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One Truth
Marykate O'Neil
Onion Band
Yoko Ono/Plastic Ono Band
Opium Cartel
Orange Humble Band
Orange Peels
Orange Wedge
Oranj Symphonette
Oranssi Pazuzu
Tim O'Reagan

Orion
Orion the Hunter
Le Orme


Michael Olivieri  (US)  see: Samples etc.

Chris Olley  (UK)  see: Samples etc.

Allan Olsen  (Denmark)  see: Samples etc.

Mark Olson  (US)  see: Samples etc.

Ome  (US)  see: Samples etc.

Omega  (Hungary)  see:

Omega

Omega Syndicate  (UK)  see: Samples etc.

Ominous Seapods  (US)  see: Samples etc.

Josh One  (US)  see: Samples etc.

One Small Step for Landmines  (US)  see: Samples etc.

One Starving Day  (US)  see: Samples etc.

One Ton  (Canada)  see: Samples etc.

One Truth  (US)

One Truth, 'Gospel Truth'

Gospel Truth  (1977,  43.08)  *½/T

Gospel Truth
God-Man
Worship the King
Born Again
Way Up High
Once Not So Long Ago
Double Minded Man
One Day at a Time
Reprise (Once Not So Long Ago)
Prodigal Clay

Current availability:

Chamberlin used:

One Truth were a '70s US CCM outfit with a difference: instead of the standard soft-rock-to-MOR flavourings, this bunch played spot-on soul-lite, musically indistinguishable (at least to my ears) from many similar, secular bands of the era. Does that make them any better than the competition? Marginally, but it's akin to the difference in smell between two turds, so don't go thinking this might actually be any good. At their most convincing when they get (ever so slightly) funky, their attempts at 'rock' are pretty laughable, but the likes of opener Gospel Truth and the balladic Double Minded Man remind me of the more acceptable r'n'b to be heard at the time. Lyrically, of course, it's the usual combo of bullying, passive-aggressive 'join us or burn forever' bullshit and piss-yourself-laughing nonsense such as "We're going to be together for that meeting in the sky/Christians don't ever have to say goodbye" (Way Up High), which, essentially, redefines the word 'banal', at least in my book (which isn't, of course 'The Book').

Unusually for such efforts, this features track-by-track credits, letting us know that keys man George Smitty Price plays Chamberlin on closer Prodigal Clay, with massed, multitracked voices, sounding more like a Mellotron, as their weird, solo vibrato is subsumed into a full choir effect. Does anyone really need to hear this? Of course not; there's vastly better genuine soul out there, much of it religiously inspired, but without this crew's sledgehammer approach, while only sad God-botherers are going to gain anything from the ludicrous lyrics. Is it even funny? Way Up High made me LOL, as they say, but the rest of it's the usual teeth-gritting stuff. Another Mark Medley contribution, folks. I'll publish his address for you one day.

Marykate O'Neil  (US)

Marykate O'Neil, 'Marykate O'Neil'

Marykate O'Neil  (2002,  41.02)  **½/T

Hudson
Mundane Dream
Getting Out of Bed
U-Haul
Radio Shack
Another Saturday
Newsday
Still Waiting
Sunny Day
Stop
Bedsore Brain
Prime Time
Secret Crush
8th & 14th

Current availability:

Chamberlin used:

Wikipedia describe Marykate O'Neil as an 'indiepop singer-songwriter', which sounds about right, going by the contents of her eponymous debut. Much of the album ploughs the same old indie furrow, wafting along on a cloud of rather twee vocals and lightweight instrumentation, better tracks including the jangly Another Saturday, Still Waiting and the propulsive, '60s-esque Prime Time.

Brad Jones (Marshall Crenshaw, Over the Rhine) plays Chamberlin, with those very distinctive strings murmuring in the background on U-Haul, although other possible use probably isn't. There's one more Marykate tape-replay record, 2006's 1-800 Bankrupt, which I'll review when etc. etc.

