Tied + Tickled Trio
Tibet (1979, 39.12) ***½/TTFight Back
City By the Sea
White Ships and Icebergs
Take What's Yours
No More Time
Tibet's music is in the grand tradition of late-'70s German prog, comparable to Ramses or Rousseau, and on listening to the album for the first time in several years, I was struck by how I remembered most of the songs, which is more than I can say for many better-known bands. There is a distinct lack of originality on display in places, with White Ships And Icebergs ripping off Yes outrageously, but overall, it's a pretty good album of its type.
The band invited their original keyboard player, Dieter Kumpakischkis, to participate during the recording, alongside his replacement, Deff Ballin, but I believe it's Ballin who plays the Mellotron on the record. The album was actually recorded over three different sessions over the space of two years, which might explain the string synth on some tracks and the 'Tron on others. Plenty of those 'Tron strings on City By The Sea and White Ships And Icebergs, but other tracks with fairly epic moments only have the string synth, leading me to suspect that these two tracks were the only ones recorded at the (last?) session. Hey, roll over Sherlock and tell Poirot the news...
Anyway, despite being rather generic, Tibet is a reasonably good album, though I wouldn't put it at the top of your 'wants' list.
Aelita (1994, 43.58) ***/TAelita, Pt.1
You Said Tomorrow Yesterday
A Rocket Debris Cloud Drifts
Other Voices Other Rooms
Tied + Tickled Trio are a German electronica outfit, for want of a better word, who apparently share members with other bands on the same label, including The Notwist and Lali Puna. Most of their seventh album, 2007's Aelita, consists of gently ebbing and flowing samples with generous helpings of tuned percussion, although Tamaghis adds a dub element to the proceedings, while Other Voices Other Rooms throws in a rather unwelcome indie influence.
An unknown player, probably Johannes Enders, Micha Acher or Markus Acher plays Mellotron choirs and cellos on Chlebnikov. I was inclined to dismiss them as samples initially, until I realised that not only did no note reach its eight-second limit (not in itself proof of authenticity, I admit), but the choirs in particular have a certain wobbliness about them that samples don't tend to have, given that most of them have been cleaned up to an 'acceptable' level to the uninitiated user. So; possibly real 'Tron on an album that may well appeal to electronica fans, although a high tolerance for glockenspiels may well come in useful while listening.
See: Lali Puna
Tiger (1976, 42.08) ***/TTTLay Me
Lay Back Stay Back
I'm Not Crying
Tiger were an odd sort of band, being basically a vehicle for über-session guitarist 'Big' Jim Sullivan to, er, 'do his own thing', with the end result being only partially successful. Sullivan had already released a dodgy country-flavoured album in '74, Big Jim's Back (**), and the same label, Retreat, opted to release Tiger. To be brutally honest, it's largely undistinguished mid-'70s hard rock, with the occasional country influence creeping through (obviously where Sullivan's heart really lay), with a clever pedal steel imitation from a synth on Lay Back Stay Back. Overall, though, it's not really anything to write home about, although it has its moments.
The main one of these is the sort-of ballad, Prayer, which is absolutely smothered in Dave McCrae's Mellotron choirs and strings, being easily the album's standout track, avoiding the dodgy hard rock trap into which the rest of it falls. More 'Tron on Long Time, while Suzy Slicker has a great strings pitchbend part. Tyger, Tyger opens with solo 'Tron string chords; pity about the distortion that plagues the CD reissue - I doubt if the original sounds like that.
So; was it worth buying? Moot point, really; the first album on this twofer is awful, and while the Tiger LP's OK, the only thing that makes it even remotely worth the effort is the reasonable Mellotron work. I think that leaves it up to you, really. There was a second Tiger album, Goin' Down Fighting (***), which certainly has its moments, but being 'Tron-free I'll leave it for someone else to write about, and I believe a third, Test of Time crept out in '83, some years after being recorded, but I don't know anything about it.
Can't Go Back (2012, 38.50) **½/TT½
|All Things to You
Dust on My Shoes
Make the Day
Keep it Real
Can't Go Back
If the World Should Want for Love
I remember all the fuss amongst the chattering classes when Tanita Tikaram's first album appeared in 1988; she was absolutely flavour of the month for, er, about a month, I think. Her eighth album, 2012's Can't Go Back, doesn't sound all that different to her early work, to my ears (in fairness, I'm working from memory here): rather bland adult singer-songwriter pop, typified by material like Make The Day, Keep It Real and the title track, although, in actuality, there are almost as many upbeat numbers as ballads.
