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Cremator
Marshall Crenshaw
Cressida
Michael Cretu
Jim Croce
Crocheted Doughnut Ring
David Michael Cross
Sheryl Crow
Crowded House
Rodney Crowell
Crucible


Creeper Lagoon  (US)  see: Samples etc.

Cremator  (UK)

Cremator, 'Alpha Ralpha Boulevard'

Alpha Ralpha Boulevard  (2013,  38.00)  ***½/T

Alpha Ralpha Boulevard
Catmaster
Cremator, 'Clear Air Turbulence'

Clear Air Turbulence  (2014,  37.52)  ****/T

Space Beagle
Long Shot
Vortex Blaster
Sunbird
Nomad
Ringmaster
Gnostic Ascension
Prometheus
Clear Air Turbulence

Current availability:

Mellotron used:

Cremator is an electronic project from Matt Thompson (Rashomon, Zoltan and, incidentally, my brother), recorded entirely utilising my arsenal of vintage keyboard equipment. His first release (although second recording), 2013's Alpha Ralpha Boulevard (for the Cordwainer Smith short story), is initially released on cassette, of all formats, by Portland's Field Hymns label. While, broadly speaking, an 'electronic' album, this should not be confused with the acres of 'Berlin School' (i.e. sub-Tangs) releases knocking around, with little sequencer work on display on its two side-long tracks, Matt concentrating more on textures and melodies than rhythms, which isn't to say that 'regular' EM fans could take a dislike to anything on display here. The Mellotron makes its first appearance around eight minutes into the title track, with a handful of string notes fading in and out of the mix, with a flute-over-Solina section on side two's Catmaster, although the bulk of the record sounds like polysynth chordings and monosynth effects. Matt uses little enough Mellotron for it to be difficult to recommend this for that alone, but I'd prioritise this over any number of EM-by-numbers efforts I could name, but shan't. Worth hearing.

That first recording, Clear Air Turbulence (who said The Ian Gillan Band?) finally gains a release in early 2014, this time on vinyl and CD. The precise opposite of your lush, 'typical' EM, this is more about Long Shot's low-fi, synth-generated 'drums', Vortex Blaster's unconventional, interlocking sequencer work and the title track's insistent, unsettling two-note synth riff. To my ears, the 'several short tracks' approach works better than Alpha Ralpha Boulevard's two side-long pieces; by their very nature, these tracks' brevity stops any one idea from outstaying its welcome. The Mellotron makes its chief appearance on Long Shot, a choir part supplanted by in-your-face strings, followed by exceedingly wobbly flutes, before the reappearance of the choirs, the only other use being background, Solina-doubling strings on the title track. Personal favourite? Probably the dark sonorities of Ringmaster, synth-generated kicks and hi-hats overlaid with squelchy Moog bass and dissonant Solina strings. And those track titles? All spaceships from SF classics, making it embarrassing that I can only spot two of them for definite and no, Prometheus has nothing to do with that ghastly film.

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See: Rashomon | Zoltan

Cesare Cremonini  (Italy)  see: Samples etc.

Marshall Crenshaw  (US)

Marshall Crenshaw, 'Life's Too Short'

Life's Too Short  (1991,  45.34)  ***/½

Better Back Off
Don't Disappear Now
Fantastic Planet of Love
Delilah
Face of Fashion
Stop Doing That
Walkin' Around
Starting Tomorrow
Everything's the Truth
Somewhere Down the Line
Marshall Crenshaw, '#447'

#447  (1999,  39.43)  ***½/TT

Opening
Dime a Dozen Guy
Television Light
Glad Goodbye
West of Bald Knob

Tell Me About it
Ready Right Now
Eydie's Tune
T.M.D.
Right There in Front of Me
You Said What??
Marshall Crenshaw, 'What's in the Bag?'

