Supermarket (2000, 42.37) ****½/TTT½Government
Powers (it All Comes to an End...)
She's Full of Fears
One Fantastic Day (2001, 44.38) ****/TTT
|In a Blink
Smell of Sweets
One Fantastic Day
Where the Byrds Fly
President of Me
Funny Paper/Money Maker
President of Me (2001, 10.34) ***½/TPresident of Me
Pop Song 89 (live)
For Fans Only! (2003, recorded 1997-2002, 70.26) ***/T
How Does it Feel to Feel
Eight Miles High
Pop Song 89
Tomorrow Never Knows
Strawberry Fields Forever
|Song From the Sea
One Side of an Egg
Funny Paper/Money Maker
Astronauts ("tired" version)
Memories of the Never Happened (2007, 53.33) ****/TTT½
Half & Half
Because of Damaging Words
Old Village House
It Ain't Easy (When You're Gone)
Goes Around (2007, 12.12) ***½/TT½Goes Around
The Sound of Silence
Haolam Hamufla [a.k.a. The Wonderful World] (2010, 53.56) ***½/TTT½
Ein Lach Elohim
For Fans Only 2 (2013, recorded 2007-13, 39.52) ***½/TTwenty Years After
Israeli Winter (acoustic)
Hole in the Moon (acoustic)
The Sound of Silence
I must admit I thought 'Rockfour' was a clever-clever pun on rocquefort, with their slightly cheesy late-'60s sound, but I'm reliably informed it means 'four people who play rock music', which is slightly less interesting. Oh well. They're that rarest of things, an Israeli psych-prog outfit (!) who released three Hebrew-language albums before switching to English for 2000's Supermarket and the following year's One Fantastic Day, with a compilation with one extra track, Another Beginning, available worldwide. Although the band don't own a Mellotron, they've used Zohar Cohen's M400 and ex-Pink Floyd black MkII.
Supermarket is absolutely excellent; great songwriting, with a sort-of updated early Floyd sound with other stuff thrown in. It's rare to hear any psych-influenced stuff these days that doesn't sound like pure pastiche, but Rockfour get the right balance between tribute and innovation, with a gift for memorable melodies that many (most?) bands would kill for. Of course, the instrumentation's spot-on, too, with a raft of Rickenbackers and various vintage guitars. And the Mellotrons. Noam Rapaport slaps female choirs and strings all over Government, with upfront flutes and strings on Superman and Wild Animals, while MkII brass mixed with M400 choirs boosts the title track, with heavily layered strings on closer She's Full Of Fears. Superb.
Their follow-up, One Fantastic Day, is almost as good as its predecessor and may well prove to be its equal given enough plays. Rapaport sticks plenty of Mellotron on again, with considerable quantities of strings and choir on several tracks, President Of Me being the album's Mellotronic highlight, closely followed by Automatic Man, although all highlighted tracks have enough to make them worth a listen. What am I saying? The whole album's excellent, Mellotron or no Mellotron. A compilation released worldwide, Another Beginning, is pretty good, although as with any similar release, good stuff's going to get left off. The title track is exclusive to the album and keeps up the quality, even if it's Mellotron-free. President Of Me was also released as a single, with an extra Mellotron track on the flip, Sanjay, with a rising string line.
2003's For Fans Only! is an excellent way to mop up a raft of hard-to-find b-sides and compilation appearances (many of them covers), spiced up with a handful of previously unreleased tracks. Highlights? A scrappy Eight Miles High, a ripping Pinball Wizard segueing into the end section of Tommy and One Side Of An Egg, perhaps, although too many selections have a whiff of second-rateness about them; such is the way of compilations, I suppose. Although its original release is listed above, this is the easiest way to find Sanjay.
2004's Nationwide is Mellotron-free, so we've had to wait until 2007 for another Rockfour Mellotron-fest. Memories of the Never Happened is as bloody brilliant as ever; how do they do it? Simply having the intelligence and taste not to follow trends isn't enough; I suppose it's that magic X-factor (not the appalling TV 'talent show', you fool). Listening to this really is like stumbling across a lost late-'60s gem, only with better production and less whimsy - OK, not that much less... Opener Glued is an atypical droning guitar piece, although the Mellotrons kick in quickly enough on Half & Half, with some very cool pitchbends that I suspect are from that Mark II again. Mellotrons are played by Yaki Gani and Noa Hegesh, mainly strings, with a particularly overt part at the end of Because Of Damaging Words and some flutes on Young Believer. Goes Around was the single, one of its two b-sides being a storming version of The Sound Of Silence, complete with major Mellotron string and flute parts.
2010's Haolam Hamufla [a.k.a. The Wonderful World) is either an album deliberately aimed at the band's domestic market, or a retreat into it; hopefully the former. Sung entirely in Hebrew, its songs work perfectly well, although those who insist on understanding the words may have a little trouble. Rockfour seem to have moved away from the bright psych/powerpop blend of their previous albums, to a rather more downbeat approach, better tracks including Degel and closer Horef Israeli, although the overall combination of darkish psych and indie doesn't seem to work as well as their previous style, at least to my ears. Plenty of Mellotron, presumably from Yaki Gani, with strings and choir all over the title track, strings on Seret Zar and Ein Lecha Elohim, choirs on Degel, flutes on Sheva Dakot, strings and choir on Malaach, choir on Bayom Hahu, strings and choir on Manat Yeter and choir on Horef Israeli, with other string and brass parts sounding like something more modern. 2013's For Fans Only 2 seems to be a download ('digital' to you)-only release, which might explain its crummy sleeve 'design'. Far shorter than its predecessor, its contents date from 2007 (the b-sides from the Goes Around EP) up to the year of release. At its best on opener Twenty Years After, their radical reworking of Arnold Layne and the aforementioned The Sound Of Silence, this the easiest place to source that track.
I'm keen to hear the band's Hebrew albums, too (which translate as The Man Who Saw it All, Return to the Snail and Rockfour Live), although I get the impression that none of them have any Mellotron content. As for their English-language efforts, I can wholeheartedly recommend Supermarket, One Fantastic Day and Memories of the Never Happened, although you don't really need Another Beginning.