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Jo Jo Gunne
Jobriath

Jellyfiche  (Québec)  see: Samples

Jellyfish  (US)

Jellyfish, 'Split Milk'

Split Milk  (1993,  46.17)  ****½/T

Hush
Joining a Fan Club
Sebrina, Paste and Plato
New Mistake
The Glutton of Sympathy
The Ghost at Number One
Bye, Bye, Bye
All is Forgiven
Russian Hill
He's My Best Friend
Too Much, Too Little, Too Late
Brighter Day

Current availability:

Mellotron used:

Jellyfish were a short-lived powerpop outfit, heavily influenced by The Beach Boys and Queen, with sublime chord changes and heavenly harmonies to spare. Unbelievably, they only lasted two albums (their debut, Bellybutton (****½), is equally good) before disbanding due to lack of punter interest. It's a sick world we live in.

Split Milk is absolutely marvellous, chock full of classics such as Joining A Fan Club and Russian Hill; how did they fail? The CD booklet unfolds to reveal a composite picture of the studio, gazing around from the centre point, with band members cropping up in various places. They used a panoply of vintage gear, with pride of place going to a gorgeous B3 and a perspex grand piano (!), and if you look closely, a pristine M400 in the background. They only obviously used it on one track, probably played by main keys man Roger Manning (later of the infamous Moog Cookbook and many others), with a flute line on He's My Best Friend, but it would've fitted seamlessly onto at least another half dozen tracks. Sometimes, more is more.

Listen, if a good tune is your prime criterion, you badly need both Jellyfish albums. Among the cognoscenti, they're beginning to be mentioned in the same breath as the aforementioned Beach Boys, The Beatles, Big Star and all the other 'B's. Buy or die. NOW!

Fan site

See: Umajets

Jeniferever  (Sweden)  see: Samples

Jane Jensen  (US)

Jane Jensen, 'Comic Book Whore'

Comic Book Whore  (1996,  48.15)  **½/½

More Than I Can
Luv Song
King
Cowboy
Highway 90
Listen
Blank Sugar
Dream Ridiculous Implausable
Clumsy
Superstar
Be Just Sound

Current availability:

Mellotron used:

Jane Jensen is something of a polymath, her talents encompassing visual art, dance, music and theatre, although going by her second album, 1996's Comic Book Whore, I'm not sure she shouldn't have stuck to some of the other disciplines. It has its moments, certainly, but much of it crosses electronica with 'modern rock', creating a rather unappetising stew in the process, typified by Luv Song or Highway 90.

Steve Barber plays Mellotron on closer Be Just Sound, with what sounds like a brief string section part near the end of the track. All in all, then, nothing to get too excited about, for music or Mellotron.

MySpace

Jeremy (& Progressor)  (US/Uzbekistan)  see: Samples

Jeronimo  (Germany)

Jeronimo, 'Time Ride'

Time Ride  (1972,  41.03)  **½/½

Time Ride
There Are People
Blind Man
To Be Alone
Sunshine
Indian River
Do You Still Remember
Ice Dream
Gone

Current availability:

Mellotron used:

Jeronimo had considerable success at the end of the '60s with two major hits, Heya Heya and Na Na Hey Hey (gets round the language barrier, I suppose), while their first album was a split compilation with Creedence Clearwater Revival (!). Time Ride was their fourth and last full album, and is best described as a budget Uriah Heep, a major influence on many European bands. Areas covered go from the rather dated hard rock of Time Ride itself through the balladry of To Be Alone and all points in between, and although it's quite listenable for a few tracks, I found myself losing the will to live towards the end.

Guitarist Michael Koch doubled on keyboards, adding some low-in-the-mix Mellotron brass to There Are People and To Be Alone, but it's hardly what you'd call essential listening, to be honest. So; a dated, dreary, really rather average album with a little inessential Mellotron. Not what you'd call a winning combination, is it? One for fans of the era, I think.