Official site

The Onion Band  (UK)

Onion Band, 'Funny Old Business'

Funny Old Business  (1997,  55.58)  ***½/T½

High Germany
Dirty Old Town
The Green Fields of France
Dennis Murphy's/John Ryan's
The Curragh of Kildare
The Oak and the Ash
Mist Covered Mountain/Out on the Ocean
Change at Thorpe-le-Soken
The Ballad of Cursed Anna
The Old Armchair
The Rights of Man
The Warlike Lads of Russia
King of the Swingers
Down Where the Drunkards Roll
The Blackbird and the Thrush

Current availability:

Mellotron used:

The (Celebrated) Onion Band have been around since the mid-'80s, playing folk gigs in Essex and Suffolk pubs, and seem perfectly happy with staying at that level, as far as I can work out. Funny Old Business is their fifth, and to date, latest release, though without writing credits, I'm not sure how many (if any) of the songs are band originals. Dirty Old Town is Euan McColl, Down Where The Drunkards Roll is Richard Thompson, King Of The Swingers is from 'The Jungle Book', while several of the others are by that most prolific of songsmiths, 'Trad. Arr.', but I really wouldn't like to say for many of them. Will you like this album? Do you like English folk? Then you'll like it. Apart from the occasional keyboard interjection, it's endearingly authentic, right down to Pug Rayner's 'oo-arrr' vocals.

Speaking of keyboards, bizarrely, the band own an M400, with eight tape frames, and have used it on two previous albums, 1988's Now There's a Thing...! and '90's Entirely Made of Wood. I'm told that Funny Old Business's producer, John Robert Peel, was rather unkeen on the Mellotron, for his own, twisted reasons, and as a result it's not only used sparingly, but buried so far down in the mix that the first point at which I realised there was some on High Germany was on the final chord, with some faint strings. Change At Thorpe-le-Soken (which sounds like their own composition) opens with some 'Tron sound FX, which leaves the quite audible strings and flutes of The Ballad Of Cursed Anna and some more faint strings on the jig, The Rights Of Man.

I hear dark rumours that the band have a stash of tapes made over the years, many featuring their 'Tron rather prominently. So, where are they, chaps? For that matter, it's now six years since you've released anything, according to your own site. Activity, please! Anyway, as I said above, if you like English folk of the more raucous variety, you'll probably like this lot, although it's pretty low on Mellotronic input.

Official site

Only Children  (US)  see: Samples etc.

Yoko Ono/Plastic Ono Band  (Japan)

Yoko Ono, 'Feeling the Space'

Feeling the Space  (1973,  45.28/55.58)  ***/T½

Growing Pain
Yellow Girl (Stand By for Life)
Coffin Car
Woman of Salem
Run, Run, Run
If Only
A Thousand Times Yes
Straight Talk
Angry Young Woman
She Hits Back
Women Power
Men, Men, Men
[CD adds:
I Learned to Stutter/Coffin Car (live)
Mildred, Mildred]
Yoko Ono, 'A Story'

A Story  (1997, recorded 1974,  37.21/43.46)  ***/T½

A Story
Loneliness
Will You Touch Me
Dogtown
Tomorrow May Never Come
Yes, I'm a Witch
She Gets Down on Her Knees
It Happened
Winter Friend
Heartburn Stew
Hard Times Are Over
[Bonus tracks:
Anatano Te (demo)
Extension 33 (demo)
Now or Never (live a cappella)]

Current availability:

Mellotrons used:

Yoko Ono needs no introduction, I hope; Feeling the Space was her fourth solo album proper (i.e. without John), a smack in the face for those who claim that she can neither write nor sing, as she tackles both disciplines with aplomb. It's an album of radical feminism, in an age when lower wages for women, constant sexist remarks and rape within marriage were actually considered acceptable, as against now, when they still happen, but are slightly more frowned-upon. Angry Young Woman and Women Power are the album's apotheoses, referencing abortion and other fundamental feminist issues in a way few (any?) other artists did at the time. Musically, it's all pretty much as you'd expect; middling early '70s rock with few outstanding features, although closer Men, Men, Men is an amusing jazz pastiche, featuring John's ironic two-word cameo as the album's last moment. John's keyboard player, Ken(ny) Ascher, plays Mellotron, with strings and cellos on opener Growing Pain (although the flute's real) and Coffin Car, although that would seem to be your lot. Incidentally, I believe it was during the recording of this album that the (hired-in?) M400 was unofficially borrowed by Martin Mull's keyboard player, Keith Spring, who used it to surprising effect on one track on Mull's otherwise below-par Normal.

