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While this site normally concentrates on official releases, it seems there is room for a page detailing Mellotron-related bootlegs. Official live releases cover a lot of Mellotronic ground, but unless they're by King Crimson, they're unlikely to cover everything (well, nearly), so here are some less-than-completely-legal albums, some only available through the trading community on CD-R or as downloads, others pressed up commercially. And before you ask, no, I don't sell bootlegs.

Of course, the more popular bands are likely to have many boots available from the same tour, so I've concentrated on the best I've heard, or those with rare performances. Expect regular additions to this page as I expand my collection. You may notice that I've listed releases slightly differently to those on my 'regular' pages; the same concert is often released under a multitude of titles, or none at all, so unless it's a specific collection (usually of studio material), I've listed venue/date, rather than title. To avoid the inevitable continentally-induced confusion, performance dates are written in full. Since sleeve art is a rather moveable feast in bootleg circles, I've tended not to bother putting anything at all, unless one very specific sleeve is generally used.

Highlighting in album tracklistings denotes 'contains Mellotron'. On 'multi-part' tracks I've tried to indicate which parts contain 'Tron, although this isn't always possible.

Ratings:
The * rating (½-5) is my personal, entirely subjective and completely partisan rating of the music.
The 'T' ('Tron, of course...) rating (0-5) is an only slightly more objective indicator of an album's Mellotronness.


America
Dawnwatcher
Maurice Gibb
Giraffe
George Harrison
Ragnarok

America  (US)

Music Hall, Boston, 4th May 1975  (72.50)  ***/½

Intro
Tin Man
Muskrat Love
Baby it's Up to You
Moon Song
Old Man Took
To Each His Own
Lonely People
I Need You
Don't Cross the River
Ventura Highway
Only in Your Heart
Woman Tonight
Story of a Teenager
Half a Man
Company
Hollywood
Sister Golden Hair
Sandman
A Horse With No Name

Boston Garden, 24th April 1976  (87.26)  ***/TT

Three Roses
Don't Cross the River
Muskrat Love
Riverside
Ventura Highway
I Need You
Tin Man
Baby, it's Up to You
Amber Cascades
Moon Song
Lonely People
Today's the Day
Old Virginia
Old Man Took
Daisy Jane

Jet Boy Blue
She's a Liar
Woman Tonight
Don't Let it Get You Down
Company
A Horse With No Name
Sister Golden Hair
Sandman

Mellotrons used:

Although America often used acres of lush, cheesy strings in the studio (frequently arranged by no lesser a personage than George Martin), a Mellotron crops up (albeit briefly) on 1977's Live, confirming a long-mooted rumour that they used one on stage for a portion of their career.

They were clearly using one as early as 1975; a good audience recording from Boston's Music Hall in May that year does the rounds, showcasing what I take to be a typical set of the time. The first half is exactly what you'd expect: CSN-lite, combining hits with album tracks, to no great effect, but from the excellent Half A Man on, the band rock out, metaphorically adding the 'Y' to the 'CSN'. Despite the use of a string synth on Old Man Took, the flutes on To Each His Own (including tuning up at the beginning) are clearly Mellotron (player unknown), though hardly enough to make this worth tracking down specially.

By the following year, they'd moved up to the Boston Garden, giving their audience a slightly bigger show, by the sound of it. I get the impression that America used to play around with their sets, not necessarily sticking to the 'hits and recent album tracks' formula that so many bands slip into, also messing around with on-stage arrangements. That string synth turns up again, notably on Amber Cascades and although you can hear someone (presumably their regular keys guy Jim Calire) tuning their Mellotron up at the beginning of Moon Song, it isn't actually utilised until a string part on Today's The Day, with an upfront flute solo on Old Virginia, strings again on Old Man Took (switching to string synth later in the song) and cello and string lines on Daisy Jane.

There may well be more relevant America boots out there, as they clearly used a Mellotron in '77 and I can hear it on a single track on a '78 recording (Daisy Jane again). Anyway, probably not the most exciting use ever, but nice to hear it in a live setting.

