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McGough & McGear
Tim McGraw
Roger McGuinn
Ashley MacIsaac
Andy Mackay

Nellie McKay
Bonnie McKee
Nick McKenzie
Susan McKeown & the Chanting House
Sarah McLachlan


MK Ultra  (US)

MK Ultra, 'The Dream is Over'

The Dream is Over  (1999,  42.40)  ***/T

The Dream is Over
Goodbye, Max!
Red on White on Blue
Fortune Cookies
Heavy Weather
All We Have
Interlude
Coffee Girl
Darkness and the Silver Spoon
Red Cross
I Miss the War
What I Live for
Sunday
Double Fame

Current availability:

Mellotron/Chamberlin used:

MK Ultra (named for some dodgo CIA mind-control programme) released three albums over the course of their career, 1999's The Dream is Over being the last. It could loosely be described as 'powerpop', although with a heavy streak of 'indie' and a largish helping of 'dullness'. It's all proficient enough, but ultimately rather boring, I'm afraid, the gloomy Darkness And The Silver Spoon possibly being the best thing here, and it isn't that great. The band's one claim to Planet Mellotron fame is the involvement of John Vanderslice, himself a dedicated 'Tron user.

Adam Cohen is credited with Mellotron and Chamberlin, but it must be buried fairly well in the mix, with only cellos (as against the real ones on the rest of the record), flutes and what have to be Chamby strings on I Miss The War. Overall, then, a rather unexciting slice of late-'90s indie, with little tape-replay work. Whoopee.

Official site

See: John Vanderslice

MV & EE  (US)

MV & EE with The Bummer Road, 'Green Blues'

Green Blues  [as MV & EE with The Bummer Road]  (2007,  62.43)  ***/T

East Mountain Joint
Drive is That I Love You
Canned Happiness
Mine All Troubled Blues
Big Deal
Grassthighs
Solar Hill
MV & EE with The Golden Road, 'Gettin' Gone'

Gettin' Gone  [as MV & EE with The Golden Road]  (2007,  65.51)  **½/½

Susquehanna
The Burden
Hammer
I Got Caves in There
Mama My
Day & Night
Easy Livin'
Coaled Out
Speed Queen
Motorin'
Country Fried
Home Comfort
Sweet People

Current availability:

Mellotrons used:

Matt "MV" Valentine and Erika "EE" Elder have been churning out several albums a year since 2001, using a wide range of collaborators and names. Their overall style is best described as 'stoned-out psych', although they prefer 'lunar ragas', apparently. Green Blues (as MV & EE with The Bummer Road) is their first (of six!) albums of 2007, and while it has its moments, an hour is vastly too long for such a prolific band; surely a forty-minute edit would serve their listeners better? Or am I missing the point? Valentine sounds like Neil Young in places, which is a good thing, but far too much of the album is stoned (or pseudo-stoned)-out nonsense and merely drags. Mellotronically speaking, the album opens with J. Mascis (Dinosaur Jr, of course) on strings on East Mountain Joint, reprising later in the song, alongside flutes, with more flutes on Big Deal, although I'm not convinced about the latter.

Later that year, the duo released Gettin' Gone as MV & EE with The Golden Road, and the same complaints apply as with Green Blues: it's overlong and unfocussed, and drags badly by about halfway through, with even less gripping material than before. Valentine plays 'Tron this time round, with a near-atonal flute part on Country Fried that neither enhances nor detracts from the rambling piece. Sorry, I thought I might like these albums, but they both drove me mad with their complete lack of focus and insistence on highlighting the worst of the psych era's excesses. One decent 'Tron track between the pair of 'em, and not actually worth buying for that.