Official site

Jet  (UK)

Jet, 'Jet' Jet, 'Jet'

Jet  (1975,  38.49/41.22)  ***½/TT

Start Here
Brian Damage
It Would Be Good
Song for Hymn
Nothing to Do With Us
Tittle-Tattle

Fax'n'Info
My River
Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend
Whangdepootenawah
Cover Girl
[CD adds:
Quandary]
Jet, 'More Light Than Shade'

More Light Than Shade  (2000, recorded 1974-76,  72.48)  ***/T½

Desdemona
Lady Ricochet
Horrible Breath
My River
Start Here
Around the World in Eighty Minutes
We Love Noise
Tax Loss
Our Boys
Hand on My Heart
Johnny Mekon
Diamonds Are a Girl's Best
  Friend (live)
Song For Hymn (live)
Tittle-Tattle (live)
Nothing To Do With Us (live)
Cover Girl (live)
Uncle Evil
Don't Cry, Joe
Antler
Gurus or Gaga?
Jet, 'Some Flotsam'

Some Flotsam  (2010, recorded 1975,  58.41)  ***½/TT½

Jet Intro
Tittle-Tattle
Cover Girl
Song for Hymn

Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend
My River
Horrible Breath
Brian Damage
Nothing to Do With Us
Song for Hymn

Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend
My River
Horrible Breath
Brian Damage
Nothing to Do With Us

Current availability:

Mellotrons used:

Jet coalesced in 1974, comprising ex-members of Marc Bolan's early outfit, John's Children (singer Andy Ellison and drummer Chris Townson), Sparks (bassist/songwriter Martin Gordon) and The Nice/pre-recording Roxy Music (deranged guitarist Davy O'List), plus keyboard player Peter Oxendale. Their sole album, the record company-named Jet (nice one, guys. Imaginative), is a fine slice of post-glam, pre-punk mayhem, containing rather strange odes to the modern world along the lines of Start Here, Nothing To Do With Us and Fax'n'Info, that were clearly never going to fit into any comfortable niche either at the time or subsequently. There are hints of Sparks and Roxy in its grooves, but Jet were a band unto themselves and themselves only. Oxendale plays some of the most badly-recorded Mellotron I've ever heard, with choirs and strings on Brian Damage (sic) and Nothing To Do With Us, strings all over Song For Hymn and choirs on Tittle-Tattle and the unpronounceable Whangdepootenawah, though how much they actually improve the album is difficult to define. Try to see it as an amusing diversion.

That was effectively it for Jet, three of its members going on to form the inimitable Radio Stars, just in time to get caught up in the whole punk business, although their gleeful refusal to toe the pre-PC party line espoused by the sexless likes of The Clash (the most overrated band ever? Discuss) made them targets for derision and worse from the frankly fascistic music press of the day (yes, NME, I'm talking to you). That was that, then, until 2000 or so, when the original album finally made it to CD, alongside an archive release, More Light Than Shade, containing various demos and live tracks. It's a pretty decent effort as such things go, although it (understandably) lacks even their studio album's vague cohesion. Their 1974 demo tracks aren't bad, but aren't up to the album recordings, although their second album demos are probably the best thing here, clearly leading up to The Radio Stars' brief burst of fame. The live material sounds like it's from a BBC recording, with an announcer, er, announcing and generally letting the listener know what's going on. Oxendale is introduced as playing, "Five different keyboards, including a synthesizer and a Mellotron", before you hear one of the band referring to it, too; he plays strings on Song For Hymn, Tittle-Tattle and Nothing To Do With Us, replicating his studio parts in arrangement, if not timbre, although the strings on the last three tracks are string synth.

