album list
Ben Harper
Derrick Harriott
Brett Harris
George Harrison
Angie Hart
Beth Hart
Corey Hart
Roddy Hart
P.J. Harvey
Kazumasa Hashimoto
Annie Haslam
Juliana Hatfield
Hatfield & the North

Ben Harper  (US)

Ben Harper, 'Diamonds on the Inside'

Diamonds on the Inside  (2003,  61.21)  ***½/T

With My Own Two Hands
When it's Good
Diamonds on the Inside
Touch From Your Lust
When She Believes
Brown Eyed Blues
Bring the Funk
Amen Omen
Temporary Remedy
So High So Low
Blessed to Be a Witness
Picture of Jesus
She's Only Happy in the Sun

Current availability:

Mellotron used:

Unfortunately, I keep mixing Ben Harper up with Roy Harper's son, Nick, but there's no real comparison whatsoever, other than their use of acoustic guitar; maybe reviewing this album will separate the two out in my brain. Ben's been around since the early '90s, sometimes recording with his on/off backing band, the Innocent Criminals, operating in the, er, 'acoustic rock' area, I suppose, mixing folk, soul and gospel with rock and funk on his more uptempo tracks. Not my thang, it must be said, but he seems to do it perfectly well, and at least it's well thought out, without that commercial sheen that makes so many current artists almost unlistenable to my ears.

His fifth studio album, Diamonds on the Inside apparently has more funk influences than Harper's previous albums, but they're not that overt, leaving most of the album in the acoustic zone. I find that he writes great intros that morph into average songs, but that's probably only the way I hear them. The Mellotron's played by Greg Kurstin, but it has to be said, we're not looking at the heaviest use ever, with a brief flute part at the beginning of So High So Low and a longer part on closer She's Only Happy In The Sun.

So; very good at what it does, as long as that's what you're into. Beats the crap out of most current rubbish, anyway, and Harper can both play and sing. Not much 'Tron, mind, but at least he used it.

Official site

Roy Harper  (UK)  see: Samples etc.

Harpo  (Sweden)

Harpo, 'Leo the Leopard'

Leo the Leopard  (1974,  40.42)  **/½

The World is a Circus
Teddy Love
Long Lonely Summer
Baby Boomerang
I Don't Know Why
Leo the Leopard
Medicine-Man (Banana Shake)
Out in the Jungle
John's Café With a Blue Star
Big Little Elephant
I'm Running (in the City)
Sunset Boulevard #1
Sunset Boulevard #2
Help Me Mama (I'm in Love With a Lama)

Current availability:

Mellotron used:

Going by his 1974 debut, Leo the Leopard, Harpo (born Jan Harpo Torsten Svensson) was (and still is) a mainstream Swedish pop/rock artist, of the 'uninteresting to most outside his home-market fanbase' variety. The album sounds like many better-known British and American artists of the period, well-played, professional and almost devoid of any points of interest to the non-fan, the vaguely Japanese-esque Sayonara being about the best thing here, certainly better than side two's side-long title suite (subtitled 'A Musical for a Rock Group and Howling Monkies'), which tells you more about it than I ever could. I'm sure that actually-not-at-all-revealing sleeve pic sold a good few copies, too, but that kind of blatant bandstanding is never going to win points around these parts (or, indeed, his).

Producer Ben (Bengt) Palmers plays Mellotron strings on Teddy Love, although the strings on several other tracks (notably Long Lonely Summer) appear to be real, making this pretty much a Mellotronic dud. For that matter, it's a dud on pretty much any grounds you might like to name, so if I were you, I don't think I'd bother.

Official site

James Harries  (UK)  see: Samples etc.

