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Barbara Nielsen
Nightales

Maxine Nightingale
Nightwinds
Nightwing
Kazumi Nikaido


A New Generation  (UK)

A New Generation, 'Smokey Blue's Away' 7"  (1968)  **½/½

Smokey Blue's Away

She's a Soldier Boy

Current availability:

Mellotron used:

A New Generation were a late '60s pop outfit led by Iain and Gavin Sutherland, later of Sutherland Brothers (& Quiver), whose last single (of three), Smokey Blue's Away, is apparently based on Dvořák's New World Symphony, although I'm afraid to say I didn't spot it. It probably works better in the classical idiom, to be honest, coming across as a little fey when turned into a rather sentimental song about a dog.

The single opens with 'Tron flutes, presumably from keyboard player Christopher Kemp, although that seems to be it for the release, despite rumours that it's also on the flip, the rather better She's A Soldier Boy. The A-side's available on Tenth Planet's The Electric Lemonade Acid Test, Volume 4 and possibly others, should you really feel the need to hear it.

The New Grove Project  (Sweden/Switzerland)

New Grove Project, 'The Demo's'

The Demo's  (1994, recorded 1984,  65.38)  ***/TTT

Prelude
My Uncle
Fool's Overture
Fool's Journey
Anguish
The Ladder
Circles
New Grove Project, 'Fool's Journey'

Fool's Journey  (1996,  48.34)  ****/TTT½

Prelude
My Uncle
Where am I Going From Here
Decision
Fool's Journey

Anguish
The Ladder
New Grove Project, 'Brill'

Brill  (2005,  61.35)  ****/TT

Neon Light Submission
Thoughts Sui Generis
The Sounding Flood
The Light Within
Laughternoon Dream
Cool Fool Floating
Brill

Current availability:

Mellotrons used:

The story goes: Swedish musician Ingemar Hjertqvist wrote an album's worth of material in 1984 with his friend, keyboardist Per Sundbom, which they demoed using guitar, bass, synths, Mellotron and drum computer. As you do. Hjertqvist subsequently got married and moved to Switzerland, where he eventually dug out his old demos and released them as, er, The Demo's (sic), allegedly in a limited edition of 300, making it a minor collectable these days. Well, I have to say that I think he made a bit of a mistake in exposing them to the scrutiny of the prog world, to be honest; they sound like what they are, and while the drum programming is OK, the sounds aren't, and most of the keyboards (with one obvious exception) don't sound too hot, either. Basically, reasonable material, with a noticeable late-'70s Genesis/Yes influence, obscured by poor production values, although the rather clanky-sounding Mellotron brightens up most of the tracks, although it's used pretty sparingly.

Before releasing the demos, Hjertqvist had put together various lineups to play his old songs, but wasn't really happy with any of them. Eventually, he pulled several musicians together as a studio project, including The Flower Kings' Roine Stolt on guitars, Pär Lindh on keyboards and, startlingly, Jode Leigh of the superb England on drums. Unlike several things I've listened to lately, Fool's Journey is actually better than I remembered it, being sort-of neo-prog with a '70s feel, enhanced by the vintage instrumentation. The song structures are more interesting than many '80s outfits, with some nice key changes here and there, and an 'epic' feel to some of the material (My Uncle, for example), sadly absent in the work of the likes of Marillion. There's plenty of Lindh's Mark V to be heard, particularly on My Uncle, with stacks of strings, plus flute and choir parts, although he's a little more restrained on some of the other tracks. Fool's Overture from the demos has been retitled Where Am I Going From Here and the Mellotron use between the two recordings is pretty inconsistent, but that's what happens when you rearrange material, I suppose. Anyway, all in all, a much better album than I'd thought, although the lyrics and vocals are a little suspect in places, but there's enough Mellotron for it to be considered a 'Tron Album proper.

Nine years later, Hjertqvist released his follow-up (!), Brill. It is immediately apparent that things have changed in the interim; the style is noticeably different, with far more piano work from either Jode Leigh (back again) or Pär Lindh (ditto). About the only real criticism I would make is in the vocal department; it's not that either Hjertqvist or guest singer John "Bo Bo" Bollenberg have bad voices, but the lyrics frequently don't scan too well, and the spoken-word The Sounding Flood doesn't work at all, although I see it was actually written by the only Englishman on the project. I'm splitting hairs, though; it's actually a very good album, with considerable thought put into both composition and arrangement, knocking spots off many of their contemporaries, notably one led by another Swede who are doing considerably better. Naming no names. Lindh's Mellotron work is even sparser than on Fool's Journey, with a brief string part on Thoughts Sui Generis, choir and strings on Bollenberg's Laughternoon Dream and a fair helping of strings on Brill itself. Speaking of which, the title track is a reworking of Circles from the demos, with lyrics added, finally exhausting that source of material.