Official site

See: America

Anekdoten  (Sweden)  see:

Anekdoten

Angel  (US)  see:

Angel

Änglagård  (Sweden)  see:

Änglagård

Beatles  (UK)  see:

Beatles

Be-Bop Deluxe  (UK)  see:

Be-Bop Deluxe

Black Sabbath  (UK)  see:

Black Sabbath

Arthur Brown's Kingdom Come  (UK)  see:

Arthur Brown's Kingdom Come

Crack the Sky  (US)  see:

Crack the Sky

Dawnwatcher  (US)

Dawnwatcher, 'Demo'

Rehearsals/Unreleased Tracks, 1978-80  (48.52)  ***/TTT

A Winter's Tale
Bird in Flight
In the Wake of Dawn
Bird in Flight
Spellbound
Taking it Easy
Attitudes
Children of the Night

Mellotron used:

Dawnwatcher were an unfairly obscure NWoBHM outfit, operating towards the progressive end of that particular spectrum; much of their history has been filled in from NWoBHM Vault's interview with original bassist Ges Smith, here. The 75-minute boot I own actually comprises all the above plus the band's five officially released tracks, both sides of both singles and a Mellotron-free compilation appearance, but I've restricted this review to the unreleased stuff. The image I've used comes from an exceedingly unflattering online review of what the reviewer describes as a three-track demo (actual tracklisting omitted, helpfully), so, in lieu of anything else, it might as well live here.

To be brutally honest, the band's sound was a little amateurish compared to, say, White Spirit or Limelight, although I suppose judging anyone from a rehearsal tape is rather unfair. The first three tracks appear to've been recorded by the original four-piece lineup, Smith doubling on bass and keys; things improve dramatically with the addition of permanent keys man Pete Darley, from track four onwards. Musically, we get fairly well-crafted hard rock from a band clearly looking to stretch their wings and escape the three-chord trap, obvious influences including Deep Purple and Rush; some of their more ambitious efforts, not least the eight-minute In The Wake Of Dawn, just fail to cut the mustard, although the early version of Spellbound (heavily reworked as their first single) works far better. It's probably fair to say that the band overreached themselves on occasion, but surely trying too hard is better than not trying hard enough?

Pete Darley's Mellotron (according to Smith, he also owned a Hammond L100 and a MicroMoog) first appears on the second version of Bird In Flight (I presume the doomy church bell opening proceedings on In The Wake Of Dawn is no more than a tape effect), with choir and string parts, background choirs on the original Spellbound, upfront strings and choirs on Taking It Easy, less upfront ones on Attitudes and occasional strings on Children Of The Night. I don't know how easy this is to find, although I've seen a download of their seven studio tracks, including the last two here. So; are Dawnwatcher worth hearing? Anyone interested in the more complex (i.e. less 'metal') end of the NWoBHM spectrum stands a reasonable chance of enjoying this stuff, just bear in mind that, while I'm sure they were a great live act, they were unlikely to ever seriously challenge the bigger bands of the era.

See: Dawnwatcher

Earth & Fire  (Netherlands)  see:

Earth & Fire

Electric Light Orchestra  (UK)  see:

Electric Light Orchestra

Maurice Gibb  (UK)

Maurice Gibb, 'The Loner'

The Loner  (recorded 1969-70,  70.41)  **½/½

Journey to the Misty Mountains
The Loner (acetate)
Please Lock Me Away
I've Come Back
Soldier Johnny
She's the One You Love
Improvisation on Piano
Railroad
Railroad (acetate)
Laughin' Child
Something's Blowing
Silly Little Girl
Insight
Danny
Till I Try
Hold Her in Your Hand
Hold Her in Your Hand (instr)
Modulating Maurice
Goin' Home
Whoops Cookie
Leave Me Here
Song for Lulu
Have You Heard the Word
Everybody Gotta Clap
The Loner

Mellotron used:

Maurice Gibb began recording a solo album in late 1969, during the year-long Bee Gees hiatus, provisionally titled The Loner, although it remained unfinished when the brothers reformed. Snippets circulated amongst fans for years, but it wasn't until a Japanese bootleg label released a 25-track CD version of the album that it became available in any meaningful sense of the word.