Derrick Harriott  (Jamaica)

Derrick Harriott, 'More Scrubbing the Dub'

More Scrubbing the Dub  (1975,  37.54)  ***/½

Queen of Sheba
Goldern Pearl
More Scrubbing the Dub
Hail Dawta
Black Bullet
Roots Train
King Solomon
Smile Orange Reggae
Rasta Locks
Swinging Chariot
Derrick Harriott, 'Reggae Disco Rockers'

Reggae Disco Rockers  (1975,  44.12)  **½/T½

Eighteen With a Bullet
Love is Just Around the Corner
Fly Robin Fly
Wish Upon a Star
Caught You in a Lie
Dancing the Reggae
What About Me
Reggae Train
Castles in the Air
Look at Me (I'm in Love)
Bucketful of Tears
All Day Music

Current availability:

Mellotrons used:

It's a bit of a moot point whom, precisely, the actual artist is on 1975's More Scrubbing the Dub; the sleeve is headed 'Derrick Harriott presents', yet the label mentions (below the title) 'The Chariot Riders'. What is certain is that Harriott was a renowned reggae producer by this point, working with various artists, sometimes being credited or co-credited as the artist himself, so he probably had more to do with the recording of this album than the band concerned. Despite its title, it's a long way from being a 'typical' dub album, consisting mostly of reggae instrumentals, with the occasional vocal track, but very little actual dub-plate work, the title track and Roots Train being the nearest it gets to dub sides. Harold Butler plays most of the album's keyboards, including credited Mellotron, although the only place it even might be is the very background strings on Hail Dawta, making this a bit of a no-no on the Mellotron front.

Going by the title of the same year's Reggae Disco Rockers, Harriott seems to be trying to cover as many genres as possible; what we actually get is an album of soft soul/reggae, highlighting the former's influence on the latter. A handful of Harriott originals sit alongside a range of covers, not least opener Eighteen With A Bullet, then recently a hit for its composer, Pete Wingfield, although pretty much every track is given the same laid-back treatment, which you'll either like, or, er, you won't. Butler on Mellotron again, with pseudo-orchestral strings on Wish Upon A Star and Castles In The Air, with solo flute and string parts on the latter.

These are decent enough reggae albums from the time, although heavily overshadowed by The Wailers' more revolutionary approach and subsequently sounding a little dated these days, with better Mellotron use on Reggae Disco Rockers.

Brett Harris  (US)

Brett Harris, 'Man of Few Words'

Man of Few Words  (2010,  38.31)  **½/½

I Found Out
Something Beautiful
Drop the Needle
So Easy
Perpetual Motion
See the Light
Too Late
Man of Few Words
Over and Over

Current availability:

Mellotron used:

Brett Harris (nothing to do with the Christian dweeb) describes himself on his website as a 'pop musician', so at least you know what you're getting. His debut, 2010's Man of Few Words, is a fairly harmless, if also fairly dull poppy singer-songwriter effort, the occasional ray of light creeping through in the form of one or more powerpop tropes, better tracks including Perpetual Motion and the folky Wish.

Legendary powerpop doyen Chris Stamey (credited as 'additional producer') plays Mellotron on See The Light, with a few background flute notes that hardly count, to be honest. Overall, then, a rather weedy take on powerpop, best left to those who favour drippy singer-songwriter fare over anything resembling Big Star and their ilk.

Official site

George Harrison  (UK)

George Harrison, 'Wonderwall Music'

Wonderwall Music  (1968,  45.44)  ****/TT

Red Lady Too
Tabla and Pakavaj
In the Park
Drilling a Home
Guru Vandana
Greasy Legs
Gat Kirwani
Dream Scene
Party Seacombe
Love Scene
Cowboy Music
Fantasy Sequins
On the Bed
Glass Box
Wonderwall to Be Here
Singing Om

Current availability:

Mellotron used:

George's first solo album is the soundtrack (or a part thereof) to 'Wonderwall', apparently a rather run-of-the-mill psychedelic-era film (I've never seen it) about a guy who brightens his life up a little by drilling a hole through to his hippy neighbours to spy on their lifestyle, falling in love with Jane Birkin in the process (understandable). Slight? Undoubtedly, but George's soundtrack music's really rather good, mixing pieces of Indian music (Microbes, Tabla And Pakavaj, Glass Box etc.) with more typically late-'60s fare, with generous helpings of barroom piano, with the occasional bit of Mellotron thrown in, too. As with most soundtracks, don't expect a cohesive effort here; Dream Scene and Cowboy Music are much as you'd expect, while the frankly bizarre Crying features two violins wailing up and down the scale in an onomatopoeic manner.

