Home
reviews
album list
Mandy Moore
Allison Moorer
Mops
Patrick Moraz
Gaby Moreno
Morgan
Alanis Morissette

Mörk Gryning
Morning Star
Morphine

Larry Morris
Mark Morriss
Morse Code


Ian Moore  (US)  see: Samples

Mandy Moore  (US)

Mandy Moore, 'Coverage'

Coverage  (2003,  46.14)  **½/T

Senses Working Overtime
The Whole of the Moon
Can We Still Be Friends?
I Feel the Earth Move
Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters
Drop the Pilot
Moonshadow
One Way or Another
Breaking Us in Two
Anticipation
Help Me
Have a Little Faith in Me

Current availability:

Chamberlin used:

Mandy Moore is yet another of those American singer/actresses that seem to be ten a penny at the moment, although, unlike most, she comes from a musical background, not an acting one. Coverage is officially her fourth album, although her second, I Wanna Be With You, is essentially a remix version of her debut, So Real. Interestingly, given that Moore was only 19 when the album was released, it's a covers record, and not just of the usual suspects. Try these for size: XTC (the wonderful Senses Working Overtime), The Waterboys (The Whole Of The Moon), Todd Rundgren (Can We Still Be Friends?)... On its release, reviews noted that it was her 'new, mature' face after her earlier teeny releases, and even to a jaded old git like me, it has its moments, with sympathetic arrangements on several tracks and little that genuinely offends, although, sadly, quite a bit that bores.

Matt Mahaffey plays Chamberlin, with flutes on Can We Still Be Friends? and Joan Armatrading's Drop The Pilot. It's quite possibly on some of the others tracks, but with its inimitable ability to disappear into a mix and sound just that little bit too close to the instruments it's emulating, it's hard to tell. Anyway, although it starts well, Coverage ultimately disappoints, as it descends into a morass of cheesy arrangements in its second half. A pity.

Official site

Steve Moore  (US)  see: Samples

Allison Moorer  (US)

Allison Moorer, 'The Hardest Part'

The Hardest Part  (2000,  45.51)  **½/T

The Hardest Part
Day You Said Goodbye
It's Time I Tried
Best That I Can Do
Think it Over
Bring Me All Your Lovin'
Is it Worth it
Send Down an Angel
No Next Time
Feeling That Feeling Again

Current availability:

Mellotron used:

Allison Moorer (younger sister of Shelby Lynne and married to Steve Earle) is a full-on country singer, complete with that ludicrous pronunciation they insist on using, even when they don't actually speak like it (although, as an Alabaman, I'm sure she does). Actually, her second album, 2000's The Hardest Part, is far from offensive, rocking it up (relatively) in places, not least on Think It Over and the string-laden No Next Time, although I can't see it being something to which I'll return in a hurry.

Jay Bennett (ex-Wilco plays Mellotron, with a nice flute part (alongside real strings) on Send Down An Angel, described extremely optimistically on several websites as 'the Strawberry Fields-esque...' Yeah, right. Overall, then, a fairly 'trad' country album with a few rocking moments and one 'Tron track. Hmmm.

Official site

See: Steve Earle | Shelby Lynne

Mops  (Japan)

Mops, 'Exit'

Exit  (1974,  45.44)  ***/T½

[Japanese text] (Intro?)
[Japanese text] (Medley?)
  Walk Don't Run
  House of the Rising Sun
  San Franciscan Night
  I Love You
  Somebody to Love
  Asa-Made Matenai
  Purple Haze
  Iijanaika
  Tadoritsuitara Itsumo Amefuri
Exit
Wara No Kotoba
[Japanese text]

  I Want to Hold Your Hand
  Boom Boom
  Sea of Joy
  To Love Somebody

Nobody Cares
Asa-Made Matenai

Current availability:

Mellotron used:

Mops on stage

Mops (there doesn't seem to be a 'the') were one of Japan's top 'Group Sound' bands of the sixties, emulating Merseybeat and suchlike in an oriental manner. By the mid-'70s, they'd obviously long outgrown their roots, not to mention their hair, and shuffled off this mortal coil with a farewell live album, Exit. Except that until near the end of the second track, a side-long medley, there's no sign of an audience at all, with the orchestral intro tape sounding dubbed on at a later date; maybe it's a Mops' Mellotronlive/studio hybrid? Anyway, the unknown vocalist spends most of said medley speaking to the audience, with the band occasionally breaking into a tune, with some more familiar than others. They tackle Purple Haze reasonably well, and Walk Don't Run is recognisable, but I can't say I spotted Somebody To Love anywhere, to be honest. Exit itself sounds like a faintly jazzy studio track, followed by presumably their own composition, the rather proggy ten-minute Wara No Kotoba, before what I take to be more live stuff, with an appallingly-edited medley, cutting abruptly from one excerpt to another, with the album trailing off into messing about by the end.

I'm afraid I have zero idea who the gentleman is on the keyboards; there are no obvious musicians' credits anywhere in the packaging, but he seems to concentrate mainly on organ, until you get to Wara No Kotoba, which is swamped in 'Tron strings, with an upfront flute line later on. There's a touch of strings in House Of The Rising Sun, and a more upfront part in To Love Somebody, from the second medley, but that would seem to be your lot.

Incidentally, as you can see from the pic to the right, Mops had an onstage Mellotron, but what you might not be able to see is the back of the machine. Now look to the left, and marvel at someone's handiwork; is that cool or what? Probably what, actually, but I can't say I've ever seen anything like it before; wonder who came up with that logo? And is that a big, swirly paintjob over the whole thing? Wish I knew where this one was now... Anyway, a somewhat average album musically, although with one really nice 'Tron track. You're most unlikely to find this cheap, but just in case...

Moraine  (US)  see: Samples

Patrick Moraz  (Switzerland)

Patrick Moraz, 'i'

i  [a.k.a. The Story of i]  (1976,  46.18)  ***½/TT

Impact
Warmer Hands
The Storm
Cachaça (Baião)
Intermezzo
Indoors
Best Years of Our Lives
Descent
Incantation/Procession
Dancing Now
Impressions (the Dream)
Like a Child in Disguise
Rise and Fall
Symphony in the Space
Patrick Moraz, 'Patrick Moraz III'

Patrick Moraz  [a.k.a. Patrick Moraz III]  (1978,  39.02)  ***/½

Jungles of the World
  Green Sun
  Tribal Call
  Communion

Temples of Joy
  Opening of the Gates
  Overture
  The Feast (A Festa)

The Conflict
  Chamada (Argument)
  Opposing Forces
  The Battlefield
  Dissolution
  Victory

Primitivisation
Keep the Children Alive
Intentions
Realization
Patrick Moraz, 'Future Memories Live on TV'

Future Memories Live on TV  (1979,  36.50)  ***½/T½

Metamorphoses
  1st Movt.
  2nd Movt.
  3rd Movt.

Eastern Sundays
  Part I
  Part II

Black Silk
  Part I
  Part II
Patrick Moraz, 'C O Existence' Patrick Moraz, 'Libertate'

C O Existence [as 'Patrick Moraz + Syrinx']  (1980,  39.14)  **½/T

Mind Your Body
Boonoonoonoos
Soundrise
Adagio for a Hostage
Freedom to...
Coexistence
  Black Gold
  Moments of Love
  Chain Reaction
  Peace on the Hills
'Rime of the Ancient Sampler'

Rime of the Ancient Sampler: The Mellotron Album  (1993,  3.52)  ***½/T½

[Patrick contributes]
Owner's Guide

Current availability:

Mellotrons used:

Patrick Moraz left Refugee, a vague attempt to reform The Nice without Keith Emerson, to join Yes, although he only stayed with them for two years and one album, Relayer. The whole band (even drummer Alan White) released solo albums in 1975/76, with all except White's being at least partially musically successful (perhaps surprisingly), although Steve Howe's is probably less good than Moraz', Chris Squire's Fish Out of Water (****) and Jon Anderson's wonderful and unique Olias of Sunhillow.