Was it worth the wait? Are you a Bee Gees fan? If not, then categorically no; a handful of tracks are vaguely worth the effort, surrounded by guff like two Maurice-sung songs from a shitty, short-lived musical in which he starred in early 1970, Sing a Rude Song (Whoops Cookie and Leave Me Here (To Linger With The Ladies)) and even tracks entirely unconnected to the man (notably Song For Lulu, Maurice's first wife). Better material includes the suitably gloomy Journey To The Misty Mountains, the countryish Railroad (actually released as a single at the time) and the unexpected blues-rock of Goin' Home, although Mo's default position was (you guessed it) big, blousy ballads, smothered in strings. Collaborators on various tracks include members of Bee Gees protégés Tin Tin and various Beatles, although I can't say they improve matters any.

And the Mellotron...? Mo plays reverbed-to-death MkII strings on Modulating Maurice, a two-minute instrumental doodle, allegedly with Ringo Starr, with a high, melodic part running through the country-flavoured piece. Do you bother tracking this down? Up to you, really. Incidentally, She's The One You Love opens exactly like the chorus to David Bowie's Starman, recorded a couple of years later. How widely were these tapes circulating?

See: Bee Gees

Giraffe  (US)

Giraffe, 'The Lamb at Progfest'

The Lamb at Progfest: Variety Arts Center, Los Angeles, 5th November 1994  (75.58)  ****½/TTT½

The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway
Fly on a Windshield
Broadway Melody of 1994

In the Cage
The Grand Parade of Lifeless Packaging
Back in N.Y.C.
The Carpet Crawlers
Lilywhite Lilith
The Lamia
The Colony of Slippermen
Raven
In the Rapids
IT/Watcher of the Skies
The Musical Box

Mellotron used:

Giraffe were Kevin Gilbert's late '80s progressive outfit, shelved when he formed Toy Matinee (he went on to work with Sheryl Crow, amongst others). After the success of 1993's inaugural Progfest, Gilbert partially reformed his old band to play the following year's event, electing to cover a large chunk of Genesis' iconic The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway, in the festival's first (only?) foray into the tribute arena, his band including future Spock's Beard (and, briefly, Genesis) drummer Nick D'Virgilio and all-round vintage keys fiend Dave Kerzner.

Their set opened with a taped Casey Casem in DJ mode, amusingly introducing Invisible Touch as a 'golden oldie', only to be cruelly curtailed (to a chorus of audience boos) in favour of the piano intro to The Lamb itself. At first glance, it looks like they played most of the double album, but closer scrutiny reveals that we only get about half, due to time constraints; in my humble opinion, there are some slightly eccentric track choices, but then, given the plot's general incoherence, it's almost irrelevant, lyrically speaking, what is and isn't included. They play the material almost perfectly, to the point where I only spotted one minor notational mistake (and one brief synth setting error), while Gilbert possibly tackles Peter Gabriel's parts better than the great man himself; there's almost an argument to be made that it's more fitting for the piece to be sung by an American, anyway. Heresy! We lose some classics in the editing, although what we get is superb, highlights including the title track, The Lamia and a rip-roaring The Grand Parade Of Lifeless Packaging.

Kerzner's page on Gilbert's site tells us that he played a super-rare T550 Novatron (a more portable machine, stripped down to essentials and housed in a built-in road case), using it on around half the set, with choirs at the beginning of Fly On A Windshield and the expected strings in the instrumental section and the wittily-renamed Broadway Melody Of 1994. The choirs at the end of The Grand Parade Of Lifeless Packaging are absolutely monstrous, although the deep 'choir' note near the beginning of In The Cage (actually an F#, a semitone below the Mellotron's bottom key) appears to be Gilbert himself. After a couple of Mellotron-free numbers, the string parts on Lilywhite Lilith are present and correct, as are the strings and choirs on The Lamia, while Kerzner adds a handful of volume-pedalled string chords to Raven. To finish things off, we get what sounds like the 'proper' strings/brass mix on the Three Sides Live-esque IT/Watcher Of The Skies medley.

