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Tugboat Annie
Tulip


Rick Treviño  (US)

Rick Treviño, 'Mi Son'

Mi Son  (2001,  41.36)  ***/½

El Gustito
El Tira y Jala
Vuelvo Al Sur
Mi Son
La Hiedra
Ojos
Vanidad
Cupido
Échale Tierra y Tápalo
Long Goodbye

Current availability:

Mellotron used:

Rick Treviño (Trevino for his English-language releases) is a Texan singer-songwriter, who has found himself manoeuvred into the Spanish-language Tejano bracket for much of his career, despite not being a native speaker. 2001's Mi Son is his fifth solo release, apparently seen as almost a side-project of the supergroup with which he was involved, Los Super Seven, with many of the same musicians participating. As you'd expect, it mostly consists of upbeat Tex-Mex material, highlights including the gentle, jazzy Vuelvo Al Sur, perhaps surprisingly and English-language closer Long Goodbye.

Steve Berlin and Alberto Salas are both credited with Mellotron, but I'm mystified as to where. I've picked up the information from some long-forgotten-and-now-untraceable source that Berlin plays it on Ojos, but apart from the brass on the track, I genuinely can't imagine what it might be doing. Vague background flutes? Certainly not the vibes... So; good at what it does, but don't come here expecting any audible Mellotron work.

Official site

See: Los Super Seven

Triana  (Spain)

Triana, 'El Patio'

El Patio  (1976,  39.07)  ***/T

Abre la Puerta
Se de un Lugar
Todo es de Color
Luminosa Mañana
Dialogo
En el Lago
Recuerdos de Una Noche

Current availability:

Mellotron used:

Triana, like many of their countrymen, played a typically Spanish style of prog, heavily influenced by flamenco; suffice to say, this music couldn't have come from anywhere else. El Patio's... well, not bad, I suppose. Damning with faint praise? Probably; the songs are OK without being anything special, the musicianship's good, but far from outstanding... I think you get the picture.

The only Mellotron I can hear on it (from Jesús de la Rosa) is a few choir chords at the beginning of Abre La Puerta, repeating towards the end of the piece. Apart from that, Triana seem to be afflicted by the Spanish Keyboard Disease, otherwise known as the String Synth Syndrome, i.e. an insistence on playing all string parts on a string synth, reserving the Mellotron for choirs. Viruses (if virus it is) know no boundaries, so the syndrome can also be spotted in the work of Portuguese artist José Cid. Maybe there was an international anti-Fascist moratorium in the '70s on Mellotron string sounds. Or something.

So; an OK prog LP, but nothing particularly special, and extremely minimal 'Tron use to boot. I can pretty much take or leave this, to be honest.

Tribe of Gypsies  (US)

Tribe of Gypsies, 'Revolucion 13'

Revolucion 13  (1998,  62.54)  ***½/TT

Aztlan
What's Up?
Summer Rain
Revolucion 13
Landslide
Spanish Blue
Collapse
Mother's Cry
Aztlan Reprise
Pancho Villa (Part 1)
Freedom
Tribe of Gypsies, 'Tribe of Gypsies III'

Tribe of Gypsies III  (1999,  44.48)  ***½/T½

The Flower
Rays of the Sun
Admit it
It Don't Bother Me
Puro Party
What Cha Want
Angel
Up
Better Days
Dreams

Puro Party (Reprise)

Current availability:

Mellotrons used:

Tribe of Gypsies describe themselves as a 'heavy rock band with Latin influences', although their general lack of heaviosity with extra added percussion reminds me of Santana more than anyone, although the band must be getting sick of the comparison. 1998's Revolucion 13 was their second album, and while it's a more than pleasant listen, it does little you haven't already heard on those early Santana records, two extra percussionists and all. There's certainly very little of the riffing guitar work that you'd expect of an outfit describing themselves as 'heavy', particularly given that guitarist/mainman Roy Z has worked on several Bruce Dickinson albums, although the odd ripping solo is unlike anything old Carlos would've come out with back then. Greg Schultz is one of three guest keyboard players, adding background Mellotron strings to Summer Rain and more upfront ones to Collapse and Mother's Cry, which is more 'Tron than you'll hear in Santana's entire career. But is it real? Mother's Cry's closing chord holds a little too long, although that could be studio trickery as much as anything.

