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reviews
album list
Leslie West
West Coast Consortium
Wet
John Wetton
Wganda Kenya
Jim Wheeler
Kirk Wheeler
When
Whipping Post
Whiskeytown
Alan White
Clarence White

Leslie West  (US)

Leslie West, 'Mountain'

Mountain  (1969,  35.50)  ***½/½

Blood of the Sun
Long Red
Better Watch Out
Blind Man
Baby, I'm Down
Dreams of Milk & Honey
Storyteller Man
This Wheel's on Fire
Look to the Wind
Southbound Train
Because You Are My Friend
Leslie West, 'The Great Fatsby'

The Great Fatsby  (1975,  33.58)  ***/TTT

Don't Burn Me
House of the Rising Sun

High Roller
I'm Gonna Love You Thru
ESP

Honky Tonk Women
If I Still Had You
Doctor Love
If I Were a Carpenter
Little Bit of Love
Leslie West, 'Unusual Suspects'

Unusual Suspects  (2011,  47.48)  ***½/T

One More Drink for the Road
Mud Flap Momma
To the Moon
Standing on Higher Ground
Third Degree
Legend
Nothing's Changed
I Feel Fine
Love You Forever
My Gravity
The Party's Over
I Don't Know (the Beetlejuice Song)

Current availability:

Mellotrons used:

While a member of the NYC-based The Vagrants, Leslie "West" Weinstein met producer Felix Pappalardi, who had also worked with Cream; hitting it off, Pappalardi produced West's first solo album, 1969's Mountain, a blueprint for the band of the same name the duo immediately went on to form, playing Woodstock that summer. The album's a decent enough effort, if a little formative, although when you consider when it was recorded, its combination of proto-hard rock and blues with the occasional acoustic interlude was groundbreaking, better tracks including future Mountain classic Blood Of The Sun, Blind Man and West's take on Dylan's This Wheel's On Fire. Pappalardi (a great fan of the Mellotron for some years) plays a string part on the excellent Look To The Wind, almost fooling the ear into thinking it's real until the key-clicks near the end of the track.

The Great Fatsby (ho ho) was West's first post-Mountain effort, promoted with a campaign that greatly upset the then-heavily overweight man, including 'speak your weight'-type machines and the like; I have no idea whether or not the title was his idea. It's not a bad album, though mostly rather pedestrian, with little of the 'rock' really, er, rocking that much. Highlights are probably the instrumental ESP and, maybe surprisingly, his take on the Animals' version of old warhorse House Of The Rising Sun. If I Were A Carpenter isn't bad, but West insists on realigning the vocals so they scan differently, which has the effect of reducing the song's magic, unfortunately. Probably seemed like a good idea at the time. Most surprisingly, loads of Mellotron from Howie Wyeth, being joint main keyboard along with the piano, with background strings on Don't Burn Me and a chordal flute part under real flute opening House Of The Rising Sun, while I'm Gonna Love You Thru features string and choir parts. More flutes and strings on the ESP, very full-on strings on If I Still Had You and another string part on closer Little Bit Of Love wrap things up nicely, making this a most unexpected addition to the ranks of halfway-decent 'Tron albums. The following year's The Leslie West Band (***) was a decent enough effort, if slightly uninspired (again), although it's saved by a few good acoustic tracks, not least a version of The Beatles' Dear Prudence, although sadly, no 'Tron.

Moving on several decades, West's 2011 release, Unusual Suspects, is a blues/rock guitar album par excellence, featuring yer man jamming with a clutch of top players, including Slash, Billy Gibbons, Joe Bonamassa and Zakk Wylde, on a selection of originals and covers. Top tracks include To The Moon, the piano-based Legend and My Gravity, the album's only minor failing being a couple of slightly extraneous tracks. The legendary Phil Parlapiano does his Mellotron thing on To The Moon, with a chordal flute part, although that's yer lot.

So; Mountain is more one for, er, Mountain fans than those of the Mellotron, The Great Fatsby is only average musically, although it's probably worth it for the Mellotron nut (and it's not too often I say that) and Unusual Suspects is a great modern guitar album with one decent Mellotron track.

