to Move on
You Wreck Me
It's Good to Be King
Only a Broken Heart
Honey Bee
Don't Fade on Me
Hard on Me
Cabin Down Below
To Find a Friend
A Higher Place
House in the Woods
Crawling Back to You
Wake Up Time
Tom Petty, 'Echo'

Echo  [as Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers]  (1999,  61.58)  ***½/½

Room at the Top
Counting on You
Free Girl Now
Lonesome Sundown
Swingin'
Accused of Love
Echo
Won't Last Long
Billy the Kid
I Don't Wanna Fight
This One's for Me
No More
About to Give Out
Rhino Skin
One More Day, One More Night

Current availability:

Mellotron/Chamberlin used:

Tom Petty's had a slightly odd career, not releasing his debut album until 1976, despite being born in 1950, making his spiritual home some years earlier than his first flush of success. He survived the horrors of the '80s remarkably well, even managing a great psych single in '85 with Don't Come Around Here No More, and gained a career boost from being the youngest member of the Travel(l)ing Wilburys later that decade. The '90s saw him taking on the role of Rock Elder Statesman, without the pompousness that so often goes with the title, not to mention no appreciable drop in songwriting quality.

1994's Wildflowers is Petty's second solo album, though most of us would be hard-pushed to spot the difference, especially considering that most of the Heartbreakers are present and correct, including keys man Benmont Tench. It's a good album without being groundbreaking, covering all Petty's bases from fully acoustic (Don't Fade On Me) to all-out rock (Honey Bee) and every stage in between. Tench plays Mellotron on a couple of tracks, with quite upfront flutes and more background cellos on Only A Broken Heart and a weirder, less overt flute part on Crawling Back To You.

Echo saw him back with the Heartbreakers officially, though sonically, it heavily resembles Wildflowers, essentially being his take on what's become known as Americana. I actually found the album a little dreary in places, though Petty fans will almost certainly love it; it certainly sounds like a Tom Petty album, which beats just about anything being produced by anyone new, sad to say. Definite Chamberlin from Tench on closer One More Day, One More Night (flutes) and possible strings on Rhino Skin, but, as usual, it's hard to tell.

So; two Tom Petty albums, both predictable, but in a good way. More tape-replay on Wildflowers than Echo, should that be your buying criterion (and don't try to pretend it isn't; I've got the e-mails to prove it). n.b. Petty's 2009 four-disc The Live Anthology (or a greatly expanded five-disc 'deluxe' ed.) has Tench credited with Chamberlin, but not only is there no audio evidence for it (even on the one tape-replay track from the above albums included on the set, Crawling Back To You), but would he really haul a piece of equipment like that around on tour in the 2000s? Really? For maybe one song a night? Sorry; strikes me as an over-enthusiastic copywriter error, but if anyone can prove me wrong...

Official site

Randy Pevler  (US)  see: Samples

Madeleine Peyroux  (US)

Madeleine Peyroux, 'Dreamland'

Dreamland  (1996,  39.33)  ***/½

Walkin' After Midnight
Hey Sweet Man
I'm Gonna Sit Right Down and Write
  Myself a Letter
(Getting Some) Fun Out of Life
La Vie en Rose
Always a Use
A Prayer
Muddy Water
Was I?
Dreamland
Reckless Blues
Lovesick Blues

Current availability:

Mellotron used:

In case you haven't heard of her, Madeleine Peyroux is a contemporary jazz singer, though more in a 'contemporary singer tackling traditional jazz' than a modern interpreter. 1996's Dreamland is actually her debut, a perfectly acceptable album of mostly piano-led 'late-nite' jazz, Peyroux's voice perfect for the style. She actually writes three of its tracks, although I'd guess the bulk of the remainder are lesser-known (at least to me) standards.

Charlie Giordano plays Mellotron, with a muted string part on the title track that couldn't be anything else, unless it's, er, samples. Don't think so, but they were easily available by this point, so who knows? Anyway, perfectly good at what it does, but not something I shall find myself playing again any time soon.

