Lana Del Rey
The Book of Taliesyn (1968, 43.58/65.27) ***½/T
|Listen, Learn, Read on
Wring That Neck
Exposition/We Can Work it Out
River Deep, Mountain High
|[Remastered CD adds:
Oh No No No
It's All Over
Hey Bop a Re Bop
Wring That Neck
Burn (1974, 42.25/72.11) ****/T
Might Just Take Your Life
Lay Down, Stay Down
You Fool No One
What's Goin' on Here
|[Remastered CD adds:
Coronarias Redig (remix)
You Fool No One (remix)
Sail Away (remix)]
Stormbringer (1974, 36.59) **½/TStormbringer
Love Don't Mean a Thing
Lady Double Dealer
You Can't Do it Right (With the One You Love)
High Ball Shooter
Soldier of Fortune
Deep Purple's second album, The Book of Taliesyn (named for a collection of Welsh legends), was a major leap from their debut, Shades of Deep Purple (***), containing material as adventurous as Wring That Neck and Shield that they would never have tackled (or probably been allowed to tackle) earlier. Admittedly, it also 'features' some dodgy covers, not least Neil Diamond's Kentucky Woman and The Beatles' We Can Work It Out, although Ike & Tina Turner's River Deep, Mountain High has a fantastic, several minute proto-prog intro, making the actual song, bombastic though it is, sound rather prosaic in comparison. Rod Evans' cabaret vocals were clearly already hanging around the band's collective necks like a bouffanted albatross, although he lasted one more album, the following year's Deep Purple (***½). Jon Lord used a Mellotron for the first time on Anthem, with a strings part before the real strings later in the song, although that was it for the next five years, despite Lord's symphonic ambitions, realised (poorly) on '69's Concerto for Group and Orchestra (**½).
1973 brought Purple's second major lineup shake-up, oddly enough, both changes being in the vocalist and bassist department; so, Gillan and Glover out, Coverdale and Hughes in. The story goes, Glenn Hughes left Trapeze for Purple on the understanding that he'd reprise his bassist/lead vocalist role, and was more than a little miffed to find that they'd also recruited the previously unknown David Coverdale to sing lead, leading to the uncomfortable compromise of both men singing lead at different points, with much harmony vocal. Anyway, Burn was the first result of the new lineup and like '72's Machine Head (****½), was recorded with the Rolling Stones' mobile in Montreux, although under less trying circumstances. Unfortunately, it also suffers from that album's poor sound and lack of dynamics, as do most of their studio albums, with the extremely honourable exception of 1970's stupendous In Rock (*****), with live versions invariably crapping on their studio counterparts. Burn contains two cast-iron classics in its title track and the slow-burn blues of Mistreated, but there aren't actually any dogs on the album, even including lesser-known efforts such as Sail Away or What's Goin' On Here. Lord's keyboards expanded from his faithful Hammond to include occasional ARP synths and, on closing instrumental "A" 200, to my surprise, a few Mellotron string pitchbend swells, although hardly enough to qualify the record for Mellotron Album status.
Stormbringer turned out to be Ritchie Blackmore's swansong for Purple (at least in that decade), before he sloped off to form Rainbow and listening to it, you can see why. The band was essentially being hijacked by new boys Coverdale and Hughes, the latter's soul and funk influences making themselves apparent on tracks like Hold On and You Can't Do It Right. Saying that, it's not all bad, with the title track and Lady Double Dealer proving to be live faves, although the album's pretty ropey overall. Now, I'd never even considered that Lord may have used a Mellotron here, although I've been alerted to the fact that he layers 'Tron flutes all over the album's probable best track, closer Soldier Of Fortune, later to be Coverdale's vocal tour de force with Whitesnake, before they went down the shitter. Actually, that may be Mellotron strings, too, but the flutes are a definite.
So; I really can't recommend Stormbringer to Deep Purple fans, or anyone else, frankly, although Burn is definitely worth hearing, as is, maybe surprisingly, The Book of Taliesyn. However, none of them are really worth it on the Mellotron front.