Paul Bryan plays Mellotron (his brand-new M4000) and Chamberlin, with strings (Chamby?) and cellos (Mellotron?) on Make The Day, more cellos on Rock'n'Roll and strings on Keep It Real, the title track and closer If The World Should Want For Love (and are those faint choirs on Can't Go Back?). Despite this being one of the earliest recordings of a new M4000 machine, I can't honestly recommend this to anyone but Tikaram's existing fans. Very adult, very mature, very... dull, actually. This reminds me why I never liked her first time round; terribly sophisticated, but far too near the middle of the road for my tastes.
A.M.I.G.D.A.L.A. (2008, 54.29) ****/TTTT½
Symphony for a Shadow
The Mirrors Room
The Echo of the Dark Side
Nocturnal - Part I
Promenade Avec la Nuit
|Nocturnal - Part II
The Spaghetti Epic 2: The Good, the Bad & the Ugly (2006, 26.56) ****/TT½[Tilion contribute]
You'll only hear Mellotron samples on Tilion's debut album, 2003's Insolitariamente (reviewed here). It's a good album, but if only it were half as good as their belated follow-up, 2008's A.M.I.G.D.A.L.A., we'd be laughing. After trawling through a couple of colossal Colossus themed sets, this is an absolute joy to listen to; not overlong, inventive, melodic-yet-angular progressive rock with nary a sight of any horrible modern 'boards. The album skips through a variety of styles, while remaining cohesive, covering near-progressive metal (Symphony For A Shadow), Italian symphonic (The Echo Of The Dark Side) and sparse, piano-led progressive (Nocturnal - Part I), amongst others, only slightly let down by the part-time female vocals, which somehow don't sit that comfortably with the music.
Alfio Costa gets his M400 in on every track, wondrously, pretty much all strings and flutes, although I'm sure I heard string section tapes somewhere. Most of his playing's relatively 'standard', although The Echo Of The Dark Side has a flute part (mostly mono-, occasionally poly-) running right through it, almost fooling the ear into thinking it's real in places. As you can see, the band have also contributed to several tribute/multi-artist concept albums, with worthwhile Mellotron use on most.
So; A.M.I.G.D.A.L.A. leaves me hungry to hear any subsequent Tilion albums, but in the meantime, I'll have to make do with this excellent effort. Great music and loads of Mellotron? What more could a dyed-in-the-wool prog fan ask for? Buy.
See: Samples etc. | Daal | Prowlers | Samurai of Prog | Colossus Project
Hot Dreams (2014, 43.04) ***/TTT
|Beat the Drum Slowly
Bring Me Simple Men
Resurrection Drive, part II
This Low Commotion
The New Tomorrow
|Run From Me
The Three Sisters
Canada's slightly irritatingly-named Timber Timbre play a kind of atmospheric indie folk, which, on their fifth full-lengther, 2014's Hot Dreams, works better in some places than others. Highlights include the mournful This Low Commotion, built around a superb descending line and ghostly closer The Three Sisters, although the pre-psych feel of opener Beat The Drum Slowly, Hot Dreams and Bring Me Simple Men clearly weren't written with those of a psychedelic worldview in mind.
The band used Canada's National Music Centre's plexiglass M400 and an unidentified Chamberlin M1, with a Mellotron flute line and vibes on Beat The Drum Slowly, Chamby strings on Hot Dreams, both from Mathieu Charbonneau, Mellotron cellos from Simon Trottier on Resurrection Drive, Part II, Charbonneau on background Chamby strings on Grand Canyon, Taylor Kirk on Mellotron cellos and wobbly flutes on This Low Commotion and Charbonneau once more on Mellotron cellos and flutes on closer The Three Sisters. Confusingly, Mika Posen's 'strings' (she's a violinist), credited on several tracks, sound an awful lot like a badly-adjusted Mellotron, but clearly aren't, while the band also use a contender for the title of 'world's first synth', a Hammond Novachord, to confuse the issue yet further. Worth hearing? In places, its tape-replay work being one of its best features.
