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(Per) Gessle  (Sweden)

The World According to Gessle  (1997,  53.21)  ***
Mazarin  (2003,  48.09)  **½

Although I'd never previously heard of Per Gessle, it turns out he's vocalist/guitarist/all-round leader of Swedish megastars Roxette and the less well-known internationally, though huge back home Gyllene Tider. Older than I'd expected, he formed the latter as far back as '77, then Roxette in 1986, both bands still operating in one form or another. The World According to Gessle, released as Gessle, is his third solo album, the first two dating from the mid-'80s. I am so relieved I don't have to listen to those. Anyway, The World... has many things in common with classic powerpop, notably opener Stupid, although it spoils it with cheesy mainstream hit single stuff like I Want You To Know and B-Any-1-U-Wanna-B. Overall, the two just about balance out, giving the album a compromising three stars. Clarence Öfwerman plays samplotron, with strings and quite overt flutes on I Want You To Know, background flutes on I'll Be Alright and phased strings on Lay Down Your Arms.

2003's Mazarin is his solo follow-up (under his full name this time), a rather different album, largely because it turns its back on the international market, reverting to being sung entirely in Swedish, as were his first two. Sad to say, it's far blander than its predecessor, being mostly ballads and mainstream pop; about the best thing here is probably Jag Tror Du Bär På En Stor Hemlighet, with its electric 12-string and nice bottleneck work. Öfwerman on samplotron again, with strings on Tycker Om När Du Tar På Mej, sounding as if they're combined with synth strings.

Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly  (UK)

Maps  (2012,  40.18)  **½

UK indie-by-numbers with extra added irritating-mockney-vocals, at their worst on the spoken-word section on The Long And Short Of It All. Sam Duckworth and Danny O'Neill have Mellotron credits, but the rather shrill strings on The Joy Of Stress and Home aren't doing it for me on the authenticity front.

Get Him Eat Him  (US)

Geography Cones  (2005,  36.44)  **½

Going by their debut, 2005's Geography Cones, the Rhode Island-based Get Him Eat Him (stupid name, if nowhere near as bad as Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly) played a form of vaguely '60s-inspired indie. Infuriatingly, its snatches of interesting music are swamped by some acreage of by-numbers indie, making this a difficult listen for anyone not already immersed in the genre. Matt LeMay plays samplotron flutes on closer Early Scarlet Globes, effected in places.

Get Up Kids  (US)

On a Wire  (2002,  43.19)  **

The Get Up Kids are some kind of indie/emo crossover band from Kansas City (confusingly in Missouri), which probably isn't going to endear them to you any more than it has to me (the indie/emo bit, not Kansas City). Their third album, 2002's On a Wire, is, frankly, a dullard of a record; this clearly appeals to someone, but that someone isn't me. It's deeply unoriginal, too; the vocal melody on opener Overdue sounds like bloody Oasis, while Let The Reins Go Loose starts like a poor outtake from Television's seminal Marquee Moon, quickly taking a left turn into 'mush' territory. James Dewees plays a sampled Mellotron (?) flute part on All That I Know, to no great effect and despite a couple of 'are those fakeotron strings?' parts, that appears to be it.

Getaway Cruiser  (US)

Getaway Cruiser  (1998,  47.27)  **

Brothers Chris and Drew Peters formed ninth division grungers whirlingRoad in the early '90s, jumping ship after one album to hitch a ride on the latest bandwagon, electro-rock/pop. Getaway Cruiser's eponymous second album sounds (clearly quite deliberately) not unlike Garbage; female vocals? Check. Programmed drums? Check. Processed distorted guitars? Check. Skronky samples? Check. They even get a couple of hip-hop dudes to do their thing on a couple of tracks, although their recent grunge past keeps coming back to haunt them, notably in the riffage on Something About You and No More Blue. Both brothers are credited with Mellotron; the string line and flute chords on Come To Stay and flutes on No More Blue almost convinced me, but the wonky, pitchbent strings on Bad Time, particularly the sustained chord at the end have left me with no choice but to bung this into Mellotronic quarantine. Getaway Cruiser's pretty bloody dull, frankly, not to mention badly dated. I get the impression that the Peters brothers' desperation to 'make it' led them in whichever direction made sense at that moment; unsurprisingly, they remain non-megastars to this day.

