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Judy Collins
Paul Colman
Color
Colosseum
Graham Colton Band
Shawn Colvin
Commander Cody
Common Children
Conexion
Conjure One
Bobby Conn

Gary Lee Conner
Connie Price & the Keystones
Robert Connolly
Norman Conquest
Carmen Consoli

Consonant
Kristy Lee Cook
Alice Cooper
Coparck
Copeland


Judy Collins  (US)

Judy Collins, 'Sings Lennon & McCartney'

Sings Lennon & McCartney  (2007,  34.50)  ***/½

And I Love Her
Blackbird
Golden Slumbers
Penny Lane
Norwegian Wood
When I'm Sixty-Four
Good Day Sunshine
Hey Jude
We Can Work it Out
Yesterday
I'll Follow the Sun
Long and Winding Road

Current availability:

Mellotron used:

Like a handful of her folk scene contemporaries, Judy Collins is fully deserving of the epithet 'legend in her own lifetime'; singer, musician, songwriter, activist, survivor of several traumatic episodes, not least the tragic suicide of her only son, she remains musically active in her early seventies. Unlike many of her contemporaries, she's never had a purple patch, either, still producing albums every three years or so and still writing.

Having previously covered Beatles songs (notably her 1966 take on In My Life), 2007's Sings Lennon & McCartney makes a kind of sense. Collins tackles the material with a certain reverence, rarely straying too far from the original arrangements, although she cheekily changes the last chorus of When I'm Sixty-Four to, "...when I'm eighty-four", in acknowledgement of having already passed that milestone (as, indeed, has its slightly younger author). Not sure about the children's chorus on Hey Jude, mind, but there you go...

Christian Lohr plays Mellotron, with background strings on Golden Slumbers, although all other strings appear to be real. This isn't really an album for Beatles fans, who have a plethora of covers of their heroes' work to choose from, in almost every style imaginable, more one for those who've followed Judy Collins' career over the decades. Recommended for fans of a certain era, though not for those wishing to hear a well-recorded Mellotron.

Official site

Paul Colman  (Australia)

Paul Colman, 'Let it Go'

Let it Go  (2005,  45.58)  *½/T

Gloria (All God's Children)
The One Thing
Holding Onto You
Always (Forever)
Sweet River
I'm Coming Home
Last Night in America
I Owe it All
Nothing Without You
Symphony of the Redeemed
My Brother Jack

Current availability:

Mellotron used:

Paul Colman is ex-vocalist with crummy Aussies-turned-Yanks Christians The Newsboys, so it comes as no surprise to discover that 2005's Let it Go is a shockingly limp effort. It opens with the horrible Gloria, a particularly bad take on U2's schtick, appropriately enough, given that they wrote a (vastly superior) song of the same name. Nothing Without You is the least offensive thing here, but that isn't saying much when it's put up against CCM horrors like The One Thing, I'm Coming Home or I Owe It All.

Jeff Roach plays Mellotron, with enough flutes on Symphony Of The Redeemed to gain the album a whole T, which isn't to be in taken in any way, shape or form, as a recommendation of any kind. Bloody rubbish.

Official site

See: Newsboys

Color  (Hungary)

Color, 'Color'

Color  (1978,  42.08/54.06)  ****/T

Álmatlanul
Hárommilliárd Év
A Nap Siet
Kölcsön
Ikaruszi Zuhanás
Elképzelt Világ
Jó Lenne Tudni
Panoptikum
  a) Belépés
  b) Előtér
  c) Barlang
  d) Gyilkosok
  e) Férj, Feleség
  f) Császár
  g) Udvaron

[CD adds:
Vallomás
Fényes Kövek
A Bohóc]

Current availability:

Mellotron used:

Color were a hitherto-obscure progressive outfit from Hungary, whose eponymous 1978 debut is, in places, a startling good piece of work, top tracks including Hárommilliárd Év, with its inventive synth arrangements, the slightly fusion-esque Ikaruszi Zuhanás and excellent fourteen-minute closer Panoptikum. The musicianship's top-notch throughout, while much of the material sounds like Color and Color only, although there's a terrible cop from Genesis' Robbery, Assault & Battery on bonus track no.2, Fényes Kövek, while no.3, A Bohóc, leans towards their second album, 1982's far more commercial Új Színek.