Well, both Fool's Journey and Brill are worth a listen, unless you're an extremely hardline '70s-only type, though I'd probably give The Demo's a miss, although there's the odd nice bit of Mellotron here and there.

See: Pär Lindh | England | Bollenberg Experience

The New Raemon  (Spain)

The New Raemon, 'La Dimensión Desconocida'

La Dimensión Desconocida  (2009,  28.34)  ***/TT

La Siesta
Estupendamente
Variables
Por Tradición

El Fin del Imperio
Dramón Rodríguez
La Gran Caída
Sucedáneos
La Dimensión Desconocida
La Recta Final

Current availability:

Mellotron used:

The New Raemon play a kind of psychedelic folk, for want of a better phrase, making a reasonably decent job of it on their second album, 2009's La Dimensión Desconocida. The songwriting's the kind that makes you suspect it might grow on you given time, highlights including opener La Siesta (start with a strong one, chaps), the gentle El Fin Del Imperio and Dramón Rodríguez, although I'm not sure what to make of the Bob Dylan harmonica on closer La Recta Final.

Ricky Falkner plays Mellotron, with strings on Variables, Por Tradición and Sucedáneos and strings and church organ on Dramón Rodríguez; there might even be the odd flute part buried in the mix, but I wouldn't stake my reputation (?!) on it. So; not bad, not brilliant, almost certainly room for improvement. No idea where they sourced a real, live Mellotron (assuming they did), but let's hope they use it again.

Official site

New Riders of the Purple Sage  (US)

New Riders of the Purple Sage, 'Brujo'

Brujo  (1974,  33.04)  ***/T

Old Man Noll
Ashes of Love
You Angel You
Instant Armadillo Blues
Workingman's Woman
On the Amazon
Big Wheels
Singing Cowboy
Crooked Judge
Parson Brown
Neon Rose

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Mellotron used:

New Riders of the Purple Sage started life as a country-rock Grateful Dead side-project, although no Dead members play on Brujo. They cover various country styles on the album, including a reasonable dose of humour in Singing Cowboy, although the shamelessly sentimental rural-centric Old Man Noll gets things off to a rather cheesy start.

Guest Ed Freeman plays understated Mellotron strings on Parson Brown and slightly more upfront ones on Neon Rose, but that's it on the 'Tron front. Anyway, most certainly not a Mellotron album, but despite my general dislike of the genre, a pretty good country-rock effort, especially Buddy Cage's excellent pedal steel work.

New Trolls Atomic System  (Italy)

New Trolls Atomic System, 'New Trolls Atomic System'

New Trolls Atomic System  (1973,  40.40/44.11)  ****/T

La Nuova Predica di Padre O'Brien
Ho Visto Poi
Tornere a Credere
Una Notte sul Monte Calvo
Ibernazione
Quando l'Erbe Vestiva la Terra
Butterfly

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Mellotron used:

New Trolls Atomic System were an offshoot of the New Trolls, one of Italy's best-known progressive outfits. A messy split between the two main members lead to an uneasy compromise where the splinter faction were known as 'N.T. Atomic System', although initial copies of the album had a sticker on the front with the full name... While the New Trolls were sporadically good, New Trolls Atomic System is a stormer of an album, radiating energy, although it's no great surprise after hearing it to discover that their sole follow-up, Tempi Dispari, was full-on fusion. Basically, there isn't a bad track here, although the band moves through various tempos and moods; in fact, I'd go as far as to say that this is possibly better than anything by their parent band, though I know many readers will disagree.

Renato Rosset played the bulk of the album's keyboards, although both guitarist Vittorio de Scalzi and saxophonist Giorgio Baiocco chipped in, too. Rosset played the minimal Mellotron on offer here, with a very audible cello part, of all things, on opener La Nuova Predica Di Padre O'Brien, with more of the same on Tornere A Credere, but that appears to be it, as the album's flute parts, even the polyphonic ones, appear to be real. Una Notte Sul Monte Calvo is that rather unusual thing, a vinyl bonus track, a single added to later pressings of the LP and carried over onto the CD version. It's actually yet another adaptation of Mussorgsky's 'Night on Bare Mountain', although somewhat shorter than the other two that spring to mind.