A Story was recorded in 1974, but not released, for reasons unknown, possibly connected with John's 'legendary' 'lost weekend', a.k.a. how famous men leave their wives for younger women. Much of its material, re-recorded, appeared on later albums, while the original recordings first appeared on 1992's Onobox, the complete album only gaining a full release in 1997, complete with three 'bonuses', although there doesn't appear to be a version of the album available without them. To be honest, it's not dissimilar to Feeling the Space in the 'middling rock' stakes, probably at its best on She Gets Down On Her Knees; while not a great track, given the circumstances, how could that Georgian guitar line on Hard Times Are Over not be deliberate? Ascher on Mellotron again, with pseudo-orchestral string and flute parts on the opening title track and background flutes and strings on Tomorrow May Never Come. Two albums that are probably more 'interesting' than 'must-haves', then, although they're a very long way from Yoko's primal scream stuff of a few years earlier.

Official site

See: John Lennon

Opeth  (Sweden)  see:

Opeth

Opium Cartel  (Norway)

Opium Cartel, 'Night Blooms'

Night Blooms  (2009,  47.43)  ***½/TT

Heavenman
Better Days Ahead
Skinnydip
By This River
Three Sleepers
Honeybee
Beach House
Flicker Girl
The Last Rose of Summer
Opium Cartel, 'Ardor'

Ardor  (2013,  51.20)  ***½/T½

Kissing Moon
When We Dream
Silence Instead
Northern Rains
Revenant
White Wolf
The Waiting Ground
Then Came the Last Days of May
Mariner, Come in
Opium Cartel, 'Fair Light E.P.'

Fair Light E.P.  (2014,  15.04)  ***/T½

Clear Days
Fair Light (demo)
Modular Love
When We Dream (single mix)

Current availability:

Mellotrons used:

The Opium Cartel are effectively a White Willow side-project, led by mainman Jacob Holm-Lupo, more in the indie/wyrd folk crossover field than his main band's progressive area. Their 2009 debut, Night Blooms, is a fascinating, if slightly inconsistent album, with male and female vocals on various tracks, the latter probably working better overall. While most of the material sits most comfortably within the above description, the eight-minute Beach House is a jammed-out psych/prog classic that could have lasted much longer without outstaying its welcome, while opener Heavenman and closer The Last Rose Of Summer are probably the most successful takes on the band's main style.

The album is practically a Scandinavian Mellotron Gods sampler (excuse the phrase), with not only Holm-Lupo, but current White Willow, Wobbler and others keys man Lars Fredrik Frøislie and celebrated Änglagård/AK-Momo/Pineforest Crunch etc. etc. dude Mattias Olsson all on various 'Trons in various studios across the region. While it's impossible to say who actually plays what, opener Heavenman is thick with tape-replay, with a rather stark cello line morphing into flute chords and back again, while Three Sleepers sounds like 'Tron cellos, despite the presence of a real one on the album, with possible faint strings in there somewhere, although they're more likely to be Mattias' Optigan or Orchestron. More of those unidentified strings on Beach House, along with some background choir (Orchestron again, or maybe Roland Vocoder?) Definite 'Tron flutes and strings on Flicker Girl, although it's more than possible that various odd sounds have been inserted here and there, flying under by 'Tron radar. I'm sure the participants will gleefully correct me once this review's on the site...