Wonderwall Music is actually notable (at least on this site) for being George's only use of (presumably) his own Mark II; at least, I don't know of any other 'Tron use throughout his lengthy solo career, although this album is hardly loaded with it. Red Lady Too has flute chords doubled with 'Tron vibes behind the almost honky-tonk piano, while Drilling A Home features MkII Dixieland rhythms with some interesting varispeed tape effects. Greasy Legs has more vibes, but Wonderwall To Be Here is the album's Mellotronic highlight, with some gorgeous strings giving a very Moodies-like feel to the far too short piece. The recent CD issue adds a swarm of bonus tracks, which I believe are the rest of the soundtrack, plus other odd bits, including a track recorded with George by the Remo Four, on which I hope to comment as soon as I get to hear them.

So... do you or don't you? Well, Wonderwall Music is probably best described as a 'period piece', and it's quite a pleasant listen, but don't expect to hear much (any?) of George's guitar work on it, although Eric Clapton is apparently present somewhere along the line (maybe the psych leads on Ski-ing?). As for the Mellotron, there are only two or three particularly good tracks, and only one of those is at all overt, so I'd probably have to say no for the 'Tron, not sure for the music, but yes for a small piece of music history.

Official site

See: Bootlegs | Beatles | Paul McCartney | John Lennon | Ringo Starr

Angie Hart  (Australia)

Angie Hart, 'Eat My Shadow'

Eat My Shadow  (2009,  39.43/58.20)  **/T

There's Nothing Wrong With You
I'm Afraid of Fridays
Nullarbor Plain
Funny Guy
I Lead When We Dance
Dark Days Over
Little Bridges
When You Sleep
[Bonus disc:
There is a Light That Never Goes Out
Only Love Can Break Your Heart
I Want to Conquer You]

Current availability:

Mellotron used:

Angie Hart was vocalist with Frente!, an early '90s Aussie pop outfit, moving on to a duo, Splendid, with her then-husband, before striking out on her own with 2007's Grounded Bird. She followed up, two years later, with Eat My Shadow, a rather insipid singer-songwriter effort, to be honest, little of its material really standing out. Unusually for an album of this type, you can hear Hart's strine accent all over the place, rather than the more common generic US or UK English, although I wouldn't say it's a feature that enhances the record. Funnily enough, the bonus disc that comes with some versions of the album is far better than the album proper, including covers of The Smiths' There Is A Light That Never Goes Out and Neil Young's Only Love Can Break Your Heart, amongst others.

Shane Nicholson plays Mellotron, with flute chords on Funny Guy and Glitter, although that seems to be it. Overall, then, somewhat dullsville, in fact, downright irritating in places, with some minor Mellotron work, although the covers disc is slightly better.

Official site

Beth Hart  (US)

Beth Hart, 'Screamin' for My Supper'

Screamin' for My Supper  (1999,  60.50/65.30)  **½/T½

Just a Little Hole
Delicious Surprise
L.A. Song (Out of This Town)

Is That Too Much to Ask
By Her
Get Your Shit Together
Girls Say
Sky is Falling
Favorite Things
[bonus tracks:
Take Me Away
There's No Sound]
Beth Hart, 'Leave the Light on'

Leave the Light on  (2003,  41.30)  ***/½

Lifts You Up
Leave the Light on
Bottle of Jesus
World Without You
Lay Your Hands on Me
Broken and Ugly
If God Only Knew
Monkey Back
Sky Full of Clover
I'll Stay With You

Current availability:

Chamberlin/Mellotron used:

Beth Hart is an L.A.-based singer-songwriter who, going by her performance on her second album, Screamin' for My Supper, desperately wants to be 'soulful', ending up sounding like an updated Janis Joplin (who, ironically, she has played in an off-Broadway show). There's nothing actually wrong with her voice per se, but if she stopped over-emoting for all she's worth, she'd be a lot easier on the ears. Most of the material is far too R&B-ish for my liking, although there's obviously a vast market for this stuff; not in my house, however.

