Cinema Recorded Music Library
Circle of Fairies
Todd Tamanend Clark
Cibelle (2003, 57.27) **½/T½
Só Sei Viver No Samba
Um Só Segundo
The Shine of Dried Electric Leaves (2006, 70.14) **½/T
Instante de Dois
Mad Man Song
Por Toda a Minha Vida
Arrete la, Menina
Cibelle (Cavalli) is a modern Brazilian electronica artist who takes her inspiration from many genres, including traditional Brazilian music, Tropicalia, various dance sub-genres, even metal. Whether the end result is to your personal liking is another matter, of course... She'd settled in London by the time she finished recording her eponymous debut, making me wonder how much of it might've been recorded over here; it sounds nothing like the city, but then, she's Brazilian - why should it? I'm afraid I can't personally connect with this music at all, though and the album gets a relatively low rating for its boredom factor; why produce an hour of music when you don't have to? Enthusiasm, I suppose. Anyway, Brazilian electronica dude A9 (a.k.a. Apollo 9, a.k.a. Apollo Nove) adds all manner of synths and keys, newer and older, including real, poorly-maintained Mellotron, with a really cranky-sounding string part on Waiting, plus flutes, with more strings on Inútil Paisagem.
Cibelle followed up with 2006's oddly-titled The Shine of Dried Electric Leaves, a far more acoustic album than its predecessor, although, sadly, no more interesting to those not into her Brazilian thing, which isn't to denigrate it musically, only to say it isn't my bag. At seventy minutes, though, it's far too long for its relatively repetitive content and is marked down accordingly. Nove on Mellotron again, with string chords on City People and flutes and strings on Minha Neguinha, although it's impossible to tell if various other stringlike noises on the album are Mellotronically-produced or not.
See: Apollo Nove | Freezone
José Cid (Portugal) see:
Before the Dark (2002, 49.30) ***½/TT½
|Before the Dark
Coming Up for Air
Crash and Burn
Cinema Recorded Music Library's schtick is to recreate that '70s library music vibe, which they do with aplomb on 2002's Before the Dark. Every track has a different feel to it, as you'd expect from the real thing; this actually reminds me of Sundae Club, or (more 'authentically'), Harmonic 33, in its dedication to recreation of a lost art. Best tracks? More like best moments, actually: Pendulum nicks the descending Rhodes line from The Doors' Riders On The Storm, while the 'police car siren' synth on Head Spin almost convinces. The band (actually a duo) actually rock out a little on the latter half of Crash And Burn ('Burn', I suppose), although they splatter what sounds like a Solina all over the track, along with half of the rest of the album.
Mellotron flutes are proudly displayed on the opening title track, Pendulum, Lost, Coming Up For Air and closer The Dawn, although the one on After Dark sounds real. No idea who plays it (presumably either Crawford Tait or Gregor Reid), or whether it's real, although it sounds a lot more authentic than many other similar examples I can think of. Overall, this does exactly what it says on the tin and does it well. If you're after that vaguely 'Gallic film music' thing, this will almost certainly hit the spot. Recommended.
John Peel Sessions (2001, recorded 1998-99, 40.41) **½/T
You Turn Me on
Dance, Girl, Dance (acoustic)
Reel 2, Dialogue 2
Kerry Kerry (live)
Hard, Fast and Beautiful (live)
The Wedding Present's David Gedge and his then-partner, Sally Murrell, formed Cinerama in 1998, quickly becoming a firm favourite of 'Saint' John Peel (RIP), recording no fewer than eleven sessions for his radio programme. John Peel Sessions collects the first two, along with other relevant recordings, although be warned: you need a fairly high tolerance for faux-early '60s pop to survive even forty minutes of this. Suffice to say, the lyrics are mostly more interesting than the music.