A third Jet album hit the virtual shelves in 2010, the live download-only Some Flotsam, consisting of their full set from Bristol Colston Hall in 1975, supporting Ian Hunter and Mick Ronson, with selections from their Hammersmith date as bonuses. These soundboard recordings are a proper warts'n'all record of the band's live show, which was surprisingly good, all things considered. Highlights of their nine-song set include future Radio Stars 'classics' Cover Girl and the proto-punk Horrible Breath, My River, Nothing To Do With Us and the nearest they got to a ballad, Song For Hymn. Oxendale adds Mellotron to several tracks, with background strings on Tittle-Tattle, Cover Girl and Brian Damage and more upfront ones on Song For Hymn and Nothing To Do With Us, all parts repeated on the relevant bonus versions.

Generally speaking, Jet were an aberration in the ghastly mess of commercial interests and lowest-common-denominators known as The Music Biz, and all the better for it, if you ask me. None of these albums are in any way consistent, which is probably to their advantage, although it doesn't mean you'll necessarily like them. The Mellotron on all is a bit on the shoddy side, but can you imagine it any other way? The band still perform the odd informal reformation gig, as do The Radio Stars (let's face it, there isn't much between them), which are probably as shambolic as you'd expect. Martin Gordon has released five albums in his 'Mammal Trilogy'; he promises the fifth is the last. The one I've heard is full of rather excellent songs, making me keen to hear the rest.

Official Martin Gordon site

Jet Set Satellite  (Canada)

Jet Set Satellite, 'Blueprint'

Blueprint  (2000,  43.19)  ***/½

Lies By the Thousands
Best Way to Die
The Night it Went Too Far
Blueprint
The Goodbye Letter
Baby, Cool Your Jets
After the Rain
Tinfoil Star
Afterglow
Suddenly
[bonus track:
Best Way to Die (original version)]

Current availability:

Chamberlin/Mellotron used:

I have to say I agree with the 'Net reviewer who, upon hearing Jet Set Satellite's Blueprint, commented that 'they're trying so hard to be 'alternative rock' that they end up sounding almost like pastiche', or somesuch. A duo at time of recording, Canadians Trevor Tuminski and Dave Swiecicki have made a reasonable enough album, although I found it all a bit unengaging, though that could be my fault rather than theirs. None of the tracks actually stand out in any particular way to my ears, although there's enough variety across the album to stop the casual listener from being too bored.

The only tape replay track is Blueprint itself, with Swiecicki on Chamberlin and John Webster on Mellotron, along with a real string arrangement. Unsurprisingly, it's almost impossible to isolate the taped instruments from the real ones, and I can't hear any likely non-string sound, so don't go out of your way for this one. Average.

Official site

Jethro Tull  (UK)

Jethro Tull, 'Witches Promise' 7"  (1970)  ***½/T½

Witches Promise

Teacher
Jethro Tull, 'Aqualung'

Aqualung  (1971,  43.34)  ****½/T½

Aqualung
Cross-Eyed Mary
Cheap Day Return
Mother Goose
Wond'ring Aloud
Up to Me
My God
Hymn 43
Slipstream
Locomotive Breath
Wind-Up
Jethro Tull, 'Living in the Past'

Living in the Past  (1972)  ****½/T½

Song for Jeffrey
Love Story
Christmas Song
Living in the Past
Driving Song
Bourée
Sweet Dream
Singing All Day
Witches Promise
Teacher
Inside
Just Trying to Be
By Kind Permission of
Dharma for One
Wond'ring Again
Locomotive Breath
Life is a Long Song
Up the 'Pool
Dr. Bogenbroom
For Later
Nursie
Jethro Tull, 'Songs From the Wood'

Songs From the Wood  (1977,  41.22)  ****½/T

Songs From the Wood
Jack-in-the-Green
Cup of Wonder
Hunting Girl
Ring Out, Solstice Bells
Velvet Green
The Whistler
Pibroch (Cap in Hand)
Fire at Midnight

Current availability:

Mellotrons used:

Tull are a bit of an odd one on the Mellotron front; they toyed with using one a handful of times, then gave it up as a bad job. First heard on their early 1970 single, Witches Promise, a 'properly' arranged string part is played by new recruit John Evan (actually Evans) to great effect. For some unknown reason, this track seems to be spelt in several different ways, including Witch's Promise and both spellings with or without a 'The'. A later single, Life's A Long Song is also known as Life Is A Long Song, so maybe the band just had trouble with their spelling. Who knows.