i, often known as The Story of i is an early attempt at a fusion of progressive and 'world' musics, with a particular Brazilian influence, in which I'd say it was reasonably successful, although that probably depends on how you feel about the prog side of the proceedings. The playing is excellent throughout, both by Moraz and his large supporting cast, including many Brazilian musicians, although the writing tends towards formlessness in places, at least to my ears. The copious sleevenotes only actually mention the Mellotron once (on Intermezzo, where it's effectively inaudible), although the equipment list mentions 'Mellotrons Mks.I & II', by which I think he means an M400 and a Mk.V. There are various string sounds scattered throughout, but with his new toy, the Polymoog (so it DID come out in '76!), the 'Trons seem to be pushed slightly into the background, so most of the marked tracks above are essentially guesswork on my part.

Strangely, Moraz elected not to use any 'Tron on his second solo effort, Out in the Sun (***), but Patrick Moraz (or Patrick Moraz III) manages what sounds to me like a whole few seconds of strings and possibly some choirs on the rather unnecessary ballad, Keep The Children Alive. The album itself has more of that Brazilian influence, but is overall probably less impressive than i, although the side one material (first three tracks) aren't at all bad.

Patrick and his keyboards, from 'Future Memories, M400 & MkV both visible'

1979's Future Memories (Live on TV) is exactly what it says on the tin, being a solo performance in front of the TV cameras, with much use of sequencers, although it's still extremely technically impressive. Going by the sleevenotes, it was Moraz' attempt to create truly improvised music, although he does own up to the sequenced parts, without which Metamorphoses, at least, would've been fairly static. The two pieces on side two are 'Tron-free (Black Silk is a piano solo), but the second movement of side one's Metamorphoses has flutes, church organ and strings, in that order, played from an M400 and a Mark V, erroneously credited as a 'Mark II' and a 'Mark IV' respectively (you'd have thought he'd know better, wouldn't you?). In some ways, this is the most musically satisfying Moraz album I've heard, allowing his phenomenal technique full rein, without muddying the waters with various dubious 'ethnic' influences. Incidentally, the inner sleeve has several fabulous pics of Moraz' gear (see picture), which was actually too big to be contained within a four-sided setup, spilling over into a fifth side. Outrageous. Also incidentally, the version of this you're more likely to find (I speak subjectively, of course) is the 1984 reissue.

1980's C O Existence (later reissued as Libertate) is actually co-credited to Moraz and Syrinx, who I believe is the pan-pipe player on the Mellotron-fuelled soundtrack to 'Picnic at Hanging Rock'. Unsurprisingly, more of that South American thing, though more Andean this time, but I have to say, it's pretty cheesy all round; sort of bombastic balladic stuff with those bloody pan pipes warbling over everything. Practically no 'Tron, either; strings on Freedom To..., and apart from a couple of unconfirmed sightings, that's it. Don't bother.

Moraz also contributed to the overrated Rime of the Ancient Sampler: The Mellotron Album, with the fairly decent, if a bit jazzy, Owner's Guide. Some great choir work, and various bits of lunacy described in the sleevenotes as 'special PM sound effects, i.e. vocals, harps, waltz, backward piano' - presumably the same FX he used onstage in his M400 with the Moodies. Probably worth hearing, but don't shell out big bucks for the album.

So; Moraz' solo career's a bit of a disappointment, to be honest; not half as 'progressive' as I was expecting, and not very much Mellotron, either. The only albums that I could in all conscience recommend are i and Future Memories; don't forget, this is the man who replaced Mike Pinder in the Moody Blues, just as they took the decision to sit firmly in the middle of the road for the rest of their career.