So; a damn' good album of high-energy Italian prog, though somewhat thin on the ground Mellotronically, which shouldn't affect your purchasing decision in the slightest. Buy.

Official New Trolls site

John Newman  (UK)  see: Samples etc.

Tom Newman  (UK)

Tom Newman, 'Faerie Symphony'

Faerie Symphony  (1977,  31.57)  ***½/T

The Woods of...
Fordin Searchran
Bean Si
Little Voices of the Tarans
The Fluter
The Seelie Court
The Spell Breaks
The Fairy Song
Dance of Daoine Sidhe
Memories of Cúichulainn
Aillen Mac Midna
The Unseelie Court
The Woods of...

Current availability:

Mellotron used:

For those not in the know, Tom Newman engineered one of the biggest-selling albums of the '70s, Mike Oldfield's Tubular Bells, at Virgin's Manor Studios, working with Oldfield on many subsequent releases. Despite (because of?) being a member of famously obscure psychsters July, Newman's solo work has never gained any real success, which hasn't stopped him releasing a good few albums over the years, of which the best-known is probably 1977's Faerie Symphony.

As with Anthony Phillips' The Geese & the Ghost or The Intergalactic Touring Band's eponymous effort, 1977 wasn't a vintage year for prog in the UK (England's mighty Garden Shed being the obvious exception), or at least, wasn't a good time to release something as intricate as Newman's magnum opus. It's actually a pretty decent album, all instrumental, utilising Celtic themes with abandon before they became de rigeur, shifting through various styles, from the relatively contemporary to Medieval, not to mention The Unseelie Court's blistering guitar solo.

Newman plays Mellotron on closer The Woods Of... himself, with a flute part that almost fools the ear into thinking it's real. Despite myself, I actually quite like Faerie Symphony, even if it's the kind of vanity project I should despise. It was clearly assembled with a lot of love and probably little expectation of great sales (I'm sure, as a producer, Newman had some idea of what was going on musically at the time) and could've been so, so much worse. Amazingly, it was actually released on CD in 2009 by those nice people at Esoteric, so you can get out there and hear it for yourself.

Newsboys  (Australia)

Newsboys, 'Not Ashamed'

Not Ashamed  (1992,  42.09)  */T

I Cannot Get You Out of My System
I'm Not Ashamed
Where You Belong/Turn Your Eyes
  Upon Jesus

Upon This Rock
Strong Love
Dear Shame
Boycott Hell
We Come Together
Love Comes True
Lost the Sky Again

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Mellotron used:

The Newsboys are a truly grim proposition; not only is the Aussie-via-the-States band's music (going by 1992's Not Ashamed) the worst kind of pseudo-'modern rock' going, but they're Christians, too, meaning that the album's entire lyrical content consists of the usual, tired old single-issue tosh about their god (note small 'g'), ignoring anything as tedious as real life. Musically, they seem to've been influenced, at least at the time, by U2 and maybe Midnight Oil (well, they are Aussies), with a horrible '80s-hangover production job, full of nasty 'dance-lite' beats and crummy samples, the only plus point being reasonable Hammond use, although it's a definite case of 'too little, too late'. Particular horrors include the schlocky balladry of Where You Belong/Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus, the attempt at dancefloor rhythms in the ludicrously-titled Boycott Hell (yeah, right) and the shitty choir samples in Dear Shame, but it's all bad, really.

The reason I sat/skipped through this drivel was, of course, its Mellotron content, at a time when the 'Tron was still at a pretty low ebb, which is about the only positive thing I can think of to say about this awful record. John (Mark) Painter plays a nice flute part on Where You Belong/Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus, but I'd be lying if I said it improved the song in any meaningful way. Please don't go anywhere near this album, on the remote offchance you might have been thinking of doing so. Everything about it, from its vile sleeve through its faceless, second- (third-? Fifth-? Nineteenth-?) hand music to its pointless lyrical platitudes are only going to offend those who like well-crafted, interesting music with something to say for itself. Avoid, avoid, avoid.