In addition to the four-piece band Hart has playing with her (she plays keyboards, too), several musicians are credited on a track-by-track basis, which tells us that the ubiquitous Patrick Warren plays Chamberlin on two tracks, with various strings on Delicious Surprise and L.A. Song (Out Of This Town). However, there are three other obvious Chamby tracks, so I can only assume that her 'regular' keys man, Benmont Tench (Tom Petty's Heartbreakers) plays it, as he's done for so many other artists, not least Johnny Cash and Aimee Mann, with strings on Just A Little Hole and the album's hidden track, There's No Sound, and a short flute part on Skin.

Hart's follow-up, 2003's Leave the Light on, has been available in many different versions in different 'territories', or 'countries', as the rest of us know them. The 'standard international version', released in late '03, several months after the New Zealand version, for some reason, is a rather mixed bag, although it has its moments, not least Bottle Of Jesus and Lay Your Hands On Me, although the programmed loops are rather irritating, and other tracks merely grate, particularly closer I'll Stay With You. Morten Buchholtz is credited with Mellotron, but the only place it even might be hanging out is a faint string part on World Without You, but you've got to listen pretty closely. I've heard several of the tracks that appeared on the other versions, and there's nothing obvious on any of them, for what it's worth.

As far as Screamin' for My Supper goes, I've probably been a little harsh, but that kind of voice just makes my hackles rise, and the musical content doesn't help. Five Chamby tracks, none of them exactly essential, so I'd go elsewhere if I were you. The aforementioned Aimee Mann might be a good place to start. Leave the Light on is marginally better, but ultimately drags, especially if you hear one of the longer versions.

Official site

Corey Hart  (Canada)

Corey Hart, 'Jade'

Jade  (1998,  48.28)  **/½

Let it Fly
Without You
You & I
Break the Chain
So Visible (Easy to Miss)
Above the Trees
Everytime You Smile

Current availability:

Mellotron used:

Montreal native Corey Hart seems to've been around for ever, producing pop for adults, AOR-lite (!), singer-songwriter stuff for those who don't want to hear anything unsettling... Suffice to say, his eighth album, Jade, is a soporific collection which only picks up even vaguely towards the end, with a couple of slightly less irritating faster tracks, though they do little to liven things up, to be honest.

One Mellotron track, with near-inaudible strings on Break The Chain from Michel Corriveau, with what sounds like a few volume-pedalled chords a little way in, but like so many of these utterly average records I review, the 'Tron input is minimal; I'd imagine it's rather too full-on for this type of album, which begs the question: why bother at all? So you can put 'Mellotron' on your instrumental credits? Pour quois? So; avoid on all fronts. Pointless.

Official site

Roddy Hart  (UK)

Roddy Hart, 'Bookmarks'

Bookmarks  (2006,  53.50)  **½/T

The Life and Times of Joseph Rowe
She is All I Need
Temperance of Peace
My Greatest Success
I Will Not Fear the Dark
Rain in December
Nothing is Broken
One Thousand Lives
Time is a Thief
Journey's End
Roddy Hart, 'Road of Bones'

Road of Bones  (2010,  44.16)  ***½/T

Restless Soul
If We Should Meet Again
Waiting for the Sun
Close to the Flame
Girl Called Jo
Edge of Love
Day By Day
Playing Soltaire
Road of Bones

Current availability:

Mellotrons used:

Scot Roddy Hart could easily be mistaken for American, at least on record, his first widely-available album, 2006's Bookmarks, being more Americana than anything else. It's one of those albums where the lyrics take precedence over the music, a casual listen refusing to divulge its strengths, although the actual music is relatively uninteresting, sadly. It's not all bad news; Flames and the Dylanesque She Is All I Need are better than average, but too many of the slightly overlong album's tracks let it down. Hart plays Mellotron himself, with cellos all over Temperance Of Peace and (less so) on Rain In December, although most of the album's keyboard work is very '60s/'70s-sounding Hammond.

Four years on and 2010's Road of Bones is a massive improvement; although Hart's loosely working in the same genre, the songwriting's gone up several notches. Excellent opener Restless Soul mines the same lyrical seam as Richard Thompson's incomparable Beeswing, the energetic Girl Called Jo transcends its slightly mundane subject matter and the closing title track, a piano ballad, rounds the album off stylishly. Hart plays Mellotron again, with an effective flute solo on Close To The Flame, although that would seem to be our lot.

So; two Scottish Americana efforts, one perfectly acceptable yet dull, one very acceptable indeed, both with little Mellotron.

Official site

Jamie Hartman  (UK)  see: Samples etc.

Harvestman  (US)  see: Samples etc.

P.J. Harvey  (UK)

P.J. Harvey, 'Is This Desire?'

Is This Desire?  (1998,  40.37)  ***½/T

The Sky Lit Up
The Wind
My Beautiful Leah
A Perfect Day Elise
Electric Light
The Garden
The River
No Girl So Sweet
Is This Desire?
P.J. Harvey, 'White Chalk'

White Chalk  (2007,  34.53)  ***½/T

The Devil
Dear Darkness
Grow Grow Grow
When Under Ether
White Chalk
Broken Harp
To Talk to You
The Piano
Before Departure
The Mountain
PJ Harvey & John Parish, 'A Woman a Man Walked By'

A Woman a Man Walked By  [as PJ Harvey & John Parish]  (2009,  38.02)  ***/T½

Black Hearted Love
Sixteen, Fifteen, Fourteen
Leaving California
The Chair
A Woman a Man Walked By/The Crow
  Knows Where All the Little Children Go
The Soldier
Pig Will Not
Passionless, Pointless

Cracks in the Canvas
PJ Harvey, 'Let England Shake'

Let England Shake  (2011,  39.41)  ***/0

Let England Shake
The Last Living Rose
The Glorious Land
The Words That Maketh Murder
All and Everyone
On Battleship Hill
In the Dark Places
Bitter Branches
Hanging in the Wire
Written on the Forehead
The Colour of the Earth

Current availability:

Mellotrons used:

As is well documented, Polly Jean Harvey is a modern-day enigma, constantly changing her sound and image, always a step ahead of the pack. Sound like someone else we know? Kate Bush also falls into this category to an extent, but to her credit, Harvey sounds nothing like her, vocally or musically, unlike several other female singers I can think of. She apparently becomes irritated when critics assume that her work is autobiographical. Fair point; does anyone accuse Dylan of always writing about his own life? Actually, they probably do, which says more about them than him, I think.

1998's Is This Desire?, like the rest of her output, is effectively a singer-songwriter album, albeit heavily stylised, with the core of the album being Polly's actual songs, which are pretty good if you ignore some of the now-dated arrangements. Despite the real strings on several tracks, I'm pretty sure it's Mellotron on the heavily electronic My Beautiful Leah, with strings from either late-period Captain Beefheart collaborator Eric Drew Feldman or John Parish, sounding distinctly different to the real ones. Almost a decade on, 2007's White Chalk is, overall, a more acoustic album, with Polly playing piano on several tracks, though the overall weirdness level is still fairly high. So what would you rather hear? R&fuckin'B? Lyrically, it's as uncompromising as ever, with a particularly rude verse on When Under Ether. Definitely Feldman on 'Tron this time round, with flutes on Silence, though I suspect the various string sounds to be heard on the album are either real or synth.