Official Mountain site

See: Mountain

West Coast Consortium  (UK)

West Coast Consortium, 'Some Other Someday' 7"  (1967)  ***/TT½

Some Other Someday
Looking Back
West Coast Consortium, 'Looking Back: The Pye Anthology'

Looking Back: The Pye Anthology  (2003, recorded 1967-71,  78.31)  ***/TT

Some Other Someday
Looking Back

Indigo Spring
Listen to the Man
Colour Sergeant Lillywhite
Lady From Baltimore
All the Love in the World
Spending My Life Saying Goodbye
When the Day Breaks
The Day the Train Never Came
Beggar Man
Cynthia Serenity
I Don't Want Her Anymore
The House Upon the Hill
Melanie Cries Alone
Copper Coloured Years
To Please Louise
Amanda Jane
Cindy in Love
Willow Wood
I'll Always Love You
Soldiers in the Rain
Live and Let Live
Once Upon a Time
What Are They All Singing About Today
Scarlet River
One Day the Train Never Came
West Coast Consortium, 'Mr. Umbrella Man'

Mr. Umbrella Man: A Collection of Demos, 1967-1969  (2008,  78.04)  ***½/TT

Amanda Jane
Willow Wood
One Day the Train Never Came
To Please Louise
Elastic Band
We All Love You Baby
Oh! What a Feeling
Ginny Stop (Don't Go 'Way)
Rings and Things
Mr. Umbrella Man
House Upon a Hill
Aimie (Sing Your Song for Me)
Santa Monica Bay
When the Day Breaks
Cindy in Love
Come on Into the Warm
Rest of Your Life (Down Lonely Street)
Cynthia Serenity
Take a Round Trip
Fairground Playboy
Money Matters
Windmill Hill
All the Love in the World
What Are They Singing About Today?
Whatever Became of Emily Jane?
One Six Two
Copper Coloured Years

Current availability:

Mellotrons used:

The West Coast Consortium were a British Association-style outfit, although that outfit would never have countenanced some of this lot's slightly ropey vocal harmonies. Their vinyl debut was 1967's Some Other Someday, backed with Looking Back, two pleasant enough efforts, if infused with little of that year's psychedelia, guitarist/keyboard player Geoff Simpson's pseudo-orchestral Mellotron strings enhancing both sides nicely.

Thirty years after the band's eventual, mid-'70s implosion and having been neglected for several decades, they were officially pushed, kicking and screaming, into a small corner of the limelight in 2003, with the release of Castle's Looking Back: The Pye Anthology, mopping up most of their single sides and some demos. Top track? Their lone psych single Colour Sergeant Lillywhite, most of the rest being perfectly competent but rather unexciting late '60s vocal harmony pop (representative examples: Lady From Baltimore, Melanie Cries Alone), although Willow Wood sounds like psych-era Status Quo, of all bands. Simpson adds Mellotron to a handful of tracks, with reiterations of the parts from their first single, an occasional flute line (with real strings) on I Don't Want Her Anymore, a background string line on Copper Coloured Years, upfront strings on Amanda Jane and phased ones on Once Upon A Time.

To my great surprise, 2008's Mr. Umbrella Man: A Collection of Demos, 1967-1969 turns out to be a better listen than their official recordings (in my humble opinion, of course). Top tracks include Mellotron-laden opener Amanda Jane, the melancholy One Day The Train Never Came, We All Love You Baby, the slightly jazzy title track, Whatever Became Of Emily Jane? and Copper Coloured Years, amongst many others. Several Simpson Mellotron tracks, even though these are only demos, with a major string part on Amanda Jane, background flutes on To Please Louise, background strings on We All Love You Baby, more upfront strings on House Upon A Hill and so-loud-they-almost-distort strings and vibes on All The Love In The World.

Don't buy Looking Back expecting to hear some lost Brit-psych classics - Colour Sergeant Lillywhite is the nearest to that description and it's already been heavily anthologised - but hardcore fans of the era could do worse than to pick a copy up. Mr. Umbrella Man might actually be a better bet, but with several decent Mellotron tracks apiece, era fans should possibly go for both.

Stian Westerhus & Pale Horses  (Norway)  see: Samples etc.

Westlife  (Ireland)  see: Samples etc.