Official site

Phantom Planet  (US)

Phantom Planet: 'Phantom Planet is Missing'

Phantom Planet is Missing  (1998,  34.41)  ****/TTTT

I Was Better Off
So I Fall Again
Recently Distressed
Can't Take it
The Local Black and Red
Don't Get Down

Dying of Silence
Down in a Second
Lisa (Does it Hurt You?)
Rest Easy
Sleep Machine

Current availability:

Chamberlin used:

Good job Jim Rigberg reviewed this; I've never heard of Jason Schwarztman...

While every review I've ever read concerning this band comments on Jason Schwarztman's acting (and that Francis Ford Coppola is his uncle and Talia Shire is his mom), none of them note that Phantom Planet Is Missing actually was released months before Schwartman's film debut in Rushmore. It would not surprise me if the omission of this fact incorrectly leads readers to believe that Phantom Planet is some kind of gimmick band put together to enhance Schwartzman's burgeoning film career. I suppose it doesn't help that, at the time Phantom Planet is Missing came out, no member of the band was older than 21 and lead singer Alex Greenwald is a model.

Clearly, Phantom Planet is no gimmick. I happened to pick up Phantom Planet Is Missing the week it was released after listening to the first three songs at a Tower Records 'CD bar'. (Consequently, while most people seeing Phantom Planet for the first time likely saw Schwartzman and said "Hey, its the guy from Rushmore", I saw Rushmore and said "Hey, its the drummer from Phantom Planet!"). The first three songs were that good and the rest of the CD really didn't disappoint either. The band plays earnest art-pop - I'm certain their influences would include the usual suspects (Beatles, ELO, old David Bowie, Cheap Trick, XTC etc.). Phantom Planet has a unique sonic 'attack' in that its three guitarists - Greenwald, Jacques Brautbar and Darren Robinson - really take the time to come up with great guitar 'arrangements'. Rarely do all three play the same thing at the same time and they come up with a great variety of guitar sounds. As good as it sounds on the CD, it's even more effective live.

Adding to the mix on Phantom Planet is Missing is a copious contribution of Chamberlin courtesy of the ubiquitous Patrick Warren. Opener I Was Better Off is laden with flutes and strings as well as what sounds (to my untrained ears anyway) like either slide or Hawaiian guitar during the chorus. Flutes are used effectively to punch up the chorus in So I Fall Again and there is a great little cello melody weaving in and out of the verses in the power-poppy Recently Distressed. Possibly the tape-replay highlight of the CD is Warren's great string waltz that wraps up the end of Can't Take It. Also of note is the great vibe part in Down In A Second.

Producer Mitchell Froom of all people unbelievably opted not to use Mellotron/Chamberlin on Phantom Planet's second CD, The Guest. The few songs I've heard are very good, though, augmented as they are with real strings etc. Incidentally, according to Allmusic.com, Schwartzman left Phantom Planet two months ago (August 2003). As he did not appear to write any of the music, I'm not all that concerned that the band's creative abilities will be horribly affected by his departure, although reviewers, I suppose, will start referring to Phantom Planet as his former band.

At any rate, if you like crunchy (but happy) arty power pop, pick this up, although I can certainly recommend it for its Mellotronic (okay, Chamberlinic) content as well.

Jim Rigberg

Official site

Phantom's Divine Comedy  (US)

Phantom's Divine Comedy, 'Phantom's Divine Comedy, Part 1'

Phantom's Divine Comedy, Part 1  (1974,  39.23)  **½/T

Tales From a Wizard
Devil's Child
Calm Before the Storm
Half a Life
Spiders Will Dance (on Your Face While You Sleep)
Black Magic, White Magic
Merlin
Stand Beside My Fire
Welcome to Hell

Current availability:

Mellotron used:

I listened to Phantom's Divine Comedy, Part 1 before I read any online reviews, but still managed to come to the same conclusion as most other reviewers, i.e. it's a rather ropey Doors pastiche with a vocalist who sounds slightly like Jimbo on a bad day. The music is basically piano-driven slightly hard rock, with few memorable features, while the lyrics are by and large preposterous rubbish, although at least they're amusing in places. I've no idea why they called themselves what they did, let alone why they used pseudonyms like Phantom, X, Y and Z, unless it was a semi-deliberate attempt to pull the wool over the public's eyes (see: Klaatu). The weirdest thing about the whole project is that is was actually released by Capitol, rather than just creeping out on some two-bit independent. What were they thinking? The Doors?

