album list
Cry of Love
Crystal Method
Cuby + Blizzards
Jamie Cullum
The Cult
Cultural Noise
Ry Cuming
Burton Cummings
The Cure
Curly Curve
Curved Air
Mary Cutrufello

Cry of Love  (US)

Cry of Love, 'Diamonds & Debris'

Diamonds & Debris  (1997,  56.28)  ***½/T

Empty Castle
Hung Out to Dry
Fire in the Dry Grass
Georgia Pine
Warm River Pearl
Sweet Mary's Gone
Revelations (Rattlesnakes & Queens)
Bring Me My Burden
Sunday Morning Flood
Diamond & Debris
Hunt Out Redux
Garden of Memories

Current availability:

Mellotron used:

I'm sure it won't come as a huge shock to you to find out that Cry of Love have a heavy Hendrix influence, notably in Audley Freed's guitar style. Freed went on to play with The Black Crowes, so a retro approach didn't hurt him... After a reasonably successful 1993 debut, Brother, the band lost their vocalist, making it four years before releasing their second and last effort, Diamonds & Debris. It's a good album without ever getting close to outstanding, which is clearly what damned it first time round; decent enough songs, lovely guitar work, but nothing to really get to grips with.

John Custer plays Mellotron, although you have to wait until the end of the album to hear it, with a brief string part on Garden Of Memories that barely garners a whole T. All in all, a nice, retro album with a late '60s/early '70s vibe that makes a nice change from the genre-intensive stuff most bands throw at us these days; you know - a band slots into a sub-sub-sub-genre and stays there for the rest of their brief 'career'. Sadly, Cry of Love's career was fairly brief, too, as they might've gone on to do something rather special, given enough time.

Cryptic Vision  (US)  see: Samples

Crystal Method  (US)

Crystal Method, 'Tweekend'

Tweekend  (2001,  68.53)  **½/T

Wild, Sweet and Cool
Roll it Up
Name of the Game
Ready for Action
Ten Miles Back
Over the Line
Tough Guy
Name of the Game (Reprise)

Current availability:

Chamberlin used:

The Crystal Method (crystal meth - geddit? No?) hail from Las Vegas and seem to be one of the most popular dance/electronica outfits in the States. Their second album, Tweekend (what is it with these guys and puns? It apparently refers to 'tweeking', or taking crystal meth. Yawn), is in some ways a pretty typical effort within its genre, although the analogue synths make a pleasant change from the pseudo- nonsense used by many in the field. Thankfully, it's mostly instrumental, and while very (who said irritatingly?) danceable, it's an awful lot better than most of the drivel produced in this area, despite its ludicrous length.

Jon Brion contributes Chamberlin to one track, with some pretty skronky strings on Over The Line, only really audible towards the end of the track, though once you can hear them, you can really hear them. So; not an awful lot of Chamby, but what there is is worth hearing. While the actual music falls under the broad umbrella of 'dance', even it has its moments.

Official site

Cuby + Blizzards  (Netherlands)

Cuby + Blizzards, 'Sometimes'

Sometimes  (1972,  35.49)  ***/T

Pawn Broker
Straight, No Chaser
The Way I Feel
I'm Drinking My Whisky
Simply Jamming

Current availability:

Mellotron used:

Bluesmen Cuby +/& the Blizzards were (are?) one of the Netherlands' better-known outfits, active since 1964. 1972's Sometimes was their twelfth album in six years, a solid, unpretentious blues effort (unsurprisingly), veering between the barroom blues of opener Pawn Broker, the piano jazz of Straight, No Chaser and The Way I Feel's Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac-isms, amongst other takes on the style. But is it any good? It's certainly highly competent; I think it would take a bigger blues fan than myself to tell you whether or not it has that certain je ne sais quoi, though.

Someone (Helmig van der Vegt?) plays a polyphonic Mellotron cello part on the title track (thanks, Klaus), perhaps surprisingly, adding slightly to its allure while simultaneously being fairly inessential. A decent enough blues effort, then, but you're really not going to bother for the Mellotron. Sadly, band leader Harry "Cuby" Muskee died in 2011, presumably leaving the band's future in some doubt.