'99's Tribe of Gypsies III was apparently released in Japan under the title Standing on the Shoulders of Giants, but before it came out around the world, the useless Oasis announced their rather singularly misquoted Standing on the Shoulder of Giants, forcing the Tribe guys to find a quick'n'easy replacement. There are a couple of heavier tracks than on its predecessor, chiefly What Cha Want, which sounds like Santana crossed with Thin Lizzy, but we're not exactly talking Metallica territory here, but then, the band don't describe themselves as 'metal' anyway. It's actually a very pleasant album, little like I'd expected, although I suspect it'll take a few plays for the better tracks to make themselves known, although the guitar line in Puro Party has probably lodged itself in my brain for the foreseeable future. For a guitarist's band, Tribe of Gypsies have a remarkably cohesive sound, with no one instrument dominating, making a welcome change from the serried ranks of guitar wank outfits plaguing the scene. Z (no, I don't know his full name) plays Mellotron on a couple of tracks, with cellos and strings on Better Days, and strings on Dreams, though they're less overt than they might be.

These are both good albums with an interesting sound, if slightly derivative of other Latin Rock outfits. Not that much 'Tron, but worth hearing if you were going to buy them anyway.

Official site

See: Bruce Dickinson

Tribulation  (Sweden)  see: Samples

Tribute  (Sweden)

Tribute, 'New Views'

New Views  (1984,  46.51)  ***½/T

Icebreaker
Too Much at One Time
A New Morning
Climbing to the Top
Unknown Destination
New Views

Current availability:

Mellotron used:

Sweden's Tribute had (have?) a rather odd sound; vaguely neo-proggy in places, although with a fusion element missing from all the UK bands of the era, and considerable use of mallet percussion, in line with their countrymen Isildurs Bane. I believe they even recorded with Pierre Moerlin, ex-Gong, at one stage, so percussion is obviously a major deal with them. I've heard a later album that I hated, but New Views is really rather good, with an unsurprising Gong influence on a few tracks. The album's quite varied, with the gentle, flute-led A New Morning bearing no relation to the rather cheesy Icebreaker whatsoever, and the highlight being its side-long title track, which opens with several minutes of an acoustic guitar duet, before moving into more familiar territory.

Now, there are track-by-track instrumental credits on the sleeve, with no mention of Mellotrons anywhere, so what's that I can hear on Unknown Destination? Actually, the credits seem to go a little awry at this stage, anyway; the track segues out of Climbing To The Top, and although there are only synths and bass credited, the drum part carries on from its predecessor. Anyway, Mellotron choirs underpin the chord sequence, credited or otherwise, although I've no idea if the band ever used one again. Incidentally, this is not to be confused with the credited 'choir' on most tracks, which was the group singing large harmony 'aahs'.

Going by my other Tribute experience, I'd advise caution with their catalogue, but apart from its opening track, I can recommend New Views to the slightly more discerning progressive fan, although I'd give it a miss for the 'Tron.

Triggerdaddy  (US)  see: Samples

Trinket  (US)

Trinket, 'Set to Explode'

Set to Explode  (1999/2000,  44.53)  **/T

Boom
All the Rave
Shedding My Skin
Superhuman
Pure
Throwaway Culture
Unbehaved
Deceiver
Burgundy Shine
To Be a Star
Haunt Pallenberg
A Million Years

Current availability:

Mellotron used:

Trinket's second album is one of those irritating efforts that appeared under one title (Trinket, in this case, in 1999), only to be reissued, sometimes in amended form/retitled (Set to Explode, 2000), usually due to commercial failure first time round. I'm reviewing the reissue here (beggars can't be choosers, eh?), which drops two tracks from the original (Bruise-Violet Days and Draw The Line) and adds three (opener/hit Boom, Shedding My Skin and Superhuman), although I can't say the additions exactly make the album. The awful Matchbox Twenty are a common comparison, which seems pretty harsh; oh, sorry: it's a compliment? It's all a bit academic, anyway; this is the worst kind of 'alt.' rubbish, typified by the breezy Unbehaved and the flaccid Haunt Pallenberg. Less bad (as against 'better') tracks include poppy opener Boom (apparently used on a film soundtrack) and the brassy To Be A Star, but they're unable to rescue this album from complete mediocrity.

J. Christopher Arrison plays Mellotron, with murky flute and cello parts on Burgundy Shine that do little (read: nothing) to improve a pretty crummy ballad, although, shockingly, it's by no means the worst thing here. I can only urge you to listen to something better. Very poor.