Bassist Bokor Tibor plays Mellotron alongside brother Gyula's ubiquitous string synth, with strings on opener Álmatlanul and Elképzelt Világ, although, for some strange reason, it's always kept in the background. As you can see, this is on CD, two of the three bonus tracks being well worth hearing, as is the album as a whole. Not much Mellotron, but recommended anyway.

Colosseum  (UK)

Colosseum, 'The Grass is Greener'

The Grass is Greener  (1970,  38.59)  ***½/T

Jumping Off the Sun
Lost Angeles
Elegy
Butty's Blues
Rope Ladder to the Moon
Bolero
The Machine Demands a Sacrifice
The Grass is Greener
Colosseum, 'Morituri Te Salutant'

Morituri Te Salutant  [Disc 2]  (2009, recorded 1968-2003,  70.54)  ****/T

Jumping Off the Sun
Rope Ladder to the Moon
Bolero
The Grass is Always Greener
Three Score and Ten, Amen
Time Lament
Take Me Back to Doomsday
The Daughter of Time
Theme for an Imaginary Western
Bring Out Your Dead (demo)
Downhill and Shadows
Jumping Off the Sun
The Pirate's Dream

Current availability:

Mellotrons used:

Colosseum's The Grass is Greener is an odd, US-only compilation of odds'n'sods, replicating their best-known work, The Valentyne Suite's sleeve design, for no apparently good reason. Record company laziness, I expect. It actually works quite nicely as a sort of overview of their style, and although the unavailable-elsewhere tracks are apparently now included on the band's official albums as bonuses, this is worth hearing in its own right. There isn't a bad track on the album, but highlights are probably opener Jumping Off The Sun, their version of Ravel's Bolero (probably the earliest rock adaptation) and, after a slow start, the cataclysmic closing title track, with some seriously ripping Hendrix/Blackmore-esque guitar work. Keys man Dave Greenslade, who tended to stick with organ and piano at this stage in his career, plays Mellotron on the band's version of Jack Bruce's Rope Ladder To The Moon, with some fairly ordinary string chords on a MkII, more audible towards the end of the song.

2009's four-disc Morituri Te Salutant (usually translated as 'Those who are about to die salute you', the gladiators' supposed salutation) appears to cover most, but not all of the original band's output, along with the usual slew of demos, radio sessions and live tracks. Much of The Grass is Greener turns up on disc two, including its lone Mellotron track, along with a significant unreleased piece, the twelve-minute The Pirate's Dream, Greenslade adding Mellotron, with a polyphonic flute part and a couple of string swells at its conclusion. That appears to be it for Colosseum's Mellotron use; it's possibly more surprising that they used one at all than that they didn't use it more, as it probably wouldn't have fitted their soulful style that well.

See: Greenslade | Dave Greenslade

Colour Haze  (Germany)  see: Samples

Graham Colton Band  (US)

Graham Colton Band, 'Drive'

Drive  (2004,  43.20)  **/½

Don't Give Up on Me
Since You Broke it
First Week
Morning Light
Sending a Note
Cigarette
Killing Me
How Low (Breakdown)
Cut
South
All the World Tonight

Current availability:

Mellotron used:

Graham Colton is a singer-songwriter from Oklahoma, who's had his songs featured on various popular US TV shows and has toured with the likes of John Mayer, Dave Matthews and, above all, Counting Crows, with whom Colton is reasonably comparable. 2004's Drive (his only album crediting his band) is his second release, a rather drippy, mainstream kind of pop/rock record, overlaid with Colton's bland, not especially tuneful voice, full of cheery, upbeat material like opener Don't Give Up On Me and Cigarette.

Producer Brendan O'Brien plays various instruments, including (his own?) Mellotron, with distant strings on Morning Light, although the strings on Killing Me are real. All in all, then, Tom Petty-lite for the modern age. Oh joy. No, this is not worth hearing for any reason.