What's in the Bag?  (2003,  47.44)  ***½/TT

Will We Ever?
Where Home Used to Be
Take Me With U
From Now Until Then
Despite the Sun
The Spell is Broken
A Few Thousand Days Ago
Long and Complicated
I'd Rather Be With You
Alone in a Room
Aka "a Big Heavy Hot Dog"
Marshall Crenshaw, 'Jaggedland'

Jaggedland  (2009,  46.04)  ***/T

Right on Time
Passing Through
Someone Told Me
Stormy River
Gasoline Baby
Never Coming Down
Long Hard Road
Jaggedland
Sunday Blues
Just Snap Your Fingers
Eventually
Live and Learn

Current availability:

Mellotrons/Chamberlin used:

Marshall Crenshaw is revered in some circles as a God Of Powerpop, although going by these albums, I'm not sure I'm ready to join the cult just yet. They're not bad records, by any means, with at least a couple of excellent tracks on every one, but only one of these leapt out at me as something I'll play again in the near future. Crenshaw's biggest hit was his eponymous 1982 debut and while he spent the '80s on major labels, his particular brand of intelligent, melodic pop has been subsequently sidelined onto indies. At least he stands a better chance of not being treated like crap, I suppose.

His sixth album, 1991's Life's Too Short (still on a major), is decent enough, if slightly unengaging, despite its thankful insistence on not sounding like a late-period '80s record. Actually, most of the songs are good, although Starting Tomorrow's a little slushy and the slightly countryish Somewhere Down The Line's a rather low-key closer. Producer Ed Stasium is credited with Mellotron, with what sounds like background flute chords in Somewhere Down The Line, though it's almost impossible to spot. Eight years on, the difference in style and production values on '99's #447 is impossible to miss. I'm not sure if it's that the songs are better, or the more sympathetic arrangements and instrumentation make them sound that way, but it's a far more listenable album (to my ears, anyway) than Life's Too Short, highlights including Dime A Dozen Guy, Tell Me About It and Ready Right Now. Crenshaw and Brad Jones play Mellotron and Chamberlin respectively, with (presumably) a wonky Mellotron strings melody on Glad Goodbye, flutes on the instrumental West Of Bald Knob and strings on T.M.D.

2003's What's in the Bag carries on the good work, top tracks including Take Me With U, the rocky From Now Until Then and Long And Complicated. Crenshaw on Mellotron again, cellos and strings on Where Home Used To Be, instrumental Despite The Sun and A Few Thousand Days Ago, the strings particularly upfront on the instrumental. 2009's Jaggedland, while recognisably Crenshaw, is a little more low-fi than previous excursions, and the 'great song' count seems to be lower than on #447, although opener Right On Time and Stormy River are pretty good. Crenshaw plays Mellotron once again, although not much, with cellos and strings eventually making themselves known on the title track, and while they could be hidden away elsewhere, it's almost impossible to tell.

it's quite odd reviewing four albums spread over nearly twenty years of an artist's career; unless they're a dyed-in-the-wool genre specialist (see: most older metal bands), you'd expect some progression (or regression) over the years, so it's hardly surprising that these all sound fairly different. To be honest, I found #447 to be both the most listenable, not to mention the one with the most Mellotron, but his best album's probably another one altogether.

Official site

Cressida  (UK)

Cressida, 'Cressida'

Cressida  (1970,  46.39)  ****/T

To Play Your Little Game
Winter is Coming Again
Time for Bed
Cressida
Home and Where I Long to Be
Depression
One of a Group
Lights in My Mind
The Only Earthman in Town
Spring '69
Down Down
Tomorrow is a Whole New Day

Current availability:

Mellotron used:

Cressida were yet another formative progressive outfit whose style has become known as 'proto-prog' (see: Spring, Gracious!, etc.); organ-dominated, late-period psych stylings jostling for space with those new-fangled progressive ideas. Yup, it's 1970. Cressida is actually very good, although like just about all albums of this type, it sounds rather dated these days, even by the standards of the genre.

Peter Jennings' Mellotron work only features on two tracks: Cressida itself has some lush Mark II strings, while Down Down has rather less of the same, although it's a wonderful song. Actually, it's a really nice album, and I'm assured that upon repeated plays many of the songs will end up sticking like glue. Anyway, if you like this particular style, I'll recommend this for the music, though not for the 'Tron.