Jethro Tull, from 'Living in the Past'

Come '71, and Tull produced what many still regard as their classic, Aqualung, containing mainman Ian Anderson's views on life, the universe and, well, everything really. The title track and Locomotive Breath are still played at every Tull gig to this day, but it's second track in, Cross-Eyed Mary that concerns us here. A creepy ascending strings part is played under Anderson's flute intro, leading up to the first verse, where it stops dead. And that's it. No more Mellotron, apart from a very brief burst several years later. Jethro Tull went on to greater fame and fortune with their first concept album proper, Thick as a Brick (*****), about which Anderson (seen here in classic pose) recently expressed amazement that no-one realised they were taking the piss out of their contemporaries. Trouble is, it's so good that it didn't really occur to anyone that they weren't supposed to take it seriously, despite the rather silly lyrics. Well, that's my theory and I'm sticking to it.

Between Aqualung and Thick as a Brick, Tull released Living in the Past, a wittily-titled double album of odds'n'sods from the first few years of their career and a few unreleased tracks, containing Witches Promise, amongst others. The original issue came bound like a hardback book, with a booklet inside including both LPs; sadly, the age of the CD has made such packaging redundant. A shame. It also seems to've made complete tracklistings redundant, although Witches Promise is on the single CD, as well as the remaster of 1970's Benefit.

1977's Songs From the Wood, surprisingly, features a little Mellotron, too. After the rather formless Too Old to Rock'n'Roll, Too Young to Die (***), the album was a distinct change in direction, being both folk-influenced and very progressive, providing a home for several songs still played regularly by the band to this day. The title track is a wonderfully complex piece, with more stops and starts than, er, something that stops and starts a lot, while Hunting Girl is not only a fantastic song, but also features probably the filthiest lyric in the Tull canon, against, er, stiff competition. 'Spur necks the size of my thumb' indeed! Pibroch is one of the band's lesser-known prog epics, and Ring Out, Solstice Bells (a UK hit single) has to be the best non-Christmas Christmas song ever recorded.

By this point, Tull had expanded to include orchestral composer/arranger David Palmer on additional keyboards, but it's impossible to tell who played the 'Tron, as John Evans (who seems to have regained his 's') is credited with 'piano, organ and synthesizers', while Palmer has 'piano, synthesizer and portative organ', a wonderful mini-pipe organ they actually used to tour. No Mellotron, though. I reckon it's Evans, but who knows? Anyway, it can be heard on Cup Of Wonder, with some clearly audible strings, and is that the 'Tron flute, rather than Anderson's real one? Highly recommended, although not really for the 'Tron.

So; to buy or not to buy? Three good songs, three excellent albums, some OK 'Tron. It's up to you, really.

Official site

See: Ian Anderson

Jets to Brazil  (US)

Jets to Brazil, 'Perfecting Loneliness'

Perfecting Loneliness  (2002,  67.42)  **/T

The Frequency
You're the One I Want
Cat Heaven
Perfecting Loneliness
Lucky Charm
Wish List
Psalm
Autumn Walker
Further North
William Tell Override
Disgrace
Rocket Boy

Current availability:

Mellotron used:

Jets to Brazil were a New York-based sort of post-post-hardcore outfit, active from around 1997 to 2003. 'Post-post-hardcore'? A bit like a wussy Hüsker Dü without any of the good bits. Easy, eh? Going by their third and last album, 2002's Perfecting Loneliness, about the only thing they really seem to have perfected is the ability to play rock without any real passion, although they don't sink as far as the likes of Matchbox Twenty or Train, or about 500 other bands I could name if you tortured me for long enough. Speaking of things being long enough, not only is this album at least twenty minutes too long, with too many tracks, but almost all said tracks drag on far longer than necessary; practically nothing here's under four minutes, and closer Rocket Boy is stretched out to an unbelievable nine plus.