Official site

Shawn Colvin  (US)

Shawn Colvin, 'A Few Small Repairs'

A Few Small Repairs  (1996,  54.39)  ***/½

Sunny Came Home
Get Out of This House
The Facts About Jimmy
You and the Mona Lisa
Trouble
I Want it Back
If I Were Brave
Wichita Skyline
84,000 Different Delusions
Suicide Alley
What I Get Paid for
New Thing Now
Nothin' on Me

Current availability:

Mellotron used:

Shawn Colvin's a bit of a late starter, not releasing her first album until she was in her thirties, and around forty when she finally broke through with 1996's 'divorce album' A Few Small Repairs. It's pretty much as you'd expect from a big-selling mid-'90s female singer-songwriter effort, to be honest; good at what it does, but you've really got to be into this stuff to get much from it. She may be influenced by Joni Mitchell, but that's where the resemblance ends. I suppose I should listen to the lyrics more closely, but when the music's perfectly pleasant but unengaging, I sort of lose concentration...

Guest woodwind player Rick DePofi plays Mellotron, though not a lot, with only a faint flute line on You And The Mona Lisa being at all apparent. So; quite mainstream but perfectly respectable, A Few Small Repairs will appeal to a certain audience, although I can't honestly say that includes me. Next to no Mellotron, either.

Official site

Commander Cody  (US)

Commander Cody, 'Flying Dreams'

Flying Dreams  (1978,  33.32)  ***/T

Thank You, Lone Ranger
Cry Baby Cry
He's in Love (He's in Trouble)
Life is a Carnival
Talent Night at the Nashville Inn
Flying Dreams
Dreams of Barbarella
Vampira
Take the Fifth Amendment
Stranger in a Strange Land
My Day

Current availability:

Mellotron used:

Pianist George "Commander Cody" (mis-named for '50s SF serial character Commando Cody) and his Lost Planet Airmen (another era reference) were a country-rock band who shunned the more obvious Nashville route, veering towards rockabilly and western swing as a welcome alternative. I think 1978's Flying Dreams (the sleeve continuing the 1950s science fiction theme) was Frayne's first album sans the Airmen, a pleasant, if undemanding set of country, blues and boogie, sometimes all at once, top tracks including the Flying Dreams/Dreams Of Barbarella segue and the eerie Vampira.

Neil Larsen plays Mellotron, with a chordal flute part on Cry Baby Cry, although the string parts on a couple of tracks sound real. This has only recently been reissued, but at least it's available again. Frayne/Cody is still playing today; he'll probably never support artists of the stature of The Grateful Dead or Led Zeppelin again, but I'm sure he'll carry on ploughing his furrow for as long as he's able.

Official site

Common Children  (US)

Common Children, 'Skywire'

Skywire  (1996,  49.50)  **/T

Throw Me Over
Wishing Well
Drought
Skywire
Dual Lens
Man
Hate
Treasure
Domesticity
Drown
Broken Smile
Last Time Out

Current availability:

Mellotron used:

Common Children were a CCM trio operating at the 'alternative' end of the spectrum, i.e. rather outdated grunge crossed with syrupy pop with a Christian bent. Their debut album, 1996's Skywire, is a fairly tedious proposition, although it beats most CCM hands-down simply by not being appalling, treacly rubbish with vomit-inducing lyrics. I'd be lying if I said the album had any noticeable highpoints, but at least most of it's relatively inoffensive, in a loud-guitars kind of way.

Phil Madeira does his usual God-bothering Mellotron thing, although were he not credited, I would probably have chucked this into 'samples', or possibly straight into the bin, as the cello and string parts on Broken Smile really don't sound much like a Mellotron, although they clearly are. Although less atrocious than many, I really couldn't, in all conscience, recommend this.