The entire gig was filmed; to my knowledge, it's not officially available (although the audio's easily available as a download), but it all seems to be on YouTube, giving us occasional flashes of that T550. I've no idea why this hasn't been released officially, given how much archive Gilbert has appeared recently, but there you go. Probably various copyright issues. Three tracks leaked out the year after the concert, on the first compilation from the festival, Progfest '94, with Fly On A Windshield/Broadway Melody, Slippermen and The Musical Box, but I can recommend the complete recording to anyone who's interested in hearing a very familiar album tackled by a different, yet highly talented group of musicians. Incidentally, Gilbert managed one more stab at Genesis before his untimely death, with an unusual, if excellent take on Back In N.Y.C. on the Magna Carta label's Supper's Ready Genesis tribute album the following year.

See: Progfest | Kevin Gilbert | Genesis

Goblin  (Italy)  see:

Goblin

Greenslade  (UK)  see:

Greenslade

George Harrison  (UK)

Wonderwall Music Extras  (recorded 1968,  23.04)  ***/T½

Opening
Are You in a Hole
Butterflies
Drilling a Home Medley
Lennon Poem
Drilling a Home Samba
Flute Dance
Factory Wedding Scene
Ski-ing (Sitar)
The Operation
On the Roof

Mellotron used:

George's Wonderwall Music is surprisingly hard to find, given the stature of its creator, insult added to injury by the non-inclusion of nearly a dozen extra pieces of soundtrack music, presumably as they wouldn't fit on the original vinyl release. They're a pretty eclectic selection (another reason for their non-inclusion?), veering between Opening's wailing Indian woodwind, Are You In A Hole's rock, Butterflies' musical saw (or near equivalent) and several other tracks of general experimentation, with varying levels of Indian influence.

George's MkII (or is it the ubiquitous Abbey Road machine?) can obviously be heard on two tracks, with Dixieland rhythms on some of the Drilling a Home Medley, as on the track on the official album), and a different rhythm track and vibes on Drilling A Home Samba, although that would appear to be your lot. George completists may well be able to find this online somewhere, but unless you have to hear every note with which he was involved, I wouldn't really go too far out of your way.

See: George Harrison

Elton John  (UK)  see:

Elton John

Kaipa  (Sweden)  see:

Kaipa

Landberk  (Sweden)  see:

Landberk

Led Zeppelin  (UK)  see:

Led Zeppelin

Magnum  (UK)  see:

Magnum

Marillion  (UK)  see:

Marillion

Pavlov's Dog  (US)  see:

Pavlov's Dog

Pink Floyd  (UK)  see:

Pink Floyd

Ragnarok  (New Zealand)

Ragnarok, 'Ragnarok Live'

Live  (recorded 1977,  55.01)  ****/TTTT½

Raga
Butterfly Sky
Rainbow Bridge

I Fall Apart
Pink Floyd Medley
Led Zeppelin Medley

Mellotron used:

While Ragnarok's Live is often sold as an official release, it seems highly likely that it's actually a bootleg. It opens with a 'test tone', then a radio announcer giving some spiel about the band, with the audience cheering in the background; he even mentions some of their gear, including the Moog and Mellotron. Although plenty of radio broadcasts have been released officially, this one seems unlikely; I don't even know for certain that it appeared in '77; I'm just going by the info I've been given. What I can say is that it must've been recorded in '76, as the announcer refers to their 'forthcoming' album, Nooks, which was recorded late that year. The first three tracks are all from their debut, and are slightly stripped-back versions, without the studio gloss, although Butterfly Sky features the same phased 'Tron as its studio counterpart. They betray their pub scene roots with a decent version of Rory Gallagher's I Fall Apart, and their Pink Floyd and Zeppelin medleys, though, making the album well over half covers.

Loads of 'Tron throughout, of course (keys man André Jayet would've been largely silent, otherwise), mostly strings, but with choir on Raga and flutes on Rainbow Bridge, with the highlight being on the Pink Floyd Medley. Ever wondered what Dark Side of the Moon would've sounded like had Rick Wright used a Mellotron? (You haven't?). Wonder no more. Ragnarok play from Us And Them to the end of the album, and as the cliché goes, it's absolutely 'Tron-drenched, mostly strings with a bit of choir, with the odd bit of synth emulating the original. Wonderful.

See: Ragnarok

Trace  (Netherlands)  see:

Trace

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