All in all, this is a bit dismal. Plagiarism is rife; Stand Beside My Fire could be accused of ripping off Hawkwind's Magnu, had that appeared a year earlier (!), and Welcome To Hell cops lyrics from Sabbath's NIB. I sat through most of the album thinking, "No bloody 'Tron here", until the uncredited strings on Welcome To Hell, possibly played by the mysterious 'Z', who may or may not be otherwise known as Mike DeMartino. So; pretty tedious, even to fans of the era, with just one passable 'Tron track. Avoid.

Phenomenal Handclap Band  (US)

Phenomenal Handclap Band, 'The Phenomenal Handclap Band'

The Phenomenal Handclap Band  (2009,  66.10)  **½/T½

The Journey to Serra da Estrela
All of the Above
Testimony
Give it a Rest
You'll Disappear
15 to 20
Dim the Lights
I Been Born Again
The Martyr
Tears
Baby
The Circle is Broken

Current availability:

Mellotron used:

The Phenomenal Handclap Band play a confusing mélange of styles, referencing Motown, '70s funk and even Santana into a funky stew of psychedelic soul, filtered through modern indie which, frankly, does it few favours. Their eponymous 2009 debut will probably go down very well indeed in some quarters, particularly those equipped with a dancefloor, although lovers of even slightly more 'serious' music are unlikely to go a bundle on this, possibly excepting lengthy psychedelic closer The Circle Is Broken, which is actually halfway decent. It might be more palatable if track lengths had been kept down, or a couple of songs chopped off the album's length, but as it, is, not only does its style irritate, but it goes on seemingly forever, making for a double-whammy of finger-drumming, and not to its rhythmic intricacies.

Daniel Collás plays Mellotron, with a string part opening Give It A Rest, flutes on the slightly rocky The Martyr and strings again at the end of Baby. The Phenomenal Handclap Band may grab some of you, but I'm afraid the bulk of it left this listener cold. Good at what it does, assuming you like what it does... One Mellotron highlight, but not enough to redeem the record overall, I'm afraid.

MySpace

Phideaux  (US)  see: Samples

Phil & John  (UK)

Phil & John, 'Don't Look Now... It's the Hallelujah Brothers'

Don't Look Now... It's the Hallelujah Brothers  (1989,  37.53)  *½/T

Young at Heart
Feels Like the Summer
(What's So Funny 'bout) Peace
  Love and Understanding
Keep Me in Your Love
The Old and the Wise
Gabriel's Sitting in
Please Tell Me Why
Heart's on Fire
This Boy
California Dreamers
Fool's Wisdom

Current availability:

Mellotron used:

Nothing to do with the identically-named '70s German duo (whose names weren't Phil and John anyway), this Phil & John are Phil Baggaley and John Hartley, who were that most horrible of things, a Christian folk/rock/pop duo, from Mansfield, of all places. 1989's Don't Look Now... It's the Hallelujah Brothers was their fourth album, full of limp paeans to their god in a variety of pop/rock styles, sung in rather limp voices; if truth be told, neither was really lead vocal standard. Recorded at no fewer than six studios on two continents, they're helped out by a cast of thousands (OK, maybe a dozen), including our old friend (?) Phil Keaggy, who chips in on guitars. Is there a best track? No, but a seemingly uncredited version of Nick Lowe's (What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace Love And Understanding (as popularised by Elvis Costello) is easily the best lyric.

Along with harmonium, Steve Lindsey plays, surprisingly, Mellotron (well, not so surprisingly, otherwise it wouldn't be here), in those dark days for the instrument, with a nice flute part on Heart's On Fire, with faint strings later in the track. It doesn't look like this is available on CD, for which we can all truly praise God. One so-so Mellotron track doth not an album make.