Official site

Jamie Cullum  (UK)

Jamie Cullum, 'Twentysomething' Jamie Cullum, 'Twentysomething'

Twentysomething  (2004,  56.57)  ***/½

What a Difference a Day Made
These Are the Days
Singin' in the Rain
But for Now
Old Devil Moon
I Could Have Danced All Night
Blame it on My Youth
I Get a Kick Out of You
All at Sea
Wind Cries Mary
Lover, You Should Have Come Over
It's About Time
Next Year Baby

Current availability:

Mellotron used:

Jamie Cullum's the kind of artist who passes beneath my radar, due to his ubiquity with the young, smart set who throw dinner parties in the better-off areas of London and think he's 'daring' 'cos he covers Hendrix and beatboxes at gigs. As modern jazzers go, I've heard worse, but he's pretty bloody mainstream, but then I suppose, that's the point; he's not trying to be obscure or 'arty', he's trying to make a living.

Twentysomething is his third album, although it's only the second anyone's heard, as he only pressed 500 copies of his first, independent release, making it an outrageous rarity. The songwriting here is split between standards (seven), 'modern' covers (two) and written by himself or his brother (five), and it's a tribute to their writing that their material fits seamlessly inbetween the classics. His title track is amusing, if musically lightweight, while his takes on Hendrix's Wind Cries Mary and Jeff Buckley's Lover, You Should Have Come Over are both worth hearing, although, overall, this is pretty bland fare. Super-professional, but just a little dull.

Cullum plays various electro-mechanical keyboards, including a Wurlitzer and a Hammond, plus a Mellotron (assuming it's real), although all we seem to get is flutes on opener What A Difference A Day Made, unless it's buried in the mix elsewhere. Overall, then, not one to excite the jaded ear, and without much Mellotronic input, I have to say: don't bother.

Official site

The Cult  (UK)

The Cult, 'Sonic Temple'

Sonic Temple  (1989,  57.07)  ***½/T

Sun King
Fire Woman
American Horse
Edie (Ciao Baby)
Sweet Soul Sister
Soul Asylum
New York City
Automatic Blues
Soldier Blue
Wake Up Time for Freedom
Medicine Train
The Cult, 'Ceremony'

Ceremony  (1991,  63.20)  ***/T

Wild Hearted Son
Earth Mofo
Full Tilt
Heart of Soul
Bangkok Rain
Sweet Salvation

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Mellotrons used:

I saw The Cult once. They'd just released their 'rock' album, 1987's Electric and my brother and I thought it'd be a laugh to see just what exactly they were up to. We were right. The several thousand-capacity venue was full of goth kids, obviously expecting an evening of material from their first two Cult (as against Southern Death Cult or Death Cult) albums, Dreamtime and the highly successful Love, so much amusement was had as the band burst onto stage in full rock get-up. Er, it's AC/DC, isn't it? With Jim Morrison on vocals, assuming Jim Morrison had been British and had hair down to his arse? "Toonaaht, Matth-yew, I'm gonna be MISTAH MOJO RISIN'!! Didja see it? Didja see it?"*. The best bit was guitarist Billy Duffy's mid-'70s style solo spot, where he stumbled his way through as many rock clichés as possible, before lurching into the riff from Zeppelin's Bring It On Home (OK, so they didn't really write it, but you know what I mean), to ironic cheers and V-signs (this was before devil horns, of course) from ourselves and the other old rock contingent in the crowd and bemusement to everyone else. Thoroughly ridiculous - we laughed till it hurt.

Electric was actually something of a disappointment, with a weak-as-water production, sounding more like Bad Company than Led Zep, so their next effort, '89's Sonic Temple, had to be good. Maybe surprisingly, this is actually the first time I think I've ever heard the whole thing, and... despite its ludicrous, cliché-ridden lyrics - er, and music, for that matter - I kept finding myself grinning at its sheer audacity, pretending the squeaky-clean '80s never happened, or punk, for that matter. Oh, and the cover. Surely I should love this band? It's not that simple, unfortunately, but I can see them becoming something of a guilty pleasure in years to come. Opener Sun King is a joyous celebration of all things Rock, ditto Soul Asylum (that was a bit cheeky, wasn't it?), ditto, oh fuck it, this album ROCKS! Its Big Ballad, Edie (Ciao Baby), about one of Warhol's hangers-on, does everything that a rock Big Ballad should, while Ian Astbury (once referred to in the press in his early days as 'Dan', which has stuck somewhat around these parts) does his full-on pseudo-American accent and everything's right with the world. The band were actually ahead of the pack in their keyboard use, sticking largely to vintage 'boards, with Hammond and Rhodes cropping up, presumably from either bassist Jamie Stewart or John Webster, not to mention some Mellotron strings on American Horse and Soul Asylum, although neither is the most overt use you'll ever hear, nor the most definite. Is this actually Mellotron at all? Anyone?