J. Robbins and Blake Schwarzenbach play Mellotron, with (mixed?) strings on the Hüsker Dü-ish You're The One I Want and Lucky Charm, which isn't Hüsker Dü-ish at all, just stultifyingly dull and (guess what) overlong, while a real cello turns up here and there (notably on Rocket Boy), just to confuse the issue. If this album were a four-track EP with edits of its best material, it might just about be palatable. As it is, it's dull as ditchwater and best avoided, although its 'Tron work is at least passable.

Fan site

Jewel  (US)

Jewel, '0304' Jewel, '0304'

0304  (2003,  53.16)  **½/T½

Stand
Run 2 U
Intuition
Leave the Lights on
2 Find U
Fragile Heart
Doin' Fine
2 Become 1
Haunted
Sweet Temptation
Yes U Can
U & Me = Love
America
Becoming

Current availability:

Chamberlin used:

Jewel Kilcher grew up in Alaska, moving down to California in her teens, slowly building a reputation as a young, serious singer-songwriter before being 'spotted'. After several successful albums of introspective material, for some bizarre reason (money? Fame?), she chose to hit the mainstream with 2003's 0304, promoting the album with a series of provocative videos, obviously attempting to appeal to the teeny crowd, although already in her late 20s. Huh? Except that her past keeps lurching through the sound, with her signature acoustic guitar on Run 2 U (note irritating Prince-style/txtspk titles), the banjo (!) on Fragile Heart and the accordion, for Chrissake, on Intuition. I can't work out at whom, exactly, this album is aimed; her old (very sizeable) fanbase aren't going to like it and why would the younger crowd suddenly latch on to someone half a generation away from them?

Anyway, almost the first sound on the album is Patrick Warren's (uncredited) Chamberlin flutes, although the later, credited use is mostly fairly minimal, with background strings on Leave The Lights On and Becoming and flutes on Fragile Heart, although the strings on Haunted are fairly upfront, with a nice 'slow-down' effect at the end.

Official site

See: Samples

Jiannis  (Greece)  see: Samples

Jigsaw  (UK)

Jigsaw, 'Letherslade Farm'

Letherslade Farm  (1970,  50.35)  **/T

Tap Dance (1)
Weaver's Answer
Interview (1)
Je T'aime/If You Were the
  Only Girl in the World
Interview (2)
Can I Have This Dance?
Interview (3)
School Sketch
Blow Blow Thou' Winter Wind
Interview (4)
Vicar's Sermon
Jesu Joy of Man's Desiring
Tap Dance (2)
Tap Dance (3)
Agent Sketch
Danny
Interview (5)
Northern Sketch (1)
A Nitingale Sang in
  Berkeley Square
Northern Sketch (2)
Say Hello to Mrs Jones
Northern Sketch (3)
Interview (6)
Diesel Blues
Interview (7)
Group Sketch
Morning
Interview (8)
Seven Fishes
Record Company Sketch
Interview (9)
Tap Dance (4)

Current availability:

Mellotron used:

Going by their debut, Letherslade Farm, I'd guess Jigsaw were already veterans of the cabaret scene by 1970, although I could be wrong. The album contains a ridiculous 32 tracks, most of them rather unfunny sketches or joke versions of known material, although Family's Weaver's Answer is atypical, being pretty much a straight cover. The album appears to be some kind of joke concept effort, its 'humour' not only forced, but incorporating all the usual -isms and -phobias you'd expect of the time, not least the recurring Tap Dance numbers, consisting of someone saying, "Anyone who can't tap dance must be queer" and the Agent Sketch's string of Jewish clichés. The handful of 'regular' songs tend to be fairly uninteresting (over eight minutes of Diesel Blues is unforgivable), although Morning isn't bad for what it is, ditto Seven Fishes.