Although I've thrown Season 2 straight into samples, one track here's made me sit up and cock a quizzical eyebrow at my speakers. Reel 2, Dialogue 2 features what sounds like separate male and female Mellotron voices, presumably played by either Gedge or Murrell; I'm really not sure there were good enough samples of these sounds at the time to pass muster, so this stays here unless I get more (negative) information.
Official Cinerama/Wedding Present site
See: Samples etc. | The Wedding Present
Cioccolata (1985, 38.19) ***/½
Il Cielo Lontano
Nina From the Dark Moon
La Mia Mano
The Dancing Cat
I can't tell you an awful lot about Cioccolata, due to not only the usual language-related issues, but the three decades-plus that have elapsed since the release of their eponymous, second album from 1985. Fronted by Cano Caoli (a.k.a. Kano Kaoli), the only band member with any obvious history (admittedly, according to Discogs) is guitarist Toru Terashi. Cioccolata is a strange, offbeat pop album, choppy rhythms interacting with new wave-derived melodies and more obviously Japanese influences, possibly at its best on crazed massed-vocal opener PaChiLa, the funky Sandwichman, the sax-driven Tiss Tiss and closer Addio.
Amongst the ubiquitous synths, Fuquiko "Yuko" Watanabe plays background Mellotron flutes and strings on Danza, although that would appear to be our lot. Bored with production-line Japanese pop? Try Cioccolata. Intriguingly different.
As the Years Go By (1995, 53.33) **/TTRequiem
Crawling on the Floor
On the Run
The Troubled Wake
As the Years Go By
Circle of Fairies were yet another one-off Beppe Crovella production project from the Vinyl Magic label, 1995's overlong As the Years Go By being their sole legacy. It starts well enough, with the instrumental Requiem, but swiftly descends into neo-prog tedium, characterised by all the usual tropes: simplistic composition, unimaginative arrangements, a propensity for Marillion-esque vocal melodies and delivery... This may have been considered good enough in the Italian scene of the '90s, but its shortcomings are all too apparent some twenty-five years on. Lowest point? The excruciating, eleven-minute title track that closes this sorry effort, where the band's already tenuous grip on musical theory entirely deserts them.
Gianfranco Milone is credited with a raft of keyboards, including a MiniMoog, Hammond, Rhodes and 'Mellotron M400 and Mark II'. Really? A MkII? There's an eMu Vintage Keys module in there, too, which sounds more like it provides the Mellotron sounds, but, without definite info, I feel (at least for now) I have to respect those credits. Anyway, we get 'stabbed' choir chords on Requiem, murky choirs on My Camouflage, phased strings on On The Run, choirs and chordal flutes on The Troubled Wake and chordal strings and melodic flutes on the title track. Is any of it actually real, or are those credits essentially bullshit? Hard to say, but I don't feel able to recommend this on any front, anyway. Reprehensible.
See: Beppe Crovella
Circus (2011, recorded 1968, 27.51) ***½/TFairy Tales of Truth
Change of Scene
Circus (not to be confused with any other band of the same name, including alternate spellings) were formed by vocalist/guitarist Frank Nuyens and drummer/lyricist Jay Baar after noted Dutch psychsters Q65 split in 1968; although Herman Brood (ex-Cuby & the Blizzards, later of solo fame) and Henk Smitskamp (ex-Motions) were approached, the duo ended up recruiting Frank Verhoef on bass/vocals and keyboard player Mark Klein. Using a different singer on each of the few tracks the nascent band recorded, finally released in 2011 as the barely-over-EP-length Circus, their emphasis was more on instrumental work, in true freakout fashion, highlights including trippy opener Fairy Tales Of Truth, rhythmic psychfest Mother Sundance (originally Mother Motha's Sundance, I believe) and the more traditionally songlike Change Of Scene. Sadly, the comedown came all too soon: unable to secure a deal, the quartet splintered, most of their demos being reused/re-recorded for Q65's 'comeback' contractural-obligation effort, 1969's Revival, Fairy Tales Of Truth and Voluntary Peacemaker surviving intact, while Mother Sundance was truncated to Sundance and Change Of Scene became Ridin' On A Slow Train.