Four years on, the project follow up with 2013's Ardor, highlights including the haunting Silence Instead, White Wolf, tense with pent-up energy, the swooning The Waiting Ground, lengthy psychedelic closer Mariner, Come In (the closest either of these albums get to 'prog') and an inspired version of The Blue Öyster Cult's desert-blasted tale of a drug deal gone tragically wrong, Then Came The Last Days Of May, even more haunting than the original, if that's possible. An obvious reference point this time round is No-Man; hardly surprising, as vocalist Tim Bowness guests on one track, while live lineup member Stephen Bennett (Henry Fool) plays a wide range of mostly vintage keyboards. Mellotronically speaking, I really can't tell whether we're hearing choirs on opener Kissing Moon and Mariner, Come In, or whether they emanate from something else, but we get a couple of definite sightings, with occasional strings from Mattias Olsson on Revenant and more upfront ones, plus flutes on The Waiting Ground, presumably Bennett's credited Novatron, although Frøislie sticks to synths and Rhodes piano.

2014's Fair Light E.P. appears to be a free download, which is generous of the band. As a result, it's hard to tell whether this is the intended track order, or Soundcloud simply lists them alphabetically, as the sequencing seems somewhat eccentric. Anyway, their cover of Yes' Clear Day (from Time & a Word, in case you're as bemused as me) is nice, if inessential, ditto the Fair Light demo (is that actually a Fairlight on there?), leaving the synth-stuffed Modular Love as the best thing here, also the only Mellotron track, with a skronky string line possibly played by Mr. Olsson.

Despite lower Mellotron contents than expected, these are very good albums within their genre (whatever you might take that to be), although many fans of the various contributors may be slightly disappointed at their lack of progness, which is really rather missing the point, to be honest. Worth hearing.

See: White Willow | Änglagård | Wobbler | Tim Bowness

Orange Humble Band  (Australia/US)

Orange Humble Band, 'Humblin' Across America'

Humblin' Across America  (2001,  52.40)  ***½/TT

Vineyard Blues
What's Your Crime?
On Our Way Back Home
Any Way You Want it
One Hour's Lonely Play
Better Just Fake it
Listen Up!
Annie Run Run Run
The Ballad of Gospel Sam
Can You Imagine
Freewheelin'
Skyway Believin'
Crescent City Ball Park Theme
The Way She Moves
Come Try This
Orange Humble Band, 'Depressing Beauty'

Depressing Beauty  (2015,  59.56)  ***/½

You Close Your Eyes
The Girl Without a Name
Conversations With Myself
Sowannadoit
Ain't Tougher Than Me
Our Beautiful Selves
If That's What You Want
Get Straight Down
Once My Precious You
Oughta Feel Ashamed
No One Cares About Me
Emma Amanda
Upon Cindy's Will
With the Universe in My Hand
Something Goin' on

Current availability:

Chamberlin/Mellotron used:

The Orange Humble Band are a 'powerpop supergroup', at least on their second album, 2001's Humblin' Across America. Aussie band leader Darryl Mather played with the Lime Spiders, Ken Stringfellow is chiefly known as top Posie, while guitar/keys man Mitch Easter, despite having played with many bands, is best known for his production work with R.E.M. Not to be outdone, Big Star drummer Jody Stephens was a band member, while Big Star's sometime producer (and Mellotron player), Jim Dickinson, plays piano on one track. Does this sound like an amalgam of The Posies, Big Star and Jellyfish? Of course it does; do you have a problem with that? The album is split into three 'mini-suites', with tracks 1-5 subtitled Humblin' (Across America), 6-9, A Southern American Small Music Revue, and the remainder End Revue. The three parts all have different musical emphases; music biz legend Spooner Oldham plays various keyboards on most of the album, so it's hardly surprising that the second 'suite' takes a more countryish turn than the other two, although I'm still not sure what it's all about. As far as the album's tape-replay goes, Easter plays Chamberlin on several tracks, with a beautifully arranged string part on opener Vineyard Blues and a much shorter one on One Hour's Lonely Play. Almost inaudible strings on Can You Imagine, a sustained string note (studio trickery, I suspect) on the short instrumental Crescent City Ball Park Theme and a 'proper' string part in closer Come Try This.