Official site

See: Paul Colman

Next to None  (US)  see: Samples etc.

Nexus  (Argentina)  see: Samples etc.

The Nice  (UK)

The Nice, 'America/Diamond-Hard Blue Apples of the Moon (Jap sleeve)' 7"  (1968)  ***/TT

America (Second Amendment)
Diamond-Hard Blue Apples of the Moon

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Mellotron used:

Keith Emerson is noted for his deep loathing of the Mellotron, probably because you can't play honky-tonk piano on it or, in fact, show off at all, although his alleged reason is (get this) along the lines of (referring to the fact that it plays recordings of other musicians), "I don't like playing other people's music", or somesuch. I mean, what? It's quite surprising, then, that he deigned to play one on this b-side with the Nice, back in '68. Diamond-Hard Blue Apples Of The Moon is fairly typical for the period, without being particularly outstanding, with a rather cheesy brass melody (real, I think), and several Mellotron string interjections. It's available on various compilations, and, I believe, reissues of their debut, The Thoughts of Emerlist Davjack, but I wouldn't buy anything specifically to hear it, to be honest. The a-side, America is a different matter, but that's another story...

The rumours that Emerson had one other brush with the Mellotron in his career have recently been disproved, principally by the man himself in a recent ELP bio. Allegedly, he persuaded Greg Lake to play a string line on Abaddon's Bolero, from Trilogy, although he wouldn't touch the hated instrument himself; in fact, it's a multi-overdubbed Moog line, so bang goes that theory. They apparently actually bought an M400 around the same period, loaded it with effects from either that album or Tarkus, then got Lake to trigger these onstage. This arrangement lasted exactly two gigs, until the 'Tron caught fire (!) and the experiment was abandoned. So what is it with '70s über-keyboard players and flammable Mellotrons, anyway?

See: Emerson, Lake & Palmer | Jackson Heights

Joe Nichols  (US)

Joe Nichols, 'Man With a Memory'

Man With a Memory  (2002,  45.01)  **½/½

The Impossible
Joe's Place
Brokenheartsville
She Only Smokes When She Drinks
Everything's a Thing
That Would Be Her
Cool to Be a Fool
Can't Hold a Halo to You
You Can't Break the Fall
You Ain't Heard Nothin' Yet
Life Don't Have to Mean Nothin' at All
Man With a Memory
Joe Nichols, 'Real Things'

Real Things  (2007,  51.11)  **½/½

Real Things
Another Side of You
Who Are You When I'm Not Looking
Comin' Back in a Cadillac
My Whiskey Years
It Ain't No Crime
All Good Things
Let's Get Drunk and Fight
Ain't Nobody Gonna Take That From Me
She's All Lady
The Difference is Night and Day
All I Need is a Heart
If I Could Only Fly

Current availability:

Mellotrons used:

Joe Nichols is a young traditionalist, a country singer in an age of Americana. Or is that just my perception? Non-Americans tend to forget just how ubiquitous the style is there, with whole swathes of the country in its thrall. "What kind of music do you usually have here?" " Oh, we got both kinds - we got country and western..."

After his eponymous 1996 debut, it took Nichols six years to follow it up with Man With a Memory, and it has to be said; this is a country album. Not Americana, country. As a result, your chances of liking any of it are directly related to your tolerance for the style. Good Americana albums have increased mine, but it's still pretty hard to take when he sings about 'Sweet Betty Lou' in the title track. Not Americana, country. Tim Lauer is credited with Mellotron, amongst other things, but the only place it even might be is on That Would Be Her, with a muted cello part that could be almost anything.

Five years and four albums on (including a Christmas effort), Nichols releases Real Things, far from dissimilar to Man With a Memory, wilfully mixing halfway decent songs (he sends himself and his chosen genre up beautifully in Let's Get Drunk And Fight) with typical, clichéd country. Brent Rowan on Mellotron this time, although the only obvious part is the flutes on My Whiskey Years.

So; mainstream country, next to no 'Tron. Maybe not, eh?