McBride & the Ride  (US)

McBride & the Ride, 'Amarillo Sky'

Amarillo Sky  (2002,  36.20)  **½/½

Amarillo Sky
Sure Feels Like it
Anything That Touches You
You Take My Heart There
Leave Her With Me
Yours
Squeeze Box
Why Not Colorado
Hasta Luego
When Someone Loves You

Current availability:

Mellotron used:

McBride & the Ride (later Terry McBride & the Ride) were formed by producer Tony Brown in 1989 in direct competition with Alabama, who, although apparently massively successful, I have never heard of. Going by their description on Wikipedia, I don't want to, either; sounds to me like they're entirely responsible for that buffoon Garth Brooks' 'arena country' stageshows, now widely copied on the scene. Anyway, McBride and co split in the mid-'90s, reforming for one last album in 2002, Amarillo Sky. Despite being mainstream country, it manages to avoid the worst Nashville excesses, although I wouldn't actually take that as a recommendation. Is there a best track? Yes, actually, albeit pretty much by default, as covering The Who's double-entendre-laden Squeeze Box beats their own material by (wait for it) a country mile. Ho bloody ho. Good banjo solo, too. No, really.

Squeeze Box is also the receptacle for the album's only audible Mellotron, from Matt Rollings, with a few seconds of flutes, although no complaints as to its use, unless you count the mercifully short period of time I spent listening to this. Actually, I've heard far worse; I shouldn't be churlish, but I am anyway.

Linda McCartney  (US/UK)

Linda McCartney, 'Wide Prairie'

Wide Prairie  (1999,  52.18)  *½/TT

Wide Prairie
New Orleans
The White Coated Man
Love's Full Glory
I Got Up
The Light Comes From Within
Mister Sandman
Seaside Woman
Oriental Nightfish
Endless Days
Poison Ivy
Cow
B-side to Seaside
Sugartime
Cook of the House
Appaloosa

Current availability:

Mellotron used:

Now, after poor Linda's untimely death a few years ago, I feel really bad about saying this, but this album sucks. I've really tried to think of something positive to say about it, but I've hit a blank; poor songs, dodgy lyrics and dreadful vocals. Sorry. One thing I won't hold against it is the idea behind it; after Linda's death, Paul collected the various solo tracks she'd recorded over the years, and released them in her memory. I'm not going to be cynical about this; it's a really sweet thing to do, but unfortunately, the end result is, er, 'not that good'. By its very nature it's a little uncohesive, but that could be said of any retrospective; it might hold together slightly better if the tracks had been sequenced in chronological order, but I presume Paul had a reason for mixing them up.

Anyway, Wide Prairie has Mellotron on four tracks, played by either Linda or Paul. The title track is a faux-cowboy song, showing off Linda's vocals as you'd rather wish it wouldn't, though there's a nice helping of 'Tron strings. Linda has the good sense to keep her contributions to Oriental Nightfish down to some narration, though once more, there's some nice 'Tron. B-Side To Seaside is, of course, the original flipside to Seaside Woman, a 7" Linda put out in the mid-'70s; more narration and a little more 'Tron strings. Unfortunately, she sings again on the rather terrible Cook Of The House, and the Mellotron's inaudible this time round.

It's noticeable how good the playing is on this album; top session people all round, I suspect, and of course hubby Paul's contributions are always spot-on. Sadly, it's all a bit of a waste of talent; for all Paul's protestations, Linda was no great shakes musically, although she played keyboards (including two 'Trons) in Wings throughout the '70s. As I said, I feel pretty bad about trashing this album, but I couldn't in all honesty tell you it's any good. Apart from the general musicianship, one of its few saving graces is the amount of Mellotron on offer, but don't rush out to buy it on those grounds. Please. By the way, is this a bad place to mention the existence of the infamous 'Linda tapes', and to ask why this opportunity to make them more widely available has been missed?

See: Paul McCartney

Paul McCartney & Wings  (UK)  see:

Paul McCartney & WingsWings

Delbert McClinton  (US)

Delbert McClinton, 'Nothing Personal'

Nothing Personal  (2001,  49.44)  ***/T

Livin' it Down
Gotta Get it Worked on
When Rita Leaves
Squeeze Me in
Birmingham Tonight
Baggage Claim
All Night Long
Don't Leave Home Without it
Desperation
Nothin' Lasts Forever
Read Me My Rights
All There is of Me
Watchin' the Rain

Current availability:

Chamberlin used:

Although I'd never heard of him before, it seems that Delbert McClinton's been around since the early '60s, playing that peculiarly Texan blend of blues, country and all stages in between. 2001's Nothing Personal is something like his seventeenth solo studio album, and I'd imagine it defines his style perfectly, shifting between the blues and country ends of his oeuvre with a bunch of well-written songs that will do his reputation no harm whatsoever, not least Livin' It Down, Birmingham Tonight and the amusing All Night Long.

