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Vanessa Paradis  (France)

Vanessa Paradis, 'Vanessa Paradis'

Vanessa Paradis  (1992,  37.39)  ***/T½

Natural High
I'm Waiting for the Man
Silver and Gold
Be My Baby
Lonely Rainbows
Sunday Mondays
Your Love Has Got a Handle
  on My Mind
The Future Song
Paradis
Just as Long as You Are There
Gotta Have it

Current availability:

Mellotron used:

Vanessa Paradis is probably better known as an actress than as a singer, particularly in her native France. Remembered best elsewhere for her teenage hit Joe Le Taxi (1987), Vanessa Paradis was her third album, effectively in collaboration with Lenny Kravitz, with whom she was apparently in a relationship at the time. It's far better than I expected, I have to say, although at times it sounds more like a Kravitz album with a girly singer (Paradis was all of twenty at the time of its release), although when you consider that he wrote most of it, produced it and played on every track, that's hardly surprising. To my ears, it begins to drag after a few tracks, and actually seems to become more 'commercial' as it goes along, although maybe I was just becoming fatigued at the sound; it's still an awful lot better than you'd ever expect of an album by a young French actress (sorry, but you know what I mean...). Saying that, both the near-instrumental Paradis, and the frankly bizarre Gotta Have It that closes the record, are well off the mainstream, providing a much-needed antidote to some of the blander material surrounding them.

Other interesting tracks include the Velvet Underground's Waiting For The Man, which, when heard being sung by a woman, accentuates the sexual ambivalence implied by the title, and the album's two ballads. Both have Mellotronic input, with Kravitz playing flutes all the way through Silver And Gold, and more of the same, uncredited, on Lonely Rainbows, which is probably Kravitz again, but could possibly be his regular keyboard player, Henry Hirsch, who plays on several tracks here.

So; do you? Not if you're after heavy-duty prog, but then you probably aren't even reading this anyway. Vanessa Paradis is actually a much-better-than-expected pop/rock album, not a million miles away from Mr. Kravitz's usual material. Couple of OK 'Tron tracks, but certainly not worth purchase on their behalf, even though that's exactly what I did.

Fan site

See: Lenny Kravitz

Paragone  (US)

Paragone, 'Paragone'

Paragone  (1994,  44.00)  **/TT½

Once Again Twice
A Room of One's Own
Fad Dance
Under the Evening Sky
New Day

  I) Early Rain
  II) Silver Lining
  III) Curious Grey
  IV) The Parting Twilight

Moon Tide

Current availability:

Mellotron used:

Paragone were an early '90s Milwaukee-based progressive outfit, who, going by their sole, eponymous release, were seriously in thrall to '80s so-called 'neo-prog' (we never called it that at the time, for what it's worth). I really tried to like this album, but almost every track (bar opener Once Again Twice, which starts gently) follows the same dreary path: big, bombastic opening, leading into some ridiculously over-busy drumming and not in a good, Museo Rosenbach kind of way (perish the thought), followed by several minutes of dull, unadventurous, repetitive instrumental work (I suppose we should be grateful they didn't have a singer), of which the cheesy, major-key Under The Evening Sky is probably the worst example. Have you never heard of key modulations, chaps? Chord sequences even just slightly off the well-trodden path? Even the remotest hint of dissonance? Deeply depressing. Is there a best track? Yes, actually: although closer Moon Tide takes the same path as everything else here, it does it better, with more Mellotron.

Mark Walczak plays keys, including real Mellotron, which he overuses on every track (albeit only two parts of the four-part New Day), whacking huge slabs of highly unadventurous chordal strings amongst some horrible digital keys, adding flutes to part one of New Day, Early Rain, for good measure. Is any of his use worth hearing? Perhaps unsurprisingly, Moon Tide is also the best Mellotron track, featuring a very pleasant flute solo (somewhat spoilt by more of those cheeso synths) and big, lush strings. Is Paragone worth hearing? In a word, no. Sorry, guys. Paragone underwent a reshuffle not long after, becoming Nightales, although the two bands shared several members. Their one album, 1996's The Voyage, isn't the most exciting thing you'll ever hear, but it beats this nonsense.

See: Nightales

Friedrich Paravicini  (France)  see: Samples etc.