Kerry Getz  (US)

It's a Wonderful Life  (2003,  38.56)  **½

It's a Wonderful Life is what Americans call a 'holiday album' - Christmas, to the rest of us. Kerry Getz puts several carols and other traditional seasonal songs into a folky pop/rock style, alongside a few originals, the end result being faceless, if ultimately relatively harmless. Barry Hovis is credited with Mellotron on Suspended In December and In The Bleak Mid-Winter, by which I can only imagine they mean the vague strings on both tracks. Fail.

Ghost  (Japan)

In Stormy Nights  (2007,  62.27)  ***

I reviewed Ghost's Hypnotic Underworld several years ago, but have just had 2007's In Stormy Nights brought to my attention (thanks, Mark). As other reviewers have pointed out, it's almost a microcosm of their career, veering between the acoustic psych of opener Motherly Bluster, the insane, near-half hour improv Hemicyclic Anthelion, Caledonia's (possibly unsurprising) attempt to replicate a Scots pipe marching band crossed with Magma and a distortion pedal and closer Grisaille's haunted, epic dark folk. Despite a lack of any keyboard credits, someone plays the pseudotron strings on Grisaille and the choir part running right through Water Door Yellow Gate, a chord at the end held for long enough to give the sample game away. Is this any good? Well, parts of it are good, which parts depending on your taste, I suppose. I prefer the prog/folk end of their sound, but some of you will go for the tripped-out stuff.

Ghost  (Sweden)

Meliora  (2015,  41.23)  ****

Ghost, looking suitably satanic

If you've managed to avoid Sweden's Ghost up until now, you must be even more disconnected from the media than your humble writer; their ridiculous image, cunningly crossed (see what I did there?) with a superb ear for a melody, has seen them rise through the metal firmament like a mitre-shaped rocket. Y'know, ludicrous though their image undoubtedly is, I can't fault their dedication to the cause; not only is it both faultless and consistent, but they've succeeded in keeping all their identities secret across a three-album (and counting) career. 'Current' vocalist Papa Emeritus III (it's generally believed that his two 'predecessors' are actually the same guy) shares the stage with five totally anonymous musicians merely known as 'Nameless Ghouls', some of whom are reputed to have changed over the years, while their image subtly shifts from tour to tour. Impressive, in its own way. Beat that, Kiss.

2015's Meliora is their third album, its contents possibly best described as a mock-satanic, melodic-yet-heavy take on Metallica schmoozing with Queensrÿche, while fellow Swedes Europe and the Blue Öyster Cult look on from the sidelines, although I'm sure their influences range far further afield. Highlights include opener Spirit, complete with mock-gothic intro, the super-catchy Cirice and Majesty, but there really isn't anything on this LP-length release that could easily be discarded. Any wrong moves? Near-fatally, closer Deus In Absentia sounds like a death metal-lite take on Madness' House Of Fun, ever-so-slightly reducing its devilish impact, but it's a minor quibble. 'Ang on, I've suddenly realised who Ghost remind me of more than anyone: NWoBHM act Demon, who quickly outgrew the genre's limitations to become unsung heroes of interesting-yet-tuneful hard rock in the musical wasteland of the '80s. There you go, an updated Demon, possibly appropriately.

Despite warbling on about using 'Mellotron' on the album, the choirs on several tracks and occasional strings (notably on He Is) are very clearly sampled, to no-one's great surprise. Four stars? I wasn't going to, but a second listen affirmed the obvious: Ghost might be rather silly, but when you've listened to as much awful music as I have, something this well-constructed is a blessed relief. Did I just use a religious term there? Sorry, guys.