Michael Cretu  (Romania)

Michael Cretu, 'Moon, Light & Flowers'

Moon, Light & Flowers  [a.k.a. Ausgewählte Goldstücke]  (1979,  36.02/40.37)  **/½

'57 (The Year I Was Born)
Fire and Rain
Wild River
Shadows Over My Head
Love Me
Moonlight Flower
Sparks of Imagination
Streets of Time
Song for Unknown Heroes

Current availability:

Mellotron used:

Romania's Mihai Creţu found fame as Michael Cretu, going on to form the enormously successful Enigma in the '90s. His first solo album, 1979's Moon, Light & Flowers (Ausgewählte Goldstücke in Germany) is a pretty insipid effort, to be honest, full of drippy love songs like Love Me and Sparks Of Imagination, or crummy pseudo-disco like opener '57 (The Year I Was Born) (sample lyric: "Fifty-seven is the year I was born/Nothing special in the eyes of the Lord"), or Shadows Over My Head. Its only real saving grace is Cretu's heavy reliance on synths, with some decent sounds peering through the mix in those pre-digital days.

Cretu's only obvious Mellotron use on the album is the choirs on six-minute (an epic, no less!) closer Song For Unknown Heroes, although those chords seem to go on longer than they should... Maybe he worked out the 'two octaves the same' technique, whereby the player can fake a perpetual choir chord; it's actually one of the less arresting keyboard sounds on the album, not really enhancing the track. So; do you like late '70s Euro-disco/balladry? Yes? Maybe this album's for you, then. If Cretu had used similar synth sounds on some less gloopy material, I might like it a little more myself, too. Incidentally, the italicised track above (Wild River) was his first single from the previous year and is included on some versions of the album.

Official Enigma site

The Cribs  (UK)  see: Samples etc.

Crippled Black Phoenix  (UK)  see: Samples etc.

A.J. Croce  (US)  see: Samples etc.

Jim Croce  (US)

Jim Croce, 'You Don't Mess Around With Jim'

You Don't Mess Around With Jim  (1972,  32.16)  ***½/½

You Don't Mess Around With Jim
Tomorrow's Gonna Be a Brighter Day
New York's Not My Home
Hard Time Losin' Man
Photographs and Memories
Walkin' Back to Georgia
Operator (That's Not the Way it Feels)
Time in a Bottle
Rapid Roy (the Stock Car Boy)
Box #10
A Long Time Ago
Hey Tomorrow

Current availability:

Chamberlin used:

Right: this one's a bit of a leap of faith for this site. Someone called Cheyenne wrote to me a while back, claiming that Croce's track Time In A Bottle featured a Mellotron harpsichord patch, apparently from the very same machine that was played on Strawberry Fields (yeah, right), his (or her?) proof being that their dad was the musician in question, which presumably makes them the offspring of a certain Tommy West. OK. No.1: The nearest the Mellotron ever got to a harpsichord patch is the MkII's 'harpsichord effect'. No.2: The album was recorded in New York and it seems likely the 'Strawberry Fields' machine still resided in London at that time. No.3: Huh? However.... There is a Chamberlin harpsichord and, listening to the brief snippets on Mellotron.com, the high note sounds an awful lot like the ones on the track... So, I'll give this the benefit of the (considerable) doubt and review it on that basis.

Jim Croce's story is an ultimately tragic one; after an initial album in 1969, he finally got himself signed properly in his late 20s, released two albums in quick succession in 1972, then died in a plane crash the following year, just before the release of his next record. You Don't Mess Around With Jim is the first of his 'proper' albums and is a worthy slice of early-'70s rootsy singer-songwriter fare, the highlight of which is definitely Time In A Bottle, which, by the way, has nothing to do with its alleged Chamberlin use. The rest of the material varies, with the slower stuff working better, at least to my ears, but nothing really grates, which is more than you can say for many of his contemporaries.

So; Jim Croce is worth hearing, but unless you're the sort of obsessive that has to hear everything that might just possibly contain tape-replay (whadd'ya mean, me?), you won't want this just on the offchance.

Official site

Crocheted Doughnut Ring  (UK)

Crocheted Doughnut Ring, 'Maxine's Parlour' 7"  ( 1968)  ***½/TT

Maxine's Parlour

Get Out Your Rock'n'Roll Shoes

Current availability:

Mellotron used:

Crocheted Doughnut Ring were a short-lived late '60s outfit who released four singles in total, including one as the abbreviated Doughnut Ring. The nicely psychedelic Maxine's Parlour was the third of these, standing up well in comparison with other second-division acts of the day, although I can't find out whether it's been anthologised. The flip, Get Out Your Rock'n'Roll Shoes, however, sounds exactly as you'd expect, and really isn't worth the effort.