2009's co-credited Harvey/Parish release, A Woman a Man Walked By, is, well, it's another P.J. Harvey album, co-credit or not, albeit one darker than usual. Once again, it veers between noisy and quiet, although rarely in the same song, better tracks including opener Black Hearted Love, Leaving California and Passionless, Pointless. Definitely Parish on Mellotron this time round, with a high, cracked string line on Leaving California, a major string part on Pig Will Not and flutes on Passionless, Pointless, although the possible flutes on The Chair sound more like some variety of feedback effect. On the other hand, Polly's 2011 solo, Let England Shake, sounding more like her usual self, has Mellotron credited on three tracks: the opening title track, England and the closing The Colour Of The Earth, all from Parish, but it's completely inaudible all round.

So; an eclectic artist who's used a little Mellotron. You don't really need to hear these albums for their Mellotronic input, but Harvey's a fascinating artist in her own right and I can imagine her music repays however much effort is put into getting to know it.

Official site

Kazumasa Hashimoto  (Japan)

Kazumasa Hashimoto, 'Tokyo Sonata'

Tokyo Sonata  [OST]  (2008,  46.20)  ****/TTTT

Main Theme A
Unten [take 1]
Unten [take 2]
Main Theme B

Clair de Lune
Ryuhei no Mezame
Daini no Ansoku
Tori no Yume
Toku ni Mieru Hikari
Okina Juryoku

Yasashii Koe
Echo, Echo
Clair de Lune

Current availability:

Mellotron used:

Kazumasa Hashimoto's Tokyo Sonata is his soundtrack to the 2008 film of the same name, a modern tale of how 'normality' and harmony can be destroyed by circumstance. The soundtrack is a truly beautiful piece of work, performed on woodwind, piano and Mellotron; heartbreakingly transparent, this is not the soundtrack to your typical Hollywood all-action blockbuster. Aside from Debussy's Clair De Lune (the last track is Hashimoto's own arrangement, only found on this album), all the material is original, so no selection of current indie faves and past 'classics' to distract us here. This isn't the kind of album that has 'highlights' per se; it's designed to be listened to in its entirety, and at a mere 46 minutes, surely that isn't asking too much of the listener?

Hashimoto plays what appear to be real Mellotron flutes on a large chunk of the album. Certain notes sound the same (wobbly, dull, even flat) every time they're played, which could indicate first-generation samples, but then, chances are they would using the real thing, if it was badly adjusted. Anyway, it's the main sound used on all the highlighted tracks above (plus cellos on Okina Juryoku and Ending), highlights including the Main Theme, Unten [Take 2] and Okina Juryoku. Listen, this is one of the best 'Mellotron albums' I've heard in a while; do yourself a favour and get to hear it. Great composition and shedloads of 'Tron work; what's not to like?

Official site

Annie Haslam  (UK)

Annie Haslam, 'The Dawn of Ananda'

The Dawn of Ananda  (2000,  49.12)  ***/T½

Precious One
Summon the Angels
'Michael' Prince of Angels
Lily Lullaby
This is Destiny
A Thousand Angels
Running River Runs
Angel Blue

Current availability:

Mellotron used:

Annie Haslam is, of course, best-known for her long-term membership of Renaissance, where her pure soprano and the band's orchestral approach aided them in standing out from the 'second rung down' progressive pack. The Dawn of Ananda was her fifth solo album, and is probably comparable to the most laid-back end of Renaissance's work, although it borders both MOR and New Age, too; this is not an album for your Inner Punk. Annie's voice is as beautiful as ever here, although the orchestrations are synth-derived these days; there are at least five keyboard players credited on the record, depending on whether the legendary Tony Visconti's 'multi-instruments' credit includes keys.