Trion  (Netherlands)  see: Samples

Triosphere  (Norway)  see: Samples

The Trip  (Italy)

The Trip, 'Caronte'

Caronte  (1971,  33.00)  ***½/T

Caronte I
Two Brothers
Little Janie
L'Ultima Ora e Ode a J.Hendrix
Caronte II

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Mellotron used:

The Trip were apparently a British band who made their way to Italy in the late '60s (there's a Ritchie Blackmore connection somewhere down the line), who took on a couple of Italian members, and are now known as one of the earliest Italian progressives. Unlike some of their more forward-looking contemporaries, though, it seems they never really escaped their beat/psych background. The Trip (***), from 1970, is a rather average organ-driven post-psych album, with little to recommend it to the prog fan, although it's perfectly good at what it does.

The following year's Caronte is only one rung up the ladder, to be honest; it isn't a bad album, by any means, but unlike, say, I GiGanti's fantastic Terra in Bocca, this is an album that's having trouble escaping from the previous decade. William Gray's guitar work is more '67 than '71, although their heartfelt Ode A J. Hendrix sounds a little more contemporary. Joe Vescovi sticks mainly to Hammond, although he smothers the rather ordinary Little Janie in 'Tron strings (Mark II?), although not nearly enough to consider this any sort of Mellotron Album.

There's no 'Tron on the following year's Atlantide, so I rather doubt if there's any on their final album, Time of Change, either. If you're into that late-'60s organ-heavy thing, you'll probably love The Trip, but for those of you discovering the '70s Italian progressive scene, I'd put this lot well down your list.

Triple Cream  (UK)

Triple Cream, 'Triple Cream'

Triple Cream  (1980)  **/½

The Chosen One
Love is in the Air
Honesty
The Long and Winding Road
2001: Also Sprach Zarathusa
December '63
I'm Stone in Love With You
Zanzibar
I'm Not in Love
The Sideboard Song

Current availability:

Mellotron used:

Triple Cream appear to be that most wondrous of things, a cabaret band who release an album containing some of their doubtless vast repertoire (see: Candlewick Green). Of course, the elemental beauty of such records is their monumental cheesiness, as whoever heard of a cabaret act veering away even slightly from a diet of the blandest, most mainstream material possible? Like all such ventures, the Essex-based band's eponymous sole LP (it seems) is perfectly well-played, but anodyne, featuring rather perfunctory versions of The Stylistics' I'm Stone In Love With You and 10cc's I'm Not In Love, amongst others. The award for the most bizarre cover, however, goes to their take on Strauss' 2001: Also Sprach Zarathusa [sic], with the familiar melody played over a funk-lite backing (!) that really has to be heard to be believed.

Of course, one of the chief problems with/beauties of this kind of album is how most of the subtlety and nuances of the original tracks are squashed flat, no doubt due to the band's desperate attempt to get themselves heard over loud, drunken twats at whatever godforsaken function they're playing that weekend, and being unable to switch back into 'sensitive musician mode' in the studio. I'm Not In Love is a particular case in point here, with whichever member of the trio sings on it getting the phrasing horribly wrong, ruining the melancholy feel of Eric Stewart's vocal, not to mention their budget take on the original's expensive/expansive production. No 24 tracks of vocals 'played' from the mixing desk here, folks... Just a Rhodes, a string synth and the odd backing vocal, although Brian Greenaway's Graham Gouldman-channeling bass part almost makes the grade.

Vocals/keys man Dave Brock (not that one, fool) was obviously a bit of a keyboard nut, as he listed every instrument used; eight, in fact, which ain't bad for a functions band, even in those pre-digital synth days. Most of them are (relatively) easy to spot, but the last-named proves to be a bit of a mystery. Yup, it's the Mellotron. Maybe 2001? Nope, it's CS80. Orchestral stuff on The Long And Winding Road? Nope, CS80 again. Chas'n'Dave's The Sideboard Song? OK, I'll stop there. n.b. Dave's actually written to me, confirming it provides the reverbed choirs on I'm Not In Love, even though it sounds like it's all Elka strings. As he says, "I remember holding down handfuls of notes and having to take them off randomly 'cos the tape needed to rewind itself". Proof, if any were needed...