Paul Natte plays Mellotron on the original recordings, with strings on Fairy Tales Of Truth, possibly from Phonogram Studios' M300, although the vibes part on Q65's Voluntary Peacemaker is inaudible/missing. Possibly the most amazing thing about these recordings is that they were ever considered even remotely 'commercial', particularly the two lengthy(ish) tracks that make up side one of the currently vinyl-only issue, which says more about the era than I ever could. Worth hearing for side one, then, not to mention one good Mellotron track.
One (1971, 41.41/60.31) ***/T½ (TT)
Song for Tavish
Those Were the Days
The Heaviest Stone
|7" (1976, 10.53) ***/TT
Not to be confused with any other Cirkus/Circus, One was Cirkus' only album under that name, although an obscurity crept out later in the decade as Future Shock. Despite usually being labelled a progressive rarity, this more a (very) late-period psych album, featuring ten average-length tracks of relatively simple construction. It's not a bad album, by any means, but there's something of a shortage of great material, although Brotherly Love stands out. With a string section on most tracks, it's frequently difficult to work out where Derek G. Miller's Mellotron is actually being used, although the aforementioned Brotherly Love has some quite obvious strings and flutes, while Song For Tavish has an unaccompanied Mellotron strings coda.
Speaking of later recordings, Audio Archives' expanded CD issue adds two tracks from '71 and a three-track EP from '76, Mellissa, apparently a paean to a blow-up doll. Nice. Anyway, despite being of dubious quality (Amsterdam's the best thing here), two of the three tracks feature the Mellotron, with background strings on Pickupaphone and pretty full-on ones on Amsterdam, although Mellissa's strings are string synth-generated. Psych fans may well lap the album up, but I reckon it falls rather short of greatness, while the Mellotron use is at best average. Buy at your discretion.
See: Future Shock
"El Tor" (1975, 44.14) ****/T½Alba di Una Città
La Casa del Mercante "Sun"
Milioni di Persone
There seems to have been quite a bit of movement between bands in the Italian '70s progressive scene; two of Città Frontale had, only a year earlier, been members of Osanna, including vocalist and sometime Mellotron player Lino Vairetti. "El Tor" definitely has echoes of the Osanna sound on it, but the band pretty much had their own voice, partially characterised by Enzo Avitabile's sax playing, giving the music a fusiony edge in places, particularly on Solo Uniti... and the excellent Mutazione.
The Mellotron parts, also played by regular keyboard man Paolo Raffone, are extremely tasteful and restrained, often only a few chords or a short orchestrated flute part (aside from Avitabile's real flutes) before disappearing again. A classic example of their restraint is in the album's longest track, Duro Lavoro, where they refrain from using the oh-so obvious strings during the first time through a grandiose chord sequence, only bringing them in second time round. 'Tension and release', I believe it's known. Strangely enough, they only use it on tracks 1-4, so there's probably less than a minute of Mellotron on the whole album; it's a very tasteful minute, though.
Your New Boundaries (2001, 44.09) **½/T
Camera on a Truck
After the Accident
You Will Miss the Autumn
How is Your Memory?
|Yes, I Waited a Year...
The Hungry Ghosts
Song Against Suicide
Surface of the Water
Your New Boundaries
Brian Dunn's Clairvoyants picked up some less-than-ecstatic reviews upon the release of 2001's Your New Boundaries, the kindest of which called them 'slowcore'. Yes, their distinctly downbeat music is that, although I'd argue that there's a place for this kind of music, although it probably isn't 'at the front of my collection'.
Colin Rhinesmith is credited with Chamberlin and, for once, we may well be listening to a genuine machine, tapes'n'all. Not much of it, mind; all I can hear is strings (and one of the woodwind family?) all over the brief Interlude, but it's better than nothing. To quote one of those reviews, "Is your record collection lacking 'decent background music?' Is this a gap you need to fill?" Harsh - probably too harsh, but at least slightly accurate.