Ghostwriters  (Australia)

Second Skin  (1996,  68.42)  ***

The Ghostwriters are an occasional Aussie supergroup, comprising members of Midnight Oil, Hoodoo Gurus, Diesel and others. Their second release, Second Skin, consists of the expected rootsy pop/rock with the odd contemporary touch, at its best on I Come To My Senses and closer Come Clean, perhaps. Chris Abrahams' Mellotron credit presumably refers to the barely-Mellotronic background strings on Empire Building and Not My Time.

Giant Sand  (US)

Chore of Enchantment  (2000,  59.53)  ***½

Giant Sand's thirteenth album, Chore of Enchantment, is typical of their skewed take on Americana, sounding like it was recorded in a desert full of cranky old keyboards. Highlights include the creepy Dusted (For The Millennium), the abrasive 1972 and the acoustic Dirty From The Rain, but there's nothing here that will offend those used to a bit of pre-country. Alleged Mellotron from three different players, Big Star producer Jim Dickinson, Rob Arthur and Kevin Salem, although it all sounds sampled to my ears. Dusted (For The Millennium) has flutes and very background strings, with brief double-tracked, panned strings on Shiver, although it's possible that various cellos and vibes are 'Mellotronically'-produced, too. A bizarre little coincidence that happened while I was listening to this album: Satellite features the line, "You could get Leonard Nimoy to play the part of Leonard Cohen". What am I reading at the time? Nimoy's second autobiography, 1995's I Am Spock. Much too weird and probably very Giant Sand.

Giardini d'Autunno  (Italy)

Frammenti di Idee Perdute  (2003,  47.29)  ***½

How to describe Giardini d'Autunno's Frammenti di Idee Perdute? Progressive, Jim, but not as we know it. They've clearly been listening to King Crimson (hey, haven't we all?), but there's a lot more to them than another Crimso knock-off, as they head further into the realms of avant- than Bob and the boys ever managed. Tiziano Rea allegedly plays Mellotron; a solo flute part opens Interludio - Parte Prima, reiterating later in the piece, brass on the title track, strings on Interludio - Parte Seconda, choirs on Storia Vana and various other parts. All a bit irrelevant, really, as it's clearly sampled, but there you go.

The Gift  (UK)

Land of Shadows  (2014,  57.00)  ***

The Gift have been around since the early 2000s, although there's an eight-year gap between their debut and Land of Shadows. In many ways, it's a typical neo-prog album, song-based, the music sometimes (and only sometimes) feeling like it's slightly subservient to the lyrics, although it has enough moments of musical oomph to carry it. Samplotron? Howard Boder adds definite chordal string and flute parts to The Willows, with possible other parts elsewhere.

Roland Gift  (UK)

Roland Gift  (2002,  44.59)  **

Roland Gift was, of course, vocalist for the Fine Young Cannibals, a band as ubiquitous in late-'80s Britain as shoulder pads and hair gel (and that's just the men). For those of us for whom the mainstream held only horrors, their records were the worst kind of lightweight schlock you can imagine; fittingly, they now clog up charity shops and probably landfills across the length and breadth of the country. Gift took many years out of 'The Biz' (and who can blame him?), returning with an eponymous solo album in 2002. It's pretty much as you'd expect from a mainstream album from the time; a bit dancey, a bit retro, a bit Take That, a bit, er, crap. Yeah, yeah, it's impeccably done, but this kind of bland dross clogs up not only chazzers and landfill, but the airwaves, too, making it more offensive than it would be if it were only to be found in the homes of his fans. There aren't any best tracks. Although Mellotron use is rumoured, the only obvious parts appear to be samples, to no-one's great surprise, with an obvious flute part on the album's hit, It's Only Money and what could be strings on A Girl Like You. Overall, then, the kind of music that drifts out of clothes shops that cater for the slightly older customer. I try to avoid such shops and thus such music. I can only recommend that you do the same.