Fourteen years on (!), Mather decides to record the third OHB album, the aptly-named Depressing Beauty. Because? Because, although some of its songs (of which there are rather too many) could be described as 'beautiful', the album as a whole is a little depressing, chiefly due to its shift towards the pop/rock mainstream. Yes, a handful of songs could still be described as 'powerpop' (opener You Close Your Eyes, Our Beautiful Selves, Once My Precious You), but far too many of them drift along in a lacklustre kind of way, unable to summon up the joie de vivre of the album's distant predecessor. Perhaps Mather's decided to leave all that stuff behind. A pity. Rick Steff plays Mellotron; given that Mitch Easter's involved, I'm presuming it's real. Anyway, real strings on several tracks, leaving just the strings on Upon Cindy's Will as definitely Mellotronic.

See: Posies | Big Star

Orange Peels  (US)

Orange Peels, 'Circling the Sun'

Circling the Sun  (2005,  34.07)  ***½/TTT

Something in You
California Blue

Circling the Sun
So Right
I Don't Wanna Shine
Long Cold Summer
What's it Like Mary Jo?
Tonight Changes Everything
Boy in Space
How Green the Grass

Current availability:

Mellotron used:

California's The Orange Peels seamlessly cross the (admittedly rather narrow) divide between pseudo-late '60s psych and 'sunshine pop', coming across as the bastard offspring of Jellyfish, if I may use such a coarse adjective to describe a band with such a sunny musical disposition. Their third album, Circling the Sun, wins on several fronts, being short enough not to outstay its welcome (hurrah! At last!), with no compositional fluff and excellent performances from all concerned. Best track(s)? Hard to say on a first listen, but opener Something In You is one of the strongest on the album, setting the listener up nicely for the rest of the record.

Mellotron on most tracks from Allen Clapp and Bryan Hanna, opening the album with strings and flutes on Something In You, with faint flutes on California Blue and (semi-)orchestral strings on the rest of the highlighted tracks, making this a surprise Mellotronic treat, assuming it's real, of course... So; a cheerful, summery modern psych album that's well worth hearing, with plenty of Mellotron work to boot. Recommended.

See: Incredible Vickers Brothers

Orange Wedge  [a.k.a. Wedge]  (US)

Orange Wedge, 'No One Left But Me' Orange Wedge, 'No One Left But Me'

No One Left But Me  (1974,  34.21)  ***½/TT

S.P.
Hungary Man
No One Left But Me
Dream
Whisky and Gin
People
The Gate

Current availability:

Mellotron used:

Orange Wedge, 'No One Left But Me'
Orange Wedge, 'No One Left But Me'

There seems to be a little confusion over Orange Wedge (who were, confusingly, also known as Wedge)'s catalogue; one source quotes an eponymous album in 1972, followed by '74's No One Left But Me, and there's a Japanese vinyl-only 2-LP set that covers what appears to be all the tracks from both albums. Much of No One Left But Me is rather average hard rock, although it definitely has its moments, not least opener S.P., Dream and The Gate.

Three Mellotron tracks, from OHO's Mark O'Connor, with brief string parts on S.P. and Dream (although the male voices here sound real), leaving the nearest the album gets to major 'Tron use being the strings on lengthy closer The Gate, well in the background, although the initial rather minor part is expanded into quite major orchestration later in the song. This seems to be more one for the collector than the dedicated obscure hard rock fan, although maybe subsequent listens will reveal the album's charms to me. Not bad, not great, some passable 'Tron.

See: OHO

Oranger  (US)  see: Samples etc.