Two years on, Ceremony's sleeve pic of a young Native American boy got the band into legal hot water, but musically, the song, er, remained pretty much the same. Saying that, although the album has the same number of tracks as its predecessor, and is only six minutes longer, almost every track drags, which would be a difficult rap to nail on Sonic Temple. Sounds like their Cocaine Album to me. OK, one of them. If the whole thing was trimmed down ten or fifteen mins, it would be a better record, although some of its predecessor's energy seems to've been lost, probably somewhere in the Midwest. Several slowies this time round, one of which, White, features a fairly subdued Mellotron string part from Tom Petty's keys man, Benmont Tench. Best bit of the album? Has to be the title of its third track, Earth Mofo. I mean, what?

So; two albums of ridiculous retro-rock in the era of sad-arse glam metal, making The Cult easily the lesser of two evils. Three 'Tron tracks in total, but none of 'em essential, so pick these up if you're in need of a laugh, with a side helping of Rock. Don't forget, V-signs, not devil horns. And get 'em the right way round.

* UK tribute act TV show 'Stars in Their Eyes' reference, for non-residents.

Fan site

Cultural Noise  (Austria)

Aphorisms Insane  (1981,  40.33)  ***½/TT½

After the Selfdisintegration in Time
Pursuing the in Time Disintegrating Reality

Current availability:

Mellotron used:

Cultural Noise were a turn-of-the-'80s synth trio from Austria, consisting of synthesists Gerhard Lisy and Karl Kronfeld, plus guitarist/synthesist/Mellotronist Walter Henisch (thanks, Wolfgang). Aphorisms Insane is a fairly typical electronic album, with the usual bleeping synths and sequencer work, with the only obvious polyphonic keyboards being a short burst of Hammond on side two and, of course, the Mellotron.

The album opens with some distant choir chords in After The Selfdisintegration In Time, gradually moving to the front of the mix before disappearing, while some similar string chords briefly appear a few minutes later before a full-on phased string part towards the end of the side. Flip the record to Pursuing The In Time Disintegrating Reality, and block choir chords greet you within moments, followed by a flute melody, then a huge string chord... OK, side two's where the 'Tron action is, ladies and gents, although it isn't the album's main keyboard instrument, by any means. More strings later in the piece, and that's your lot. Very pleasant, but a little inessential.

Aphorisms Insane has never been issued on CD, like so many similar works, and it seems you're unlikely to find a vinyl original for below a three-figure sum, in any currency. Is it worth it? Probably not, to be honest, unless you're a fanatical EM collector who's got to have everything. The Mellotron work is very nice, but when you're talking about those sort of sums... It's bound to appear on a small shiny disc at some point (he says, hopefully); hang on, and you'll eventually get it for 15 quid or so, probably with bonus tracks. One day.

Ry Cuming  (Australia)

Ry Cuming, 'Ry Cuming'

Ry Cuming  (2010,  41.09)  */½

Some Kind of Love
Tearing Me Apart
Always Remember Me
Meaning of it All
City of Lights
Harder to Say
How Could You Say
Is This Love

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Mellotron used:

Jeff Buckley-influenced small-town Australian Ry Cuming got his break while travelling in Costa Rica, being spotted by a film producer who recognised a malleable, good-looking young man whose generic songs could be moulded into hits when he saw one. Cuming's eponymous debut appeared in 2010; a charitable description might be 'Coldplay-lite', its best feature a nice chordal turnaround on opener Some Kind Of Love, unfortunately repeated, with variations, on several other tracks, completely diluting its (admittedly limited) effect.

Zac Rae plays Mellotron, although the album's real string parts tend to obscure it, to the point where the only track I'm even willing to put forward as a 'possible' is Is This Love, with a polyphonic cello part, possibly alongside a real one. I think it's fair to say that Ry Cuming goes beyond 'insipid' into 'wetter than a wet thing' territory; no, it does not sound like Jeff Buckley and nor does it have much/any audible Mellotron. Avoid.