Official site

See: Yes | Refugee | Moody Blues | Rime of the Ancient Sampler | Mellodrama

Gaby Moreno  (Guatamala)

Gaby Moreno, 'Still the Unknown' Gaby Moreno, 'Still the Unknown'

Still the Unknown  (2008,  44.53)  ***/T½

Little Sorrow
Wrong Side of the Road
Letter to a Mad Woman
Song of You
Since You Came Along
Amapola
Still the Unknown
Greenhorne Man
La Vez Que No Me Pude Atrever
It's Been a Pleasure
No Estoy Tan Mal

Current availability:

Mellotron/Chamberlin used:

Although Guatamalan, Maria Gabriela Moreno moved to L.A. at some point, releasing her first solo album, Still the Unknown, independently in 2008 (reissued with a slightly different running order and sleeve in 2011). It's a jazz/blues-influenced singer-songwriter effort, vastly superior to the assembly-line guff released by so many wispy American girls, seemingly aimed directly at crummy mainstream TV shows that use their drivel in the background, more interesting material including bluesy opener Little Sorrow, the jazzy piano-and-vocal Amapola and the (slightly) rocky Greenhorne Man.

Mark Goldenberg plays Chamberlin and Mellotron, with strings (and flutes?) on Song Of You, strings on the title track and strings and definite flutes on closer No Estoy Tan Mal, although it's difficult to tell which instrument provided which sound. Chamby strings and Mellotron flutes? Anyway, good without being outstanding, with a little tape-replay work; let's hope she hasn't been seduced by Big Money on subsequent albums.

Official site

Morgan  (UK)

Morgan, 'Nova Solis'

Nova Solis  (1972,  40.45)  ***½/T

Samarkhand the Golden
Alone
War Games
Nova Solis (a Suite)
  Theme
  Floating
  Take-Off
  Asteroids
  Earth
  Hyperspace: the Return Home
Nova
May I Remember
Theme

Current availability:

Mellotron used:

Morgan were a British quartet consisting of most of the Love Affair (of Everlasting Love fame), with Tim Staffel, ex-Smile (whose other two members went on to achieve complete obscurity with some bunch called Queen. Stupid name, too). Named after keyboardist Morgan Fisher (later of Mott the Hoople), the music is, unsurprisingly, keyboard-dominated, although Staffel provides acoustic guitar in places, along with his excellent vocals. The music? Out-and-out prog, with an occasional dash of singer-songwriterness from Staffel. I think it's safe to say that there are both better and worse examples of the genre, although both Samarkhand The Golden and War Games stand out. Sadly, the side-long title suite doesn't, being a little too ordinary to succeed over its 20-minute length, not to mention the fact that its 'spaceman returns to a devastated Earth' concept has a lot in common with then-recent albums by both Nektar and (especially) Gracious!.

Strangely, the band had to go to Italy to get a record deal (with RCA), and the album was recorded at a state-of-the-art studio in Rome, giving Fisher free reign with their impressive keyboard collection. Sadly, he only chose to use their Mellotron on one track, Samarkhand The Golden, with some brass and background strings, with most of the album's keyboard work concentrating on piano and multitracked VCS3. Morgan lasted long enough to record a second album, The Sleeper Wakes, but while I've no idea what it's like, I'm pretty sure it's 'Tron-free.

So; not bad, not great, bit of a period piece really, with some 'Tron on one track. One for collectors.

See: Mott | Smile

Morild  (Norway)  see: Samples

Alanis Morissette  (Canada)

Alanis Morissette, 'Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie'

Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie  (1998,  70.25)  */½

Front Row
Baba
Thank U
Are You Still Mad
Sympathetic Character
That I Would Be Good
The Couch
Can't Not
UR
I Was Hoping
One
Would Not Come
Unsent
So Pure
Joining You
Heart of the House
Your Congratulations

Current availability:

Chamberlin used:

You may have liked the emotional free-fall of Ms. Morissette's debut Jagged Little Pill (**); millions did, making her an overnight star. Personally, I couldn't stand the damn' thing, with its irritating 'modern' production and her, frankly, awful vocals; I'm sure they're supposed to convey her emotional depth, but they sounded to me like a non-singer having a not-so-fair stab at becoming one. And as for the songs... As a result her second effort, Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie, was never really going to endear itself to me, as even her fanbase gently evaporated in the heat generated by its bad reviews.