Oranj Symphonette  (US)

Oranj Symphonette, 'The Oranj Album'

The Oranj Album  (1998,  49.26)  ***½/½

Call Me Mister Tibbs
The Magnificent Seven
Satin Doll
Beat Girl
Bananas
Dreamsville
A Man and a Woman
After the Fox
Arabesque
Midnight Cowboy
Up, Up and Away
Chelsea Bridge
Valley of the Dolls

Current availability:

Mellotron/Chamberlin used:

Oranj Symphonette are/were a San Francisco-based five-piece, including legendary jazz pianist Dave Brubeck's son Matt, whose remit seems to be to tackle film themes in their own inimitable style. Since the whole band are session musos, the playing is immaculate, as are the arrangements, done with no little humour. I believe The Oranj Album is their second effort, although I can find no trace of any subsequent releases, so they may well have decided it was all too much trouble. A shame, as this is a witty, urbane album, without being at all up itself, taking on Bernstein's The Magnificent Seven, or John Barry's classic Midnight Cowboy without coming unstuck once.

Keys man Rob Burger plays both Mellotron and Chamberlin on Duke Ellington's Satin Doll, with some wobbly flutes from one and, er, something from the other, though it's hard to tell what, as the possibles (sax, banjo, piano) are all covered by the real things. Anyway, I enjoyed this vastly more than expected, to the extent that I'd say it's a definite buy for film theme fans, though I'd urge considerable caution on the tape-replay front.

See: Lullaby Baxter

Oranssi Pazuzu  (Finland)

Oranssi Pazuzu, 'Valonielu'

Valonielu  (2013,  46.18)  ***½/T½

Vino Verso
Tyhjä Temppeli
Uraanisula
Reikä Maisemassa
Olen Aukaissut Uuden Silmän
Ympyrä on Viiva Tomussa

Current availability:

Evill at the M400, Gomez to the right

Mellotron used:

Finnish black metallers Oranssi Pazuzu opted to record their third album, 2013's Valonielu, at my friend Jaime Gomez Arellano's North London studio, Orgone, hiring my M400, presumably at his urging. For non-scenesters (that'll be me, then), this is possibly best described as 'atmospheric metal', the genre's standard sludgy guitars and growled vocals augmented by keyboards, heavily-effected six-strings and an open-minded approach to song structures, highlights including the quiet-yet-ominous Reikä Maisemassa, the gothy Olen Aukaissut Uuden Silmän (guitar tone straight out of The Banshees' back catalogue) and (relatively) experimental, fifteen-minute closer Ympyrä On Viiva Tomussa.

'Evill' (real name unknown) plays Mellotron strings on Reikä Maisemassa and Ympyrä On Viiva Tomussa and are those murky, pitchbent strings hidden in the mix on Uraanisula more of the same? Unconfirmed. All in all, a good, forward-looking album that will hopefully keep the less hidebound members of the black metal community happy, while possibly even finding the band new fans amongst those who would usually shun the style. Worth hearing.

Official site

Orchestra Noir  (UK)  see: Samples etc.

Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark  (UK)  see:

OMD

Tim O'Reagan  (US)

Tim O'Reagan, 'Tim O'Reagan'

Tim O'Reagan  (2006,  38.41)  ***½/T

These Things
Black & Blue
River Bends
Highway Flowers
Anybody's Only
That's the Game
Ivy
Girl/World
Ocaso Rosa
Just Like You
Plaything

Current availability:

Chamberlin used:

Drummer/songwriter Tim O'Reagan joined The Jayhawks in 1995, remaining with the band through their various hiatuses (hiatii?). His only (to my knowledge) solo album to date, an eponymous 2006 release, is a solid alt.country set with the occasional ripping guitar solo to remind us of the man's roots, highlights including Highway Flowers, Anybody's Only and closer Plaything. My only criticism is that a couple of tracks fail to sustain the momentum, but cutting them out would take the album down to around half an hour...

Pete Sands plays Chamberlin strings on Ivy and flutes on Plaything; nothing startling, but always nice to hear. Tim O'Reagan is pretty much an essential purchase for Jayhawks fans, or indeed, anyone into the alt. end of country, featuring good, memorable songwriting and a sound to die for.

MySpace

See: Jayhawks

Martin Orford  (UK)  see: Samples etc.