White Light (1971, 34.55) ***½/½The Virgin
Because of You
One in a Hundred
For a Spanish Guitar
Where My Love Lies Asleep
Tears of Rage
Mellotron (Chamberlin?) used:
Gene Clark really shouldn't need any introduction: a founding member of The Byrds, he was actually their main songwriter during their first two years, later supplanted by Jim/Roger McGuinn and David Crosby. He left the band in early '66 (rejoining briefly in '67 and '73), working his way through Phoenix and Dillard & Clark, before releasing the acclaimed, yet poorly-selling White Light in 1971. Essentially a country album, several of its tracks (Because Of You, For A Spanish Guitar, 1975) might've worked well in a pre-country Byrds setting, but are perfectly acceptable here, as long as you don't object too strongly to the style.
An uncredited musician (organist Mike Utley?) plays background Mellotron, or, more likely, Chamberlin strings on Where My Love Lies Asleep (well spotted, Reid), although you'd be forgiven for missing it entirely. Anyone hoping for a lost slice of Turn! Turn! Turn!-era Byrds should probably look elsewhere, but if you've ever found yourself captivated by Clark's writing, you could do worse than to hear a copy. Sadly, Clark was the first Byrd to die, still in his forties, after years of sustained alcohol abuse, living just long enough to participate in his old band's induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1991.
Sheer Golden Hooks (1996, 55.29) **½/T
|Sheer Golden Hooks
Los Angeles Times
Poor King Crow
A Taste of Scorpion
|Joyce's House of Glamour
No Stone Unturned
The Hanged Man
Shiva Burlesque's Jeffrey Clark's solo debut fails to live up to the powerpop promise of its title, the end result being a kind of uncommercial pop, which strikes me as a contradiction in terms. It's easily at its best on eight-minute closer The Map, Clark narrating over sparse, bluesy acoustic guitar, a world away from the rest of the album.
Patrick Warren's Chamberlin gets a decent outing on The Hanged Man, with distant, reverbed-to-hell flutes, Warren playing about with the flywheel, creating hiccoughing pitchbend effects. I want to like this more than I actually do, although, at least, the tape-replay work's worth hearing.
We're Not Safe! [as Todd Clark Group] (1979, 32.55) ***½/TWe're Not Safe!
Rumor Has it
Mathematics Don't Mean a Thing
I Had Too Much to Dream Last Night
The Grim Rider
Nova Psychedelia [Disc 2] (2005, recorded 1975-85, 76.41) ***/½
|Rumor Has it
Mathematics Don't Mean a Thing
I Had Too Much to Dream Last Night
The Grim Rider
Nightlife of the New Gods
National Anthem/Nova Theme
|Stars in Heat
Brain and Spinal Column (#2)
Into the Vision
Flame Over Philadelphia
Oceans of She
Todd Tamanend Clark (his middle name has been added fairly recently to acknowledge his Native American heritage) released several albums and singles in the 1975-85 period, pressed in small runs, near-impossible to find in their original incarnations these days. As a result, those wonderful Anopheles people have reissued his entire oeuvre from the period on a two-CD set, Nova Psychedelia, showcasing Clark's mad, psychedelic electronic vision in its entirety, originally released under several different names, some only on 8-track (!). It takes us on a journey through his psyche (be warned: this is not for the faint-hearted), from 1975's seriously out-there March Of The Legion (written for a costume competition at a comics convention, would'ja believe), through to the abrasive new wave of 1985's Flame Over Philadelphia, taking in three full albums en route.