Amazingly, Triple Cream are still going, with only one lineup change in the last 30+ years. According to their website, while they still do music (corporate functions and the like), they now specialise in stand-up comedy. Something for everyone, then. You can search the site all you like, too, but you won't find any mention whatsoever of this album. A Google search for a cover scan didn't seem to cough up any other releases, so it seems it was a one-off. I would imagine it was only ever produced as something to flog at gigs to up their earnings a little; a 'conversation' with a punter stuck at the end of the last track (which features a pub scene, being a good ol' cockernee knees-up an' all that) has said audience member asking the price, to be told, "Three quid", which is pretty blatant commercialism by anyone's standards. Then again, that's what function bands are for. It's easy to mock, but at the end of the day, this kind of band isn't about art, it's about making a living, and as you sit on your fat arse in your office, contemplating another 25 years before you can retire, just think about playing in a function band.

Cons:

As against... Pros:

OK, no-one ever said it was perfect, but nor's working in sales. Is it? Yes, you, reading this site when you should be doing some unutterably tedious work-related task. Anyway, you probably won't run into a copy of this at random, although I did (signed, too! Result!), and if you do, you don't really want it anyway, do you? Don't you? Or has the thought of 'Also Sprach Zarathusa' (idiots) whetted your taste buds? Just don't, take it from me. I know. And I haven't even mentioned the idiotic sleeve...

Official site

Tripping Daisy  (US)

Tripping Daisy, 'Jesus Hits Like the Atom Bomb'

Jesus Hits Like the Atom Bomb  (1998,  57.05)  ***½/T

Field Day Jitters
Waited a Light Year
Sonic Bloom
Bandaids for Hire
Mechanical Breakdown
Your Socks Have No Name
Geeareohdoubleyou
New Plains Medicine
Our Drive to the Sun/Can a Man Mark it?
Human Contact
Pillar
8 Ladies
About the Movies
Tiny Men
Indian Poker Parts 2 & 3

Current availability:

Mellotron used:

Don't worry, it's not another God-bothering album, as the sleeve pic and title really should tell you. Tripping Daisy were a cross between modern psych and pop/punk, if you can imagine such a thing; they were certainly better than almost anything in the latter category, and as good as many in the former. Jesus Hits Like the Atom Bomb was their third album (of four), skipping between styles with aplomb, keeping the listener's interest up despite the album's length. Best tracks? Matter of opinion, as always, but opener Field Day Jitters sets out their stall admirably, while Your Socks Have No Name and Our Drive To The Sun/Can A Man Mark It? hold up the band's psych credentials in fine style.

Wes Berggren plays Mellotron on a couple of tracks, with a hesitant-sounding flute part opening Geeareohdoubleyou, reprising later in the song and buried-in-the-mix flutes at the end of 8 Ladies; while it could be present elsewhere, chances are it's not. It sounds real, and given that the album's produced by noted 'Tronnist Eric Drew Feldman (Captain Beefheart), it could even be his old machine. The band split in 1999, after Berggren's untimely death, several of them going on to form the strangely popular Polyphonic Spree. This is a much better album than I'd expected, if a little inconsistent, although not really enough Mellotron to make it worth it on that front.

Official site

Tritonus  (Germany)

Tritonus, 'Tritonus'

Tritonus  (1975,  38.48)  ***½/T½

Escape and No Way Out
Sunday Waltz
Lady Madonna
Far in the Sky
Gliding

Lady Turk

Current availability:

Mellotron used:

Tritonus were another of those ELP-alikes that mainland Europe seemed to produce in great numbers in the '70s (and later), with non-'Tron users Triumvirat probably the worst offenders. Tritonus were a keys/bass/drums trio (no surprise there, then), and keyboard man Peter K. Seiler used the usual run of instruments, although unlike Emerson, he stuck some Mellotron in too, although only on Tritonus, their first album.

The music is perfectly competent prog, without being particularly exciting, and the same can be said of the 'Tron use. There seems to be an element of German electronic music creeping through in places, and to my ears, some of the material would've benefitted from being given a bit more room to breathe; just as the band hit a groove, they'd feel compelled to stop for an unaccompanied keyboard part, spoiling the flow. Or is that what prog's about? Anyway, both the lengthy Escape And No Way Out and Far In The Sky have little bursts of strings, leaving Gliding as the nearest the album gets to a 'Tron Track. Reasonable amounts of (again) strings, with some big block chords, but not the most exciting use you're ever going to hear.