John Chapel plays Mellotron strings and flutes on the a-side, making this all the more in need of finding its way onto a compilation. Actually, given that the band released eight sides, they probably recorded more, if only as demos, so surely someone could put out an album? Anyway, worth hearing if you get the chance.

Jennifer Crook  (UK)  see: Samples etc.

Cross  (Sweden)  see: Samples etc.

David Michael Cross  (Canada)

David Michael Cross, 'Cold War'

Cold War  (1983,  30.28/38.29)  ***½/T

Cold War (Nuclear War)
Nuclear War (part II)
Nuclear Winter
Human Clones
Future Man
The Elohim
The Golden Age
Star Gate
[CD adds:
Cold War (atomic dub)
The Golden Age (instrumental)]

Current availability:

Mellotron used:

Edward "David Michael Cross" Upton's obscure Cold War was released on CD in 2003, but its music is spot-on early '80s electro, while the lyrics are strangely preoccupied with nuclear war. It seems that Cross' album was actually originally released on a tiny label in 1983, which explains everything, as it's as firmly stuck in its era as anything I've heard all year, albeit not actually in a bad way. It's almost pointless trying to isolate any 'best tracks', although opener Cold War (Nuclear War) is almost a microcosm of the entire record.

Cross plays Mellotron, with the inevitable choirs on Future Man, providing the track's main chordal backdrop. Plenty of other cool gear on board (hey, pre-digital!), but only one Mellotron track. I'd like to commend White Leather for this worthy resurrection; if only most obscure reissues were this good. Oh, and speaking of the cold war, the next time you feel inclined to moan about how bad things are, remember (if you're old enough) the nuclear paranoia of the '60s through to the '80s, then shut up whingeing.

Beppe Crovella  (Italy)  see: Samples etc.

Sheryl Crow  (US)

Sheryl Crow, 'The Globe Sessions'

The Globe Sessions  (1998,  54.55/66.46)  ***/T

My Favourite Mistake
There Goes the Neighborhood
Riverwide
It Don't Hurt
Maybe That's Something
Am I Getting Through
Anything But Down
The Difficult Kind
Mississippi
Members Only
Crash and Burn
Subway Ride
[Various bonus tracks include:
Carolina
Resuscitation
Sweet Child o'Mine]

Current availability:

Mellotron/Chamberlin used:

Already in her thirties by the release of her third album, Crow had been in the business since the mid-'80s, initially singing backup for Michael Jackson on his Bad tour. The Globe Sessions is a fairly typical female roots rock album, being pretty standard singer-songwriter fare with a side helping of Americana and plenty of 'authentic' instruments, including keyboards. I'm not really qualified to comment on the quality of the songs, I suspect, as this isn't especially to my taste, but it's considerably less irritating than, say, Vonda Shepard, which could be taken as a recommendation of sorts.

Tape-replay on one or two tracks, depending on which version you own, with the inimitable Benmont Tench (of Tom Petty fame) on Chamberlin solo violin on Crow's version of Dylan's Mississippi and Crow herself on inaudible Mellotron on Resuscitation, one of the various versions' bonus tracks.

Official site

See: Samples etc.

Crowded House  (New Zealand)

Crowded House, 'Temple of Low Men'

Temple of Low Men  (1988,  38.12)  ****/TT½

I Feel Possessed
Kill Eye
Into Temptation
Mansion in the Slums

When You Come
Never Be the Same
Love This Life
Sister Madly
In the Lowlands
Better Be Home Soon
Crowded House, 'Woodface'

Woodface  (1991,  48.13)  ****/T½

Chocolate Cake
It's Only Natural
Fall at Your Feet
Tall Trees
Weather With You
Whispers and Moans
Four Seasons in One Day
There Goes God
Fame is
All I Ask
As Sure as I am
Italian Plastic
She Goes on
How Will You Go

Crowded House, 'Together Alone'

Together Alone  (1993,  51.41)  ****/TT

Kare Kare
In My Command
Nails in My Feet
Black & White Boy
Fingers of Love
Pineapple Head
Locked Out
Private Universe
Walking on the Spot
Distant Sun
Catherine Wheels
Skin Feeling
Together Alone

Crowded House, 'She Called Up' CDS  (2007,  10.18)  ***½/T

She Called Up
So Dramatic
People Are Like Suns (piano version)