Pariah  (US)

Pariah, 'To Mock a Killingbird'

To Mock a Killingbird  (1993,  49.55)  **½/½

Anesthesia
Did I Hear You Say...?
Make Believe (Jesus Freak)
Powerless
Junk Mail
Love to Turn You on
Nobody Listens
Do You Know How to Rock
Letter to Myself
Torn and Tied
This Means War
Love
Sick Kid

Current availability:

Mellotron used:

After an independent release, Pariah released their sole major-label album in 1993, To Mock a Killingbird (ho ho), by which time the metal scene had suffered a major upheaval with the arrival of grunge and the total collapse of the '80s 'hair' style (hurrah!). Not that it's a full-on hair-metal album; they'd clearly been listening to the mighty King's X, amongst others, but there are too many pointers on the record to the previous decade to ignore, frankly. I mean, Alice in Chains managed to make the transition, not to mention Pantera, even if the latter uselessly tried to deny for years that their first three albums were by the same band... Anyway, this album has its moments, mostly the quiet ones (notably brief acoustic guitar piece Love), but overall, you can see why Geffen wasted their money on them; derivative, few decent songs and a seeming inability to decide what they actually wanted to sound like.

Jeffrey C.J. Vanston plays Mellotron, but only just, with a few seconds of strings in the dying seconds of closer Sick Kid. All in all, then, unless you're really into that late '80s/early '90s hard rock thing, you do not need this album and don't even mention the Mellotron.

Paris  (US/UK)

Paris, 'Paris'

Paris  (1976,  40.54)  ***/½

Black Book
Religion
Starcage
Beautiful Youth
Nazarene
Narrow Gate (La Porte Etroite)
Solitaire
Breathless
Rock of Ages
Red Rain

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Mellotron used:

After American Bob Welch (here credited as Robert) left Fleetwood Mac in disgust at their infighting, he formed a power trio, Paris, with ex-Jethro Tull bassman Glenn Cornick, who doubled on keyboards, and ex-Nazz (Todd Rundgren's first serious band) drummer Thom Mooney. I think it's safe to say that their debut, Paris, rips Led Zeppelin something rotten, with Black Book, Religion and Beautiful Youth being total Zeppalikes, and Welch's vocals on most tracks cutting Robert Plant just a little too close for comfort. Saying that, it's not a bad album, just rather more derivative than it might and should have been. It does feature tricks that Zeppelin never used, such as the sequencer lines on Starcage, and when Welch gets funky, he sounds nothing like Jimmy Page whatsoever.

This is actually one of those albums that I put on with no expectation of Mellotron use whatsoever, and after a false alarm re. the string synth on Beautiful Youth, I thought I'd got away with it. But no. Come the first track on side two (the longest, and probably the album's best track), Narrow Gate (La Porte Etroite), after a few more Zep-esque minutes, suddenly Cornick's Mellotron strings appear, bolstered with a whiny synth note at the beginning of each chord, making me wonder for a moment if it was more of that string synth. Has to be 'Tron, though, and it lifts the track very nicely indeed, I have to say.

So; one for '70s hard rock aficionados, or Zeppelin fans who just can't get enough of that sound, I suspect. Not enough 'Tron to make it worth hearing for that, although it's not too a bad album overall. File under 'a bit average'. There was a second Paris album later the same year, Big Town 2061, but I understand it's rather funkier than their debut, and is highly unlikely to feature any Mellotron input.

Official Bob Welch site

See: Fleetwood Mac | Jethro Tull

Elena Moon Park  (US)  see: Samples etc.

Patrick Park  (US)  see: Samples etc.

Zeena Parkins & Ikue Mori  (US)  see: Samples etc.

Aaron Parks  (US)  see: Samples etc.

Matthew Parmenter  (US)  see: Samples etc.

Parquet Courts  (US)

Parquet Courts, 'Human Performance'

Human Performance  (2016,  42.45)  **/T

Dust
Human Performance
Outside
I Was Just Here
Paraphrased
Captive of the Sun
Steady on My Mind
One Man No City
Berlin Got Blurry
Keep it Even
Two Dead Cops
Pathos Prairie
It's Gonna Happen

Current availability:

Mellotron used:

NYC's Parquet Courts bear more comparison with The Velvet Underground than most of that outfit's stylistic descendents, as if (gasp!) they might actually have gone to source and listened to the band itself. I'm not saying this is a good thing, simply a thing. Actually, going by their fifth album, 2016's Human Performance, it's a very bad thing, its plinky guitars and frenetic, Noo Yawk vocal delivery very quickly becoming deeply wearing. Material like, well, everything actually, ground this listener down in pretty short order.

Mellotron? Austin Brown: "We used it on the song Captive Of The Sun. It's a tape loop. Whenever you play the note it plays like a sample of the keyboard or the flute or whatever that is on the tape, and it loops. On Captive Of The Sun you can hear the loop coming back around. It's got, like, a warp in it where it sounds almost like someone's slowing the record down or something. If you hold the note down for too long it has a warp in it, I thought that was kinda cool." Where to start? It doesn't contain loops, so how could you hear it come round? Did you have a real one in the studio, or are you referring to the loop point in a sample? Well, whatever it is turns up on a couple of tracks, with a flute solo on the title track and very wobbly choirs (so I presume it IS real) on Captive Of The Sun. Believe me, the possibility of a real Mellotron on this record is not to be taken as a recommendation.