So; passable album, OK 'Tron. I believe this is available on a 2-on-1 CD with the follow-up, Between the Universes, although Seiler had got rid of his Mellotron by then, assuming he ever actually owned one. Not bad, not great. Incidentally, flick over their hopeless version of Lady Madonna; it's an almost completely unrecognisable two-minute instrumental take on the song that seems to have lost the melody somewhere along the way.

Official Peter Seiler site

Triumph  (Canada)

Triumph, 'Rock & Roll Machine'

Rock & Roll Machine (original Canadian version)  (1977,  40.22)  ***½/T½

Takes Time
Bringing it on Home
Little Texas Shaker
New York City Streets
  Part 1
  Part 2

The City
  i) War March

  ii) El Duende Agonizante
  iii) Minstrel's Lament
Rocky Mountain Way
Rock & Roll Machine

Current availability:

Mellotron used:

For some strange reason, Triumph often found themselves lumped in with Rush; like the similarly-afflicted Mahogany Rush, they were a Canadian hard rock trio and since music journalists are a spectacularly unimaginative lot, I suppose the connection was inevitable, really. Over the course of their first, self-titled effort and Rock & Roll Machine, Triumph wrote several fairly epic numbers, chiefly the excellent Blinding Light Show/Moonchild from their debut, but Triumph, 'Rock & Roll Machine' reissuethe follow-up manages a worthy second place with the eight-minute The City, complete with 'Holst's-Mars-via-King Crimson' intro, War March, and a central acoustic section, El Duende Agonizante. The remainder of the record gives us above-average straightforward rockers in opener Takes Time, New York City Streets and the title track, complete with Rik Emmet's guitar freakout and a decent take on Joe Walsh's Rocky Mountain Way, amongst other highlights. It's unclear from the sleevenotes whether the credited Mellotron was played by bassist Mike Levine or extra keyboardist Mike Danna (a.k.a. Mychael Danna, of Elements non-fame), although the latter seems more likely, but we get some background choirs on War March and a beautiful opening flute section, plus choirs later on in part three, Minstrel's Lament.

Over their next couple of albums, Triumph moved firmly in the direction of Party Metal (sample song titles: American Girls; I Live For The Weekend; Tear The Roof Off Tonight. Say no more). The warning signs were there from the off; 24 Hours A Day from Triumph was firmly in that mould, as is Rock & Roll Machine here, so it didn't take them long to let the style take over completely, sadly. I expect they made more money that way, but the world lost a good little band and gained a mediocre one. A word of warning; a UK release also called Rock & Roll Machine appeared in 1978, compiling tracks from their first two Canadian releases, so the one you want (assuming you want it at all) has the sleeve shown here, or the truly hideous effort pictured to the right to which the reissue was subjected that I couldn't bear to put next to the tracklisting. While the UK release is an excellent compilation, it doesn't include The City. Anyway; good album, but no Mellotron classic.

Official site

See: Mychael Danna

True Illusion  (Brazil)  see: Samples

True Myth  (Canada)

True Myth, 'True Myth'

True Myth  (1979,  34.55)  ****/T

Reach for the Heavens
Light Years Before
It's Got to Be
Time and Time Again

Space Promenade
In the Mist
Song of the World

Current availability:

Mellotron used:

True Myth, punningly named after mainman Tom Treumuth, have the (dubious?) distinction of having produced the world's second ever digitally-recorded album, the first being Stevie Wonder's rather more high-profile The Secret Life Of Plants. They were actually put together as a music school project, which probably explains the relatively late appearance of this very symphonic progressive release, especially in English-speaking Canada, where prog was about as ubiquitous as in the States. True Myth is typical American-sounding piano-driven progressive, and does most of the things you'd hope that such an album would do. There are hints of Gentle Giant about it, although an overriding vocal influence is the less-fashionable Styx. Individual highlights are difficult to pick out on a first listen; suffice to say the album's very consistent, if not quite a lost classic.

Treumuth's Mellotron work is quite limited, being restricted to a couple of background string chords on It's Got To Be (possibly), and an upfront string part on the excellent Time And Time Again; his use on this track is good enough that it's a bit of a shame he didn't stick a little more of it down. Oh well. Anyway, as I said, good album, but don't go paying a fortune for it; it's one of those things you can see no-one bothering to ever put out on CD, partly because it was (surprisingly) on Warner Bros, and major labels make it more difficult (and expensive) to license back-catalogue. Pity.