Benmont Tench (from Tom Petty's band) plays Chamberlin, with an 'almost fooled me' part on tear-jerker ballad When Rita Leaves, although that seems to be it. Overall, then, a good album of its type, though probably not one to excite my regular readers (yes, you lot - you know who you are).

Official site

Angela McCluskey  (UK)

Angela McCluskey, 'The Things We Do'

The Things We Do  (2004,  49.06/77.07)  **½/T

It's Been Done
Somebody Got Lucky
Love is Stronger Than Death
Know it All
A Thousand Drunken Dreams
Sleep on it
Perfect Girl Eleven
Wrong Side
Dirty Pearl
Sucker
This Night
Long Live I
Hidden Song
[Bonus tracks:
Famous Blue Raincoat
My Funny Valentine
Lady Grinning Soul
Soldier's Thing
Don't Explain]

Current availability:

Mellotron used:

Angela McCluskey is a Scottish vocalist who moved to the States, co-founding The Wild Colonials, amongst other projects. 2004's The Things We Do is her first solo album, full of slightly over-dramatic songs about all the things that make the world go round. Trouble is, it's a bit... boring. Of course, I'm listening more to the music than the lyrics, thus doubtless missing out on the bulk of the album's appeal, but her ever-so-slightly off-Broadway approach sets my teeth on edge after a while. Sorry.

Nathan Larson plays (real?) Mellotron, with faint flutes on Somebody Got Lucky and strings on Dirty Pearl, although it could be hidden away on two or three other tracks, too. Overall, then, one for the drama queen (of either sex) in your life, I think, particularly the bonus tracks. Certainly not worth it for its minor Mellotron input, though. Incidentally, a later version of the album features a handful of bonus tracks that add nearly half an hour to its length, with McCluskey tackling standards like My Funny Valentine or classics such as Bowie's Lady Grinning Soul, all in a torch style. Strangely, they work rather better than most of the contents of the regular release; maybe she should concentrate more on this style? Maybe she has?

Official site

See: Wild Colonials

Shawn McDonald  (US)

Shawn McDonald, 'Ripen'

Ripen  (2006,  60.30)  **/½

I Want to Be Ready
The Rider on the White Horse
Reason
I am Nothing
Free
Ramblings of a Beggar
My Salvation
Pour Out
Confess
Home
Take Hold
Perfectly Done
Imago
A Little More
Lovely

Current availability:

Mellotron used:

Shawn McDonald is a Christian singer-songwriter who came to his faith by one of the well-worn routes: a fragmented childhood, ending up in addiction before redemption. Quite why he felt the need to turn to a popular-yet-entirely-unprovable deity to get out of a bad situation is beyond me, but there you go. I've had the good fortune to have never been there. Anyway, his second studio album, 2006's Ripen, is a folky singer-songwriter CCM effort, dull music unenlivened by rubbish lyrics. Well, what did you expect? No, no best tracks.

Chad Copelin plays Mellotron, with faint flutes on Free under the real strings. In other words, you haven't even got a Mellotronic excuse for obtaining this. So don't.

Official site

Steve McDonald  (New Zealand)

Steve McDonald, 'The Riddle & the Rhyme'

The Riddle & the Rhyme  (1980)  ***/TT

Sentimental Boys
Cause of Confusion
Distant Drum (Vertical Hum)
Universal Prime Force

Reflection
Omnipresence
The Riddle and the Rhyme
Predestination
  Time Identity
  Collision With Destiny

Meltdown
  Creation

  The Tree of Life
  The Fall

Current availability:

Mellotron used:

Steve McDonald is known these days as a highly successful Celtic musician, despite being a New Zealander; he's clearly tapped into his Scots heritage, and good luck to him. He's actually been around since at least the early '70s, playing with bands such as Taylor and Timberjack and appearing on Human Instinct's final album, Peg Leg, only released in 2002. The Riddle & the Rhyme was apparently his first solo album, featuring a rather eccentric sleeve design; not just the cover itself, but the montage of pictures inside the gatefold, showing Steve carrying what is clearly his favourite string synth around various locations, including a pub and a bus stop. And I haven't even mentioned the rear sleeve, with Steve in white evening dress (and waist-length hair), seated at a grand piano with the maker's logo replaced with a plaque displaying the album title...