Wet  (US)

Wet, 'Wet'

Wet  (1980,  20.32)  ***/T

To Be a Man
Babies of the Night
The Dreamer
Sunday's Girl

Current availability:

Mellotron used:

Wet, 'Wet (rear sleeve)'

Way, way back in 1981, the then-new Kerrang! featured an article by legendary loon Geoff Barton, extolling the virtues of a self-titled EP by a certain Kevin Wet (his real name, surely?), even remarking on its Mellotron usage, amazingly. It has to be said, though, that Barton got just as (if not more) excited by the sleeve, featuring (as you can see) two essentially pornographic pictures of his girlfriend (Wet's, not Barton's, you clot) and her mate, although at least a sense of humour makes itself apparent in both shots, especially the 'back' one (right). Although often referred to as a picture disc, the EP was actually clear vinyl with the dodgo pics on a sheet of card.

Anyway, thirty years later, said EP finally turns up on a download blog, to my great excitement. So, is it any good? Er, it's probably best described as a rather turgid attempt at 'epic' hard rock, tracks like Babies Of The Night (the one Barton, inexplicably, went apeshit over) and the rather incoherent seven-minute Sunday's Girl having a decent stab at sophistication, sadly falling rather short. To add to the record's woes, it has to be one of the worst productions I've ever heard; although Wet's vocals are clear enough, instrumental balances are all over the shop and as for the Mellotron...

I believe it's played by either Wet himself or Mark Jelenski, with exceedingly muffled choirs on every track except Babies Of The Night, although I couldn't honestly say it enhances the EP that much, due to the awful recording. Do you need to hear this? Probably not, no - my three-star rating above errs on the generous side - but hard rock (as against metal) obsessives will probably go for it anyway, if only for its rarity value. And Barton's copy? According to a rather confessional column he used to write for Classic Rock mag, he had what sounds like a mini-breakdown sometimes in the '80s and ditched his entire vinyl collection at the local tip, so it's presumably mouldering away in a landfill somewhere. Nice one, Geoff.

John Wetton  (UK)

John Wetton, 'Caught in the Crossfire' John Wetton, 'Caught in the Crossfire'

Caught in the Crossfire  (1980,  41.50)  **½/T

Turn on the Radio
Baby Come Back
When Will You Realize?
Cold is the Night
Paper Talk
Get Away
Caught in the Crossfire
Get What You Want
I'll Be There
Woman
John Wetton & Richard Palmer-James, 'Monkey Business, 1972-1997'

Monkey Business, 1972-1997  [as John Wetton & Richard Palmer-James]  (1998,  60.48)  ***/T

Flourish
Too Much Monkey Business
Confessions
Easy Money
The Night Watch (live)
Woman
(False Start)
Untitled
Rich Man Lie
Cologne 1977
The Laughing Lake 1
The Good Ship Enterprise
Book of Saturday (demo)
Book of Saturday (live)
The Glory of Winning
Starless 1
The Laughing Lake 2
The Laughing Lake 3
The Laughing Lake 1977
Magazines
Starless 2
Cologne 1977
Doctor Diamond 1997
Starless 1997
V/A, 'Progfest '97'

Progfest '97  (1997,  21.03)  ****/TT

[John Wetton Band contribute]
In the Dead of Night
Rendezvous 6:02
Starless

Current availability:

Mellotrons used:

John Wetton really shouldn't need any introduction, having played with (deep breath) Family, King Crimson, Roxy Music, Uriah Heep and UK and that was before the reprehensible Asia in the early '80s. Caught in the Crossfire can actually be seen as a precursor to said band, sadly, being a pretty commercial effort, Wetton having taken the poppier side of UK and run with it, certainly going by the Jobson-alike piano parts on some tracks. Actually, this is pretty duff, if I'm going to be honest (and when am I not?). Cheesy and 'commercial', but with few memorable songs, although I've got a nasty feeling opener Turn On The Radio could stick like glue. About the best moment here is Cold Is The Night, a reasonably atmospheric ballad with shitloads of Mellotron, a flute part being replaced by choirs and overdubbed strings, although that's it for the album. Y'know, you really don't need to own a copy of this; I paid a fiver for it, four quid too much - more fool me. This was probably the last time Wetton used a Mellotron, although he actually brought one along to Heep, who let him play it occasionally.