Clive Scott's Mellotron (studio MkII, I'd guess) finally puts in an appearance on Say Hello To Mrs Jones, with a string part that barely sounds like a 'Tron, and I'm pretty sure that's Mellotron vibes on Seven Fishes, one of the record's handful of straighter tracks. Of course, the band finally found success in the mid-'70s, dressing in outrageous pink and silver costumes and making multiple Top of the Pops appearances with Sky High, before disappearing back into obscurity. That's the pop business for you, boys... Letherslade Farm was a fairly inauspicious start to their career, best described as a 'period piece', I think. Very little Mellotron, too, so I really couldn't recommend a purchase in the unlikely event that this ever sees a CD release.

Jigsaw Seen  (US)

Jigsaw Seen, 'My Name is Tom' Jigsaw Seen, 'My Name is Tom'

My Name is Tom  (1991/2006,  18.59/34.29)  ****/0 (T)

Warehouse the Wicked
Black Aggie
Persephone Again
The Daily Planet
My Name is Tom
[CD reissue adds:
Murder at the Luau
I'm So Happy Today
Off Track
Eight Lancashire Lads

The Best is Yet to Come]
Jigsaw Seen, 'Zenith'

Zenith  (2000,  44.15)  ***½/0

Letter to the Editor
I'm With You
Celebrity Interview
When You're Pretty
Tight Lips
Fiddlesticks
Girl on a Red Velvet Swing
Whore Kiss
Persephone Again
If My Eyes Offend You
Big Hand
Jigsaw Seen, 'Bananas Foster'

Bananas Foster  (2010,  37.50)  ***½/TT

Bertha Brilliance
David Hart's Name of Song
Melancholy Morning

Tonight's Episode
Choreography Killed the Cat
Where the Action Isn't
Cave Canem
You Look Like a Lot of People
Crazy Legs
Fruitbasket Upset
Jubilee
Jigsaw Seen, 'Winterland'

Winterland  (2011,  33.18)  ***/TT

What About Christmas?
December
Snow Angels of Pigtown

Woman Loves the Season
Candy Cane
Circle of Steel
Christmas Behind Me
First Day of the New Year
Dreams of Spring
Winterland's Gone
Jigsaw Seen, 'Gifted'

Gifted  (2012,  32.52)  ****/TTT

Open Up the Box Pandora
Myth of the Season
Christmas Ain't for Christians (Anymore)
Couples Skate

Sell Me a Coat
Hag of the Barren Trees
The More You Change
Rise of the Snowflake Children
Gifted
Pretend it's Christmas
Jigsaw Seen, 'Old Man Reverb'

Old Man Reverb  (2014,  33.28)  ***½/TTT

Let There Be Reverb
Idiots With Guitars
Die Laughing
Understand
We Women
Madame Whirligig
Hercules and Sylvia
Your Mind is Like Mine
Abide
Grief Rehearsal

Current availability:

Mellotrons/Chamberlins used:

L.A.-based powerpopsters The Jigsaw Seen have been around for twenty-odd years now, although 2000's masterful Zenith is, amazingly, only their second album (their third is due in 2010...). One a decade, chaps? Leaping back for a moment, 1991's My Name is Tom EP is stuffed with excellence (its closing title track is a minor modern psych classic), to the point where a cover of Love's The Daily Planet doesn't particularly stand out. Given that the original release was a) under twenty minutes long and b) long out of print, the sensible decision was taken to expand it to short album length for CD in 2006, taking its five tracks up to ten, four previously unreleased and one only available on an obscure compilation, none of which are too shabby. Top bonus? Possibly I'm So Happy Today, probably due to my approval of its psych credentials. Credited Mellotron from Tom Currier on two tracks, Off Track and Eight Lancashire Lads, entirely inaudible on both, although it is present on I'm So Happy Today, with a reasonable-if-inessential string part.