Time (1972, 33.08) ****/½Istina Masina
Za Koji Zivot Treba da se Rodim
Time can lay claim to being Yugoslavia's first progressive band, releasing their eponymous debut in 1972. It's influenced as much by late-period psych and proto-jam bands as Western European prog, with 's incendiary guitar work on Za Koji Zivot Treba Da Se Rodim letting you know you don't have to speak a Romance or Germanic language to rip up the fretboard, thank you very much. There isn't a bad track to be heard here, although the aforementioned lengthy Za Koji Zivot Treba Da Se Rodim is a highlight, moving through several different feels, sounding not unlike Uriah Heep in places, if you can imagine David Byron replaced by a man with a large moustache and an endless appetite for slivovitz. Er, hang on a moment...
I was quite sure there was no Mellotron on this record, until its final track, which I refuse to name again, which features a brief burst of what are quite clearly 'Tron cellos, presumably from organist Tihomir Asanovic, although they're nowhere else to be heard on the Hammond-heavy album. Their follow-up, the imaginatively-titled Time II (***½), is supposed to feature the mighty 'Tron, too, but all I can hear is real strings on one track, so scratch that one. As far as Time goes, if you want to hear where Yugoslav prog was at in the mid-'70s (what d'you mean, you don't?), I couldn't recommend it more highly, though not for its minimal Mellotron use.
Slanted (1992, 24.22) **½/TOkay!
In the Supermarket
Dear Nellie Goodrich
Slanted? Oh Yeah!!!
Something I Can Keep
Mary of the Convent School
Norwegians The Time Lodgers played an '80s-ish brand of jangly indie a few years late, 1992's Slanted mini-album being a slight, yet largely inoffensive effort that's rather of its time. Best tracks? Probably Slanted? Oh Yeah!!!, with its slight psych vibe and Hush. Oddly enough, the album improves as it progresses, opening with its most irritating tracks. Maybe they were considered the most commercial.
Odd T. Benkestok plays a pleasant Mellotron flute part on Slanted? Oh Yeah!!!, alongside real strings, although it's far from enough to make this especially worth hearing. Not terrible, but not actually worth twenty-four minutes of your time, either.
Woe Be Gone EP (2001, 21.19) ***½/TGin I Win
This Field Needs a Reaper
I Hear You Hear
Timesbold (2002, 45.04) ***½/T
|Gin I Win
Sewn in Seems
Some Awful Men
It's Been a Fine Time...
Eye Eye (2004, 44.53) ***½/T
Wind to Rise
Call to Arms
Wings on a Girl
|Sometimes the Water
Riches and Grief
Black Eyed Suzy
It's a Sag (When You Lift the World)
Timesbold are yet another entrant in the 'melancholy Americana' sweepstake, having as much in common with the more miserabilist end of, say Wilco as the relentless downbeatness of the wonderful Low. Suffice to say, there's barely a track spread across these releases where the pace picks up to anything above funereal, but since when was that a problem? After a couple of singles, Timesbold took the plunge into longer formats with an EP, Woe Be Gone, although song titles like This Field Needs A Reaper and Evil prove the lie on that one. I believe Max Avery Lichtenstein plays the Mellotron, presumably amongst other keyboards, with a very minor 'Tron flute part towards the end of Gin I Win, and some background choirs on Evil.
2002 brought their first full-length album, the eponymous Timesbold, and it seems to be business as usual, only more of it, with highlights including Sewn In Seems and their tribute to American poet e e cummings [sic], er, e e cummings. Only two 'Tron tracks, one of which is a repeat of Woe Be Gone's lead track, Gin I Win, although the flute part in Sewn In Seems is far more upfront. Two years on, second album Eye Eye is more of the same, although a couple of tracks pick it up a little. Yet again, two Mellotron tracks (Sometimes The Water and Riches And Grief), yet again, flutes on both, opening the former under the vocals, while the latter has a brief part later in the song, plus an equally brief string part, for the first time.
As with many Americana albums, I suspect Timesbold's work will need several plays to reveal their charms fully, and I'm afraid I simply don't have enough time to really do them justice at the moment. I can, however, recommend them to anyone who likes the style, although they're a bit thin on the ground Mellotronically. Recommended anyway.