Most of the songs sound like no more than vehicles for her lyrics, which, to be fair, are genuinely heartfelt, although lines like "We were together during a very tumultuous time in our lives" are deeply unforgivable, even if it's ironic, which I doubt. As on her debut, the programmed percussion makes my ears bleed after a while, and at 71 minutes, this album outstays its welcome by, ooh, about... 71 minutes, I think. The redoubtable Benmont Tench (Tom Petty) plays Chamberlin, but next to Glen Ballard's 'synthesizers and programming', it's extremely difficult to spot exactly where it was used, so the tracklisting above may well be heavily error-ridden. Anyway, to my ears, there are some faint flutes on Thank U, cellos (?) on Can't Not, and possibly strings on Unsent.

There's no way I can recommend this awful album on any fronts whatsoever; it only avoids getting an even lower rating because it's at least vaguely professionally done. Mind you, since when was that a recommendation? Truly horrible. Avoid like the plague.

Official site

Mörk Gryning  (Sweden)

Mörk Gryning, 'Pieces of Primal Expressionism'

Pieces of Primal Expressionism  (2003,  51.16)  ***/TT

The Sleeping Star
The Cradle of Civilization
Perpetual Dissolution
Our Urn
An Old Man's Lament
The Worm
Fragments and Pieces
On the Verge of Prime Divinity

Current availability:

Mellotron used:

I believe Mörk Gryning ('dark dawn') are black metal, as against any other sub-sub-sub metallic genre; to my ears, they're merely 'extreme metal', a sobriquet that mercifully covers many of said sub-(etc.) genres, saving me a lot of tedious categorisation of music that rarely holds my interest for long. This lot have a 'cookie monster' vocalist and a drummer who utilises blastbeats whenever possible, making any serious point they may wish to make entirely redundant, as for all their thud and blunder, most of the time they sound a bit silly. Guys, NO-ONE'S scared...

This isn't to say that their fourth album, 2003's Pieces of Primal Expressionism, is complete drivel; the playing's absolutely spot-on, as you'd expect from the genre, and some of the quieter parts are very listenable. If only they didn't consistently succumb to the urge to ruin it all with incoherent grunting and hyperactive rhythms that aren't even particularly fast. Saying that, Our Urn (stop laughing at the back) is a pretty decent metal number with some inventive guitar work, while An Old Man's Lament is actually quite prog before they go and spoil it all again, although it does revert to the opening section later on.

Johan Larsson, a.k.a. Aeon, is credited with Mellotron, along with synth and guitar. Several tracks contain unidentified strings so faint that they could be almost anything, but The Cradle Of Civilization features full-on 'Tron strings in a rare quiet section, under alternating solo violin and guitar solos, while An Old Man's Lament opens with an excellent string part, repeated when it all quietens down again. But is it real? I hear you cry. Well, it might be, which seems to be the best I can do in most cases these days. The solo sections sound quite 'clean', but a well set-up machine with new tapes could easily sound like this. As with so many other cases, I'll leave it here until/if I should find out otherwise.

All in all, then, an album of the kind to frighten your neighbours and/or close relatives, unless they're perfectly used to you playing stuff like this while wearing corpsepaint, too much leather and a bullet belt or indeed, wear them themselves. I refuse to cast aspersions on your neighbours and/or close relatives. It seems to be good at what it does, assuming that's what you're after, and a couple of decent 'Tron tracks improve matters for the non-fan of the genre.

MySpace

Morning Benders  (US)  see: Samples

Morning Star  (US)

Morning Star, 'Message From the Throne'

Message From the Throne...  (1975,  33.54)  **½/T½

You're So Free
The First Day
Shine on (With Jesus)
His Will
Steppin' in & Steppin' Out
Joy in G Minor
The Conversation
The Ship of Life

Current availability:

Mellotron used:

Morning Star were a Jesus rock trio from the arse end of nowhere, USA, whose (presumably) sole album, Message From the Throne... (probably 1975) is a strange, drumless effort, full of massed acoustics and godly harmonies. Despite the usual lyrical drivel, this is rather better than many others I've heard, with some funky slide playing on Steppin' In & Steppin' Out and, of course, some Mellotron.