Anthony Phillips  (UK)  see:

Anthony Phillips

Britta Phillips & Dean Wareham  (US)  see: Samples

Glen Phillips  (US)

Glen Phillips, 'Abulum'

Abulum  (2000,  45.44)  ***½/TT

Careless
Men Just Leave
Back on My Feet
Fred Meyers
My Own Town
It Takes Time
Drive By
Darkest Hour
Professional Victim
Train Wreck
Maya
['bonus track':
Sleep of the Blessed]

Current availability:

Mellotron/Chamberlin used:

It seems Glen Phillips is the ex-mainman of the Pythonically-named Toad the Wet Sprocket (not the NWOBHM outfit, for those of you who have any idea what I'm talking about). I've never heard the estimable (?) Toads, but Phillips has actually released a pretty decent album on his own, containing several notable tracks, principally the excellent Men Just Leave, which says more about the War Of The Sexes in one short song than many people manage in lengthy learned tomes. I suppose the album's best described as being in 'melancholy singer-songwriter' territory, tipping over into Americana in places, although full-blown country is thankfully a no-no. Not all the tracks caught my ear by any means, but enough did to more than justify its purchase from the 'three for a fiver' racks in Steve's Sounds.

Quite a bit of Mellotron/Chamberlin use here, with an upfront Chamby flute part on opener Careless from Richard Causon, who, despite being Phillips' band's regular keyboard player, doesn't get to touch any other tape-replay instruments. Phillips himself plays the discreetly credited 'M400' on two more tracks, with an entirely inaudible part on Back On My Feet and some only slightly more audible flutes on Maya. Producer Ethan Johns provides the rest of the album's tape-replay input, with 'Mellotron strings' (actually separate 'strings', i.e. violins, and cello) on My Own Town, although I can't hear his credited Chamberlin on either Darkest Hour or Professional Victim.

So; not a bad album, albeit very downbeat (is this a problem?). Passable 'Tron/Chamby work, though nothing you haven't heard better before, to be honest. Worth a flutter.

Official site

Grant-Lee Phillips  (US)

Grant-Lee Phillips, 'Nineteeneighties'

Nineteeneighties  (2006,  43.56)  ***/T½

Wave of Mutilation
Age of Consent
The Eternal
I Often Dream of Trains
The Killing Moon
Love My Way
Under the Milky Way
City of Refuge
So. Central Rain
Boys Don't Cry
Last Night I Dreamt That Somebody Loved Me

Current availability:

Mellotron used:

Grant-Lee Phillips was, of course, frontperson and all-round mainman of Grant Lee Buffalo, carrying on in solo mode after their dissolution in the late '90s. After three 'regular' solo albums, 2006's Nineteeneighties is, unsurprisingly, Phillips' covers album, pretty much every track being from that decade. Why, you may ask? Why the '80s? Presumably because it was the decade when he turned twenty (he was born in '63), when all his formative influences came together, culminating in the formation of Grant Lee Buffalo and thus of considerable emotional importance to him. And, maybe surprisingly, he's actually come up with a good set of songs from the decade.

I'm afraid to say I'm not conversant with most of the originals, so direct comparison is difficult, but I'm aware of the general styles of most of the covered artists and I think it's safe to say that Phillips has definitely tackled the songs in his own inimitable way, largely as haunted, lovelorn alt.country ballads. Which work best? Probably Joy Division's The Eternal, The Church's Under The Milky Way, R.E.M.'s So. Central Rain and the one I spotted straight away, The Cure's Boys Don't Cry, non-coincidentally four of the slowest numbers here.

Phillips plays the Mellotron himself, with strings on New Order's Age Of Consent, flutes on Robyn Hitchcock's I Often Dream Of Trains and both sounds on The Smiths' Last Night I Dreamt That Somebody Loved Me, closing the album. I vastly prefer this album to anything I've heard by Grant Lee Buffalo, although having not heard any of Phillips' other solo work, I can't comment with regard to it. If you like your country alt., you could do an awful lot worse than to give this a listen; at least you're guaranteed the songwriting's good. Three reasonable 'Tron tracks, but nothing too exciting on that front.