Anyway, the album is a strange mixture of styles, from the pop/rock of Universal Prime Force through the soft rock schlock of Sentimental Boys and Distant Drum (Vertical Hum) to the proggy Predestination and Meltdown, which take up much of side two. Steve's Mellotron work is somewhat variable, with cellos and exceedingly murky strings on Sentimental Boys and Distant Drum, while Omnipresence has a slightly better string part and sound, with more strings and mushy choir on the title track. This leaves Universal Prime Force as probably the album's best 'Tron track, though despite the number of songs featuring the beast, this is some way from being a top-notch 'Tron album.

Actually, this is some way from being a top-notch anything album, really, although it's interesting as a curio of late-period Kiwi (semi-) prog. Try not to pay as much as I stupidly did for a copy. Oh, and going by recent pictures, he still has the hair.

Fan club site

See: Human Instinct

Steven McDonald Group  (US)

Steven McDonald Group, 'This is Not a Rebellion...'

This is Not a Rebellion...  (2002,  16.06)  ***½/T

Awake
Get Jimmy
Strange Arrangement
Something to Love
Motorboat

Current availability:

Mellotron used:

Steve(n) McDonald is better known as bassist with the excellent Redd Kross. He formed the Steven McDonald Group while the mother group were in hiatus, although they released just the one EP, This is Not a Rebellion... (or This is Not a Rebellion... This is a Mass Awakening!) before Redd Kross reformed. Despite only containing five tracks, this is a blast; powerpop bordering on bubblegum while, crucially, never quite tipping over. 'Best track' award is probably split between Get Jimmy and their cover of the outrageous Kim Fowley's ridiculous Motorboat.

Mellotron (amongst other things) from Anna Waronker (daughter of über-producer Lenny), who, it turns out, is married to McDonald. She sticks a nice flute part onto Something To Love, which, although presumably meant to back the guitar solo, ends up being higher in the mix. And I'm complaining? So; one very nice little release, one cool 'Tron track, shame they didn't do more.

See: Redd Kross | Anna Waronker

Dick McGarvin  (US)

Dick McGarvin, 'Peaceful'

Peaceful  (1974,  47.31)  **½/½

Rambler
Alone Again Naturally
Peaceful
Waltz for Tricia
Follow Your Heart
Break One
Rusty Ships & Sandcastles
Better Than Anything
Christine's Recital
Nova - the Beginning
Nova
That's All

Current availability:

Mellotron used:

Confusingly, jazz drummer Dick McGarvin shares his name with a well-known actor, making it difficult to find much useful biographical information about him. 1974's Peaceful might be his only solo release, an instrumental album recorded with a keyboard player, a flautist/saxophonist and a percussionist, featuring a handful of covers (notably Gilbert O'Sullivan's Alone Again Naturally) and several McGarvin originals. Highlight? The lovely flute-led Waltz For Tricia is the least cheesy thing here by quite some way, but it's difficult not to see this as one of the precursors to the horrors of late '70s smooth jazz, or 'middle-aged dinner party music', as it's known around these parts.

Keys man Gus Gustavson plays Mellotron, with a background string line on opener Rambler and exceedingly background strings on Rusty Ships & Sandcastles, although that would appear to be our lot. All in all, a thoroughly professional, yet rather dull release, with only the occasional hint of the then-ongoing raging mid-'70s fusion epidemic. Not much Mellotron, either.