See: Samples | Rainbow
The Show Must Go on (1975, 37.53) ***/T½
|Child of the Streets
The Show Must Go on
Come Back Strong
Just Out of My Reach
What's it Gonna Be
Worn Out Broken Heart
So Tied Up
Despite beginning his singing career in childhood, Alabama native Sam Dees was nearly thirty when Atlantic released his debut long-player, The Show Must Go on, in 1975. The bulk of the album consists of the expected soft soul (though nowhere near as anodyne as the Philadelphia soul of the era), although two tracks, six-minute opener Child Of The Streets and What's It Gonna Be, show a harder, funkier side to Dees' sound.
Coincidentally (?), the album's two highlights are also its two Mellotron tracks (player unknown - Dees himself?), the former opening the album with a murky flute melody, before sliding into a 'string section substitute' string part, while the latter features unison strings and cellos, with a flute melody riding over both. While not worth a purchase for the Mellotron alone, both tracks are worth hearing for the aficionado, while the album itself seems to be an above-average example of its style.
Yeah! (2006, 47.41) ***½/T (T½)
|20th Century Boy
Hanging on the Telephone
|Little Bit of Love
The Golden Age of Rock'n'Roll
No Matter What
He's Gonna Step on You Again
Don't Believe a Word
Stay With Me
[Various ed. bonus tracks include:
|Search & Destroy
This may sound weirdly anachronistic now, but when the world outside Sheffield first heard of Def Leppard, in mid-1979, they were regarded as being at the Thin Lizzy/Rush end of the NWoBHM, although, in hindsight, their future as the British Bon Jovi was hinted at almost from the off. I bought a copy of the second pressing of their self-released EP and have never quite forgiven myself for passing up a copy of the first pressing (red label, picture sleeve, lyric sheet) for a whole six quid at a record fair in 1980, now worth somewhere over three hundred. In mitigation, it was a lot of money back then... Dork. The EP was fantastic, the flip, the seven-minute amusingly-named The Overture (to what, precisely?) being their reasonably successful attempt at 'doing a Rush', with two short, Lizzy/UFO-style rockers on the 'A', Ride Into The Sun and the iconic (though not obviously ironic) Getcha Rocks Off. They were snapped up by Phonogram, their debut (1980's On Through the Night, dreadful sleeve and all) appearing with unseemly haste, featuring re-recordings of two of the EP's tracks, a couple more Rush-alikes and snappier fare such as Wasted and Hello America. Oh what a giveaway...
The following year's still passable High'n'Dry moved further towards commercial hard rock territory, then they broke through with '83's Pyromania, which set them well and truly on the path to hugeness, only matched by their glossy horribleness. Their rise to stardom was temporarily halted in 1984 after drummer Rick Allen's terrible car accident, the band watching in anguish from the sidelines as the aforementioned Bon Jovi caught up with them. Oh, fickle public... Of course, what goes up, must come down, as their early hero Philip Lynott once wrote and the mid-'90s saw their appeal becoming more selective, all the more galling for the band, as Bon Jovi's didn't, almost certainly largely due to ol' JBJ himself having kept his looks into early middle age, unlike most of the Leppards. Saying that, the Leps have had a subsequent partial career resurgence, but they shan't be playing Wembley Stadium again (if they ever did), I fear...
Er, that went on a bit, didn't it? Anyway, 2006 brought the classic 'we've run out of ideas' album, a covers set, Yeah! Unsurprisingly, it concentrates on the band members' younger days, tackling The Kinks' Waterloo Sunset passably well, plus reasonable takes on Blondie's cover of The Nerves' Hanging On The Telephone, ELO's splendid 10538 Overture, Roxy Music's Street Life, Free's Little Bit Of Love, The Faces' Stay With Me and, of course, Thin Lizzy, with Don't Believe A Word. We get a bevy of glam-era hits, too, to no-one's surprise: opener T. Rex' 20th Century Boy, David Essex's underrated Rock On, The Sweet's Hell Raiser (complete with The Darkness' resident buffoon Justin Hawkins on camp backing vocals), Bowie's Drive-In Saturday and Mott's deathless The Golden Age Of Rock'n'Roll. As with many similar sets, how can it fail? OK, the versions may not have the caché of the originals, but as long as the band in question don't completely balls them up (although they often do, don't they, Duran Duran?), the end result should be at the very least listenable, particularly to fans of the era covered.