Official site

Burton Cummings  (Canada)

Burton Cummings, 'Burton Cummings'

Burton Cummings  (1976,  36.02)  **/T

I'm Scared
Your Back Yard
Nothing Rhymed
That's Enough
Is it Really Right
Stand Tall
Niki Hokey
Sugartime Flashback Joys
Burch Magic
You Ain't Seen Nothin' Yet
Burton Cummings, 'Woman Love'

Woman Love  (1980,  49.18)  **/½

Feels All Wrong
One and Only
Mile a Second
Had to Be You
Heavenly Blue
Fine State of Affairs
Where Are You
Woman Love
It's Hard
Wakin' Up Today
[CD adds:
Daddy's on the Road
I Do My Vocals on the Boat]

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Mellotron used:

Burton Cummings was, of course, vocalist with Canadian stars The Guess Who for ten years, leaving for a solo career in 1975. His debut, Burton Cummings, is a typical mid-'70s soft-rock album, with few distinguishing features 30 years on (or probably at the time, to be honest). This is so Of Its Time it couldn't, er, be any more so; mid-paced, vaguely singer-songwritery stuff with lots of piano. A budget Van Morrison, if you will. Its only real saving grace is a hysterical, laid-back piano jazz version of former cohort Randy Bachman's (in)famous You Ain't Seen Nothin' Yet, stutter intact, which almost (but not quite) adds a half star to its rating. Class. Mellotron from Cummings on two tracks, with an opening flute part and chorus strings (alongside a Solina) on Nothing Rhymed, a Gilbert O'Sullivan song, and slightly more upfront phased strings on Sugartime Flashback Joys, neither of which makes this album even remotely worth the purchase, even for the whole pound I paid for a copy, You Ain't Seen Nothin' Yet notwithstanding.

Four years and three albums on, 1980's Woman Love is every bit as tedious as its predecessor, Burton's ultra-mainstream compositional style amended with those new-fangled polyphonic synthesizer thingies that were popping up everywhere at the time. The title track, with its strange, slapback echo and vaguely ominous sound, is by far and away the most interesting thing here, which doesn't say much for the rest of the record. James Phillips (almost certainly Jimmy Phillips of fellow Canucks Small Wonder) plays Mellotron, with low-in-the-mix strings on Heavenly Blue, although it's slightly surprising to see anyone use one this late in the game at all.

The Guess Who might've rocked, but solo Cummings didn't. Dullsville.

Official site

Stephen Cummings  (Australia)  see: Samples

The Cure  (UK)

The Cure, 'Wish'

Wish  (1992,  66.20)  ***/T

From the Edge of the Deep Green Sea
Wendy Time
Doing the Unstuck
Friday I'm in Love
Letter to Elise
To Wish Impossible Things
The Cure, 'Bloodflowers'

Bloodflowers  (2000,  58.00)  ***/½

Out of This World
Watching Me Fall
Where the Birds Always Sing
Maybe Someday
Last Day of Summer
There is No if...
Loudest Sound

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Mellotrons used:

Wish was The Cure's tenth studio release, and is (at least to my ears) pretty much Business As Usual, being a mixture of dark, 'difficult' music (Open, End), general sadness (Trust, From The Edge Of The Deep Green Sea) and incongruously lightweight jangly pop (the possibly sublimely Byrdsian Friday I'm In Love). Some reviewers have labelled it the 'last great Cure album' or somesuch, with one more perceptive voice noting that it's effectively a summation of their various styles to date, which seems pretty fair. Whether you'll personally like it or not almost entirely depends on whether or not you like The Cure and their rather gothy pop; can't say I'm blown away by it myself, but it does what it does perfectly well, which is more than you can say for an awful lot of records. Trust has what sounds like Mellotron strings over a generic string patch and a pleasant piano part, but is ultimately slightly inconsequential, not to mention possibly sampled, ditto the super-faint strings on Wendy Time (thanks, Chris). Since three band members are credited with keyboards, including mainman Robert Smith, it's impossible to tell who may've played what could be a sample anyway.

Eight years and all of two albums later (mid-career slump, anyone?), and The Cure returned to their 'roots' once again, after the (apparent) relative disappointment of 1996's Wild Mood Swings. To my ears, I'm afraid it's Just Another Cure Album, doing all the things The Cure tend to do, i.e. rather gothy pop/rock with the odd memorable track here and there. Top marks for making track two over 11 minutes long, mind... Anyway, faint 'Tron flutes, played in the tried'n'tested 'Strawberry Fields' manner, on opener Out Of This World, but nothing you couldn't live without, to be honest.