Rob Giles  (US)

This is All in Your Mind  (2006,  40.35)  ***

If I told you that Rob Giles writes songs that are used in Grey's Anatomy-type TV shows, you'd assume that he was an insipid singer-songwriter, wouldn't you? I'm not saying that This is All in Your Mind is exactly groundbreaking, but it's also a long way from the usual Hollywood clichés, at its best on Broken People and Meds, their (admittedly relatively light) rock backing a million miles from Giles' competitors. Oren Hadar is credited with Mellotron. I have no idea why.

Eliza Gilkyson  (US)

Paradise Hotel  (2005,  40.08)  ***½

Eliza Gilkyson's 2005 release, Paradise Hotel, starts off as no more than a copy of its predecessors, but she ups the ante on fourth track in, Jedidiah 1777, beating anything on the two aforementioned albums hands down, other top tracks including Is It Like Today and, despite its religious connotations, the beautiful Requiem, although I'm not sure why she hums the organ melody from A Whiter Shade Of Pale over the end of the title track. I'm also not sure why it took two musicians, Mark Hallman and Mike Hardwick, to play the samplotron string part on Jedidiah 1777, unless there's more hiding away somewhere.

Thea Gilmore  (UK)

The Lipstick Conspiracies  (2000,  51.53)  ***
Liejacker  (2008,  53.50)  ***½

Thea Gilmore is one of those artists invariably lumped in with 'folk', due to her acousticity, but who would be better described as a singer-songwriter who just happens to play acoustic guitar (see: Joni Mitchell, a million others). Her second album, 2000's The Lipstick Conspiracies, is a decent collection of songs arranged in a variety of folk and pop/rock styles, top tracks including sprightly opener Generation Y?, the haunted My Own Private Riot and Bulletin Britain. Gilmore's husband and musical collaborator Nigel Stonier is credited with Mellotron, but the barely-audible strings on The Resurrection Men triggered my 'querulous face' (yes, I have one); is that really a genuine, two-man lifting job Mellotron we're hearing? I think not, sadly.

2008's Liejacker (a lie hijacker, basically) is her eighth album in a decade and her first full independent release (albeit distributed by Universal). It's a searingly honest collection of songs of the quality of opener Old Soul, Icarus Wind and Breathe, fully justifying Gilmore's increasing success, the occasional subtle use of sampled rhythms enhancing rather than detracting from the music, which makes a pleasant change. Stonier on 'Mellotron' again, though not a lot, with naught but faint flutes on opener Old Soul, by the sound of it. This is one of those records that will almost certainly grow on me with time; amusingly, one of its highlights is the 'bonus' (can you buy a disc without it?) acoustic version of Dead or Alive's You Spin Me Round (Like A Record), proving the quality of the original songwriting.

Ginger  (UK)

Yoni  (2007,  61.46)  ****

Ignoring his multifarious side-projects (not least SilverGinger5), Yoni is Wildheart David "Ginger" Walls' second solo album, stuffed with his usual trademark pop/metal exuberance, highlights including the glorious When She Comes, Smile In Denial, Night I Was Born Again, This Bed Is On Fire... All of it, really. Criticism? It's too long. The legendary Tim Smith (Cardiacs, Spratleys Japs) produced and played a raft of instruments, including (allegedly), Mellotron. Um... Tim had one Mellotronic source: me. It wasn't used on this project. Therefore, proven by the strings on Smile In Denial. Fine album, though.

Ginger & Sarah Band  (US)

Vera Takes the Cake  (2000,  55.36)  **½

Ginger Leigh and Sarah Dashew's Vera Takes the Cake is a kind of soul/jazz/blues effort, also throwing folk and indie moves into the mix, for an eclectic listening experience, probably at its best on the gentle Crazy Anyway and its worst on the tracks where one or the other women - well, 'rap' has the wrong connotations, but how else to describe that kind of non-sung vocalising? This appears to be yet another one of those albums for which I saw a 'Mellotron use' reference years ago, which has since disappeared. Suffice to say that Glover Gill's keyboard strings on Deep are generic samples.