Ronan McHugh plays Mellotron on two tracks on the main release, with a string line under the guitar on Drive-In Saturday and a more upfront (and real?) octave string part on Little Bit Of Love, making a first (and last?) for the band. There's a multitude of bonus tracks on various versions, including a whole eight-track disc attached to the Japanese version, with a Mellotron-fuelled take on Bowie's Space Oddity, amongst Queen (a crap version of Dear Friends), Tom Petty and The Stooges. I'm not sure of the point of albums like this, as anyone who's a fan of the era will own most of the originals, anyway, and are younger Leppard fans interested? Are there any younger Leppard fans? Anyway, not a bad covers set, as they go, but not much Mellotron.
Chariot (2003, 37.54) **/T
(Nice to Meet You) Anyway
I Don't Want to Be
More Than Anyone
Gavin DeGraw is a mainstream US singer-songwriter, albeit one considerably less offensive than the likes of, say, the horrible Daniel Powter and his ilk. Saying that, his first studio album, 2003's Chariot, isn't something I'll be listening to again in a hurry, although at least it didn't actually (particularly) offend me.
Patrick Warren does his usual Chamberlin thing, with strings on Just Friends and Over-Rated, although, as ever, low enough in the mix that it's difficult to work out if that's actually what you're hearing. Anyway, passable modern singer-songwriter stuff, as far as that goes, with a rocky edge in places, but no classic, either for its songwriting or its tape-replay use.
Between the Leaves (1976, 55.23) ****/TBurning Bridges
Between the Leaves
Visions of Nirvana
Déjà-Vu, including ex-members of Høst, released just the one album, 1976's Between the Leaves, although it was apparently completely unknown to collectors before its 1995 CD issue, having only ever appeared as a sleeveless test-pressing at the time. Given how many mediocre to downright appalling records are given a commercial release, the fact that this came close to disappearing for good is close to criminal. I'm not saying it's a lost classic, but it's a good heavy prog album in a mid-'70s style, with several stretched-out compositions featuring decent keyboard and guitar work. One major anomaly, though, is its length; was the original vinyl really 55 minutes long, or do we have some 'bonus tracks' here? No point arguing, as there are no duffers on board, although some of the individual tracks are a little overlong.
Harald Otterstad is credited with Mellotron, but until the dying seconds of the album, it seems to be a misnomer, as he sticks chiefly to string synth, monosynth and Clavinet, with a little Rhodes thrown in. Then suddenly, just as all hope is gone, a triumphal choir part enters within the last 90 seconds of final track Visions Of Nirvana, in the manner of the cavalry riding over the hill. Anyway, definitely worth a purchase for fans of the genre/era, but don't go expecting much Mellotron.
Born to Die: The Paradise Edition (2011/2012, 49.28/84.19) **/T
|Born to Die
Off to the Races
Diet Mountain Dew
Million Dollar Man
This is What Makes Us Girls
Gods and Monsters
Ultraviolence (2014, 51.31/69.20) **/T½
Shades Of Cool
Pretty When You Cry
Money Power Glory
|Fucked My Way Up To The Top
The Other Woman
[Bonus tracks include:
West Coast (radio mix)
Guns And Roses
Honeymoon (2015, 65.13) **½/T½
Music to Watch Boys to
Terrence Loves You
God Knows I Tried
High By the Beach
Burnt Norton (Interlude)
The Blackest Day
Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood
Lust for Life (2017, 72.05) *½/½
Lust for Life
In My Feelings
|Coachella - Woodstock in My Mind
God Bless America - and All the Beautiful Women in it
When the World Was at War We Kept Dancing
Beautiful People Beautiful Problems
Tomorrow Never Came
Lizzy "Lana Del Rey" Grant is a lightweight American singer-songwriter of the 'relies on her looks' variety. Harsh? But fair. 2011's Born to Die was reissued the following year as Born to Die: The Paradise Edition, adding a second disc containing another eight tracks, as if the original twelve weren't enough. The harp-driven Video Games is about the least bad thing here, while particular horrors include the 'go on, beat me up' lyrics to Off To The Races (sample lyric: "He loves me with every beat of his cocaine heart") and (to pick one almost at random) Million Dollar Man. The second disc tries its damndest to be all dark and European on Body Electric and Gods And Monsters, but spoils it with string-laden slush like Blue Velvet and Bel Air. Patrick Warren plays orchestral-ish Chamberlin strings on Dark Paradise to passable effect (with something tape-replay-like on Radio, presumably sampled), although I can't imagine that anyone wouldn't have noticed had they been real, while Warren and Rick Nowels are both credited with Mellotron on Body Electric on disc two, which makes it all the stranger that it's completely inaudible on the track. Still, you really don't want or need to hear this, anyway, so it's hardly an issue, is it?