Orion  (US)

Orion, 'Sometimes Words Just Get in the Way'

Sometimes Words Just Get in the Way  (1975,  42.33)  **½/½

Mandy
While My Guitar Gently Weeps
Sometimes Words Just Get in the Way
Carnival
Street Visions
I Shot the Sheriff
Drifting
Emotion
Gimme Shelter

Current availability:

Mellotron used:

Orion? Although Allmusic give 1975's Sometimes Words Just Get in the Way (their sole album?) a good review, I can't say I'm blown away. Instrumental versions of hits of the day plus a couple of originals, mostly blandly arranged, doth not an especially interesting listen make. Opening with Barry Manilow's Mandy (originally Brandy, by Scott English, fact fans) wasn't their best move, while their flute-led take on Marley's I Shot The Sheriff manages to be duller than Clapton's version. Any better tracks? Closer Gimme Shelter is easily the best thing here, transforming The Stones' urgent original into a laid-back psych jam.

Dominic Francese plays Mellotron, if only just, with background choirs on I Shot The Sheriff and Gimme Shelter. This turns up on download blogs, but I'd be hard-pushed to particularly recommend it.

Orion the Hunter  (US)

Orion the Hunter, 'Orion the Hunter'

Orion the Hunter  (1984,  42.25)  ***/½

All Those Years
So You Ran
Dreamin'
Dark and Stormy
Stand Up
Fast Talk
Too Much in Love
Joanne
I Call it Love

Current availability:

Mellotron used:

Orion the Hunter were formed by ex-Boston guitarist Barry Goudreau, apparently frustrated by his former bandleader's refusal/inability to finish their stupendously delayed sequel to 1978's Don't Look Back (the album, Third Stage, finally appeared in '86, and wasn't worth the wait). The rest of the band consisted of ex-Heart drummer Michael Derosier, Bruce Smith on bass and the silver-larynxed Fran Cosmo on vocals, who had also sung on Goudreau's 1980 self-titled solo effort, and ended up in (surprise surprise) Boston (thanks to Greg for that snippet of info). Orion the Hunter straddles the pomp/AOR divide slightly uncomfortably, leaning more towards the latter style, with the former somewhat out of favour by the mid-'80s (too clever). As a result, despite a strong opener in All Those Years, much of the album slips into commercial tedium, although still a very long way ahead of the new breed of AOR acts coming up at the time, including the execrable Bon Jovi, and Britain's 'once good' Def Leppard.

Without a permanent keyboard player, the band used three different musicians, including John Schuller on 'Oberheim organ' (presumably the pseudo-Hammond sound heard here and there) and Mellotron. Not that he overuses it, mind; background choirs on So You Ran and what I think are a couple of choir chords, either doubled with polysynth or heavily effected, at the beginning of Stand Up. So; not a 'Tron album, but if you go for that pomp thing, chances are you'll like some of this.

Official Barry Goudreau site

Le Orme  (Italy)

Le Orme, 'Uomo di Pezza'

Uomo di Pezza  (1972,  31.46)  ****½/TT½

Una Dolcezza Nuova
Gioco di Bimba
La Porta Chiusa
Breve Immagine

Figure di Cartone
Aspettando l'Alba
Alienazione
Le Orme, 'In Concerto'

In Concerto  (1974,  45.53)  ***½/TT

Truck of Fire (parte I)
Truck of Fire (parte II)
Sguardo Verso il Cielo

Preludio a Era Inverno
Era Inverno
Rittorno al Nulla
Collage (Sigla)
Collage
Le Orme, 'Contrappunti'

Contrappunti  (1974,  33.33)  ****/T

Contrappunti
Frutto Acerbo
Aliante
India
La Fabbricante d'Angeli
Notturno
Maggio
Le Orme, 'Smogmagica'

Smogmagica  (1975,  36.05)  ***/T

Los Angeles
Amico di Ieri
Ora o Mai Più
Laserium Floyd
Primi Passi
Immensa Distesa
Amanti di Città
L'Uomo del Pianino
Laurel Canyon
Le Orme, 'Verita Nascoste'