One of the five 'definites' is Larry Fast, a.k.a. Synergy, always more of a synthesist than a 'keyboard' player per se. It's rumoured that he played Mellotron on the album, and indeed, those distinctive choirs and strings appear on the last two tracks, Running River Runs and Angel Blue, although it's impossible to tell whether or not Fast's M400 is involved; I believe it's been renovated in recent years, although not until after this album's release. So; could be samples, could be real. These things have a way of being verified one way or the other, so I may be coming back to this at some point. In the meantime, if you're looking for something at the very laid-back end of the progressive spectrum, you may just have found it, although I really wouldn't bother for the Mellotron work.

Official site

See: Renaissance

Hater  (US)

Hater, 'Hater'

Hater  (1993,  31.06)  **½/T

Mona Bone Jakon
Who Do I Kill?
Tot Finder
Lion and Lamb
Down Undershoe
Sad McBain

Current availability:

Mellotron used:

Hater were a Soundgarden side-project, formed by bassist Ben Shepherd and drummer Matt Cameron, along with Monster Magnet guitarist John McBain, all three going on to play in the rather better Wellwater Conspiracy. Hater's unformed riffs give the Seattle game away; my chief problem with the whole 'grunge' explosion is that, for something supposedly in the hard rock area, decent riffs are at a premium, although I suppose its thrashy post-punk chord sequences define it. Doesn't make me like it any more, though... Despite the album's brevity, it still manages to outstay its welcome, sounding exactly like what it is: a side-project made by the rhythm section of a better-known band. Sorry, but this is pretty unexciting stuff, badly sung and only competently played, and what the hell's with the country-punk Blistered?

Glenn Slater plays Mellotron on one track, with a rather badly played string part on Lion And Lamb, which really isn't going to put this at the top of your 'Mellotron wants list', or probably even on it all, to be honest. Think: bassist and drummer record side-project. Mind you, the Wellwater Conspiracy are great; maybe they'd got their heads round the whole business by then. Oh, and for anyone else who's spotted the title, opener Mona Bone Jakon is the Cat Stevens track, apparently with Shepherd's additional lyrics.

Official site

See: Soundgarden | Monster Magnet | Wellwater Conspiracy

Juliana Hatfield  (US)

Juliana Hatfield, 'Only Everything'

Only Everything  (1995,  51.23)  **½/T

What a Life
Fleur de Lys
Universal Heart-Beat
Dumb Fun
Live on Tomorrow
Dying Proof
Bottles and Flowers
Hang Down From Heaven
My Darling
Simplicity is Beautiful
You Blues

Current availability:

Mellotron used:

Juliana Hatfield (ex-Blake Babies) has attracted quite a bit of stick during her career for coming from a fairly well-off family. Well, kiss my arse; so what? If I tried to compile a list of 'rock stars from comfortable homes', I'd be here all year, and it's only February. Going by her second solo album proper, 1995's Only Everything, I would criticise her for her bland, mainstream 'alternative' rock (alternative to what, precisely?), but that's another matter. Maybe if the album had been trimmed down to 30-something minutes it might be better, but 50 minutes of her sub-Pixies/Nirvana style gets a bit much after a while. That isn't to say that the whole album's a dullsville waste of time; Congratulations features an interesting high-up-the-neck riff (a Hatfield trademark, apparently), while Hang Down From Heaven's acoustic verses break the pattern nicely, but there are too many also-rans here, doing the album no favours at all.

Hatfield herself plays Mellotron on My Darling, with a nice enough flute part that almost certainly comes from a real 'Tron, and not a very well maintained one, by the sound of it. That's your lot, though, and it's a lot of substandard post-grunge to listen to for one barely passable track.