The aforementioned Zenith covers various powerpop micro-genres, not to mention material completely outside the zone (notably mournful closer Big Hand), top tracks including opener Letter To The Editor, the bonkers, vibes-driven When You're Pretty, complete with British toilet cleaner advert samples, Girl On A Red Velvet Swing (Rickenbacker 12-string! Yeah!) and the gentle If My Eyes Offend You. Dennis Davison and David Nolte both allegedly play Mellotron, but the nearest this gets is the flute line on Persephone Again, which actually sounds like anything but, so despite credits, I'm afraid I have to give this a big, fat '0', at least on the 'Tron front. A potentially great album, but not one for Mellotron fans. The same goes for 2003's We Women EP, which, despite a credit, appears to be Mellotron-free.

2010's Bananas Foster is an odd little album, if one with many strong points; pretty much every track sounds unlike every other, while still sounding like The Jigsaw Seen, which is quite a trick, frankly. Highlights? Brassy opener Bertha Brilliance, the lovely Melancholy Morning, strange little instrumental Tonight's Episode, the rocking Where The Action Isn't and mournful closer Jubilee, although little here offends. Nolte and Jonathan Lea are both credited with Mellotron and Chamberlin, although how genuine either instrument might be is open to question. Anyway, we get what sounds like a strings/choir mix on David Hart's Name Of Song, flute chords (and strings?) on Melancholy Morning, distant choirs on Cave Canem and strings (plus real cello), overlaid with flutes, on Jubilee, although I believe the trumpet on Bertha Brilliance is real.

2011's Winterland is, as you might expect, what Americans irritatingly refer to as a 'holiday album'. It's FUCKING CHRISTMAS, OK? And I thought the UK was supposed to be super-PC about these things? In fairness, The Jigsaw Seen haven't actually referred to it as a 'holiday album' themselves, I'm just having a general rant. The short disc starts excellently with What About Christmas? (the version from the 2006 EP?) and the brief December, although a few tracks cross the invisible 'whimsy' boundary, possibly without even noticing, not least light-as-air closer Winterland's Gone. No Mellotron credit, but we get a nicely real-sounding string part on opener What About Christmas?, with more strings on December, Snow Angels Of Pigtown and Dreams Of Spring. Not an album for a hot summer's day, then, but it beats the crap out of most festive offerings (before you ask, 'festive's OK, 'holiday' isn't).

Jigsaw Seen's slothlike recording schedule has recently seemingly received a ten million volt shock up its jacksie, with three albums released in as many years. 2012's Gifted follows Winterland in its faux-festive spirit, highlights including wondrous Bo Diddley-esque opener Open Up The Box Pandora, the maudlin Christmas Ain't For Christians (Anymore), Sell Me A Coat and the jaunty title track, which obscurely reminds me of The Move's Flowers In The Rain. For some reason, I've had this in the 'samples' section for a while, although finding full instrumental credits and giving it another listen has prompted its relocation. Plenty of Chamby and Mellotron, variously from Lea and Davison, with Mellotron string swells and dusty Chamby cellos on Myth Of The Season, Chamby accordion and Mellotron flutes on Christmas Ain't For Christians (Anymore), Chamby strings on Couples Skate, Chamby strings and cellos on Hag Of The Barren Trees, unknown Mellotron (brass?) and Chamby saxes on the title track and Chamby strings on Pretend It's Christmas. Davison's also credited with Orchestron on Rise Of The Snowflake Children, although it's difficult to tell what it might be doing. Is any of it real? Who knows?