Company of Thieves  (US)  see: Samples

Conexion  (Spain)

Conexion, 'Harmony'

Harmony  (1973,  35.19)  ***/T

Harmony
Don't Cry
Hello My Friend
Our Music
Summer Day
Concierto Uno

Current availability:

Mellotron used:

Harmony were Spain's entrant in the brass-rock stakes, their answer to Blood, Sweat & Tears, maybe, who released several singles and an album, 1973's Harmony. It's a decent enough effort of its type, although they were unlikely ever to worry Chicago overmuch. Aside from the rather cheesy title track/single, the rest of the material is in the jazz/rock vein, veering between the funky Hello My Friend, the doomy Don't Cry and Concierto Uno, a side-long fusion epic, no less.

Saxophonist Luis Cobos doubled on Mellotron, mostly on Don't Cry, which begins with a murky cello part, with chordal strings and a flute melody later in the decidedly Mellotron-heavy track, with the tiniest smattering of strings buried in the mix on Summer Day for good measure. The whole album, plus loads of singles and other stuff, is available on Reves' two-disc Todas Sus Grabaciones en Sonoplay y Movieplay (1969-1974), which is good news for brass fans, although I couldn't honestly recommend it for the Mellotron.

Conjure One  (Canada)

Conjure One, 'Conjure One'

Conjure One  (2002,  54.50)  ***/½

Damascus
Center of the Sun
Tears From the Moon
Tidal Pool
Manic Star
Redemption
Years
Make a Wish
Pandora
Sleep
Premonition (Reprise)

Current availability:

Chamberlin used:

Conjure One are an off/on so-called 'electronic' project from Rhys Fulber, better known for his membership of both Front Line Assembly and Delerium. I suppose their 2002 debut, Conjure One, is loosely 'electronic', in that it's based around programmed beats and the like; actually, it seems to be a straight mix of Fulber's other two bands, with the electronica from FLA and Delerium's 'world' stuff combining in a commercially potent brew. The Arabic-esque vocals from various mostly female guest vocalists (Sinéad O'Connor, Mel Garside, whom I used to know slightly, for my sins, even The Tea Party's Jeff Martin) work pretty well, I'll admit, but the album loses me when the rhythms kick in.

Rick Nowels (Melanie C, Dido, Ronan Keating) plays Chamberlin on Tears From The Moon, but given that the track also contains other keyboards and a violin, it's pretty hard to tell what it's doing; presumably the string pad in the background. If I hadn't known, I'd have said it was the blocky-sounding strings on Pandora, so what do I know? Anyway, mainstream stuff that won't trouble most of you; heard worse, but shan't be playing again for a while, if ever.

Official site

Bobby Conn  (US)

Bobby Conn, 'King for a Day'

King for a Day  (2007,  52.02)  ***/½

Vanitas
When the Money's Gone
King for a Day
A Glimpse of Paradise
Love Let Me Down
Sinking Ship
Twenty-One
Punch the Sky!
Anybody
(I'm Through With) My Ego
Mr. Lucky
Things

Current availability:

Chamberlin used:

Jeffrey "Bobby Conn" Stafford has had quite a career since the late '80s, shifting from hardcore through prog and 'alternative', all presumably used as vehicles for his songwriting. 2007's King for a Day fits loosely into the last-named genre, such as it is, although elements of his previous styles have clearly rubbed off, as Sinking Ship is a distinctly proggy effort (in a Crimson-esque vein), while several other tracks are more instrumentally complex than anything you'd care to name by most of Conn's contemporaries.

Conn plays Chamberlin on the title track, with what sounds like some variety of woodwind chords on the chorus, although you'd have little idea they were tape-replay-produced, were they not credited. Overall, then, far better than your average 'alt.' album, yet curiously unfulfilling at the same time. Conn's unusual combination of genres, while both brave and potentially interesting, rarely actually works in practice, Sinking Ship being the chief exception. Sort-of worthwhile, though not for the Chamberlin.