Official site

Hatfield & the North  (UK)

Hatfield & the North, 'Hatfield & the North'

Hatfield & the North  (1973,  46.20/54.11)  ***½/T

The Stubbs Effect
Big Jobs (Poo Poo Extract)
Going Up to People and Tinkling
Son of 'There's No Place Like Homerton'
Fol de Rol
Shaving is Boring
Licks for the Ladies
Bossa Nochance
Big Jobs No.2 (By Poo and the Wee Wees)
Lobster in Cleavage Probe
Gigantic Land Crabs in Earth Takeover Bid
The Other Stubbs Effect
[CD adds:
Let's Eat (Real Soon)
Fitter Stoke Has a Bath]
Hatfield & the North, 'The Rotters Club'

The Rotters Club  (1975,  50.19/63.26)  ***½/½

Share it
Lounging There Trying
(Big) John Wayne Socks
  Psychology on the Jaw
Chaos at the Greasy Spoon
The Yes No Interlude
Fitter Stoke Has a Bath
Didn't Matter Anyway
  Your Majesty is Like a Cream Donut (quiet)
  Your Majesty is Like a Cream Donut (loud)

[CD adds:
(Big) John Wayne Socks Psychology
  on the Jaw
Chaos at the Greasy Spoon
Halfway Between Heaven and Earth
Oh, Len's Nature!
Lything and Gracing]

Current availability:

Mellotrons used:

Hatfield and the North (named after a road sign on the A1 on the way out of London - still there, last I saw) were part of the rather nebulous 'Canterbury' scene, progressive rock characterised by a jazzy bent, not to mention somewhat substance-inspired song titles. The Hatfields are a particularly bad example of this, obviously finding something howlingly funny about the titles you see above, although the music suggests nothing of the sort. In fact, the Your Majesty Is Like A Cream Donut bit is borrowed directly from Monty Python, so if I was feeling generous I could write the whole thing off to boyish enthusiasm. Or something. However, it's impossible to slag the band's musical dexterity; fuck, could they play! If you're impressed by obscenely outrageous displays of musicianship (and I know some of you are - and where you live), you'll be blown away by these albums.

Hatfield and the North is at its best when the singing stops, so it's a good job it's largely instrumental. The tracks run into each other to the point where you have to watch the CD display to know when you're on the next one, making me suspect that the track divisions are pretty arbitrary, and mainly there to give the band free rein on their penchant for idiotic titles. Dave Stewart (good Dave Stewart, of Egg, Arzachel etc., as against evil Dave Stewart of the bloody Eurythmics) plays his heart out here, with the sort of instrumental callisthenics that could get him a job as trick keyboardist at the circus; really quite spectacular, with considerable melodic invention. Pity it's all rather dodgy jazz-rock, really, as the band had talent to spare, but obviously considered this was a good area in which to utilise it. Anyway, aside from the usual piano, organ and synths stuff, Stewart plays some typically abstruse Mellotron strings on the rocking Shaving Is Boring, just before it lurches into the 'Caravan section', with that irritating organ sound favoured by bands from Canterbury. Maybe it was something you could only buy there. Let's hope so. The CD bonus tracks are from a single released later in '74, by the way. Yes, they released a single.

The Rotters Club shifts further into 'irritating jazz territory', with too many vocal sections for comfort, though the instrumental sections are still ridiculously dextrous, as you'd expect. The only 'Tron this time round is a few chords at the beginning of Didn't Matter Anyway, with literally a handful of string chords that fade in, then out again. I can't give an album less than half a 'T', but this barely deserves even that; I'm not sure I've heard another album containing so little Mellotron, without (of course), containing none. Why bother? Incidentally, due to the restrictions of my HTML table formatting, Mumps is actually the whole of side two, although its four parts are listed in the second column above, and the bonus tracks are from a posthumous album, Afters.

Anyway, if ferociously-played jazz-rock's your bag, you'll love the Hatfields. Conversely, if it's not... There are a few good tunes (remember them?) here and there on these albums, but they tend to be a bit few and far between. There's so little Mellotron, particularly on The Rotters Club, that they were barely even worth reviewing, to be honest. One (or two) for musos everywhere.

See: Egg | Pip Pyle

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