Tin Tin (1970, 35.11) ***½/TT
|She Said Ride
Swans on the Canal
Flag/Put Your Money on My Dog
Nobody Moves Me Like You
Only Ladies Play Croquet
|He Wants to Be a Star
Toast and Marmalade for Tea
Come on Over Again
Lady in Blue
Tin Tin were an Aussie four-piece who formed in 1968 and had a strong Bee Gees connection, via the Gibb brothers' early success in their adopted country; Steve Kipner's father, Nat, produced their early work, and members of Steve's band played on their records (thanks for that, Joe). Maurice Gibb's patronage did Tin Tin no harm at all, of course, and he's credited as a band member on at least one issue of this album. Tin Tin is slightly harder-edged than you'd expect, all things considered, although they were never exactly going to rival Black Sabbath in the heaviosity stakes. 'Baroque pop' is possibly the best description I can think of, with tracks like Swans On The Canal and the instrumental Spanish Shepherd conjuring up images of lace cuffs and the like. Or maybe that's just me.
I've seen one source that lists not only Maurice, but also band members Steves Groves and Kipner as playing Mellotron, although there's no way of telling. There's a passable amount of MkII to be heard, with occasional string chords on Flag/Put Your Money On My Dog, brass on Nobody Moves Me Like You, more strings on the harpsichord-driven Only Ladies Play Croquet, a brass/strings mix (?) on Family Tree and finally, flutes on Come On Over Again. There's genuine orchestral accompaniment on a few tracks, too, notably Swans On The Canal and with several more 'credited but inaudible' tracks, it's hard to know what's going on, really.
So; something of a period piece, but not at all bad, and more listenable than most of the Bee Gees' work from the time. Again, reasonable Mellotron work, though not a classic. Worth hearing for fans of the era. There was a second Tin Tin album the following year, Astral Taxi, but I believe it's 'Tron-free. Incidentally, Toast And Marmalade For Tea was apparently a major hit for the band worldwide, and Steve Kipner went on to be a successful songwriter, still working today.
See: Bee Gees
|7" (1968) ***½/½
Walking My Baby
Tinkerbell's (or Tinkerbells) Fairydust, from East London, were originally known as The Rush, 'going psychedelic' with 1967's Lazy Day. Their second single is the one track by the band that concerns us here, though: Twenty Ten is a classic, minor-key psych effort, bearing comparison with contemporaneous material by The Status Quo (as they were then), amongst others. This should've been a hit, especially with the support it received from John Peel, but it wasn't to be.
Someone, probably guitarist Stuart Attride, added low Mellotron strings to the track, with possible other parts in the mix. It became the lead-off track of their eponymous unreleased 1969 album, which finally saw the light of day nearly thirty years later and has just had an expanded reissue on Grapefruit. The rest of the album's a bit hit and miss, but contains enough decent tracks to make it worth the effort for fans of the era.
True Reflections (2003, 47.29) **½/½
Cause it's Time
Long Time to Wait
What a Time for Love
After hearing Boyd Tinsley's True Reflections, it shouldn't come as much of a surprise to discover that his 'day job' is violinist with the deeply unexciting Dave Matthews Band, as its bland, mainstream sound is well in keeping with that band's modus operandi. It's an impeccably produced and played record, don't get me wrong, but its 'upbeat with a hint of melancholy' approach is somewhat well-worn by now and, to my ears, Tinsley isn't adding anything to the genre, and don't let the raucous guitar solo in Long Time To Wait fool you into thinking he knows how to rock after all. He even manages to bugger up Neil Young's incomparable Cinnamon Girl, sounding more West Coast than CSN&Y ever could, although it's still the best song here, by sheer dint of being written by Neil Young.
The highly ubiquitous Patrick Warren is credited with Chamberlin and indeed, there it is on Show Me, with a passable string part, although we could've done with hearing more of it. Overall, then, a very mainstream record that you'll either like or, er, won't. I didn't. One decent Chamby track, but nothing you haven't heard many times before, done better.
See: Dave Matthews Band
|7" (1967) ***½/TT
Tintern Abbey are one of those legendary 'one killer single then disappeared' British psych outfits, although a second single was at least demoed. Beeside (actually the A-side) is a wonderfully creepy little number that almost grinds to a halt in the middle before dragging itself back to its previous lethargic pace. The flip, Vacuum Cleaner, is a decent song, though a little more upbeat; strange it wasn't the A-side, really...
MkII Mellotron strings on Beeside from the usual 'player unknown', adding nicely to its gothic atmosphere. This is fairly easy to find, notably on The Rubble Collection, Vol.6, although I believe it's been anthologised all over the place. There is a vague Tintern Abbey/Elmer Gantry's Velvet Opera connection, as later guitarist Paul Brett went on to join them, before starting his long-running solo career.