The unknown keyboard player adds 'Tron strings to The First Day, His Will and closer The Ship Of Life, not in a pseudo-orchestral kind of way, interestingly, but more with some appreciation of the instrument's sound. If you really want to hear this, you're never going to find an original, but it's out there as a download; three reasonable 'Tron tracks and some not-too-awful God rock.

Morphine  (US)

Morphine, 'Yes'

Yes  (1995,  36.30)  ***½/½

Honey White
Scratch
Radar
Whisper
Yes
All Your Way
Super Sex
I Had My Chance
The Jury
Sharks
Free Love
Gone for Good
Morphine, 'Like Swimming'

Like Swimming  (1997,  37.44)  ***½/T

Lilah
Potion
I Know You, Pt. 3
Early to Bed
Wishing Well
Like Swimming
Murder for the Money
French Fries With Pepper
Empty Box
Eleven o'Clock
Hanging on a Curtain
Swing it Low

Current availability:

Chamberlin/Mellotron used:

Morphine were a bass (as in two-string slide bass)/drums/baritone sax trio, whose influences roared straight out of jazz and the blues, updating them for a new audience. You could never accuse them of lacking energy or drive, and the songwriting was pretty cool, too. It seems they covered all bases, one minute frantic, the next sleazy, making leader Mark Sandman's onstage death in 1999 all the more tragic, as it seems they were one of the few bands around taking these styles somewhere new.

Yes was their third album (of five), and the first of two to feature Sandman on a tape-replay instrument. In this case, he played Chamberlin strings on Super Sex, to fairly average effect, to be honest. I can't recommend this album on those grounds, then, but it's a pretty cool record, in case it sounds like it might be your kind of thing. Their last effort released during Sandman's lifetime, '97's Like Swimming, carries on the work of its predecessors, mixing jazz, blues and 'alternative' rock to good effect, not to mention Sandman's 'tritar' (three-stringed guitar), heard on Murder For The Money. Sandman adds Mellotron this time round, with a cello arrangement on Hanging On A Curtain, sounding typical unorthodox.

So; Morphine have maintained their popularity in the alternative scene, with surviving ex-members occasionally getting together as Orchestra Morphine. These albums are odd, innovative and pretty damn' unique, although that won't necessarily recommend them to you, of course. The Chamberlin on Yes probably isn't worth hearing, although the Mellotron on Like Swimming is.

Fan site

Larry Morris  (New Zealand)

Larry Morris, 'Reputation Don't Matter Any More'

Reputation Don't Matter Any More  (1976)  **/T

Living Theatre
Dance With Me
Silly Thing
Rock'n'Roll Struggle
Come Away
Bomber on the Loose
Out of the Closet
Speak for Yourself
People Passing People
Who Do We Think (We're Foolin')
Thank You

Current availability:

Mellotron used:

Larry Morris Sturdy rose to prominence on the New Zealand scene in the '60s with Larry's Rebels, but after going solo at the end of the decade, then receiving a jail sentence for drug-related offences, his 1976 album Reputation Don't Matter Any More couldn't have been better named. Unfortunately, it's a pretty staid singer-songwriter effort, sounding like a budget Kiwi Elton John in places, although many of the lyrics are unsurprisingly angry, given Morris' harsh treatment at the hands of the establishment, with lyrics such as, "Four years my records made no sound/Yet I saw them spinning round", clearly relating to his incarceration. The only even remotely bright spot on his musical horizon is closer Thank You, a bitter little a capella piece that doubtless endeared him to the critics, but has the advantage of being at least slightly adventurous.