'94's Battle Lines and 2003's Rock of Faith both feature samples, leaving the only other solo Wetton Mellotron as Monkey Business, 1972-1997, credited jointly to him and lyricist Richard Palmer-James, who wrote the iconic lyrics to Mark 3 Crimso tracks like The Night Watch and Starless. Versions of both appear on the album, the former live in Brazil, '91, the latter in heavily edited form as a studio cut from '97. Many of the remaining tracks are brief snippets of studio and live work - the kind of stuff that's usually denoted as being 'for completists only', which is how 24 tracks fit onto a one-hour disc. Actually, Wetton completists really do need this, given that it contains versions of several tracks that (to my knowledge) aren't available anywhere else, not to mention a long-overdue studio take on Crimson's Doctor Diamond. Wetton plays Mellotron on The Good Ship Enterprise, recorded early '76 with Bill Bruford on drums, opening with cellos, before shifting into a lovely strings part under the double-tracked guitar solo. With only one Mellotron track, this archive release is probably about as essential as Caught in the Crossfire, although a better listen all round.

Incidentally, John played at Progfest '97 with a band including IQ's Martin Orford, who was persuaded to play a real Mellotron on the night. They get three tracks on the album, with (unsurprisingly) nothing on UK's In The Dead Of Night and Rendezvous 6:02, but the expected string part on a slightly truncated Starless. It doesn't seem likely that the rest of their set will appear at any stage in the near future and I've no idea what else may be on it Mellotronwise, sadly.

Postscript: John, by all accounts (including first-hand) a thoroughly decent chap, died on January 31st 2017. R.I.P., John.

Official site

See: Asia | Family | King Crimson | Roxy Music | Uriah Heep | Progfest

Wganda Kenya  (Colombia)

Wganda Kenya, 'Combate a Kung-Fu' 7"  (1975?)  ***/TTT

Combate a Kung-Fu

Por una Negrita

Current availability:

Mellotron used:

Wganda Kenya appear to have been prime proponents of Colombia's Afrosound, a highly-danceable merging of South American and African musics, huge in its native land, although (at the time) almost unknown elsewhere. Hard-and-fast info on the band is pretty hard to trace in any language, it seems, to the point where I'm not even sure whether the actually-rather-good Combate A Kung-Fu (a largely instrumental cover of Carl Douglas' massive 1974 worldwide hit Kung-Fu Fighting), possibly released the following year, is the 'A' or 'B' side, as sources vary.

I've no idea where the band sourced a Mellotron in '70s Colombia (was there one in a studio?), unless, of course, they recorded in, say, Miami or similar. Anyway, the track's smothered in block chord strings and flute melodies, although there's nothing on the flip. This is now easily available on Spanish label Vampi Soul's Afrosound of Colombia, Vol.1, should you wish to hear it, alongside Afrosound's Cumbia De E.T. El Extraterrestre and, possibly, others.

Jim Wheeler  (US)

Jim Wheeler, 'Remember the Alamo' 7"  (196?)  */TTT

Remember the Alamo
The Beautiful Texas Waltz

Current availability:

Chamberlin used:

It's hard to say exactly who Jim Wheeler may have been, although 'song-poem' god Rodd Keith seems like a good bet. He certainly didn't write either side of this horror, Remember The Alamo and The Beautiful Texas Waltz (released on the 'legendary' Film City imprint), so a nom de plume seems most likely. Both songs are, of course, utterly cheesy, '50s-style patriotic ballads, of the kind that'll have you either howling with laughter or puking into a bucket, on the offchance you should ever get to hear them.

The label splendidly credits the "Swinging Strings", which, of course, turn out to be the same Chamberlin as can be heard on every other Film City release that's come my way (more than I'd like, frankly), with clunky rhythms, even clunkier guitars and weeping strings everywhere you look. Someone may well upload this to a song-poem enthusiast site one day (don't look at me), but until then, these classics of the genre will have to exist only in your imagination. Best place, really. Incidentally, the single's fluorescent yellow vinyl really has to be seen to be believed.