Truly  (US)

Truly, 'Fast Stories... From Kid Coma'

Fast Stories... From Kid Coma  (1995,  71.35)  ***½/TTT½

Blue Flame Ford
Four Girls
If You Don't Let it Die
Hot Summer 1991

Blues Lights
Leslie's Coughing Up Blood
Hurricane Dance
Angelhead
Tragic Telepathic (Soul Slasher)
Virtually
So Strange

Strangling
Chlorine
Truly, 'Feeling You Up'

Feeling You Up  (1997,  54.34)  ***½/TTT½

(Intro)
Public Access Girls
Twilight Curtains
Wait 'til the Night
Air Raid

It's on Your Face
EM7
Come Hither
Leatherette Tears
The Possessions
Repulsion
[unlisted track]
Truly, 'Twilight Curtains'

Twilight Curtains  (2000, recorded 1991-2000,  41.07)  ***/TTT

Twilight Curtains
Leatherette Tears II

Aliens on Alcohol
Wait 'Til the Night
I Hit Ignition
Our Lips Are Sealed
Girl Don't Tell Me You'll Write
Queen of the Girls
20th Century Voluntary Slaves
Mellotronica Symphonica

Current availability:

Mellotrons used:

Seattle's Truly were formed from ex-early grunge group members (Soundgarden, Screaming Trees), and after a couple of releases on the ubiquitous SubPop, signed to Capitol in '95, who reissued their debut, Fast Stories... From Kid Coma. Although overlong, it's a pretty monumental piece of work, tempering the heaviness with a kind of '90s psychedelia, breaking up tracks like the lengthy Hurricane Dance into digestible chunks.

Mainman Robert Roth contacted me a couple of years ago to confirm his ownership of an M400, and it's certainly very audible here. Opener Blue Flame Ford has some distant 'Tron on its ambient intro, plus faint flutes halfway through, but the album's first major Mellotron part appears at the end of If You Don't Let It Die, with a solo strings part to die for. More strings throughout Hot Summer 1991, then wonderfully out-of-tune church organ on Angelhead, alongside strings and flutes, making a nice change from the usual sounds. Full-on strings again on Virtually and the dying seconds of So Strange, with the 'Tron sliding in and out of the mix on 11-minute closer Chlorine. All in all, quite a 'Tron album.

'97's Feeling You Up is even more eclectic and less grungy, containing elements of pop, hard rock, psychedelia, electronica and several other genres, thrown together in an appealing pot-pourri that ends up sounding like no-one in particular, which has to be a good thing. Plenty of 'Tron again, largely strings, although the intro to Air Raid features a major flute part, reiterated on the final, unlisted (though thankfully not hidden) track. Good use all round, with an authentically wobbly part on Repulsion, the nearest the album gets to grunge, while Trish Scearce plays it on EM7, although there's no great stylistic change on the track.

2000's Twilight Curtains seems to be the band's swansong, although they gig sporadically to the present day. It's a collection of odds'n'sods, recorded between 1991 and 2000, only released in Europe, for some reason. Unsurprisingly, it's a bit of a mixed bag, highlights including the bottleneck frenzy of Aliens On Alcohol, I Hit Ignition and weird, instrumental closer Mellotronica Symphonica (of course). Roth adds Mellotron to several tracks, with string swells on the semi-electronica opening title track, background strings on Leatherette Tears II and Wait 'Til The Night, more upfront ones on Queen Of The Girls and an excellent strings/flute combo on Mellotronica Symphonica.

All of these are well worth hearing on both the musical and Mellotronic fronts, despite sounding rather different to each other. After the band's dissolution, Roth went on to play with Built to Spill, putting some 'Tron down on Perfect From Now on, also from '97.

See: Robert Roth | Soundgarden | Screaming Trees | Built to Spill | Jim Carroll

Truth & Salvage Co.  (US)  see: Samples

Tsuki no Wa  (Japan)  see: Samples

Moe Tucker  (US)

Moe Tucker, 'GRL-GRUP'

GRL-GRUP  (1997,  11.36)  ***½/T

Then He Kissed Me
Be My Baby
To Know Him is to Love Him
Da Doo Ron Ron

Current availability:

Mellotron used:

I'd put good money on none of the Velvet Underground having any idea that their anti-hippy/Summer of Love attitude would, fewer than twenty years later, become the template for a whole generation of musicians, not to mention Maureen "Moe" Tucker's über-basic drumming. With the benefit of hindsight, the Velvets can be seen as the anti-prog, before the genre even existed, which is probably why they were revered by the prog-hating music press from the late '70s onward. There's no denying that they were basic - that was the whole point - but I'd argue that you've got to have some musical knowledge, even if of an idiot savant variety, to be able to do something that simple.