See: Elmer Gantry's Velvet Opera
Hazel's Wreath (1988, 33.55) ***½/TAround it Goes Around
Colors and the Light
The Capricious Yearnings of King Edward
Before You Go
The Smaller the Grape the Sweeter the Wine (1997, 41.57) ***/T
|I Had it All
Maybe You Will Listen
Sing to Me
Who's That Whispering
|No Baby, No Songs
Would You Like to Float
Tiny Lights were a sort of, er, folk/rock/classical/jazz/whatever outfit, who (thankfully) didn't fit into the '80s in the slightest. Hazel's Wreath is a pretty eccentric record, and not for those who love stylistic consistency above all else, but there are several excellent songs on the album, particularly the bulk of side two, which is largely the folkier end of their repertoire. With both a violinist and a cellist, the folk and classical influences cut through all over, but they could rock, too, when the mood took them. Mellotron from guest Jack Pettruzzelli on Red Planet, with some fairly full-on choir chords, which is more than you'll hear on almost any other album from that benighted decade. Anyway, a good, if eclectic album, but with only one 'Tron track it's not an essential on that front.
Almost a decade later, Tiny Lights used a Mellotron again, on 1997's The Smaller the Grape the Sweeter the Wine. Unless it was all a huge wind-up, the album sounds, to my ears at least, a great deal more commercial than their early work, at least until what would be side two were this on vinyl. From Blue Sky onwards, the album gets rather more interesting, although not up to the Hazel's Wreath level, to be honest. Andy Burton plays some excellent pitchbent 'Tron strings on album closer Would You Like To Float, but it's not really enough to make it a 'Tron album.
So; one very and one mildly interesting album and not very much Mellotron. If you want to hear Tiny Lights, go for the former here rather than the latter, I think.
Eagle Rock (1973, 44.36) ***½/T½
One Night in Eagle Rock
All Around You
One of Your Kind
And it's Music
Titanic were the first Norwegian band to gain international acceptance, hitting the charts continent-wide with Sultana in 1971; it even reached no.5 in the UK, but they were fronted by British singer Roy Robinson, which can't have hurt their overseas profile. I haven't heard their first two albums, and the later ones suck, but Eagle Rock is pretty good, in a sub-Uriah Heep kind of way. There's a slight African tribal percussion theme running through the album, reminding me of, er, Uriah Heep on Look at Yourself, but overall, this is just an ordinary mid-'70s hard rock album. It does have a couple of highlights, though, in the epic One Night In Eagle Rock and the excellent Dying Sun, where the band stumble across a great riff, then brutally club it to death over the course of several minutes.
Keyboard man Helge Groslie sticks mainly to Hammond and Rhodes, but the odd bit of Mellotron creeps in here and there, though I rather suspect they didn't own one, or use it anywhere else. One Night In Eagle Rock has a repeating flute motif, while both One Of Your Kind and Maureen feature a few seconds of strings, but that's it. So; not bad, but not that good either, really. One for aficionados of the era, I think.
Dreams (1975, 37.45/45.00) **/½
|Keep on Movin'
Let's Get Hi
Because You're Not
You Know Who I am
Boogin' on a Saturday Night
Making You feel Right]
I'm told Toad's first two albums (Toad and Tomorrow Blue) are undeservedly obscure stonkin' hard rock classics, which I'll have to take at face value, as their third and last effort, Dreams, is a dull, third-rate effort with no obvious distinguishing features whatsoever. Track titles such as Let's Get Hi and (appallingly) Boogin' On A Saturday Night say all that needs to be said, really, although the album has the odd reflective moment (chiefly the title track) to alleviate the tedium.
Although there's no keyboard player credited, there's a little Rhodes to be heard here and there, plus some faint Mellotron strings on Dreams and You Know Who I Am, but we're really not talking anything that worthwhile, to be honest; overall, a bit of a dead loss. While I can't comment on their earlier releases, it seems to me you'd be better off sticking with them. Incidentally, my research for this review tells me that the mysterious Vic Vergat, whose late-'70s solo album used to do the rounds, was actually Toad's guitarist, his real name's Vittorio Vergeat and he was the only Italian in the band. The other two members were drummer Cosimo Lampis and bassist Werner Fröhlich, for what it's worth.