See: Rodd Keith

Kirk Wheeler  (US)

Kirk Wheeler, 'Bonfires'

Bonfires  (2007,  37.08)  **/T

Gladys Don't Be Sad
Cameras in California
Phoenix Park
As Sweet as Your Love
Shine a Little Light
Dry Wood
City of Love
Mercy Jane
Fields of Green
Bullfight
Sylvia

Current availability:

Chamberlin used:

Kirk Wheeler released his first album in 1997 as Jitterwheel, although he went 'legit' for its follow-up, '99's Pelican Soup. Although he's not exactly the biggest name ever, someone's pumped some money into him (so to speak); his fifth album, 2007's Bonfires, features a whole slew of known session guys, not least producer Zac Rae (Macy Gray, Lisa Marie Presley), although (as a result?) the end result is the kind of bland singer-songwriter fare that's tailor-made for background music on TV nonsense like The O.T. The gutsy Bullfight's about the best thing here, but that isn't saying much.

Rae plays Chamberlin, with background strings on Cameras In California, background cellos and strings on Dry Wood and background flutes on Fields Of Green; spot the connection? Everything about Wheeler seems to be background; just for once, dude, write something that actually grabs your audience's attention. Suppose that's no way to get lucrative TV contracts for your music, though.

MySpace

When  (Norway)

When, 'Gynt'

Gynt  (1997,  39.24)  ***/TT½

At the Wedding
Halling
The Abduction of the Bride
Peer Gynt and the Herd Girls
Peer Gynt and the Woman in Green
Great Folk May Be Known By the
  Mounts That They Ride
In the Hall of the Mountain King
Dance of the Mountain King's
  Daughter

Peer Gynt Hunted By the Trolls
Peer Gynt and the Boyg
The Death of Åse
Morning Mood
The Thief and the Receivers
Arabian Dance
Anitra's Dance
Peer Gynt's Serenade
Peer Gynt and Anitra
Solveig's Song
Peer Gynt at the Statue of
  Memnon
Peer Gynt's Homecoming/
  Stormy Evening on the Sea
Shipwreck
Solveig Sings in the Hut
Night Scene
Whitsun Hymn: "Blessed Morn"
Solveig's Cradle Song I
  (8 String Loops)
Solveig's Cradle Song II
  (4 String Loops and Birdsongs)
When, 'Psychedelic Wunderbaum'

Psychedelic Wunderbaum  (1998,  42.24)  ***/TT½

Time Ago
Extremist Cow

Snowfish
As-Speak-You-Are
Young Feet Flush
Kali

Channel 7
Footsteps
The Intrepid Traveller
Track 10

Current availability:

Mellotrons used:

When are effectively Norwegian psychonaut Lars Pedersen's one-man band, allowing him to experiment to his heart's content. And experiment he does. Despite his work having little metal content, several of his album's are apparently revered on the Norwegian black metal scene for their overall darkness, which says more to me about what black metal enthusiasts really like than any number of torched churches.

1997's Gynt is, as you might expect, a severely mutated version of Grieg's best-known work, with 26 tracks squeezed into forty minutes. Pedersen has described it as, "A satiric play on Edward Grieg's Peer Gynt. Inspired by Henrik Ibsen" and he ain't kiddin'. Parts of it are recognisable, but more isn't than is and what is usually ends up mutilated almost beyond recognition. Is this what happens when it's impossible to escape your country's most famous work? This is properly weird-arse shit, a typical mangling being The Death Of Åse, which 'features' a rhythmic 'beep' throughout, that becomes a solid tone at the piece's conclusion, heart monitor-style. Pedersen plays Mellotron strings on Dance Of The Mountain King's Daughter, The Death of Åse (playing the main melody line over a Residents-style atonal backing), a descending line on The Thief And The Receivers, Peer Gynt's Serenade and Whitsun Hymn: "Blessed Morn", all to decent enough effect.

1998's Psychedelic Wunderbaum is better described as 'psychedelic cut-up' than dark per se. I won't pretend it's the easiest of listens, but who wants easy listening? Go and listen to James Last if that's your bag. In fact, since writing that, I've realised that Pedersen was a founding member of supposed Mellotron users The Last James, which is a strange piece of synchronicity, non? Pedersen on Mellotron again, with unusual cello use on opener Time Ago, 'stabbed' strings on Extremist Cow, high strings throughout As-Speak-You-Are and more normal ones on Young Feet Flush and Kali.

So; two rather odd albums with some reasonable Mellotron use amongst the weirdness (and occasionally contributing to it). Not easy listens, but potentially rewarding ones.

See: The Last James

When the Clouds  (Italy)  see: Samples etc.