Official site

See: Grant Lee Buffalo

Sam Phillips  (US)

Sam Phillips, 'Cruel Inventions'

Cruel Inventions  (1991,  36.25)  ***/T½

Lying
Go Down
Cruel Inventions
Standing Still
Tripping Over Gravity
Now I Can't Find the Door
Private Storm
Raised on Promises
Hole in Time
Where the Colors Don't Go
Sam Phillips, 'Martinis & Bikinis'

Martinis & Bikinis  (1994,  46.12)  ***/T

Love and Kisses
Signposts
Same Rain
Baby, I Can't Please You
Circle of Fire
Strawberry Road
When I Fall
Same Changes
Black Sky
Fighting With Fire
I Need Love
Wheel of the Broken Voice
Gimme Some Truth
Sam Phillips, 'Omnipop (it's Only a Flesh Wound Lambchop)'

Omnipop (it's Only a Flesh Wound Lambchop)  (1996,  42.15)  ***½/TTTT

Entertainmen
Plastic is Forever
Animals on Wheels
Zero Zero Zero!
Help Yourself
Your Hands
Power World

(Skeleton)
Where Are You Taking Me
Compulsive Gambler
Faster Pussycat to the Library!
Slapstick Heart

Current availability:

Chamberlins used:

Leslie "Sam" Phillips (quite clearly nothing to do with the Sun Records/Studios man) was married to noted producer T-Bone Burnett (d'you think she called him 'T-Bone' at home?), who produced and played on her third solo album 'proper', Cruel Inventions. 'Proper'? Apparently, she made Christian albums in the '80s under her real name, but let's not hold that against her, as not only did she renounce her faith, but this is actually a halfway decent record. Theoretically, I should hate this, as it's basically a '90s pop album, but it's quirky off-beatness lifts it way above the common-or-garden dreck that everyone else was producing at the time (er, at the time?), with a hint of late-'60s psychedelia thrown in here and there, not least the Beatles-esque faux-trumpets on Hole In Time.

Proving that she was ahead of the game, there are no less than three Chamberlin players on the album, years before everyone was using them, although as so often with this strange instrument, it's not always that easy to spot it. Is this the musical equivalent of camouflage? Anyway, Phillips herself, Burnett and the legendary Van Dyke Parks all play the thing, with flutes and something stringy on Lying, solo trumpet and mutated male voices on Hole In Time, and what has to be a left-hand manual rhythm track of a repeated banjo motif (!) at the end of Tripping Over Gravity. Interesting how the very American Chamberlin rhythm tracks were largely replaced by terribly English ones on the early Mellotrons... Wondrously, there's no credit for generic 'keyboards', so aside from the small string section and piano, anything that isn't obviously guitar or bass should therefore logically be Chamberlin, but I still can't hear it on more than three tracks, which isn't to say it isn't there.

Her follow-up, 1994's Martinis & Bikinis, seems to have no specific instrumental credits, although it only takes a cursory listen to reveal (presumably) Chamberlin use on a couple of tracks. The album itself is more inventive than its predecessor, although no innovator, despite brief opener Love And Kisses, Strawberry Road and the thoroughly odd Black Sky. Of course, there's no real clue as to who actually plays the Chamby: Phillips herself? Burnett again? Guest Benmont Tench? Any of the above or all three? Anyway, we get cellos on Same Rain and Strawberry Road, although that seems to be it, at least to my ears.

1996's Omnipop (it's Only a Flesh Wound Lambchop) (the subtitle's apparently a quote from Mel Brooks' The Producers) is a vastly less mainstream effort than its immediate predecessors, probably influenced by friend and past tourmate Elvis Costello, amongst others. There's remarkably little here to disappoint followers of skewed, offbeat pop, plaudits going to the oddball Plastic Is Forever, strange little waltz Animals On Wheels and Zero Zero Zero!, to name but three. Chamberlin from Phillips, Patrick Warren and Jon Brion, with cellos all over oddly (but correctly) titled opener Entertainmen, nicely upfront strings and flutes on Animals On Wheels, flutes on Zero Zero Zero!, vibes on Help Yourself, strings on Your Hands... You get the picture.

So; three albums, getting weirder as they go along (makes a nice change, that), with Omnipop definitely being the one to go for if you're after something a bit different. It's also the only one worth it on the tape-replay front, notching up an outrageous (and outrageously unexpected) four Ts. Worth the effort.

Official site


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