Mike McGear  (UK)

Mick McGear, 'McGear'

McGear  (1974,  43.48)  ***/T

Sea Breezes
What Do We Really Know?
Norton
Leave it
Have You Got Problems
The Casket
Rainbow Lady
Simply Love You
Givin' Grease a Ride
The Man Who Found God on the Moon

Current availability:

Mellotron used:

On/off Scaffold member Mike "McGear" McCartney (see: McGough & McGear, below) is, of course, Paul's younger brother, so it's no great surprise that his second solo album, 1974's McGear (on which, by Christ, he doesn't 'alf sound like his brother), features members of, and sounds a lot like Wings. While the jokey likes of Norton and Have You Got Problems seem to be the album's default setting, better material includes opener Roxy's Sea Breezes, The Casket and the stomping Givin' Grease A Ride, although Simply Love You is the very worst kind of cheesy nonsense Paul (who, surprise, surprise, co-wrote) would emit like a bad smell.

Someone (Linda?) plays Mellotron here and there, with something woodwindish and flutes on Rainbow Lady and chordal strings on Simply Love You, although the strings on Sea Breezes sound real. So; mid-'70s mainstream rock-lite, harmless enough, but all rather unexciting some forty years on.

Official site

See: McGough & McGear | Paul McCartney

McGough & McGear  (UK)

McGough & McGear, 'McGough & McGear'

McGough & McGear  (1968,  44.52)  ***/T

So Much
A Little Bit of Heaven
Basement Flat
From 'Frink, a Life in the Day of' &
  'Summer With Monika' - Prologue:
  Introducing - Moanin', Anji

From 'Frink, a Life in the Day of' &
  'Summer With Monika' - Epilogue
Come Close and Sleep Now
Yellow Book
House in My Head
Mr. Tickle
Living Room
Do You Remember
Please Don't Run Too Fast
Ex Art Student

Current availability:

Mellotron used:

Roger McGough and Mike McCartney (younger brother of the better known... and professionally known as McGear, to avoid accusations of nepotism) were two of three members of Liverpool-based comedy troupe The Scaffold, along with John Gorman (biggest hit: the immortal Lily The Pink). They released their only album as a duo, McGough & McGear, in 1968, enlisting the help of loads of famous friends, most of whom couldn't be credited for legal reasons, including Jimi Hendrix, an inveterate jammer (that has to be him on wah guitar on closer Ex Art Student). It is, to be honest, a bit of a curate's egg, as you might expect, with 'straight' songs (So Much) rubbing shoulders with sillier material (A Little Bit Of Heaven) and essentially spoken-word tracks (both parts of Frink, A Life In The Day Of).

Mellotron, apparently from Paul McCartney, although with musicians largely uncredited, one or more other players could easily be involved. Anyway, background brass on So Much and a few seconds of very obvious flutes on Frink, A Life In The Day Of (Prologue) and slightly more in the background on Do You Remember, in other words, fairly low 'Tron content. So; psychedelic music-hall? Comedy poetry? Call it what you will, it's pretty unique, but may not bear repeated plays.

Official Roger McGough site

Official Mike McCartney site

See: Paul McCartney

Tim McGraw  (US)

Tim McGraw, 'Tim McGraw & the Dancehall Doctors'

Tim McGraw & the Dancehall Doctors  (2003,  66.03)  **½/½

Comfort Me
Tickin' Away
Home
Red Ragtop
That's Why God Made Mexico
Watch the Wind Blow By
Illegal
Sleep Tonight
I Know How to Love You Well
Sing Me Home
She's My Kind of Rain
Who Are They
Real Good Man
All We Ever Find
Tiny Dancer

Current availability:

Mellotron used:

Tim McGraw is proof positive that an artist can be huge in their own 'world', yet mean little to the rest of us. I'd never heard of him before adding him to this site, yet he's apparently sold over forty million records, which is quite shocking. Obviously, he's a veritable superstar in that world, married to another country superstar, Faith Hill, with whom he sometimes tours and records. His eighth album, Tim McGraw & the Dancehall Doctors, apparently bucks a Nashville trend, as McGraw gets his touring band to play on the record, rather than the usual 'A'-list Nashville sessioneers. Radical, eh? In the country world, it seems it is. As mainstream country goes, it's relatively inoffensive, having as much in common with 'roots rock' as country, so plenty of Hammond, not much pedal steel. It seems McGraw doesn't write, so while I suspect that most of the album's songs were written for it, McGraw also covers Elton John's Tiny Dancer, in case you thought the title was familiar.