A Girl Called Eddy  (US)

A Girl Called Eddy  (2004,  50.38)  **½

Erin "A Girl Called Eddy" Moran is an ex-pat American living in the UK, with a slightly surprising Francis Dunnery connection. Her debut, eponymous solo album is a rather unappealing mixture of soul and pop, chock full of weepy, string-laden ballads like Kathleen and Heartache. I'm sure this is all terribly heartfelt, but it's all pretty drippy, too. Co-producer Colin Elliot (with supposed Sheffieldian hero Richard Hawley) is credited with Mellotron, but the only places it's even vaguely audible are the strings on opener Tears All Over Town and the flutes on closer Golden, two of the album's more listenable tracks, although I'm pretty sure it's sampled.

Girls, Guns & Glory  (US)

Sweet Nothings  (2011,  35.26)  ***

Girls, Guns & Glory formed in 2005 as a largely successful attempt to fuse country, rock'n'roll and R'n'B, all influences plainly obvious on their fourth release, 2011's Sweet Nothings. Be warned: those allergic to American roots rock are unlikely to get much out of this, but if you're even occasionally partial to a spot of pedal steel, tracks like Sweet Nothings itself, Maryanne and 1,000 Times may well float your boat. Paul Dilley is credited with Mellotron, but I'll be amazed if the vague flutes and strings on 1,000 Times turn out to be anything other than samples. So; good at what it does, as long as you like what it does, but don't bother for a smattering of crummy Mellotron samples.

Howard Gladstone  (Canada)

Sunflowers Light the Room  (2002,  73.50)  **½

Sunflowers Light the Room is a passable, jazz-inflected singer-songwriter effort, better tracks including Healing Hands, the slightly more rocky Down To Earth and When Lightning Strikes. This is yet another of those 'there used to be an online reference to Mellotron use, but there isn't any more' albums; I seem to be having a spate of them at the moment. Anyway, Denis Keldie doesn't play Mellotron.

Glass Hammer  (US)

On to Evermore  (1998,  62.54)  ***½
On to Evermore  (1998,  62.54)  ***½
Lex Rex  (2002,  66.55)  ***½
Shadowlands  (2004,  58.10)  ***½
Live at NEARfest  (2004,  72.45)  ****
The Inconsolable Secret  (2005,  98.37)  ***½
Culture of Ascent  (2007,  69.13)  ***½
Three Cheers for the Broken-Hearted  (2009,  51.42)  ***
If  (2010,  66.52)  ***½
Cor Cordium  (2011,  62.18)  ***½
Perilous  (2012,  60.38)  ****
Ode to Echo  (2014,  53.50)  ***½

Glass Hammer seem to be one of the lesser-fêted of the '90s American prog outfits, although a near-twenty year career should silence the naysayers. Falling chronologically between Echolyn and Spock's Beard, their debut, 1993's Journey of the Dunadan (***), was a highly ambitious attempt to encapsulate part of Lord of the Rings into a single album, combining ELP-style Hammond, Yes-like bass work, a slightly cheesy sub-Styx approach to the song structures and rather unnecessary spoken dialogue into an album that works in places, while missing the mark in others. Its follow-up, Perelandra (***½) (from the C.S. Lewis novel; its predecessor's title, Out of the Silent Planet, had already been used by King's X), is a rather better proposition all round, despite being another fantasy novel-based concept, losing some of ...Dunadan's cheesier aspects. '97's Live & Revived (***½) combines live material from their first two albums and outtakes, although the band were yet to use sampled Mellotron, still opting for generic string and choir samples at this stage. Incidentally, it's gradually come to my attention that Glass Hammer are Christians, although they keep it out of the way of their music as far as possible, so we'll pretend it isn't happening.

The first of their albums to actually concern us here is '98's On to Evermore (possibly subtitled The Story of Arianna & the Sculptor), with a concept based around a sculptor and the woman he creates. Like its predecessor, it successfully combines their influences, with a distinct Kansas bent to some of its material, while still managing to sound mainly like themselves, Fred Schendel's Emersonisms on the Hammond becoming thankfully more scarce. The album's best track is probably its longest, Arianna, although there are only a few moments of 'why did they do that?' here, mostly involving female vocals (OK, OK, I know they're necessary to the story line) and more slightly unnecessary dialogue. Finally, we get actual sampled Mellotron (?) strings on Only Red and Junkyard Angel, with possible minor parts elsewhere, but not enough to give the album more than a T should it have been relevant.