Official site

Nicklebag  (US)

Nicklebag, '12 Hits & a Bump'

12 Hits & a Bump  [a.k.a. Mas Feedback]  (1996,  58.22)  ***/T

Love Song (All Up in My World)
Hit it and Quit it
I Will
Indanée
Turning the Other Way
Too Many Mountains (Big Daddy Mix)
Sweet Thang
Don't Know Why I Love You
Grow
Repetition
Soul Search (Mother Mix)
Win
Hots on for Nowhere (Bump Track)
Soul Search (Bonus Bump/Nicklebag Mix)/Indanée (Reprise)

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Mellotron used:

Nicklebag were a one-off collaboration between Tackhead's Bernard Fowler and our old friend Stevie Salas, whose sole album, 1996's 12 Hits & a Bump, was re-released the following year, with a revised tracklisting, as Mas Feedback. Unsurprisingly, given Salas' contributions, the album straddles the modern and 'trad' hard rock areas, with a little funk thrown in for good measure, the end result sounding like an updated version of Hendrix' genre-crossing as much as anything. Top tracks include opener Love Song (All Up In My World), brief, drifting instrumental Indanée (and its uncredited reprise at the end of the album), the raucous Sweet Thang and an unusual Zeppelin cover, Presence's underrated Hots On For Nowhere.

Rei Atsumi (Vow Wow, Salas, Sass Jordan) plays Mellotron on Soul Search (Mother Mix), with some nice flute and string parts, although I suspect Jeff Bova's Mellotronish choirs on a few tracks are samples. I don't know if this is still actually available in either of its versions, but Salas fans need to track this down promptly, while anyone into that '90s trad hard rock revival thing should probably give it a go.

See: Stevie Salas

Stevie Nicks  (US)

Stevie Nicks, 'Trouble in Shangri-La'

Trouble in Shangri-La  (2001,  57.18)  **½/T

Trouble in Shangri-La
Candlebright
Sorcerer
Planets of the Universe
Everyday
Too Far From Texas
That Made Me Stronger
It's Only Love
Love Changes
I Miss You
Bombay Sapphire
Fall From Grace
Love is

Current availability:

Chamberlin used:

Trouble in Shangri-La was Stephanie "Stevie" Nicks' sixth solo album, twenty years after the first, Bella Donna, in between several joinings and leavings of Fleetwood Mac. It is, entirely unsurprisingly, soft rock par excellence, all assuming that you consider that to be an achievement. It is, of course, impeccably played and produced, although you can hear the ravages of the Coke Years in Stevie's voice; this is probably neither the time nor the place to reiterate the scurrilous rumours (Rumours! Geddit?) concerning exactly which mucous membrane Stevie chose to use after her nasal septum started disintegrating... On a more musicianly note, Tom Petty and various Heartbreakers appear, having collaborated several times before, both in the studio and on stage, and brighten things up a little, though only a little, I'm afraid.

Heartbreaker Benmont Tench plays his Chamberlin on a couple of tracks, with a string part on Candlebright that's too clunky to be real, but too 'real' to be samples, with more of the same, plus flutes, on Everyday. Given how inaudible the Chamberlin tends to be, it's remarkably audible here, although it could easily be on two or three other tracks, too. Anyway, this is a Stevie Nicks album, which tells you more about it than I ever could; squeaky-clean AOR is the order of the day, so don't expect any surprises. A little Chamberlin, but nowhere near enough to actually make this worth hearing.

Official site

See: Fleetwood Mac

Barbara Nielsen  (Netherlands)

Barbara Nielsen, 'Barbara Nielsen'

Barbara Nielsen  (1975,  40.14)  **/T½

Landschap
Zondagmorgen
Elke Dag
Maskerade
Spel Zonder Plan
Het is Pas Een Begin
Quand il Pleut
Een Hand Vol Zeewind
Vandaag
'Tis Te Riskeren
Uitvaart
Amoureuse

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Mellotron used:

Assuming we're talking about the same person, Barbara Nielsen is a Dutch actress, who presumably diversified into music in the '70s, releasing at least two albums, an eponymous one in '75 and Blijf Nog'n Beetje two years later. Barbara Nielsen is a pretty typical album of its time and place; mild, string-laden adult pop of the 'who on earth would wish to listen to this now?' variety. It's extremely professional, but a complete irrelevance, albeit nowhere near as bad as, say, BZN.

Unusually, Martin Agterberg's Mellotron (mostly block chords) on several tracks is generally placed next to real ones (arranged string parts), heard on opener Landschap, Elke Dag, Quand Il Pleut and 'Tis Te Riskeren, as far as I can ascertain, although it's some of the less essential use you might encounter. It's almost useless berating this album for being dull; it was aimed at a middle-aged audience nearly forty years ago, for whom lightweight MOR balladry was perfectly acceptable. In other words, this actually does what it does perfectly well, with a little Mellotron to boot, but that doesn't mean you either want or need to hear it.