Current availability:

Chamberlins used:

As far as I can work out, Neil Finn, younger brother of Tim, joined Split Enz for their second album proper, Dizrythmia, ending up dominating the group by the time they split (ho ho) in the mid-'80s; please correct me if I'm wrong, but that's the impression I get. After a short break, he formed the immensely successful Crowded House, whose remit was obviously 'intelligent, timeless pop', in, which I have to say, they totally succeeded. I was put off hearing them by their reputation as 'wussy, mainstream stuff' - my loss; what an excellent band. Their debut, 1986's Crowded House (****) contains probably their best-known and loved song, Don't Dream It's Over, although they hadn't yet discovered the keyboard that was to have such an impact on their sound.

They released Temple of Low Men (an ironic gay reference, in case you were wondering) two years later, and it's immediately apparent that Mr. Tape Replay has called in the interim. Producer Mitchell Froom had obviously introduced them to the wonders of the Chamberlin by this time, and they responded by slapping it all over the album, or at least its first side (note the vinyl-length running time). Incidentally, a notable feature of Crowded House's entire career is a welcome lack of '80s productions', giving them a timeless (that word again) sound, without the usual horrible electronic drums, digital synths and gated reverb that ruined so many potentially good albums during that decade (although I can't think of any off the top of my head). That isn't to say there aren't any polysynths or sample-playback here, only that they're kept well in check. Anyway, Temple... is stuffed with great songs, highlights including I Feel Possessed and Kill Eye. On the Chamberlin front, Froom plays it alongside other newer and older 'boards, including a Wurlie (?) piano, with strings and flutes all over the first four tracks, with particularly nice flutes on Into Temptation.

Playing Woodface again reminds me of why I initially hated the band. Some years ago, I recorded a few backing tracks for a couple of guys who 'gigged' by singing over them, including a couple by the godawful Mike & the Mechanics and CH's It's Only Natural. I grew to hate the song over the lengthy (and ludicrously underpaid) process, and it's taken me until quite recently to get over the experience. Of course, the song's actually excellent, as is the classic Four Seasons In One Day, with several other minor classics dotted around. I believe it's Froom on Chamberlin again, with some upfront strings on Tall Trees and a variety of things, including flutes and female voices (?) on Fame Is. It's possible there's more Chamby on the album, but that's all I can hear. Incidentally, the album's notable for older bro' Tim's temporary membership of the band, apparently due to the album growing out of a duo project from the brothers.

Sadly, Together Alone turned out to be the band's swansong, with their eventual split following an emotional farewell gig in '96 outside Sydney Opera House, the band having become honorary Aussies by that point. The songwriting's as strong as ever, if a little more experimental, with highlights including Nails In My Feet and Black And White Boy. Although all guest musicians are credited, including no less than three ex-Split Enders, the band don't actually credit themselves, forcing the listener to do a bit of digging to find out they'd added a second guitarist/keyboard player to the lineup, Mark Hart. Depending on which source you believe, it's either Hart or Neil Finn on Chamby, the only certainty being that it's not Froom, with production duties falling to Killing Joke's Youth. Nails In My Feet and Catherine Wheels have some fairly standard strings, while Pineapple Head has an unusual fast flute arpeggio running through it, but again, only a handful of relevant tracks.

Although Finn's largely ignored his Chamberlin since reforming the band in 2006, it turns up on a Time on Earth b-side, So Dramatic (one of two flips to She Called Up), a lovely little ballad, ever so slightly twisted, in true Crowded House style. Finn's credited oboe part runs through the song, although you wouldn't necessarily spot it if you didn't know.

A final 'odds'n'sods' album appeared in '99, Afterglow (***½), but despite a couple of 'possibles', I don't think there's any Chamby on it, though I'm always willing to be proved wrong... Many of you will hate this stuff, but if you like intelligent pop, there's a good chance you'll go for it. The Chamberlin work is somewhat variable, and I couldn't really recommend any of these on those grounds alone, but there are several excellent Chamby tracks, so if you're going to buy the albums anyway, think of them as a bonus. The brothers Finn released a collaboration in '95, Finn (a.k.a. Finn Bros), before both heading off into solo waters. Neil still uses his Chamberlin (a Music Master 400 or 600, I believe) on his own albums, and it seems that just about anything with the Finn name on it is probably worth hearing if you like their style. Recommended.