So, two Cure albums, two pretty minor 'Tron tracks. Go elsewhere, methinks.

Official site

Curly Curve  (Germany)

Curly Curve, 'Curly Curve'

Curly Curve  (1973,  35.07)  ***/T

Hell & Booze
I'm Getting Better
All Things Clear
Bitter Sweet
Dream of Today
Patricia Reprise
Queen of Spades

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Mellotron used:

Curly Curve had apparently already split and reformed three times by the time the lineup that recorded their sole, eponymous album came together. They're one of those bands who get labelled 'progressive', or, worse still, 'krautrock', when what is actually meant is 'bluesy hard rock with the occasional psych influence'. Despite a good review from UK music inky Sounds, Curly Curve wouldn't have excited much attention playing outside their own country, due to a combination of unoriginality and rather average material. You get the feeling they were probably a blast live, but listening to Curly Curve 35 years on in the comfort of my living room, they just sound like a thousand other wannabee hard rock bands, only these guys were lucky enough to actually get to make an album. Best tracks? Opener Hell & Booze does what it says on the tin, and Bitter Sweet's middle section and Dream Of Today aren't bad, but it's all a bit second-rate, really.

Keys man Chris Axel Klöber adds Mellotron to a couple of tracks, alongside the standard organ and piano, with a smattering of less-expected synth. There's a brief cello line in the quiet part of the otherwise boogie-friendly Bitter Sweet, as it switches gear into 'late-period psych' before lurching back to the boogie, and some more obvious strings on Patricia Reprise, repeating throughout the track, although that's your lot. This is actually available on CD, due to those excellent people at Repertoire, but do you actually need to own it? If you're a die-hard German '70s rock fan, then maybe, as there's definitely worse out there, but the rest of us probably don't need to bother, especially as the 'Tron work is pretty minor.

Cursive  (US)

Cursive, 'Happy Hollow'

Happy Hollow  (2006,  45.26)  **½/T

Opening the Hymnal/Babies
Dorothy at Forty
Big Bang
Bad Sects
Flag and Family
Dorothy Dreams of Tornadoes
The Sunks
At Conception
So-So Gigolo
Bad Science
Into the Fold
Rise Up! Rise Up!
Hymns for the Heathen
Cursive, 'Dorothy at Forty' 7"/CDS  (2006,  8.24)  **/½

Dorothy at Forty
The Bitter End
The Censor

Current availability:

Mellotrons used:

Cursive are one of those American indie bands who throw various styles into the mix, which all come out sounding the same. You know what I mean? No? Never mind. Happy Hollow's their sixth album and I'm not sure what the effect was meant to be, but the brass section that's been splattered all over the record serves only to irritate after a short while and bears no relation to the cool, '60s soul vibe they were probably trying to conjure up. Apparently, the lyrics convey some sort of concept regarding small town life (the Happy Hollow of the title, no doubt), but band leader Mike Mogis shouts them loudly enough that you just stop listening after a while.

Mogis is credited with Mellotron on three tracks, with nothing audible on opener Opening The Hymnal/Babies, a nice flute part on Into The Fold and less of the same on closer Hymns For The Heathen. I didn't enjoy this album one bit, and I strongly suspect a great many of you would agree with me were you ever unwise enough to bother trying to hear it. in fairness, it's probably OK at what it does, but I don't like what it does. Incidentally, another Mellotron track finds its way onto the Dorothy At Forty single, with a flute part on first b-side The Bitter End.