(Czesław) Niemen  (Poland)  see:

Niemen

The Night Watch  (Italy)  see:

Night Watch

Nightales  (US)

Nightales, 'The Voyage'

The Voyage  (1996,  62.31)  ***/TT½

Departure
On the High Seas
Morning Light
Eventide
Wandering Moon
Endless Days
Distant Encounter
Conflict (including The Battle and March of the Dead)
Remembrance
The Voyage Home

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Mellotron used:

The Milwaukee-based Nightales grew out of another local act, Paragone, sharing several members and apparently not sounding dissimilar, in a '90s prog kind of way. Actually, more in a laid-back, Camel-esque kind of way, had they been fully instrumental (OK, maybe they should've been), or maybe Pink Floyd. Yeah, more Floyd, I think. Unfortunately, on their sole album, 1996's The Voyage, memorable melodies seem to be at a premium, making way for the kind of cheeso synth solo heard on Endless Days (endless solos?), although comments like that do the album a disservice, as it's a perfectly pleasant listen for those used to prog's conventions (conventions? How did that happen?), just a slightly unengaging one.

Keys man Mark Walczak plays drummer Ken Lotz' Mellotron here and there, amongst his polysynth warblings and the album's guest woodwind players. Wandering Moon is essentially a 'Tron strings solo, Distant Encounter features some very upfront strings and Conflict has what sounds like 'Tron brass on its more upfront moments, making for a higher rating than I'd expected, to be honest. Most of the album's strings are generic synth, mind you, but it's nice to hear the real thing on a few tracks. Overall, then, a passable enough effort, but a bit bland for many progsters' tastes, I'll warrant, despite a few nice moments and some decent 'Tron work.

See: Paragone

Maxine Nightingale  (UK)

Maxine Nightingale, 'Right Back Where We Started From'

Right Back Where We Started From  (1976,  46.43)  **½/0

Think I Want to Possess You
Bless You
Right Back Where We Started From
In Love We Grow
Gotta Be That One
One Last Ride
Reasons
If I Ever Lose This Heaven
Love Enough
You Got the Love
Life Has Just Begun
Everytime I See a Butterfly
Goodbye Again

Current availability:

Mellotron used:

By the time Maxine Nightingale was persuaded to record Right Back Where We Started From, in 1975, she had already had one career in music, between 1969 and '73 and had moved to Germany to start a family. The soul-cum-funk-cum-glam rock stomper(!) was a bit hit in the UK and even bigger in the States, prompting her record company to finance an album in '76, names (unsurprisingly) for the hit. It starts well, with the offbeat funk/pop of Think I Want To Possess You, but soon degenerates into a rather ordinary effort, shifting between uptempo numbers that aren't as catchy as the title track and generic soul ballads, although One Last Ride and You Got The Love are better than average.

Lynton Naif is credited with Mellotron on Life Has Just Begun, a mid-tempo track that doesn't really go anywhere, but I'd love to know what he actually plays, as the (credited) flute on the track is clearly real. Anyway, Right Back Where We Started From seems to've been released on CD, but isn't going to be easy to find. One for mid-'70s soul fans, I think.

Official site

Nightmare of You  (US)  see: Samples etc.

NightShift  (France)  see: Samples etc.

Nightwinds  (Canada)

Nightwinds, 'Nightwinds'

Nightwinds  (1991, recorded 1979,  45.52)  ****/TT½

We Were the Young
Crude Exports

Ivy
The Pirates of Rebecca's Choice
Out'n'About
Sad But True
As the Crow Flies
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Current availability:

Mellotron used:

Nightwinds were one of the distressingly lengthy list of bands who recorded an album, then split up before they could release it; unlike other unluckier outfits, though, it finally came out a decade after their demise on US label The Laser's Edge. Although a little derivative, Nightwinds is actually well worth hearing; think a cross between Styx and Saga, with bits of UK thrown in for good measure, not to mention Genesis (As The Crow Flies) and Yes, although their influences are more wide-ranging than that. Saga were obviously particularly high on their list of fave bands (they probably played on the same bill more than once), with closer The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button (from F. Scott Fitzgerald's 1921 short story) being a spot-on copy of Saga's lyrical style of the time, although Nightwinds were probably more retro, despite their 'modern' use of synths. No bad tracks here, with The Pirates Of Rebecca's Choice and Out'n'About being particularly good; the album only gets docked another half star for its lack of originality, which isn't necessarily to criticise.