MySpace

Gary Lee Conner  (US)

Gary Lee Conner, '' 7"  (1999)  ***½/TTT

Grasshopper's Daydream
Behind the Smile

Current availability:

Mellotron used:

Gary Lee Conner was guitarist with The Screaming Trees, going solo after their split in 2000. After 1990's solo album The Purple Outside-Mystery Lane, his only other release during the life of the band was '99's Grasshopper's Daydream, on Sub Pop. This early Floyd-channelling effort sounds like what it is, a decent piece of reconstituted psych squished through grunge, which is actually rather better than it sounds.

The flip, Behind The Smile, a dark, acoustic number, is awash with clearly very real Mellotron strings, wobbling all over the place in fine style, making for a pretty decent twofer. Let's face it, reconstituted psych still beats most modern styles hands down... Worth hearing.

MySpace

See: Screaming Trees

Connie Price & the Keystones  (US)

Connie Price & the Keystones, 'Wildflowers'

Wildflowers  (2004,  46.25)  ***/T

Sticks & Stones
Sucker Punch
Western Champion
The Buzzard
Tall Dry Grass
The Shadows of Leaves
Fuzz and Them
Double Dutch
Wildflowers
Get Thy Bearings
Connie Price & the Keystones, 'Sticks & Stones'

Sticks & Stones  (2005,  16.19)  ***/T

Sticks & Stones
Sticks Dub

I'm Inside Out
Raga Doll
Afro Som

Current availability:

Chamberlins used:

So why is Connie Price listed under 'C', then? Although a Connie Price is credited on their debut, 2004's Wildflowers (er, on drums), she is naught but a nom de plume for LA producer Dan Ubick, who seems to play most of the instruments on the band's infrequent, mostly instrumental releases. The term 'deep funk' (as in 'deep soul') has been coined to describe their particular brand of groove; as you might expect from a seasoned crew of studio hacks, every track illustrates a different facet of the style, from brass-driven vibes-fest opener Sticks & Stones through the country/funk (I kid you not) of Tall Dry Grass to the carnivalesque title track. Jeremy Ruzumna (of 'whatever happened to' Macy Gray fame) plays uncredited Chamberlin, with strings on Sticks & Stones, although all other string parts emanate from a Solina string synth.

The following year's Sticks & Stones EP builds on their album, repeating the title track, adding a dub version and some live material to tempt waverers. Ruzumna's actually credited on Chamby this time round, with a reiteration of his part on Sticks & Stones and more of the same (as in, the same recording) on Sticks Dub. So; are these any good? At what they do (funk/soul/dub), yes. Will you like them? Depends on you, really.

MySpace

Robert Connolly  (Canada)

Robert Connolly, 'Plateau'

Plateau  (1977,  35.21)  ***½/TT

Plateau of Naska
A Close Encounter
Power of Giza
The Battle of Gomorrah
Journey
The Oracle

Current availability:

Mellotron used:

I don't know an awful lot about Robert Connolly, but assuming he's the same guy mentioned on a site dedicated to strange human remains in Peru, he's a bit of an expert in the prehistory of the area. Plateau opens with a rather cheesy spoken-word part explaining something about the Plains of Nazca and aliens, but I'm afraid my attention had already wandered by then. Connolly gets in a female vocalist for A Close Encounter, before more intoned nonsense on Power Of Giza and Journey, although he sings on the latter, too. The music is reasonable late-'70s progressive, with a noticeably American sound, despite his actually being Canadian. Plenty of good Hammond and synth work, although many of the melodies are rather lightweight, making it a bit of a non-essential purchase, especially considering its rarity.

As far as the Mellotron's concerned (played by Connolly), there are a few string chords on Plateau Of Naska, and the lengthy Journey has a more overt strings part plus largish helpings of choir, but that appears to be it, though as I'm reviewing this from a tape copy, I may be wrong. So; an OK album, a bit of 'Tron, but nothing outstanding in either department, to be honest.

Norman Conquest  (UK)

Norman Conquest, 'Upside Down' 7"  (1968)  ***/T

Upside Down
Two People

Current availability:

Mellotron used:

John Pantry was one of many talented London-based engineers/session men during the late '60s psych boom, although much of his own work is apparently either blue-eyed soul (pre-psych) or Christian music (post-). 1968's Upside Down was a one-off 7" released under the nom de plume Norman Conquest (ho, and ho again), a pretty typical effort from the lighter end of the psych spectrum, which reminds me of something I can't quite put my finger on; suffice to say, both sides of the single are decent enough without being in any way startling.