2014's Old Man Reverb, from two years later, specifically credits Mellotron and Chamberlin, so I'm assuming they're genuine. It's another fine album, highlights including opener Let There Be Reverb, the slow-burn Idiots With Guitars, the energetic Die Laughing, the stomping We Women (is this a re-recording of their 2003 single?)... Actually, I can't find any obvious fault with anything here, which is a rarity. So only ***½? Everything's good, but little of it's great, which is not to denigrate the album in any way. Davison plays (real?) Mellotron and Chamberlin again, with a Mellotron string line (and Chamby brass?) on Let There Be Reverb, Chamberlin string parts on Madame Whirligig, Hercules And Sylvia, Your Mind Is Like Mine and closer Grief Rehearsal (heard in all its solo glory at the end of the track/album), plus choirs (sounding more like a Mellotron) on Abide's spaghetti-westernisms.

Incidentally, there are several other Jigsaw Seen Mellotron releases, not least 2002's compilation of tribute album tracks (including their contribution to 1995's Sing Hollies in Reverse) and general covers, Songs Mama Used to Sing and the following year's We Women single, amongst others; reviews to follow when I get to hear them.

Official site

Jo Jo Gunne  (US)

Jo Jo Gunne, 'Jumpin' the Gunne'

Jumpin' the Gunne  (1973,  38.46)  ***/T½

I Wanna Love You
To the Island
Red Meat
Getaway
Before You Get Your Breakfast
At the Spa

Monkey Music
Couldn't Love You Better
High School Drool
Neon City
Turn the Boy Loose

Current availability:

Mellotron used:

Comprising ex-members of the underrated Spirit, it seems Jo Jo Gunne played a typically American mixture of straightforward rock'n'roll and some more interesting areas, not unlike lesser-known outfits such as Baxter or the wildly obscure Bronin-Hogman Band. Their second album, Jumpin' the Gunne, opens with the straight-ahead I Wanna Love You, before launching head-first into the progressively-inclined To The Island, diverting into a steel drum solo (!) on Getaway, although it has to be said, the bulk of its material is proto-arena rock.

Like many before and after him, Jay Ferguson plays mostly piano and organ on the album, although a clavinet makes itself audible on one track. His Mellotron crops up on three songs here, with a slightly unorthodox strings part on To The Island, while a few seconds of strings in Before You Get Your Breakfast are completely upstaged by one of those 'how do you play that thing that fast?' moments in At The Spa, although that would appear to be it.

Do you need this album? Not really for its 'Tron content, but if you go for that American early-'70s lightish-hard rock sound, you may wish to dabble.

Jobriath  (US)

Jobriath, 'Jobriath'

Jobriath  (1973,  34.50)  ***½/½

Take Me I'm Yours
Be Still
World Without End
Space Clown
Earthling
Movie Queen
I'maman
Inside
Morning Star Ship
Rock of Ages
Blown Away

Current availability:

Mellotron used:

Bruce Wayne "Jobriath" Campbell is probably best-remembered these days as the first openly gay artist signed to a major, rather than for the relative failure of his career or his ignominious death from AIDS in his mid-thirties. However, his star has slowly risen over the decades, to the point where his eponymous 1973 debut is now often spoken of in the kind of hushed tones reserved for the deathless classics produced by, say, Dylan or Bowie at their respective peaks. Did someone say Bowie? Funny, that... More than anything else, Jobriath resembles an amalgam of The Dame's finer moments, with just a touch of Peter Hammill thrown in for good measure, perhaps surprisingly. I have to say that I'm less keen on the cabaret end of Jobriath's writing (Space Clown, Movie Queen), preferring the more mainstream rock of World Without End and I'maman, although the lumpen rock'n'roll of Rock Of Ages is probably the album's worst track.

Someone (Jobriath himself? Producer Eddie Kramer?) plays Mellotron string and flute parts that could almost be mistaken for real ones on closer Blown Away (thanks, Robert), with merely the occasional clunkiness giving their true origins away. Well, I've finally heard this alleged legend and can cheerfully report that, while it's a decent enough effort, occasionally touched with greatness, it's probably too derivative to really be considered classic. Hardly any Mellotron, either, but I really can't imagine anyone buying this for that reason.


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