Whipping Post  (Switzerland)

Whipping Post, 'So We Are'

So We Are  (1980,  41.58)  ***½/TTTT½

Return
Freedom in Me
Saturday'n Sunday
Preball
Your Love
So We Are
Gimme a Shine
Gonna Be Wild
Pioneers

Current availability:

Mellotron used:

So We Are was Whipping Post (presumably named for the Allmans song)'s second album, after their eponymous debut and, unsurprisingly, has quite a blues influence running through it. In fact, I'd go as far as to call it a late-period blues/prog album, a style that fell out of favour in the UK in the early '70s. It's not a bad record, but lacks anything to make it particularly stand out, apart, of course, from its Mellotron work. C.B. Busser goes absolutely hell-for-leather with the thing; in fact, I can't detect any other keys on the album, which rescue it somewhat from blues/rock anonymity.

Freedom In Me sounds like nothing less than a prog version of Neil Young's incomparable Like A Hurricane, with 'Tron strings replacing the original's Stringman; Christ, they even use the same guitar tricks! Saturday'n Sunday has some distant choirs, more strings on Preball, brass on Your Love, then back to the choirs for the title track and Gimme A Shine. Strings on Gonna Be Wild, finishing with choirs again on Pioneers, making for a ridiculously Mellotron-heavy record, although little of the use is that outstanding. If you want to hear OTT Mellotron laid over blues/rock, though, this is going to become your favourite album.

Incidentally, although one Astrid Cotti is credited with Mellotron on 1978's Live, I can report back that you won't hear anything more exciting than a cheap string synth on the record.

See: C.B. Busser

A Whisper in the Noise  (US)  see: Samples etc.

Whiskeytown  (US)

Whiskeytown, 'Pneumonia'

Pneumonia  (2001,  53.34)  ***/T

Ballad of Carol Lynn
Don't Wanna Know Why
Jacksonville Skyline
Reason to Lie
Don't Be Sad
Sit and Listen to the Rain
Under Your Breath
Mirror Mirror
Paper Moon
What The Devil Wanted
Crazy About You
My Hometown
Easy Hearts
Bar Lights
V/A, 'Poor Little Knitter on the Road'

Poor Little Knitter on the Road  (1999,  3.53)  ***/½

[Whiskeytown contribute]
Silver Wings

Current availability:

Chamberlin (?) used:

Whiskeytown were formed by ex-punk Ryan Adams (who gets very, very angry when he's confused with Bryan) in 1994, along with Caitlin Cary and others. Along with The Jayhawks and a handful of others, they can probably be said to have invented alt.country, mixing pre-Nashville schmaltz country with rock and even punk, reinventing the genre and actually making it at least semi-palatable to non-country fans. Pneumonia was their third and last album, released two years after the band's premature split, which probably contributed to that event. It's a good record, although I can't say I hear any classics, although I'm sure fans would disagree. Maybe the almost-powerpop of Don't Be Sad?

Now, no tape-replay instruments are actually credited on the album, but given various peoples' involvement, not to mention the evidence of my own ears, it seems likely that something was used, probably a Chamberlin, with strings on Don't Be Sad and flutes on Mirror Mirror, with a couple of vague possibles elsewhere. Played by...? Unknown, although Ethan Johns is a possibility, given his work on subsequent Adams albums. Anyway, given the lack of any actual credits here, it could be generic samples dirtied up until they sound like a tape-replay instrument. Who knows?

So; a decent enough record if you're into the style, but not enough (real?) tape-replay to make it worthwhile on that front.

See: Ryan Adams | Caitlin Cary | Poor Little Knitter on the Road

Alan White  (UK)

Alan White, 'Ramshackled'

Ramshackled  (1976,  38.51)  **/½

Ooooh Baby (Goin' to Pieces)
One Way Rag
Avakak
Spring-Song of Innocence
Giddy
Silly Woman
Marching Into a Bottle
Everybody
Darkness, Pts. 1-3

Current availability:

Mellotron used:

As I'm sure you all know, Alan White replaced Bill Bruford in Yes in 1972, remaining with the band through all of their subsequent lineup trials and tribulations. I don't think it's that contentious to say that, while as solid a player as you like, he is in no way a stylist, playing workmanlike parts where Bruford would shine, which isn't to denigrate his contribution to the band over the decades.