Anyway, after leaving the band in 1971, Moe left the business for some years, before being gently eased back into it in the '80s. She's released several albums and EPs since, including 1997's rather strange (not to mention strangely-titled) GRL-GRUP. As you can see, it's Moe does Spector, with fairly straight takes on four classic girl group songs, Moe's quite English-sounding vocals to the fore. Instrumentation is fairly basic (Moe doesn't touch the drums), with producer Phil Hadaway on Mellotron strings on Be My Baby, with a pseudo-real strings part that's nice, but inessential.

So; a quirky little release, with a sleeve design aping a US number (licence) plate, adding the witty 'Moetown, USA' above the title. Velvets fans will probably enjoy this, the rest of us know the songs anyway, but probably don't need to hear them in this form. One passable 'Tron track, that's it.

Official site

Tugboat Annie  (US)

Tugboat Annie, 'The Space Around You'

The Space Around You  (2000,  35.55)  *½/½

Stop
The Wishing Song
Tell Me
Love
Helen of Troy
Explanations
More
Off the Ground
Away
Don't Stop Holding Out Your Hands

Current availability:

Mellotron used:

Named for the 1930s film, Tugboat Annie were yer typical '90s indie band, upbeat, major-key songs with a hint of jangle, heartfelt, lovelorn lyrics... Horrible. Actually, although they don't appear to've had any obvious links with Christianity, their last album (hurrah!), 2000's The Space Around You, sounds like one of those vile, 'transcendent' CCM albums I've felt compelled to play for review rather too often. It has no, make that NO good points.

Jon Sulkow plays Mellotron, with a string part on Tell Me, although nothing you can't live without, unsurprisingly. Christ, this really is a dreadful record; why does/did anyone ever listen to this kind of tripe? Drivel, next to no Mellotron, 35 minutes out of my life. It felt longer.

MySpace

Tulip  (Japan)

Tulip, 'Boku ga Tsukutta Ai no Uta'

Boku ga Tsukutta Ai no Uta  (1974)  **½/½

Hitotsu no Hoshi
Watashi no Idle
Nakushita Kotoba
Kono Kurayami no Naka
Koko Ha Doko
Odoriko
Koushi no Row Cowgy
Uncle Spaghetti (Sanmon Kashu)
Hashire! Moon Gou
Boku ga Tsukutta Ai no Uta (Itoshi no Emily)
Mr. Press Man
Uta Ha Ikiteiru
Sekai no Hate De

Current availability:

Mellotron used:

One of my odder purchases, this... I knew I was after a few Tulip releases, so when I found a copy of 1974's Boku ga Tsukutta Ai no Uta for a whole £2.00 in a well-known London second-hand shop, I was in a slight quandary: do I buy this, not even being able to read the title, let alone being able to remember whether or not I needed it, had I been able to read it in the first place? The lush packaging (a large, illustrated booklet) decided me (I'm easily swayed), so I saw it as serendipity when it turned out to be one of the titles I was after.

And it is... A completely mainstream Japanese mid-'70s pop/rock album, apparently with some kind of environmental theme, as told in the accompanying booklet, almost entirely in Japanese (fair enough, really). It's completely harmless, but also really rather dull, especially when you're unable to understand the lyrics. The album was actually recorded in the UK, at Abbey Road and another London studio, one of which presumably either owned or hired in a Mellotron (it could even have been Abbey Road's MkII, although I've no way of knowing whether that machine still worked by this point). Anyway, someone, probably Kazuo Zaitsu, plays 'Tron flutes on Uncle Spaghetti (Sanmon Kashu), but it's not exactly enough to lift this album out of its slough of mediocrity.

Amazingly, this is available on CD (they're probably still popular back home), which shouldn't be taken as any sort of signal that you should buy this. Harmless, but most unexciting. Incidentally, there are several other relevant Tulip releases, including '73's Live!! Act Tulip, a '74 b-side (probably recorded at the same sessions as the above), September, and a '76 single, Kaze No Melody, which I may or may not ever get to hear for myself.


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