Verità Nascoste  (1976,  41.20)  ***½/T

Insieme al Concerto
In Ottobre
Verità Nascoste
Vedi Amsterdam...
Regina al Troubadour
Radiofelicità
I Salmoni
Il Gradino Più Stretto del Cielo

Current availability:

Mellotrons used:

Like several other Italian prog outfits, Le Orme ('The Footprint', I believe) had been around since the '60s, starting as a beat group. Their early albums, Ad Gloriam and L'Aurora Delle Orme, are apparently more psych than progressive, and 1971's Collage has been compared to ELP (same lineup, too), but by '72's Uomo di Pezza, they'd discovered their own voice. It's a wonderful album, with folk-influenced material rubbing shoulders with full-on symphonic prog, sounding not totally dissimilar to PFM at times, although I realise that's a rather lazy comparison for an Italian band. It's inescapable, though, when you hear songs of the sheer quality of Gioco Di Bimba or Aspettando L'Alba. Toni Pagliuca is known more as a Hammond player, but his inventive synth and Mellotron work stand out here, with particularly good Moog parts on Figure Di Cartone and La Porta Chiusa. This last has what I take to be Mellotron brass chords, but they're completely overshadowed by the strings on Breve Immagine, not to mention the gorgeous polyphonic flute part on Aspettando l'Alba. A stunning album, with some great 'Tron to boot. You need to own this record.

Le Orme followed Uomo di Pezza with their finest hour, the superb Felona e Sorona (****½), which was also released in an English-language version as, er, Felona and Sorona, with lyrics by Peter Hammill. However, when it came to sticking out a live album, In Concerto, the band chose to go back to their earlier style, playing no less than three tracks from Collage, one brief snippet of Felona and a side-long largely improvisational piece. Pagliuca had his 'Tron on stage with him, and the first (and by far the longest) part of Truck Of Fire has some brass under a swooping Moog, although most of the track consists of a rather regrettable drum solo. Part 2 has more of the same, as does Sguardo Verso Il Cielo, while Era Inferno (I think) has another bloody drum solo! Strings at last on Collage, so there's actually quite a bit of 'Tron, though most of it's rather inessential, to be honest.

Contrappunti is generally regarded to be their last great album, and while not quite up to its two studio predecessors, yes, it's pretty good, although no one track really stands out. One 'Tron track only, too, with strings on the balladic Frutto Acerbo, plus plenty of the string synth that's also splattered all over Felona. By the following year's Smogmagica, Le Orme were beginning to lose the plot (Ora O Mai Più, most of side two), heading towards pseudo-commercial territory, although it's possible that some of the dodgier music pokes fun at consumerist America, though this is a complete guess. The only Mellotron here is a string arpeggio and monophonic melody, plus distant choir chords on Los Angeles, so given that the album overall fails to excite, I really wouldn't bother.

After I'd carefully listened to Verità Nascoste for 'Tronnic evidence, I opened the album's gatefold, to find track-by-track credits. Oh well, at least it proves my ears still work (just). The album's a definite improvement over its predecessor, but they'd moved on from their classic early-'70s days, so the songs are shorter and more conventionally structured, not to mention that there are no instrumentals. The sole 'Tron track this time round is Regina Al Troubadour, with an upfront string melody, although I wouldn't say it was the album's best track.

So; The only Le Orme album I'd really recommend on the Mellotron front is Uomo di Pezza, but both Felona e Sorona and Contrappunti are near-essential (especially the former), while In Concerto and Verità Nascoste are worth hearing. Even Storia o Leggenda, from '77, is OK, but I'm told you shouldn't bother with anything later. Oh, and while most of Smogmagica is a real dog, it has a few OK tracks, but don't pay too much for a copy. I found the later three listed above in a New Jersey second-hand shop for $3.00 each while on holiday a few years ago, which probably balanced out quality-wise.

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