Anyone who knows anything about the band will be aware of the 'solo albums project' of 1975-6, which brings us to a lesser contribution to the canon, Ramshackled, one of the later releases (Jon Anderson's jaw-dropping Olias of Sunhillow was last). I've heard bad things about this over the years, while having never actually heard it for myself. Well, they weren't wrong: White recruited his old buddies from an unsigned outfit named Simpson's Pure Oxygen; while the playing is perfectly competent, the material leaves a great deal to be desired, unless you have a yen for bland, r'n'b-influenced mid-'70s rock. Opener Ooooh Baby (Goin' To Pieces) is fairly typical, grinding its way through over five minutes of faceless, funk-free funk, while One Way Rag's middling rock is about as dull as it gets (unbelievably, Yes, briefly played this one live). More listenable moments include Spring-Song Of Innocence (the nearest the album gets to sounding like Yes), the flute/clarinet-led Marching Into A Bottle and (presumably) part two of closer Darkness, but to be blunt, this is an artistic disaster.

Many thanks (I think) to Max for spotting the album's Mellotronic content: we get a few seconds of strings opening Spring-Song Of Innocence, presumably from album keys man Kenny Craddock, distinctly different to the real strings on Giddy, but that really is your lot. Do you need to hear this? I don't think so, no; it was finally made available on CD by Wounded Bird a few years ago, but I can't imagine they've sold that many copies, even allowing for White's history. It has its moments, but you can easily live without them.

Official site

See: Yes

Bryan White  (US)  see: Samples etc.

Clarence White  (US)

Clarence White, 'Tuff & Stringy: Sessions 1966-68'

Tuff & Stringy: Sessions 1966-68  (2003,  56.02)  ***/½

Clarence White:
  Hong Kong Hillbilly (a.k.a. Nashville West)
Gary Paxton:
  Mother-in-Law
The Spencers:
  Make Up Your Mind
Clarence White:
  Grandma Funderbunk's Music Box
Wayne Moore:
  Guitar Pickin' Man
The Sandland Brothers:
  Vaccination for the Blues
Darrell Cotton:
  Don't Pity Me
Leon Copeland:
  Gotta Go See the World
The Kentucky Colonels:
  Everybody Has One But You
Gib & Jan:
  She's Gone
Clarence White:
  Tuff and Stringy
Richard Arlen:
  I'm Tied Down to You
Wayne Moore:
  Hey Juliana
Clarence White:
  Last Date

Dennis Payne:
  I'll Live Today
Jack Reeves:
  Not Enough of Me to Go Around
Clarence White:
  Riff-Raff
Darrell Cotton:
  If We Could Read
Wayne Moore:
  Rocks in My Head
The Kentucky Colonels:
  Made of Stone
Clarence White:
  Buckaroo
  Adam & Eve

The Great Love Trip:
  Why Can't We Be
Jan & Clarence:
  Nature's Child
Clarence White:
  Tango for a Sad Mood
Darrell Cotton:
  If We Could Read (backing track)

Current availability:

Chamberlin used:

Clarence White (the family name was Anglicised from LeBlanc when they moved to California) is best known for his time with The Byrds, although he spent much of the late '60s working with musician/producer Gary Paxton, a time documented on 2004's Bakersfield Rebels. The previous year's Tuff & Stringy: Sessions 1966-68, released under White's name (he is, of course, featured on every track), seems to be the first compilation of various singles and session tracks from the era, recorded at the Bakersfield International studio. Highlights include the amusing Mother-In-Law (Paxton) and Guitar Pickin' Man (Wayne Moore), more for their lyrics than the music, although White's fans will swoon over some of his subtle string-bending (he co-invented the Telecaster string bender, later used by Jimmy Page, amongst others) and instrumental layering.

Someone, possibly organist Carl Walden, plays what I'd imagine is the studio's Chamberlin (as likely as not a MusicMaster 600) on White's own Last Date, with what seems to be a single string note at the beginning of the song, held for the full eight seconds, never to be heard again. Fans of White's groundbreaking playing probably already own this, but I can recommend it to anyone who loves his playing on the several Byrds albums on which he played. Tragically, White was killed by a drunk driver in 1973, robbing the world of a major guitar talent; this album fills in some of the gaps in his short career.

See: Bakersfield Rebels


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