The 'Mellotron' (most likely from Pantry himself) on the 'A' actually sounds more like high-end fast-Leslied Hammond to my ears, although the 'bottom of a well' brass on the flip has to be a mic'd up MkII. Not all that much Mellotron, then, but one which era completists will need to flesh out their collections. Luckily, both sides are available, not only on several era compilations, but on a collection of Pantry's work from the time, Tenth Planet's The Upside Down World of John Pantry.

Official site

Carmen Consoli  (Italy)

Carmen Consoli, 'Mediamente Isterica'

Mediamente Isterica  (1998,  46.11/118.53)  **½/0 (½)

Bésame Giuda
Bésame Mucho
Puramente Casuale
Sentivo l'Odore
Autunno Dolciastro
Ennesima Eclisse
In Funzione di Nessuna Logica
Geisha
Eco di Sirene
Quattordici Luglio
Anello Mancante
Contessa Miseria
L'Ultima Preghiera
[Expanded ed. adds:
L'Uomo Meschino
Besame Giuda
Besame Mucho
Puramente Casuale
Sentivo l'Odore
Autunno Dolciastro
Ennesima Eclisse
In Funzione di Nessuna Logica
Geisha
Eco di Sirene
Quatordici Luglio
Anello Mancante
Contessa Miseria
L'Ultima Preghiera
Besame Giuda
In Funzione di Nessuna Logica
Contessa Miseria
Autunno Dolciastro
Eco di Sirene]

Current availability:

Mellotron used:

Carmen Consoli is a slightly alternative Italian singer-songwriter, with a sound vaguely comparable to P.J. Harvey in places. Her third album, 1998's Mediamente Isterica, is apparently harder-hitting than its predecessors; it certainly has some of that late '90s 'guitar band' vibe about it, making it far more listenable than many superficially similar artists. Nothing especially leaps out at me, but when an album plays itself out without actively offending me, I consider it a success of sorts.

Roberto Baldi is credited with Mellotron on Contessa Miseria, although whatever he contributes is effectively inaudible. However, someone (Baldi again?) plays 'Tron strings on the expanded edition's second version of Ennesima Eclisse, which absolutely does not make this worth obtaining on the Mellotron front. Frankly, you'll have to be into Italian alt.rock to want to hear it at all, but it could've been so, so much worse.

Official site

Consonant  (US)

Consonant, 'Consonant'

Consonant  (2002,  49.03)  ***/½

Blissful
Call it L---
Buckets of Flowers, Porno Mags
Who Touches You Now?
John Coltrane's "My Favorite Things"
Not Like Them
Post-Pathetic
That Boston Life
3 A.M.
The Kiss
Details of Attraction
What a Body Could Do
Perfect

Current availability:

Chamberlin used:

Despite leader Clint Conley's illustrious past (he was mainman of the influential Mission of Burma), Consonant are in many ways a typical American indie outfit of their day (nearly ten years ago now, shockingly); given that the Internet was approaching ubiquity even then, self-titling an album when you have such an already unsearchable name is rather dim, but there you go. Consonant starts off as no more than a passable enough album within its limitations, oddly getting better as it progresses, with hints of The Who (Who Touches You Now?) and touches of psych (Not Like Them, Details Of Attraction) improving things no end.

Matt Kadane plays Chamberlin on Not Like Them, with a quiet, yet welcome flute part that sounds wobbly enough to be real. Overall, then, a rather overlong album that might've worked better as a 33-minute blast, winnowing the weaker material and making for a more varied end result in the process.