2000's Chronometree is an amusingly self-deprecating concept effort about a guy who believes his record collection is speaking to him, which makes a change from the usual pretentious guff that passes for a 'concept' in this cloistered world. It's a good album, almost good enough to hit four stars, although something holds me back from that accolade, probably a lack of originality, which, I'll admit, seems a little unfair in this kind of relatively closed loop. The concept is actually irrelevant to the quality of the music (the band are aided by friends, not least Arjen Anthony Lucassen from Ayreon and Terry Clouse of Somnambulist), which should make Kansas and Spock's Beard fans happy, although those hoping for a recreation of 1972 may be a little disappointed. Plenty of sampled Mellotron, mostly strings and choirs, mostly not too obviously fake.

2002's Lex Rex is another concept effort, by the sound of it (do they do any other kind?), with pretty much the same pluses and minuses as before, better tracks including Tales Of The Great Wars and When We Were Young, although I'm not sure the album doesn't slightly lose its way as it progresses. Bit of editing, guys? Plenty of samplotron again, with choirs and (clearly sampled) strings on most tracks and flutes at the end of the lengthy Further Up And Further In. 2004's Shadowlands has more of a Genesis influence than before, although the ever-present Yesisms are, er, present and correct. It's another solid effort, although the usual caveats remain; it's overlong and derivative, with a little too much musical faff for its own good. But isn't that what prog is all about?, I hear you cry. Matter of opinion, sunshine; instrumental passages are fine (hell, instrumental albums are fine!), but they have to be relevant and interesting, or boredom can rapidly set in. In fairness, most of the instrumental work here does the job it set out to do, but the band could easily have trimmed several minutes from the album's length and improved it in the process. The occasional samplotron strings are pretty obvious, too; why go to so much effort to get your album sounding really good, then let it down with something so basic? Shame.

The same year brought the band's next studio release, Live at NEARfest, documenting the previous year's appearance, their set mostly drawn from their two previous releases, particularly Lex Rex. On the downside, Cowboys And Mendians is a completely superfluous drum solo, while the album's (slightly unfair) upside is Kansas' Rich Williams' guest spot, the band tackling Portrait (He Knew) with aplomb, the only obvious amendment being the welcome addition of samplotron strings. Somehow, most of the material comes across better in this setting, despite the loss of studio fidelity; treated as a 'best of' Chronometree and Lex Rex is enough to give this that extra half star. I know full well that there were three Mellotrons at NEARfest that year (and most years, come to think of it), as Änglagård used them during their set, But Glass Hammer doggedly use their samples, mostly strings.

The band went quite mad on the following year's double-disc, vaguely Arthurian-concepted The Inconsolable Secret, disc one consisting of a mere two tracks. It's every bit as overblown as you might/might not (delete according to taste) wish for, going all choral on disc two, although, once again, I feel that a better album might have been produced by trimming the material down to the nuggets of really good stuff spread amongst the acreage of filler. The samplotron use is relatively low this time round; probably a good thing, as the strings are particularly poor - no idea why, as they used better samples on earlier albums. Incidentally, I must single out Fred Schendel's superb keyboard - particularly Hammond - playing, especially good on this release. 2007's Culture of Ascent is a slightly odd release by Glass Hammer standards, adding a couple of contemporary influences (notably occasional programmed beats) into the mix, actually improving the album as a result. I'd imagine they considered it a total coup getting Jon Anderson to guest on a couple of tracks, to the point where they bizarrely opted to open the disc with an admittedly impressive version of Yes' South Side Of The Sky; unfortunately, it overshadows the rest of the album, particularly given its placing on the disc. Still, a step forward, or at least sideways. Not an awful lot of samplotron, though at least they seem to be using better quality samples this time round, with strings and choirs on a few tracks, used sparingly.