Del Rey followed up with the dark, self-loathing, largely Dan Auerbach-produced Ultraviolence (yeah, yeah, Clockwork Orange reference...), less awful contents including Money Power Glory and Old Money, but that's somewhat clutching at straws, frankly. Loads of credited Mellotron, mostly from Leon Michaels, with nothing obvious on opener Cruel World, faint chordal flutes and a string line on the title track, not-very-Mellotronic strings and cellos on Shades Of Cool (although no real strings are credited), flutes (and strings?) on Brooklyn Baby, flutes and muted choirs on Sad Girl (from Michaels and Kenny Vaughan), strings (?) on Fucked My Way Up To The Top and quite overt strings on The Other Woman. As for the bonus tracks on various editions, Rick Nowels' Mellotron and Chamberlin probably provide some kind of background strings wash on the radio mix of West Coast, Nikolaj Torp Larsen adds distant choirs to Black Beauty and nothing obvious from Michaels on Florida Kilos. Just don't.
The phrase 'baroque pop' has been used to describe Del Rey's latest, 2015's Honeymoon, which doesn't seem too far from the mark. Generally speaking, this rather dirgelike album is a better proposition than its predecessors, although High By The Beach is as irritating as her earlier work. Is that a recommendation? Not really, no. Nowels is credited with Mellotron on six tracks and Chamberlin on a further two, while Del Rey herself adds Mellotron to Freak. Nothing obvious on (real) strings-laden opener Honeymoon itself, distant strings on God Knows I Tried, pitchbent strings (?) on Freak, string swells on Art Deco, high strings on Religion, an upfront Chamby string line on Salvatore, background strings on 24, a melodic Chamby string line on Swan Song and nothing obvious on her somewhat haunted take on The Animals' Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood.
2017's Lust for Life (yes, Lana, we've all heard Iggy Pop) is even drearier than its predecessors, almost every track dragging its heels reluctantly out of your speakers. There are no highlights, a condition exacerbated by its seventy-plus-minute running time. Most of its sixteen (!) tracks have Mellotron credited, with Sean Ono Lennon on Tomorrow Never Came (ho ho), Tim Larcombe on Cherry, Dean Reid on Coachella, Zac Rae on closer Get Free and Rick Nowels on all other highlighted tracks above. And how much is actually audible? Definite flutes on Coachella and Beautiful People Beautiful Problems, complete with radical pitchbend on the former, but as for the other ten credited tracks... Amusingly one of the most 'Mellotronic' sounds on the album is on 13 Beaches, a rare uncredited track. I suspect samples almost everywhere, if not everywhere.
Then again, is any of this real? Nowels is listed on Mellotron.com as an M4000D user (hardward Mellotron sample player, for those not in the know), so given that he's not known as a live performer (unlike many users), can we assume that this is what we're hearing on the second and third albums above? It would explain the Chamberlin sounds...
Clean Up (2003, 54.35) **½/½
|Not Waiting for You
No Reason to Be Shy
Nobody Really Knows
Here I am
Although Dutch, country artist Ilse DeLange (de Lange) relocated to the States early in her career; believe it or not, there's been a strong country influence on Dutch music for decades. Remember Pussycat? No? Count yourself lucky. Anyway, by 2003's Clean Up, DeLange's music had slowly shifted to a kind of Americana/AOR hybrid, harmless yet somewhat uninspired, better tracks including the bluesy Machine People and the title track.
Tony Harrell is credited with Hammond and/or Chamberlin on four tracks, although the Chamby is only apparent on Heavenless, with a background string part that adds little to the song, frankly. Overall, then, a rather ordinary effort that pleases more by its lack of awfulness than due to any real quality.