Official Neil Finn site

See: Neil Finn | Finn | Split Enz

Crowder  (US)  see: Samples etc.

Rodney Crowell  (US)

Rodney Crowell, 'Sex & Gasoline'

Sex & Gasoline  (2008,  48.11)  ***½/T

Sex and Gasoline
Moving Work of Art
The Rise and Fall of Intelligent Design
Truth Decay
I Want You #35
I've Done Everything I Can
Who Do You Trust
The Night's Just Right
Funky and the Farm-Boy
Forty Winters
Closer to Heaven

Current availability:

Chamberlin used:

Rodney Crowell's been around far longer than I'd expected, having been born in 1950 and married to Rosanne Cash for many years, releasing his first album in 1978. 2008's Sex & Gasoline is his thirteenth, sitting firmly in the folk/country bracket, rootsy country material without that awful Nashville glitz. Best tracks? The opening title track and The Rise And Fall Of Intelligent Design, although there's little here to make the discerning listener reach for the 'next' button. Incidentally, I'm not sure if the sleeve pic is entirely appropriate for a 58 year-old; put it down to wishful thinking, eh?

Patrick Warren does his usual Chamberlin thing, with a string part on Forty Winters that, like so many others, could be mistaken for a real string section. Sex & Gasoline is the kind of country album that genre fans should be buying, as against the drivel released by the vile Keith Urbans of this world; witty and thoughtful with Crowell's ear for a good tune. Hang on, it's not populist enough, is it? Silly me.

Official site

Crowned in Earth  (UK)  see: Samples etc.

Crowsdell  (US)  see: Samples etc.

Crucible  (US)

Crucible, 'Tall Tales'

Tall Tales  (1998,  61.49)  ****/TTTT

Over the Falls
The Poet Liar
Find the Line
Lords and Leeches
In Ancient Tongue
The Salamander
Land for Sale
An Imp's Tale
  Twice Upon a Time
  Adrift
  Stone of the Wise
  The Mortal Flaw
  Nomad Brad
  Release the Imps
  Day of the Hunting
Crucible: 'Curtains'

Curtains  (2001,  42.22)  ****/TTT

The Swordplayer
I'd Rather Walk
A Man of Two Minds
Noble Rot
Nuclear Apathy

Worlds Apart
Curtains

Current availability:

Mellotrons used:

Crucible are that rarest of things, a modern progressive band who aren't either typical neo-prog, or that overblown style beloved of Ayreon, the Rocket Scientists collective et al., or even the halfway stage of Spock's Beard, The Flower Kings etc. The overriding influence here is '70s Genesis, although they're heavier in the guitar department, while bits of other bands can be heard, notably Styx (from when they were good).

Most of the songs on their debut, Tall Tales, are excellent, although we could probably have done without the 'radio rock' feel of Find The Line, especially given that at around an hour, it's hardly bereft of material. The sleeve design eschews modern styles, going straight for the 'fantasy art' look and it's fair to say that this describes the album both lyrically and musically. You may consider this ridiculous in 1998, but I have to say, it works excellently, as long as you suspend your sense of the ludicrous. For some reason, keyboardist/acoustic guitarist/flautist Tim Horan isn't credited with Mellotron, but I presume it's him playing the (real?) thing on most tracks present. He doesn't stint on it, either, with much strings and choir on most of the listed tracks, highlights being opener Over The Falls and the relevant parts of seven-part epic An Imp's Tale.

I detect a slight stylistic shift on 2001's Curtains, although it's still recognisably the same band. The material is more mature, although their chief influences persist (listen to the middle section of Noble Rot for a textbook copy of Genesis circa A Trick of the Tail). Interestingly, and surprisingly, they chose to cover Crack the Sky's Nuclear Apathy, sounding similar, though not identical to the original, with a nice burst of Mellotron strings in the middle section. Horan's Mellotron use is rather less than on their debut, largely strings, with the odd burst of choir, but it's effective where it's used. Are we hearing a real machine on these albums? I think so, but I wouldn't stake anything particularly valuable on it.

So, all in all, highly recommended for the progressive fan who wants a slightly updated take on the '70s style, with much Mellotron, particularly on Tall Tales. Buy.

Official site


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