Glass Hammer took a sharp left turn on 2009's not-too-well-received Three Cheers for the Broken-Hearted, attempting a symphonic/psych-pop crossover effort, opting to cover The Zombies' superb A Rose For Emily, amongst their own material. Does it work? Not really, no, though top marks for breaking the mould and trying something different. Aside from the Zombies cover, better tracks include The Lure Of Dreams, the rocky Sleep On and The Mid-Life Weird, although the quality drops off as the album progresses, the experimental Schrodinger's Lament being the nadir. It seems the band were attempting to reach out to a new audience, obviously not realising (or facing up to the fact) that they're only really known to the rather hidebound prog crowd, so anyone else is going to merely lump them in with that genre, come what may. A failed experiment, but a brave one, with some decent material and samplotron strings, flutes and choirs scattered throughout.

2010's If sees the band back on track; while it could be seen as a retreat into familiar territory, I'm quite sure the band's fanbase are more than happy. The bulk of the album works well enough, although twenty-four-minute closer If The Sun not only goes on a bit, but is probably the weakest track to boot. Edit, chaps, edit... Loads of samplotron (those high choir notes are horrible, by the way), including some major flute parts, with their first obvious use of murky, yet definitely 'Mellotronic' cellos on Beyond, Within. One, from later the same year, is another GH aberration, a poorly-received disc of mainmen Schendel and Babb's early electronic experiments, although the following year's Cor Cordium sees them do what they do best: Yes-like prog, rarely stepping outside the genre 'rules', although the shortish and overtly-Christian Salvation Station throws some blues into the mix in an unexpectedly successful move. Less samplotron this time round, although we do get a brief snippet of the MkII 'moving strings' in Dear Daddy, making it likely that an M-Tron purchase has been made at some point.

2012's Perilous, another concept effort, is actually the band's best work in ages, the constrictions of the form seemingly conspiring to tighten up the writing, as on the mostly tiresome Dream Theater's Scenes From a Memory. No obvious standout tracks, although the Hackett-esque classical guitar work on Crowbone deserves a mention, as do the rather overt Yes 'borrowings': a bit of a Heart Of The Sunrise rip in Our Foe Revealed, while they channel Awaken in closer Where Sorrows Died And Came No More. Reasonable levels of samplotron strings and choir across the album, for what it's worth. Album odd fact: the track titles constitute a short poem, if read in sequence. 2014's Ode to Echo can't quite match its illustrious predecessor, although it features fewer obvious lifts. Highlights include Misantrog and I Am I; suffice to say, if you're a fan, you won't be disappointed. More samplotron this time round, with strings on several tracks, particularly heavily on Misantrog, choirs on I Am I and flutes on The Grey Hills, amongst other usage.

Once initiated, Glass Hammer have been fairly consistent with their samplotron use. One problem: on their website, under 'studio gear', they list a 'Mellotron MkIV' (surely M400?) as 'available when necessary'. Surely recording sessions count as 'when necessary'? The band have clearly never used a real Mellotron, so why list it? Odd. Anyway, while largely generic, Glass Hammer are a pretty decent band, although they're badly infected with the modern propensity for overdoing it; trim your best ideas down to forty-odd minutes and start making some great albums, chaps.

Glen Nevous Retraction  (Canada)

Sell Out Slow  (2002,  36.06)  ***

In true Max Webster style (is this a Canadian thing?), Glen Nevous is entirely imaginary, being Ontarian Chris Page's nom-de-plume. Sell Out Slow is a Billy Bragg-esque folk/punk blast, furious, thrashy-yet-clean electric guitar, but no drums, at its best on The Trouble With Thursday Ann, The Opeechee Contender and closer Motor Skills Fading. Dave Draves plays samplotron cellos on the last-named, to reasonable effect.