Deeper: The D:finitive Worship Experience (2001, 133.56) **½/½
|Did You Feel the Mountains?
I Could Sing of Your Love
I've Found Jesus
I'm Not Ashamed
Lord, You Have My Heart
|Shout to the North
All the Way
Kiss Your Feet
Come Like You Promise
Hands of Kindness
|Find Me in the River
King of Love
Message of the Cross
Oh Lead Me
Thank You for Saving Me
What a Friend I've Found
Touch (2002, 42.44) ***/T
Love is the Compass
Angel in Disguise
Show Me Heaven
Take Me Away
|Waiting for the Summer
One from Nick Hewitt
Before you take one step further, read the first paragraph of the review of The Prayer of Jabez, THEN come back here, using your 'Back' button.
Well, this is a surprise - CCM (Contemporary Christian Music) that sounds nothing like CCM! If I wasn't so indifferent to all things Christian, I'd say, "More, please". Seriously, as CCM goes, this is quite acceptable to ordinary punters, provided, of course, you ignore the lyrics. There again, the reason why it's not 'pure' CCM is that they have been copying styles!
From what I can gather from the poor liner notes on the CD, Delirious? (yes, the question mark IS part of the band name) are British, and have been on the go since at least 1994, when they called themselves The Cutting Edge Band, but I suspect that there is a Canadian input to them somewhere. They have made, up to the point of the release of Deeper, 7 CDs of uncertain quantity & quality. Even having heard nothing of these 7 CDs, and knowing even less about the band, I suspect that Deeper, a double CD, is a compilation, as they re-mixed or re-recorded 4 of their previous songs, add a new song and complete the set with 20 oldies. All of their songs are self-penned, lead singer and rhythm guitarist Martin Smith [Ed: not THAT one!] contributing over 80% of the material. The CD Touch, catalogued in Andy's Album List, probably came out immediately after Deeper. I'll review it IF (and only if) my wife buys it - I won't! I've got better things to do with my money! [Ed: See below]
It's difficult to categorise how Delirious? fits into the "Rock Spectrum" (if that's possible), as it is quite varied by any standards. Not Forgotten sounds very U2-ish, but then dives off into a typically full-on, choir-like, 'happy-clappy' "We rejoice in you, Lord" (so common of CCM) before returning to the U2 style. There's even a pseudo-bluegrass track (Happy Song), and a few other tracks are clearly imitating the style of other 'rock' bands (The Doobie Brothers, Stone Roses and Sisters of Mercy can certainly be heard). The actual musicianship is quite good - they know their stuff, and the song writing is acceptable (lyrics excepted, of course). Ditch the Christian aspect, and they could make it big. (Why not? Harry Webb got away with it for 40-odd years, AND he got a bleedin' gong along the way!) However, one point off their credibility chart for the use of a didgeridoo on Did You Feel The Mountains? I know Rolf Harris did an obscene cover of Led Zep's Stairway To Heaven, but this is out of order!
Mellotron is there, though it's as rare as Satan at a revival meeting. No specific credit for the 'Tron is given, but one Tim Jupp is credited as keyboard player. There is a possibility that Chuck Zwicky plays the 'Tron, as, according to Andy (the good Mr. Thompson to you), Chuck plays 'Tron on Touch (see above) [Having said that, Mr. Zwicky does get a credit - for some of the insert photography!] I Could Sing Of Your Love Forever has got a single chord of something indefinable in the middle of the song. I've no idea what it is, but it's there - no question. Follow appears to have low pitched flutes following the song vocal melody, then is reprised a little later. Kiss Your Feet also has something at the beginning of the track, but then gets buried by a combination of a String Synth AND a string orchestra.
Overall, the music is quite varied, covering a range of styles. This won't appeal to some of you, but I don't have a problem with that. Musicianship is excellent, though a lot of work in the production must have helped. Best track is Jesus' Blood on Disc 2 - the music is VERY non-CCM. The musicians know their instruments and what to do with them. DO NOT, however, buy this CD for 'Tron. There isn't enough to make that worthwhile.