Consorzio Acqua Potabile  [a.k.a. CAP]  (Italy)  see: Samples

Control Machete  (Mexico)  see: Samples

Kristy Lee Cook  (US)

Kristy Lee Cook, 'Why Wait'

Why Wait  (2008,  35.52)  *½/T

15 Minutes of Shame
Why Wait
Like My Mother Does
Hoping to Find
Baby Believe
Not Tonight
Plant the Seed
I Think Too Much
Homesick
God Bless the USA

Current availability:

Mellotron used:

Kristy Lee Cook released her first album in 2005, although she's best-known for her participation in the 2007 American Idol (why is it that every other country calls it 'Pop Idol', yet America has to get all patriotic on our arses? Again?). She scraped her way through to the top seven, apparently (isn't Wikipedia useful?) before being booted out, despite this notorious horse-lover (so to speak) famously having sold her favourite nag to raise the funds to compete.

2008's Why Wait (a statement? A question?) is exactly the kind of drivelly, half-arsed country nonsense you'd expect from someone with Kristy's obvious lust for fame; faceless, ultra-commercial crud designed solely to sell as many copies as possible, although, amusingly, it only managed 30,000-odd copies, which for someone with as (fleetingly) high a public profile as hers is pretty dismal. It's difficult to comment on most of its contents, as they glide by on a sheen of glossy production, making little impact on the way (thankfully), although crass opener 15 Minutes Of Shame (surely a resumé of Kristy's career?) is notably horrible, while the shamelessly, fatuously jingoistic flag-waving of God Bless The USA (why?) causes bile to rise in anyone not in thrall to the US cult of patriotism. The nearest this gets to a 'high point' is the mildly witty lyrics on I Think Too Much, but it's too little, too late.

Randy Cantor (Alejandra Guzmán, Psycho Realm) plays Mellotron, with what I take to be strings on God Bless The USA, although they don't really sound that Mellotronic, frankly. This is drivel; playing it may well be injurious to your health. Consider yourself warned.

MySpace

Alice Cooper  (US)

Alice Cooper, 'Billion Dollar Babies'

Billion Dollar Babies  (1973,  41.05/98.58)  ****/T½ (TTT)

Hello Hooray
Raped and Freezin'
Elected
Billion Dollar Babies
Unfinished Sweet
No More Mr Nice Guy
Generation Landslide
Sick Things
Mary-Ann
I Love the Dead
[expanded ed. adds:
Hello Hooray
Billion Dollar Babies
Elected
Eighteen
Raped and Freezin'
No More Mr Nice Guy
My Stars
Unfinished Sweet
Sick Things

Dead Babies
I Love the Dead
Coal Black Model T
Son of Billion Dollar Babies (Generation Landslide)
Slick Black Limousine]

Current availability:

Mellotrons used:

Alice Cooper, king of shock rock, enemy of society, crown prince of darkness (1973 version) blah blah blah... Alice, née Vince Furnier, was always a nice boy really, ending up as one of 'rock's elder statesmen' (horrible phrase!) whose opinion always seems to be sought on those TV programmes about 'heavy metal' or 'glam rock' or whatever, mainly because he can a) always be relied upon to be intelligent and witty at the drop of a hat and b) still be alive. It was not always thus... In 1973, Alice was in the throes of a serious alcohol problem, with the so-called moral majority coming down on him like a ton of bricks wherever he went, seemingly due to their lack of understanding of the (major) theatrical element in what he was doing.

Billion Dollar Babies was his (or their, depending on exactly whom you consider 'Alice' to be) sixth album proper, but only the fourth of any real lasting value. Love it to Death (1970, ****), Killer (1971, ****½) and the overrated School's Out (1972, ***) are all good, particularly Killer, but Billion Dollar Babies took the whole 'Alice' concept to another place, with several of its tracks still being performed live to this day, notably Elected, No More Mr Nice Guy and the title track. What's really noticeable, upon replaying the album, is how... Broadway it is. Not as much as the excellent (if campy) Welcome to My Nightmare (****), two years down the line, but Alice's brand of theatricality owed as much to Bernstein as, er, Roger Corman (he said, stretching an analogy beyond breaking point), with many of the arrangements having musical 'spaces' built into them for Alice's onstage theatrics. There's some great material here (other classics include Sick Things and the wonderfully depraved I Love The Dead), but it's got less rock credibility than Killer, actually losing half a star upon re-reviewal.