The Mellotronist seems to be uncredited, although Jeff McMahon plays the album's keys, so assuming it's real, he seems like the likely culprit. Anyway, there's not much here, with the only obvious use being a few string stabs on Sleep Tonight, although it could be buried away in the mix elsewhere. Anyway, while this might be a not-too-offensive country album, it isn't going to get most of us hopping up and down with glee for either its musical or its Mellotronic content.

Official site

Roger McGuinn  (US)

Roger McGuinn, 'Peace on You'

Peace on You  (1974,  35.04)  ***/T

Peace on You
Without You
Going to the Country
(Please Not) One More Time
Same Old Sound
Do What You Want to
Together
Better Change
Gate of Horn
The Lady

Current availability:

Mellotron used:

By 1974, The Byrds were well and truly history, and Roger McGuinn had already released his eponymous solo album. His second such effort, Peace on You, was a decent enough slightly country-rock effort, very recognisably McGuinn on the vocal front, although his trademark Rickenbacker 12-string only appears sporadically, notably (and ironically?) on Same Old Sound, although Gate Of Horn and probably the album's best track (probably because it sounds most like The Byrds), The Lady, feature it too. Overall, it'd be hard to argue that this is his finest work, and while Byrds completists shouldn't be wildly disappointed, nothing here matches the quality of his best work with that band. Well, are you surprised?

Uncredited Mellotron here and there, apparently from Paul Harris, with strings on the opening title track, which starts nicely before going slightly honky-tonk later on, and the same on (Please Not) One More Time, clearly recorded 'on the fly', as chords fade out and back in, as Harris re-triggers notes. So; passable, nowt special, for either music or 'Tron, although The Lady could well do with anthologising.

Official site

Colin MacIntyre  (UK)  see: Samples

Ashley MacIsaac  (Canada)

Ashley MacIsaac, 'Ashley MacIsaac'

Ashley MacIsaac  (2003,  48.40)  ***/T

Cello Song
Lay Me Down
Save Me From Tomorrow
I Don't Need This
Grapes
To America We Go
Chorus Jig/The King's Reel
Wedding Funeral
Captain America
Mull of Kintyre
Bog an Login
This is My Father
Fairy Dance

Current availability:

Chamberlin used:

Ashley MacIsaac started his career as a folk fiddler from Nova Scotia, moving into more mainstream areas as time's gone on. It seems he's also quite a controversial figure, leading a slightly fragmented lifestyle and infuriating people by being rather more open on his views regarding politics and his own sexuality than many people might like. Ashley MacIsaac is his seventh album, incorporating various very un-folklike rhythms in places; I know artists have to move on, but into commercial pop? Pretty much every track features some kind of folk influence - MacIsaac's fiddle sees to that - but it's a bit few and far between in places. Best track? Maybe the fiddle frenzy of Grapes, complete with monosynth and Clavinet, or possibly Chorus Jig/The King's Reel. Worst? The entirely pointless version of Wings' horrible Mull Of Kintyre. It might not be quite as awful as the original, but, y'know, why?

Paul Bryan plays Chamberlin on the album, although it's not wildly obvious where, as is irritatingly common with the Chamby. It sounds like the instrument's strings on Cello Song and This Is My Father, though I wouldn't be entirely surprised if it turns out to be nothing of the sort, and they're used inaudibly elsewhere. So; a modern Gaelic folk-influenced pop/rock album. Hmmm. Listen to the real thing instead? Next to no obvious Chamby, either.