Official site

See: Good Life | Tim Kasher

Curved Air  (UK)

Curved Air, 'Air Conditioning'

Air Conditioning  (1970,  45.21)  ****/TT

It Happened Today
Blind Man
Hide and Seek
Rob One
Curved Air, 'Second Album'

Second Album  (1971,  42.10)  ***½/T

Young Mother
Back Street Luv
You Know
Bright Summer's Day '68
Piece of Mind
Curved Air, 'Air Cut'

Air Cut  (1973,  39.08)  ****/TTT

The Purple Speed Queen
Elfin Boy

Curved Air, 'Airborne'

Airborne  (1976,  39.25)  ***/T½

Kids to Blame
Broken Lady
Touch of Tequila
Heaven (Never Seemed So Far Away)
Hot & Bothered

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Mellotrons used:

Curved Air (named after Terry Riley's avant-garde late-'60s piece A Rainbow in Curved Air) were formed around vocalist Sonja Kristina, fresh from the London production of famed hippy musical 'Hair', other key members being violinist Darryl Way and guitarist/keyboardist Francis Monkman. Their debut, Air Conditioning, starting an intermittent run of crap puns, is excellent, with the band displaying their classical and jazz chops with aplomb. It Happened Today is a dynamic opener, while Vivaldi is as you'd expect, with Way ripping into the maestro's work on electric violin. Monkman plays Mellotron on a couple of tracks; Screw features mucho chordal flute work, while Situations has a flute melody in the verse, then full-on strings over most of the rest of the song. Not the greatest 'Tron album ever, but highly recommended anyway.

Second Album, with its elaborate fold-out sleeve, features rather less obvious 'Tron, and isn't quite the equal of its predecessor musically, either, which isn't to say that it's a bad album by any means. Known for their only UK hit, Back Street Luv (a startling No.4 in August '71), most of the rest of the tracks seem low-key in comparison, with too many rather ordinary songs, such as Jumbo and You Know, although an exception should be made for the piece occupying most of side two, Piece Of Mind, which is nearly as all-out progressive as Curved Air ever got. As far as Monkman's Mellotron's concerned, the only obvious use is the strings on Puppets, although both Young Mother and Piece Of Mind have uncredited brass, which may or may not be real. Interesting to note, incidentally, that side one was written by the Darryl Way axis, and side two entirely by Monkman. Well, I thought so, anyway.

The band's excellent third album, Phantasmagoria (****), is sadly 'Tron-free, but after some lineup changes which saw Monkman and Way's departure, the reconstituted band recorded Air Cut, with a very young Eddie Jobson on violin and keys, later of Roxy Music, UK etc. Opening with The Purple Speed Queen, an attempt to rewrite Back Street Luv, the 'simultaneous guitar and keys' normality of the track hits you, after the oddly schizophrenic Monkman approach. Jobson's first Mellotron injection is also the album's, and possibly the band's finest moment, Metamorphosis, a lengthy track that seems to tie all the band's strengths together, with great songwriting, superb musicianship and, er, some Mellotron. A short flute section in the middle, actually, although it's less overt than the strings in the (unusually) instrumental Armin and similar in U.H.F.. The album has its clunkers (I'd skip World, if I were you), but overall, well worth the effort.

Curved Air lost their way rather badly at this point, recording a deeply substandard album that only appeared twenty years later as Lovechild (**½), before bringing Way back on board and releasing Live (***½) and Midnight Wire (***), before their swansong, Airborne, featuring a pre-Police Stewart Copeland, long hair and all (that's him to the top right of the sleeve). Copeland later married Sonja Kristina, though it wasn't to last. The album falls mainly into the rather unexciting category of 'mid-'70s rock', being neither heavy nor progressive enough to fall into either of those camps, although side two's Moonshine is the one real 'prog' track to be heard, and is actually up there with the best of the band's work. For some reason, they elected to use a Mellotron on the album, although it's completely uncredited. Broken Lady has a flute melody in the verses, while Moonshine features the flutes more extensively, although all the strings on the album are either string synth or Darryl Way's violin.

So; Air Cut's the nearest any Curved Air record gets to being a Mellotron Album, but I'd recommend any of their first four for the music. Airborne isn't too exciting, but with one excellent track, is probably worth it for the committed prog fan. Give Lovechild a wide berth, though.

Official site

Mary Cutrufello  (US)

Mary Cutrufello, 'When the Night is Through'

When the Night is Through  (1998,  50.18)  ***/½

Sunny Day
She Can't Let Go
Sweet Promise of Love
Tired and Thirty
Miss You #3
Tonight's the Night
Highway 59 (Let it Rain)
Sister Cecil
Sad, Sad World
Rollin' and Tumblin'
Two Hard Roads
Goodnight Dark Angel

Current availability:

Chamberlin used:

I'm sure she's sick of hearing it, but if I hadn't known that Mary Cutrufello's When the Night is Through was by a female artist, I'd have assumed it was a bloke. Sorry, but her gruff, Texan vocals sound like the end result of 40-a-day for decades, or maybe she just sings like that? Anyway, her Petty/Springsteenesque style and ripping Telecaster work put her as far away from your typical girly singer-songwriter as you can get, thankfully; there are plenty of decent singers doing that stuff, but we really don't need another one. The album is a long way from 'original', but decent songwriting goes a long way, and Cutrufello's no slouch (listen to Two Hard Roads).