The second of these is 1979's 300 copies-only We're Not Safe!, a punk/psych monster to rival The Damned's Machine Gun Etiquette (well, nearly), featuring Todd's takes on Paul Revere & the Raiders' Hungry and The Electric Prunes' seminal I Had Too Much to Dream Last Night, not to mention the brilliant, fourteen-minute prog epic The Grim Rider. Even if this had been pressed in sensible quantities, somehow I can't imagine it would've done particularly well in 1979, or any other year, due to its deeply eccentric approach. Charlie Godart plays Mellotron strings and choir on I Had Too Much to Dream Last Night, not only the only Mellotron on We're Not Safe!, but on the whole of Nova Psychedelia.
Unless you're a fanatical collector, there's little point in trying to source an original We're Not Safe!, so I'm sure you'll be content with Nova Psychedelia, four times the length and a fraction of the price. Todd's almost non-voice takes a little getting used to, but he utilises it carefully (having an American accent always helps when intoning, I find) and for every nutsoid, nigh-on unlistenable experimental track, there are several worth-hearing selections from a man almost lost to obscurity. Clark's still releasing albums to this day, in a rather more available manner than previously. God bless the Internet.
Allan Clarke (1974, 34.13) ***/TTDon't Let Me Down Again
Can't Get on
I'll Be Home
I Wanna Sail Into Your Life
If I Were the Priest
Love, Love, Love
Send Me Some Lovin'
By 1974, Allan Clarke had left and rejoined the band with whom his name is synonymous, The Hollies, and was in the process of recording their last huge hit, the irritatingly memorable The Air That I Breathe. Allan Clarke was his third solo album and, in all honesty, there's little about it to distinguish it from a thousand other mainstream pop/rock albums of the era; its recent reissue can only be due to his Hollies connection. It's perfectly competently written and played, but it totally fails to excite, not even containing anything of the quality of The Air That I Breathe. Mind you, if it had, I'm sure it would've been siphoned off for the band's use... Interestingly, Clarke covers an early Springsteen song (this was still a year before Born to Run, note), If I Were The Priest, going on to encourage The Hollies to do the same.
The credits contain several familiar names, including Herbie Flowers and Johnny Gustafson on bass, Mike Moran on keys and the ubiquitous B.J. Cole on steel guitar, with Tony Hymas (here spelt Hymass) on Mellotron. Surprisingly, maybe, it's on several tracks, with varying levels of strings, presumably standing in for an overly-expensive string section, but let's not look the proverbial gift horse, eh? Clarke finally retired from the Hollies in 2000, only to have his successor, Carl Wayne (once of The Move), die of cancer in 2004. Clarke hasn't gone back on his pledge; in fairness, he's in his seventies and the touring lifestyle has finished off many a younger man. While Allan Clarke is a perfectly good album of its type, it's desperately unexciting and, despite several Mellotron tracks, it's all pretty much background use, to be honest. File under 'that was then'.
See: The Hollies
Yellow Sun of Ecuador & Other Topsongs (1974, 36.58) *½/TT
|Yellow Sun of Ecuador
Bury My Heart
If You Come to San Francisco
I'm Gonna Loose You
Take This Hammer
I Like to Be Free
My Lady of Spain
|Gimme That Horse
The One-Armed Bandit
Dance in the Sunlight
Classics were a scarily mainstream Dutch pop group whose career stretched over fifteen years, from the late '60s to the early '80s. Despite having released a slew of singles by that point, 1974's Yellow Sun of Ecuador & Other Topsongs appears to be their first album, most of its contents being the blandest kind of Euro-country-pop, that, for some reason, the Dutch seemed to do so 'well', about the only deviations from the formula being the amusingly glam-rock guitar riff on Bury My Heart and the rock'n'roll-lite of I Like To Be Free.
I presume it's vocalist/keys man Jan Dirkx on Mellotron, with pseudo-orchestral strings on all highlighted tracks above, plus flutes on I'm Gonna Loose You [sic.] and cellos on Together, although the strings on My Lady of Spain and The One-Armed Bandit are real. Frankly, this is terrible. I mean, properly painful. Sorry, but you can't even pass it off as 'kitsch'. It may contain several Mellotron tracks, but none of them are worth hearing.