Official site

Andy Mackay  (UK)

Andy Mackay, 'In Search of Eddie Riff'

In Search of Eddie Riff  (1974,  39.06/39.03/59.11)  **½/T

Ride of the Valkyries
The End of the World
The Hour Before Dawn
Past, Present and Future (Pyramid of Night)
Walking the Whippet

Summer Sun
What Becomes of the Broken Hearted
A Four Legged Friend
An Die Musik
[1977 reissue loses two tracks, retitles one and adds:
Wild Weekend
Time Regained
Long And Winding Road.
1999 CD adds three rehearsal takes]

Current availability:

Mellotron used:

Saxophonist/oboist Andy Mackay is best known, of course, for his tenure with Roxy Music, also doing session work and writing and recording the music for almost-forgotten UK TV series Rock Follies during Roxy's late '70s hiatus. It also turns out we attended the same school (briefly, in my case), which is just weird. 1974 saw the release of his first (of two, to date) solo albums, the near-instrumental In Search of Eddie Riff (I presume that's an uncredited Mackay singing on Summer Sun and the dreadful A Four Legged Friend), which was reissued, three years later, with a heavily-amended tracklisting, losing easily the two worst tracks (funnily enough, the two vocal ones). Better efforts include the brief, atmospheric Time Regained and the nine-minute Past, Present And Future (a.k.a. Pyramid Of Night), although the latter takes a while to get going, while Ride Of The Valkyries, rock'n'roll style, is (no doubt) intentionally hilarious (the CD-only rehearsal take is even better), but overall, it's a bit of a flop, frankly.

Two keyboard players are credited, Brian Chatton (who also worked with Mackay on Rock Follies) and then-Roxy member Eddie Jobson (Curved Air, UK etc.), but it seems likely that it's the latter who provides the album's minor Mellotron use (thanks, once again, to Mark for this one), with background choirs on Walking The Whippet (a rare example of rock'n'roll Mellotron here, folks) and Past, Present And Future. So; do you bother? Roxy completists probably already own at least one version, but I think the rest of us can go to bed tonight safe in the knowledge that we're really not missing out that much.

See: Roxy Music

Nellie McKay  (US)

Nellie McKay, 'Normal as Blueberry Pie: A Tribute to Doris Day'

Normal as Blueberry Pie: A Tribute to Doris Day  (2009,  43.22/45.49)  ***/½

The Very Thought of You
Do Do Do
Wonderful Guy
Meditation
Mean to Me
Crazy Rhythm
Sentimental Journey
If I Ever Had a Dream
Black Hills of Dakota
Dig it
Send Me No Flowers
Close Your Eyes
I Remember You
[CD adds:
I'll Never Smile Again]

Current availability:

Mellotron used:

London-born comedienne Nellie McKay grew up in the States, kicking off her musical career around 2003, 2009's Normal as Blueberry Pie: A Tribute to Doris Day being her fourth release. Is she being ironic? Is she fuck. Many songs here are tackled 'straight' (as in, 'no death metal versions'), although I suspect Ms Day might've booted her arranger out if he presented her with charts like her sparse, recorder-driven take on Black Hills Of Dakota. 'Small jazz ensemble' seems to be the album's default setting, although there's enough oddness here to keep the casual listener interested.

Nellie plays Mellotron on two tracks, with occasional flutes on Send Me No Flowers and I Remember You that - who knows? - might even be real. Anyway, a rather strange album masquerading as a mainstream release, which may or may not be considered to be undermining the 'biz'. Let's hope so.

Official site

Bonnie McKee  (US)

Bonnie McKee, 'Trouble'

Trouble  (2004,  49.19)  **½/½

Trouble
When it All Comes Down
Open Your Eyes
Somebody
A Voice That Carries
Honey
Green Grass
January
Marble Steps
Sensitive Subject Matter
I Hold Her
Confessions of a Teenage Girl

Current availability:

Chamberlin used:

Bonnie McKee was something of a child prodigy, writing the bulk of what was to become her debut album in her early teens. Said album, 2004's Trouble (the album seems to be largely autobiographical), starts off well enough, in a tough female singer-songwriter vein, but the slick production gradually overtakes the material, leaving the listener with a rather empty feeling by the end. As with so many singer-songwriter efforts, the lyrics seem to be the most important part of the package, the music often just something melodic on which to hang the words, which probably makes closer Confessions Of A Teenage Girl the best thing here, telling it just how it is (or was for Ms McKee), although I'm sure a reasonably privileged background helped no end.

Patrick Warren does his usual Chamberlin thing, near-inaudible as almost always (bloody producers), with faint, er, somethings on the album's single, Somebody, making this the kind of album you're unlikely to want to hear unless you're a member of Bonnie McKee's peer group, i.e. teenage girls. It's not that bad at what it does, but there really isn't much here for the rest of us.