Rami Jaffee plays a background Chamberlin string part on the vaguely Dylan-esque Highway 59 (Let It Rain), although that's it on the tape-replay front. So; a reasonable roots-rock album with next to no Chamby. Your choice, I believe.

Official site

Cyan  (Italy)

Cyan, 'Misaluba' 7"  (1971)  **½/T

Louise (My Little Ship)

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Mellotron used:

Italians Cyan were actually based around a bunch of British ex-pats, including vocalist George Sims and drummer Gordon Fagetter, recording one eponymous LP in '72 (reissued soon after, with extra tracks, as Going Down Mexico) and a clutch of singles. I haven't heard much of their small catalogue, but '71's Misaluba is an odd, vocal-chant-and-Latin-percussion type of number, unsurprisingly unknown outside the band's adopted homeland.

It's the flip, Louise (My Little Ship), that interests us here, however, if not actually for its musical content. A rather dreary, McCartney-esque ballad, it features a brief Mellotron string part towards the end, with what I presume is a Mellotron flute solo on the slightly more upbeat fade. Worth buying? Not even really worth hearing, frankly. I'll try to hear some more of their oeuvre, on the offchance there's any more Mellotron work. [p.s. Thanks for this one, Mauro Degrassi]

Cyan  (UK)  see: Samples

Cybotron  (Australia)

Cybotron, 'Colossus'

Colossus  (1979,  41.20)  ***½/T½

Raga in Asia Minor

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Mellotron used:

Cybotron were Australia's answer to Tangerine Dream, although they varied the style with a full-time drummer, while one of the two synthesists played 'processed saxophone', too. The material's actually pretty good, although I couldn't see them making much of a mark in Europe. While not being Mellotron owners, they used one on their second album, Colossus, played by chief synthesist Geoff Green, with some choir chords on Medusa, and a flute melody on the lengthy tabla-heavy Raga In Asia Minor.

So; not a bad album, though only fairly committed EM fans should make the effort, to be honest. Not really worth it on the Mellotron front, but an interesting listen nonetheless. Amusing sleeve, too, with several pics of the band setting up their full rig (sans Mellotron) in front of an industrial complex, with their name written on the ground in several-feet high letters with what looks like LPs.

Incidentally, while researching Cybotron's background on the 'Net, I discovered something that made me chuckle. It seems that the name was subsequently used by an American techno pioneer, and a couple of sites have got the two acts confused. How I'd love to see the face of the techno-head who orders Colossus, thinking he's found a previously-unknown recording from the early days of the dance movement. Who knows? He might even like it!

Czar  (UK)

Czar, 'Czar'

Czar  (1970,  40.13/47.51)  ***½/TTTT½

Tread Softly on My Dreams

Follow Me
Dawning of a New Day
Beyond the Moon

A Day in September
[CD adds:
Oh Lord I'm Getting Heavy
Why Don't We Be a Rock'n'Roll Band]

Current availability:

Mellotron used:

Revered by many as an early 'Mellotron classic', Czar's only LP is another one of those heavyish late-period psych/early prog efforts, only with rather less finesse than many of its contemporaries. Tread Softly On My Dreams isn't a bad track, but should've been at least two minutes shorter, and the same could be said for most of the rest of the album, really. On the positive side, there's loads of Mellotron to be heard, mostly Mark II strings and brass, along with the ubiquitous Hammond. In fact, almost all the relevant tracks listed above are loaded with 'Tron, so if that's your chief criteria, you really can't go too far wrong.

The CD reissue adds two tracks from a single, but they're not really worth the effort, if truth be told; formative blues-rock, bereft of any Mellotron involvement. I'm fairly neutral about this one, as I don't rate the music that highly, preferring Fantasy, Cressida or several other early prog outfits over Czar, but I know Martin Smith from Streetly Electronics (Mellotron UK HQ) loves this album to bits. Don't you, Martin! Martin?

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