Since Nick submitted the above review, I've obtained a copy of Delirious?' follow-up, 2002's Touch, and it seems to be pretty similar to its (compilation?) predecessor, being a mix of various 'modern rock' styles. It's actually largely inoffensive; even the lyrical content isn't too oppressive, which is something you can't say too often about CCM albums, and closer Stealing Time creates a genuine atmosphere over the course of its near-eight minute length.
Co-producer Chuck Zwicky plays Mellotron on three tracks, with rather un-Mellotronic strings on Love Is The Compass, actually quite Mellotronic flutes on Rollercoaster, although nothing obvious on Waiting For The Summer, making this a(nother) bit of a 'don't bother' on the 'Tron front. However, 'not actively offensive' must make this one of the most listenable CCM albums I've heard so far.
Official site (should you feel the need)
|7" (1972) ***/TT½
|7" (1972) **½/TT½
Lo Scemo e il Villaggio (1972, 37.27) ****/TTTT½Villaggio
Gioia, Disordine, Risentimento
La Mia Pazzia
Pensiero per un Abbandono
Delirium III: Viaggio Negli Arcipelaghi del Tempo (1974, 34.51) ***½/0Il Dono
Viaggio Negli Arcipelaghi del Tempo
Dio Del Silenzio
La Battaglia Degli Eterni Piani
Delirium (not to be confused with any other band of the same name)'s first album, Dolce Acqua, was pleasant enough folk rock, if a little uninspired, but they were moving towards getting the mixture right by '72's Jesahel single and its jazzy flip, King's Road (had this lot been to London?). Mellotron on both tracks from Ettore Vigo, with repeating strings chords on the 'A' and brass and major string parts on the other side. The same year's Treno b/w E L'Ora (or possibly the other way round; it's rather unclear) is a somewhat lesser effort, Treno being a jaunty folk/pop tune, while the flip's an undistinguished ballad. On the Mellotron front, the 'A' features a fat brass part, with upfront chordal strings towards the end, with background strings on the flip. All four tracks are available on 2005's '71-'75, which appears to fit the band's complete works onto a two-CD set.
The same year's Lo Scemo e il Villaggio has a far more Jethro Tull-influenced sound, with distinctly Anderson-like flute leads. The band led a dual existence, juggling non-album commercial hits with their more serious LP material and the occasional leak from one style to the other is in evidence here, notably on La Mia Pazzia. Much of the album is laid-back folk/prog, but when the band let rip, as on the sax-driven Culto Disarmonico, they display interesting jazz sensibilities that are quite out of kilter with the rest of their material. As for Vigo's Mellotron, Villaggio has brass and strings, also possibly flutes alongside the real one, while all other highlighted tracks feature excellent, full-on string parts. Hard to pick out individual 'Tron highlights, suffice to say it almost gets full marks.
It took the band two years to produce Delirium III: Viaggio Negli Arcipelaghi del Tempo and while it's reasonably good, it suffers from the same musical schizophrenia as its predecessor, mixing, folk, pop, funk and various other styles, not always in an especially pleasing manner. The album's swamped in orchestral strings and although Vigo's credited with Mellotron, all I can hear is the actual string section, with some rather cheesy arrangements too, I'm afraid. If you're going to buy one Delirium album, there's really no contest: Lo Scemo e il Villaggio it is.
Incidentally, the band have reformed, releasing the rather good Il Nome del Vento in 2009, with credited Mellotron, although it turns out to be samples. Boo, hiss.
On My Mind (2010, 32.31) ***/TT½
On My Mind
I Feel So Blue
And I Have Learnt to Dream
Take Your Seat
|Faraway Spaceman Blues
Count Me Out
Ce Jour la
Although Fabienne Delsol is, unsurprisingly, French, her career is exclusively British, based around famed all-analogue London studio Toerag and owner Liam Watson (hi, Liam). After two albums with garage revivalists The Bristols, she went solo, 2010's On My Mind being her third release, containing an appealing mixture of mid-'60s beat and balladry, top tracks including the Farfisa (?)-driven Ragunboneman, the sparse title track and heartfelt ballads And I Have Learnt To Dream and closer Strange Shadows.