'Melletron' on three tracks, from ex-Human Instinct member Steve McDonald, mostly as a string section substitute, by the sound of it, although he adds choirs to his palette (he's credited with 'Melletron & choir') on People Passing People, strangely titled 'Fallen Dancer' on the lyric sheet. You might've guessed by now that Reputation Don't Matter Any More isn't an essential album for anyone apart from students of Kiwi music, being a dullsville mid-'70s pop/rock effort with unmemorable material, not to mention very average 'Tron use, not that you're likely to find a copy outside NZ anyway.

See: Steve McDonald

Mark Morriss  (UK)

Mark Morriss, 'Memory Muscle'

Memory Muscle  (2008,  37.09)  ***/½

How Maggie Got Her Bounce Back
I'm Sick
So it Goes
Buckle Up, Baby Doll
Alcoholiday
Digging a Hole
Lemon & Lime
Unwanted Friend
Bienvenido
Lay Low
My Autumn's Done Come

Current availability:

Mellotron used:

2008's Memory Muscle is 'Britpop survivors' Bluetones' vocalist Mark Morriss' first (and to date, only) solo album, giving him a break from their indie thing and allowing him to do something outside the confines of a band setting. Most of its material is slow-paced, almost funereal, and while two or three chirpier numbers give the album a sense of balance, the slow ones tend to work better, notably acoustic opener How Maggie Got Her Bounce Back, the organ-heavy So It Goes and his version of Lee Hazlewood's My Autumn's Done Come.

Gordon Mills adds a little Mellotron flute melody to opener How Maggie Got Her Bounce Back, although that would appear to be it on the 'Tron front. Memory Muscle's a decent enough album of its type, although it's unlikely to excite anyone not already into that indie/singer-songwriter thing.

MySpace

Flo Morrissey  (UK)  see: Samples

Alan Morse  (US)  see: Samples

Neal Morse  (US)  see:

Neal Morse

Morse Code  (Québec)

Morse Code, 'La Marche des Hommes'

La Marche des Hommes  (1975,  34.08/42.05)  ****/TTTT

La Marche des Hommes
Le Pays d'Or
La Cérémonie de Minuit
Cocktail
Une Goutte de Pluie
Qu'est-ce que t'as Compris?
Problème
[CD adds:
Cocktail (disco mix)
Qu'est-ce que t'as Compris? (edit)
]
Morse Code, 'Procréation'

Procréation  (1976,  50.50/59.28)  ****/TTT½ (TTTT)

Précréation
Qu'est-ce t'es v'nu Faire Ici

Nuage
L'eau Tonne
Des Hauts et des Ha!...
De Tous les Pays du Monde
Procréation
  Procréation 1
  Procréation 2
  Procréation 3

[CD adds:
Punch
Image]
Morse Code, 'Je Suis le Temps'

Je Suis le Temps  (1977,  37.21)  ***½/TTTT

C'est Déjà du Passé
La Réalité
Berceuses
Chevaliers d'un Règne
Picadilly Circus
Sommeil
Je Suis le Temps
Magie de Musique
Morse Code, 'Code Breaker'

Code Breaker  (1983,  38.23)  *½/T

Still on My Mind
Help the Man
Finders Keepers
My Turn
Modern Problems
Tough Times
I'm Not That Kind
Never Grow Old
Hall of Mirrors

Current availability:

Mellotrons used:

Christian Simard at the angled Mellotron. Nice boots

Morse Code started out as the slightly more mainstream Morse Code Transmission, releasing two albums in the early '70s, before disappearing for three years. They returned with La Marche des Hommes, and it's a bit of a monster. Mixing Genesis-style prog with a distinct French influence from their homeland, it consists of the classic 11-minute title track, with all the other songs being not only of 'regular' length, but also more straightforward, although still retaining a progressive edge. Every track on this album features Christian Simard's Mellotron (it seems they owned two), with highlights being the title track, Cocktail and Qu'est-ce Que T'as Compris? Strings all round, but with quite unusual chord voicings in places, doubtless inspired by French chanson music as much as progressive rock. The very 'mainstream' sound of Cocktail, incidentally, is entirely due to those enlightened folks at Capitol demanding a 'disco' number. Right... The band duly complied, as it allowed them to record an album of the music they wanted to play. Those wonderful people at ProgQuébec finally reissued these albums in 2007, adding a lengthier remix of Cocktail, and its b-side, an edited Qu'est-ce Que T'as Compris?.