The 2001 remaster added a second disc to the album, containing a chunk of a live set from the era and a handful of outtakes. The live material's excellent, although it's noticeable that much of the new album was played in semi-medley form, with several tracks segueing into each other after a couple of verses. The three studio tracks tacked on the end are a New Musical Express (UK music rag) flexidisc track, Slick Black Limousine, a demo version of the same track, Coal Black Model T and an early version of the album's Generation Landslide, Son Of Billion Dollar Babies, all worth hearing, if slightly inessential.

On the Mellotron front, producer Bob Ezrin (a bit of a Mellotron fan on the quiet) got a bit of 'Tron in on a couple of tracks, with strings and a bit of flute on opener Hello Hooray and some strings and choir on Unfinished Sweet (ha ha). Bob Dolin plays piano and Mellotron on the live tracks on the expanded version, with the string parts from Hello Hooray (though not the flutes) and Unfinished Sweet present and correct, plus string and cello parts on Sick Things and strings on I Love The Dead, both of which work really nicely. I'm not sure the original album's really worth it for the Mellotron fan, but the expanded version just might be.

Official site

See: Michael Bruce

Coparck  (Netherlands)

Coparck, 'The 3rd Coparck Album, a Work of Fiction?'

The 3rd Coparck Album, a Work of Fiction?  (2007,  50.49)  **½/T

The Fifth Season
A Good Year for the Robots
You Will Fall
God Dress America
Consider This Goodbye
Funny, Dark, Iconoclastic
A Work of Fiction
Thoughts You Thought You
   Could Do Without
Time is Short
How to Find What You're Not Looking For
You'll Never Find Anything Quite Like it
Absorb and Transport

Current availability:

Mellotron used:

I'm not quite sure how to describe Coparck's The 3rd Coparck Album, a Work of Fiction?: Jazz-indie-electronica? A better Coldplay? The Dutch Beck? Their droll sense of humour (in English - don't panic) lifts them above the largely humourless indie mainstream (viz God Dress America and other scattered witticisms), although, sadly, their rather dreary music drags them back down again.

Maurits de Lange plays Mellotron, with strings on A Good Year For The Robots, although all other orchestral instruments seem to be real. Overall, not the most exciting album ever, although I've heard a lot worse.

Official site

Julian Cope  (UK)  see:

Julian Cope

Copeland  (US)

Copeland, 'Beneath Medicine Tree'

Beneath Medicine Tree  (2003,  44.16)  *½/T

Brightest
Testing the Strong Ones
Priceless
Take Care
When Paula Sparks
California
She Changes Your Mind
There Cannot Be a Close Second
Coffee
Walking Downtown
When Finally Set Free

Current availability:

Mellotron used:

Florida's Copeland specialise in the kind of wet-as-water, overwrought indie that a certain type of 'sensitive' teenager might find emotionally gratifying, assuming they had the sensitivity of a bog-brush. A cynical 40-something reviewer who feels that he's probably been there and done that finds them emotionally empty, in the manner of someone bereft of any natural emotion who has had to learn their responses by rote. Although 'some members of the band are Christians', the group fervently deny they are a 'ministry band' (as against a band who sound like Ministry, presumably), but they could easily be mistaken for one, merely on the all-round limpness of the music on offer (I use the term loosely).

Their debut, 2003's Beneath Medicine Tree is, generally speaking, awful, with no obvious plus points apart from its limited Mellotron use from frontman Aaron Marsh. While the flutes on California start at the end of When Paula Sparks, according to the disc indexing, it seems ridiculous to credit them to the earlier track, too, so California seems to be it, barely scraping the album a whole T.

All in all, then, a pretty horrible album, although its follow-up, 2005's In Motion, despite starting in a slightly more promising way, is possibly even nastier. Although I've read that In Motion also 'features' Marsh on the 'Tron, it doesn't appear to, meaning the time spent listening to it was completely, rather than almost completely wasted.

Official site


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