The studio hired my M400 early in 2010 and, although I had no idea what session it would be used on, I can only presume it was this one. Ed Turner plays it, with a lovely flute part opening the title track, running throughout, more muted flutes on Pas Adieu, what sounds like violas (I know, I know, they're my tapes) on And I Have Learnt To Dream and, finally, flutes and wobbly strings on Strange Shadows. Oh dear, is that my Mellotron? So; an album locked, as is the studio, in 1965, which is by no means necessarily a bad thing, with a decent helping of Mellotron. Which is no bad thing either.
Anno 1972 [as Tommy Fortman/Demon Thor] (1972, 36.51) **½/TTStory Demon Thor
East and West
Good Old Oak
Written in the Sky (1973, 37.23) ***/TTTWritten in the Sky
For One Little Moment
Demon Thor are often listed as being German (Munich, specifically), though I believe I'm correct in saying the band were actually an Anglo-Swiss effort, with two British members in Tommy Fortman and Geoff Harrison. As far as I can work out, they debuted with 1972's Anno 1972 (credited to Tommy Fortman/Demon Thor), a middling rock/pop album of considerable averageness with few outstanding features, certainly not deserving of the 'progressive' status it seems to've gained retrospectively. Stephen Nuesch plays Mellotron flutes and strings on Good Old Oak, strings on Groovy and brass and choir on closer The Army, although that shouldn't be taken as any sort of recommendation.
The following year's Written in the Sky is one of the most weirdly schizophrenic records I've heard in a while, viz side one's side-long title track, which is a full-on heavy prog effort, smothered in Mellotron, while most of side two is workaday boogie, aside from one vaguely folky track in Good Morning. Nuesch plays most of the keys again, with the exception of piano, handled by Fortman. You'll be unsurprised to hear that the only Mellotron to be heard is on Written In The Sky itself, but it's a bit of a monster, loaded with strings, brass, cellos and choir - oh, and flutes later on. This is serious stuff, making it all the worse that it's let down so badly by the rest of the album. I'm sure it all made perfect sense at the time, but...
Anno 1972's pretty dreadful, aside from its 'Tron content, and as for Written in the Sky, while side one's a total 'Tronfest, the music isn't actually that great and side two is largely rubbish, knocking the album's star rating down noticeably. If you want that full-on 'Tron thing, though (and who doesn't?!), this just might be worth a flutter.
Denim on Ice (1996, 56.53) ***½/½
|The Great Pub Rock Revival
It Fell Off the Back of a Lorry
Romeo Jones is in Love Again
Shut Up Sidney
Best Song in the World
Synthesizers in the Rain
Glue & Smack
Jane Suck Died in 77
Grandad's False Teeth
Don't Bite Too Much Out of the Apple
Myriad of Hoops
Denim on Ice
What on earth can I say about Denim on Ice? Denim were Lawrence (Hayward)'s second project, after the much-vaunted Felt, and, at least on their second album, are best described as, er... '70s-obsessed electro-glam? After Felt's ethereal Cocteaus-esque soundscapes, Denim come as something of a shock, with Lawrence's upfront vocals and bizarre, Brit-centric lyrics; hands up who doesn't know what a lorry is? Loads of references to very peculiarly British things: council houses, the job centre, Mrs. Mills, beermats, the NME... Synthesizers In The Rain's spot-on Visage piss-take, Ducks Deluxe and Wreckless Eric namechecks, the Glitter Band's Pete Phipps and Gerry Shephard guest... Wot - no Alvin Stardust? Shame on you, Lawrence.
The story I was told is that r.m.i.'s Duncan Goddard was asked to bring his Mellotron along to a session, which he duly did, as well as playing Moog on the album. Plenty of string synth, but I'm only certain I can hear the 'Tron (played by a certain Pete Z) on two tracks, with a few choir chords on Mrs Mills and Don't Bite Too Much Out Of The Apple, but nothing you can't actually live without. Anyway, a surprisingly good, witty album, but not one for the 'Tron fan in your life (what, you have a life? I don't. Oh, you noticed). Worth picking up. Oh, and Lawrence's latest project is called Go Kart Mozart; anyone not spotting the reference has to stay behind after school and write a hundred lines.
n.b. Duncan has expanded considerably on his studio experience, though much of it is probably libellous. It sounds like a bit of a nightmare all round, with Lawrence obsessing over particular sounds, then recording the first thing played over a track and insisting on keeping it. Glad I wasn't there.
Felt fan site