Their follow-up, Procréation, is every bit as good as its predecessor, and over 15 minutes longer, with the magnificent 26-minute title suite taking up the whole of side two. As with La Marche des Hommes, the rest of the material is best described as being in the 'compact progressive' style; shorter songs, but with a prog feel, although L'eau Tonne moves slightly towards the middle of the road, if truth be told. On to Procréation itself; this is superb symphonic progressive, with all the twists and turns you expect from the genre, and a fantastic theme coming in towards the end, with the whole being built along the lines of a lengthier La Marche Des Hommes, this time split into three parts because... they could. And why not? Answers on the back of a Mellotron to the usual address. Preferably a Mark II. Talking of which, although a couple of tracks are 'Tronless this time around, the rest of them feature it pretty heavily, especially the end of De Tous Les Pays Du Monde and the bulk of Procréation. Again, mostly strings, but a cello line or two crops up here and there. Bonus tracks on the CD are two non-album single sides, another disco-ish effort, Punch, and its 'Tron-heavy flip, Image.

Christian Simard at the angled Mellotron again

Typically, by '77's Je Suis le Temps, Morse Code followed progressive outfits worldwide in simplifying their approach, although for them this consisted simply of not including an epic, and incorporating a few less interesting bits, although opener C'est Déjà Du Passé is as good as any of the shorter pieces on its two predecessors. While the Mellotron count is slightly down, there's some decent enough strings and cellos on C'est Déjà Du Passé, while the balladic Berceuses features a good chunk of strings over the piano part. The nearest the album gets to a 'Tron classic, though, is the instrumental Picadilly [sic] Circus, with an excellent repeating rising string line leading into a key change. Oh, and for the only time on any of these albums, there's a little 'Tron choir to be heard on Sommeil, along with the more ubiquitous strings, and an excellent part at the end of the title track. OK, it's all over the bloody thing.

Now, until recently, none of these had ever been issued on CD, leaving naught but a compilation, Les Grands Succès de Morse Code. Despite the omission of the classic three-part Procréation, it used to be the only way you were going to track this music down with any ease, and at least it opened with La Marche Des Hommes. Given how much second-rate (and third-, and fourth-...) stuff is available, complete with even ropier 'bonus' tracks of the drummer farting in rehearsal, it's bizarre how long it's taken for these albums to be reissued, and it's taken an indie to do it. ProgQuébec have also reissued the legendary, if Mellotron-free Maneige albums, plus some live recordings. Now, we know Morse Code were recorded for Québecois radio; is the recording still out there somewhere?

There is one more Morse Code Mellotron album... After splitting in the late '70s, following being dropped by their label, the band got back together a few years later, sans Simard, releasing the English-language Code Breaker in 1983. By and large, it's appalling English-language commercial hard rock/AOR slush, with just one vaguely acceptable track in six-minute closer Hall Of Mirrors, although I really wouldn't want you to take that as any sort of recommendation. What Mellotron there is played by Marc Leach, known to his mère as Marc Maheux (the whole band Anglicised their names, presumably in a desperate attempt to appeal internationally), with a few string chords in Tough Times, leaving Hall Of Mirrors (probably unsurprisingly) as the album's only proper 'Tron track, with a repeating and rather screechy pattern of string chords reprised throughout the song. This is a truly horrible album, heavily besmirching a great band's reputation, and I can only urge you to distance yourselves from it with some urgency. Bear in mind these wise words written by Atavachron on ProgArchives: "Code Breaker can best be described as what would happen if Eddie Jobson produced a collaboration between Survivor and Journey". Couldn't have (and didn't) put it better myself.

So; you need La Marche des Hommes and Procréation, and Je Suis le Temps' pretty good, with excellent 'Tron work all round. Buy! I shan't mention Code Breaker again.


previous pagenext page