Official site

Parson Red Heads  (US)

Parson Red Heads, 'Yearling'

Yearling  (2011,  42.07/74.40)  ***½/T½

Burning Up the Sky
Hazy Dream
When You Love Somebody
Unemotional
Seven Years Ago
Time is Running Out
Kids Hanging Out
Happy We Agree
I Was Only
Banking on the Sun
[Extra tracks on reissue:
Hard to See the Light
Another Chance
Peace in the Valley
Long Way Back
Jenny
Hold on
Here it Comes Again]

Current availability:

Mellotron/Chamberlin used:

Parson Red Heads released their second album, the ten-track Yearling, in 2011, allowing it to go out of print soon after, only to be reissued in expanded form the following year. Although the reissue strikes me as rather overlong, the quality of the band's gentle Americana is undeniable, highlights including Hazy Dream, Unemotional, Time Is Running Out and the sparse I Was Only. Tracks I'd have left off? Lengthy reissue closer Here It Comes Again is probably an acquired taste, but there's nothing too awful here, although this is probably, in some ways, better approached as two separate albums.

Brian Whelan plays Mellotron on two tracks, with chordal flutes on When You Love Somebody and I Was Only, while Chris Stamey (Sneakers) adds sparse Chamberlin strings to Banking On The Sun, to excellent effect. Americana fans previously unaware of Parson Red Heads need to get hold of this, although the tape-replay use is limited enough to not make it worthwhile for that alone.

Official site

Andy Partridge  (UK)  see:

Andy Partridge

Pas Chic Chic  (Québec)  see: Samples etc.

Passenger  (UK)  see: Samples etc.

Passport  (Germany)  see:

Passport

Patrice  (Germany)  see: Samples etc.

Patron Saints  (US)

Patron Saints, 'Time & Place'

Time & Place  (2005,  52.26)  ***½/T½

Don't Turn Away
You're Dangerous
She Loves to Be in Love
Good Friday
What in the World
Fly Away
In the Mourning
You Have No Heart
Home
When You Met Your Maker
Time and Place

Current availability:

Mellotron used:

Shamefully, before researching The Patron Saints, the name meant nothing to me. It should? They originally coalesced in 1966, releasing one of those 'legendary lost classic'-type albums in '69, Fohhoh Bohob. So far, so obscure. Versions of the band continued to play throughout the '70s and later, eventually getting it together to record a new album in the early 2000s. 2005's Time & Place is really rather good, as it happens, its contents written between 1970 and the recording period; they even get deceased original member Jon Tuttle on there by adding their contributions to his early '70s demo of Home. Highlights include the massed acoustics of opener Don't Turn Away, the gorgeous 12-string Byrdsian jangle of She Loves To Be In Love, Fly Away and the lengthy closing title track, but, frankly, it's all good.

Keeper of the flame Eric Bergman plays Mellotron, with a chordal string part on What In The World and an impressive pitchbend opening and closing In The Mourning, plus chordal choirs. Unsurprisingly, I haven't heard the band's original album, but, my interest now piqued, I intend to repair that omission as soon as. In the meantime, buy this album.

Official site

Pattern is Movement  (US)  see: Samples etc.

Patti Jo  (US)

Patti Jo, 'Ain't No Love Lost' 7"  (1972)  ***/TT

Ain't No Love Lost

Stay Away From Me
Patti Jo, 'Make Me Believe in You' 7"  (1973)  ***/TT

Make Me Believe in You

Do You Love Me Baby

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Mellotrons used:

Patti Jo (Demps) was a Curtis Mayfield protégé, who only released two singles in the early '70s before fading into obscurity. Her first release, Ain't No Love Lost b/w Stay Away From Me, is pretty standard soul/funk fare, although her follow-up, Make Me Believe In You (later recorded by Mayfield himself) is a big improvement, a real floor-filler, although I'm afraid I haven't heard the flip.

Mellotron strings (from an unknown musician) all over Ain't No Love Lost, played with considerable dexterity, including one of the fastest runs I've heard attempted on the instrument, which almost comes off, although, strangely, we get real strings on the flip. More of those string section-replacement strings on Make Me Believe In You, along with a nifty flute part, making both 'A' sides worth hearing on the Mellotron front. Assuming the information's correct, it seems Patti Jo died in 2007, aged around sixty, her minimal catalogue still unreissued.