Gerald O'Brien's keyboard work is excellent throughout, with Mellotron on several tracks, although what sounds like a real string section confuses the issue in places. As a result, I think that's 'Tron strings on Crude Exports, though it's difficult to tell on We Were The Young, although the choirs on the track are most definitely tape-driven. None of the highlighted tracks are exactly laden with 'Tron, though there's reasonable use on Benjamin Button, with probably as much choir as strings. Incidentally, Daniel (their machine's current owner) tells me that the third sound on their tape-frame was GC3 brass, although they don't (unsurprisingly?) appear to've used it on the album. So, although only a so-so Mellotron album, stick Nightwinds on your shopping list if US/Canadian progressive is up your street.

Nightwing  (UK)

Nightwing, 'Something in the Air'

Something in the Air  (1980,  39.15)  ***½/T

Fantasia
Nightwing
Cold Love
Edge of a Knife
Something in the Air
Barrel of Pain
Boogie Woman
You Keep Me Hanging on
Fantasia Reprise

Current availability:

Mellotron used:

Nightwing were put together by charismatic bassist/vocalist Gordon Rowley, ex-Strife, a Liverpool-based band who toured exhaustively throughout the '70s. They released two albums over the course of the decade, '75's Rush (occasionally confused with the band of the same name) and '78's Back to Thunder, featuring what has to be one the most stupid lyrics of all time in Feel So Good. Anyway, Nightwing were obviously Rowley's stab at real success, with a more commercial sound than his previous outfit, although their debut, Something in the Air, only shows glimpses of their eventual AOR style. The material varies wildly, from the pseudo-classical Fantasia and its reprise, through the workaday hard rock of Edge Of A Knife, the balladry of the title track, the tedious blues of Boogie Woman (nice title, chaps) to the lengthy cover of Vanilla Fudge's version of the Supremes' You Keep Me Hanging On.

Although the band's regular keys man was ex-Nutz member Kenny Newton (Nutz had simplified their approach by this point, eventually becoming Rage), the mysterious Berington van Campen played extra keys, as well as writing Fantasia. As a result, I assume it's him playing the Mellotron flutes on both parts of his piece, plus occasional choirs on You Keep Me Hanging On, although all the strings appear to be real.

Nightwing went on to release several more albums, always occupying an odd, rather dead-end niche in UK hard rock circles, while finding some measure of success on the continent. I can't have played this album for 20 years, and I certainly didn't expect to find any 'Tron work on it, so thanks to Mark for alerting me to its presence. Not a classic, but fans of the genre may find something here to interest them.

Kazumi Nikaido  (Japan)

Kazumi Nikaido, 'Nikaido Kazumi no Arubamu'

Nikaido Kazumi no Arubamu  (2006,  61.28)  **½/½

Rail no Sono Mukou
Namida no Iro
Anoko no Ano Koro
Kyou o Tou part 2
Aire Kawaiya
Itemo Tattemo Irarenai wa
Long Torch Song
Lovers Rock
Esora Hagaki
Kyori yori
Temperature of Windowside
Curtain Call
Hinata-tuki

Current availability:

Mellotron used:

Kazumi Nikaido (or Nikaido Kazumi) is a Japanese singer whose 2006 release, Nikaido Kazumi no Arubamu (Kazumi Nikaido's Album) is a strange cross between jazz and laid-back pop, most tracks being one style or the other, rather than a combination. It's a decent enough album of its type, possibly capable of appealing to Western fans of dream-pop bands, although I'm not sure what they'll make of its jazzier elements. I realise that the gentler tracks are trying to create an atmosphere, but half of the album's contents are over five minutes, with several tracks topping six, which is possibly too much of a good thing.

Somebody calling himself Illicit Tsuboi plays Mellotron on Kyou O Tou Part 2, with a faint flute part that may or may not have emanated from a real machine. So; partially good at what it does, although I'd suggest that Ms. Kazumi concentrates on her strengths, which definitely lie in the non-jazz area.

Official site


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