MySpace

Nick McKenzie  (Netherlands)

Nick McKenzie, 'Peaches on a Tree' 7"  (1974)  **/T

Peaches on a Tree

What Can I Do

Current availability:

Mellotron used:

Nick "McKenzie" van den Broeke is a mainstream Dutch singer whose career is fairly well tied to the '70s. Like other Dutch pop stars of the era, it seems he released few albums, information on even their titles, never mind their contents, being difficult to trace. What I can tell you, though, is that Peaches On A Tree was his first single of 1974, a jaunty, Eurovision-style, vaguely oompah-like number with few redeeming features, its flip, What Can I Do, faring no better.

An unknown keyboard player adds pseudo-orchestral Mellotron strings to the 'A', merely giving the impression that the whole thing was done on a rather tight budget, rather than that anyone actually liked the sound. You can probably find a download of this if you're really bothered, but I can't say I am.

Susan McKeown & the Chanting House  (Ireland/US)

Susan McKeown & the Chanting House, 'Bones'

Bones  (1995,  52.27)  ***/T

Cé Leis É?
Albatross
Snakes/Mná na eHireann
Heart
Westron Wynde/Westlin Winds
Salome
Jericho
Love & Superstition
Gorm
Curiouser
I Know I Know
Storm in a Teacup
Bones

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Mellotron used:

Susan McKeown emigrated from Dublin to New York in her early twenties, her musical partner in The Chanting House, John Doyle, following soon after. Her first non-cassette release, 1995's Bones, starts off in a sub-Suzanne Vega vein, bland, vaguely Celtic singer-songwriter fare, typified by the rather elongated likes of opener Cé Leis É?, Snakes/Mná Na eHireann and Heart. The overall effect is better than that sounds, however, worthwhile efforts including the haunting Salome, the a capella Gorm, the bluesy I Know I Know, the heavily Celtic Storm In A Teacup and the Weimar accordions of the closing title track.

Jimi Zhivago adds Mellotron to a couple of tracks, with a high, background string part on Salome and eerie flutes on Storm In A Teacup, probably real, although, given that samples were easily available by this point, who knows? Not the most exciting album on this site, then, but also a long way from the worst.

Official site

Sarah McLachlan  (Canada)

Sarah McLachlan, 'Rarities, B-Sides & Other Stuff'

Rarities, B-Sides & Other Stuff  (1996,  62.32)  **½/T

Dear God
I Will Remember You
Fear [LunaSol remix]
Gloomy Sunday [live]
Full of Grace
Song for a Winter's Night
Blue
Drawn to the Rhythm [live]
Shelter [violin mix]
As the End Draws Near [extended remix]
Vox [extended remix]
Into the Fire [extended remix]
Possession [rabbit in the moon remix]

Current availability:

Mellotron used:

Sarah McLachlan is possibly the archetypal Lilith Fair artist; a rather wet female singer-songwriter who over-emotes at every opportunity. There's a huge audience for this sort of thing, mostly single women, but I'm afraid to say it couldn't leave me much colder if it tried. The slightly clunkily-titled Rarities, B-Sides & Other Stuff does exactly what it says on the tin, although it's only a selection of the apparently large number of tracks she recorded for singles, compilations etc. The album has moments of genuine beauty - McLachlan's multitracked harmonies on Blue are gorgeous - but all too many tracks feel, to an outsider like myself, to be a Carole King by numbers for this generation.

Mellotron on a couple of tracks (from David Kershaw), starting with cellos on Sarah's take on XTC's Dear God, also found on A Testimonial Dinner, the 1995 XTC tribute album. A brief burst of flutes on Song For A Winter's Night, but that seems to be your lot. So; if you're a McLachlan fan, you'll probably like about half of this, if you don't already own the tracks anyway. I can't imagine who would want to listen to several crapola dance remixes of her work, as they're not going to satisfy either the dance crowd or her fans, and by all accounts, there are better rare tracks not on here, but that's compilers for you. Not much Mellotron, and not a very exciting record, so the rest of us should probably discretely withdraw.

Official site


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