Paul-André  (Québec)

Paul-André, 'Musique de Mes Amis Dionysos'

Musique de Mes Amis Dionysos  (1978,  28.17)  ***/TT

Sors de Ta Tête
Vancouver
Bouguet de Roses
Le Son des Neiges
Un Air de Fête
Bye Bye
Retour
L'Âge d'Or II

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Mellotron used:

Musique de Mes Amis Dionysos has led me a merry dance for not a little while, chiefly due to the confusion surrounding the credited artist. I've had it down as Paul-André Thibert for years, most online sources (and its CD reissue) list it as being by his ex-band, Dionysos, most of whom play on it, while it actually turns out to be credited to simply 'Paul-André'. This remarkably short album is generously describable as 'diverse', consisting mostly of mainstream rock, late '70s style, typified by opener Sors De Ta Tête, the sub-Steely Dan-isms of Vancouver and the sax-driven rock'n'roll of Bye Bye, while less obvious contributions include their dual-guitar instrumental tribute to Duane Allman, Bouguet De Roses, 12-string ballad Retour and closer L'Âge D'Or II, apparently a re-recording of old Dionysos fan fave L'Âge D'Or.

Mellotron is provided by none other than our old friend Michel le François, although many of the album's string sounds are clearly provided by a string synth. Anyway, we get a strangely Crimson-esque string interlude halfway through the otherwise irritatingly jaunty Vancouver and major string parts running through the acoustic Retour and L'Âge D'Or II, plus choirs on the last-named; not the heaviest use ever, but nice to hear. So; do you bother? If the album were a little more consistent, I could give you an unqualified 'yes', but with so little genuinely good material, I'd be hard-pushed to be that positive. In fairness, the easiest way to source a copy is the 2-on-1 CD pairing it with Dionysos' eponymous 1976 release, which may well be more worth the effort.

Facebook

See: Michel le François

Ellis Paul  (US)

Ellis Paul, 'The Speed of Trees'

The Speed of Trees  (2002,  52.34)  ***/T½

Maria's Beautiful Mess
Give in, Give Up
Eighteen
If You Break Down
The Ballad of Chris McCandless
Sweet Mistakes
Words
Roll Away Bed
Breaking Through the Radio
When We Begin
God's Promise
The Speed of Trees

Current availability:

Chamberlin used:

Ellis Paul (not to be confused with Paul Ellis) is a Maine-based singer-songwriter who, although his songs have been used on TV and in films, is rather better than that (dis)honour might suggest. 2002's The Speed of Trees was his eighth studio album, highlights including sparse opener Maria's Beautiful Mess, the powerpoppy Give In, Give Up and the countryish Sweet Mistakes, although, sad to say, too many tracks fall into the 'formulaic' trap, at least musically, to raise its overall rating.

Paul Bryan plays (presumably real) Chamberlin, with a sympathetic string part on Eighteen, background strings on Sweet Mistakes and strings and flutes on When We Begin. Although I haven't heard any more of Paul's work, I suspect he's a 'compilation artist': going by The Speed of Trees, he manages a handful of good tracks per album that could be compiled into a classic. But then, isn't that still several steps above most artists?

Official site

Polly Paulusma  (UK)  see: Samples etc.

Pavement  (US)  see: Samples etc.

Pavlov's Dog  (US)  see:

Pavlov's Dog

Pawa Up First  (Québec)  see: Samples etc.

Le Payaco  (Slovakia)  see: Samples etc.

Kendall Payne  (US)  see: Samples etc.

Pazop  (Belgium)

Pazop, 'Psychillis of a Lunatic Genius'

Psychillis of a Lunatic Genius  (1996, recorded 1972-73,  61.10)  ***½/T

Le la Loo Loo le la
Harlequin of Love
Crying for Disaster's Hand
What is the Further Purpose
Swaying Fire
Mirela
Freedom Dance
Lovelight
Bami, Lychee, Si
Harlequin of Love [Second Version]
Can it Be Sin
And the Hermit Will Be the Master
M.M.M.
In the Army (Devil Likes Smoke)
Airport Formalities and Taking Off Stewardess and Breakfast
It's the End

Current availability:

Mellotron used:

Pazop are another in the seemingly unending stream of bands whose work was never released at the time, sometimes deservedly, although that in no way applies in this case. Psychillis of a Lunatic Genius (no, I don't know either) is an accomplished, jazzy, slightly Zappa-esque, guitarless progressive release, consisting of the unreleased 1972 album of the same name, plus more unreleased recordings ('the second album') from the following year. The resulting collection is slightly overlong, but I can't imagine what you'd drop to make it a more listenable length; after all, it's only an hour... Highlights include Swaying Fire and Bami, Lychee, Si, but (Zappa humour aside) there's little here to upset the more adventurous prog fan.

François Louis "Frank" Wuyts plays keys, and while there's no Mellotron on the '72 album, it appears on a couple of the '73 tracks, with string stabs on Bami, Lychee, Si and a major part several minutes into Can It Be Sin, although not really enough to garner the album more than one T. Like a good few others that spring to mind (not least the wonderful Autumn album), Psychillis of a Lunatic Genius is a worthy rescuee from obscurity, showcasing a previously-unheard side of Belgian prog, a million miles away from Machiavel's later symphonics. Worthwhile, though not really for the Mellotron.


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