Gluecifer  (Norway)

Soaring With Eagles at Night to Rise With the Pigs in the Morning  (1998,  42.15)  ***½
Basement Apes  (2002,  38.54)  ***½
Automatic Thrill  (2004,  36.12)  ***½

Oslo's superbly-named Gluecifer were an unreconstructed, balls-out rock'n'roll band (the Scandic countries have a habit of doing this), whose singer had the balls to call himself Biff Malibu. Biff Mailibu! Utterly, stupendously, fucking brilliant! Almost as good as the much-lamented Peter Cook's outrageous suggestions to Equity when they demanded he change his professional name, including Xavier Blancmange, Sting Thunderpants and, possibly the best of the lot, Wardrobe Gruber. Er, moving swiftly on... 'Mellotronically' speaking, I'm unconvinced by Soaring With Eagles at Night..., title quite possibly inspired by the aftermath of your typical gig. It's a great album, highlights including opener Bossheaded, Get The Horn (!) and the kind-of epic Deadend Beat, although The Lee Fett Conspiracy's supposed Mellotron is entirely inaudible.

Their fourth album, 2002's Basement Apes (ouch) is a good, rocking album in the grand tradition, irony-free and all the better for it (remember The Darkness? No? Good), with balls-to-the-wall numbers like Brutus, Easy Living and Not Enough For You, with the occasional slower one chucked in for good measure. Alleged Mellotron from (according to source) either Kåre Chr.(istoffer) Vestrheim and/or Soundtrack of Our Lives' Martin Hederos, with strings on four tracks and possible additional flutes on closer I Saw The Stones Move, although I'm not convinced by any of it. Although 2004's Automatic Thrill was the band's swansong, it's almost as good as its predecessor, albeit marginally less energetic. Cato Salsa plays samplotron, but only just, with a background string part on Take It that wouldn't especially be missed were it not there.

Gnomen  (US)

Last Caravan to the Stars  (2003,  60.32)  ***½

I can't tell you much about Gnomen, other than that they're an American progressive outfit with a strong King Crimson bent, complete with sax, à la early Crimso, not something you hear too often in their imitators. Difficult to pick out highlights, as it's all good, although the raucous Labyrinth might just have the edge. Rick Lombardi allegedly plays Mellotron, but the strings on Quarter Past 53 and elsewhere, not to mention the choirs, are clearly sampled.

Goad  (Italy)

The Wood  (2006,  79.39)  **½

Although ProgArchives describe Florentians Goad as 'eclectic prog', their fifth album, The Wood (subtitled 'Dedicated to H.P. Lovecraft lyrics') is more 'slightly quirky neo-', frankly. It has its moments, but no one track particularly stands out, while the whole could've done with a major edit, probably to about half its length. Occasional samplotron use, nothing to write home about.

Gods Child  (US)

Aluminum  (1996,  43.34)  ***

Gods Child [sic.] were an American powerpop outfit whose second album, Aluminum, has been rumoured to have some Mellotronic input. A close listen to the intro to track 5, Space Boy, reveals Mellotron string samples that sit well in the mix, but don't stand up quite so well on their own. The band's material is nearer '90s indie than classic powerpop, so don't go expecting a Cheap Trick soundalike here (sadly), although those faux Mellotron strings are on most tracks. The band later morphed into Joe 90, named in homage to Gerry Anderson's late-'60s 'Supermarionation' series.

Louise Goffin  (US)

Sometimes a Circle  (2002,  46.59)  **½

Louise Goffin? Daughter of Gerry Goffin and Carole King, so you might expect some songwriting skills to've come her way, if not genetically, then through early exposure. Unfortunately, Sometimes a Circle (her fourth album and first for fourteen years) is a bland, mainstream effort, fatally compromised by a raft of contemporary (2000s-style) production tricks that have dated it horrendously, all of a decade later. It's at its least dull on gentle closer Quiet Anethesia, despite the pointless distorted - something? - running through the song. Someone plays obvious fakeotron flutes on the opening title track, with MkII left-hand manual flute phrases and moving strings (plus M400 choir) on Sleep With Me Instead and strings all over Light In Your Eyes, with other use elsewhere. Not even close to authentic.