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Author: Subject: Mellotron fans.....rejoice, rejoice....no tape required

World Class Peach





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  posted on 7/17/2008 at 02:42 PM
for this new book,

http://www.deserthearts.com/mellotron.html

Mellotron: The Machine and the Musicians that Revolutionised Rock
Nick Awde

Hardback £19.95

Published by Desert Hearts
592pp. with 300 b&w photos
ISBN 9781898948025

The definitive Mellotron book The Mellotron changed music forever when it appeared in the 60s. Long before the advent of synthesizers, this extraordinary keyboard revolutionised rock and pop music. For the first time, it brought a potentially unlimited range of sounds to a musician's fingertips. As the world's first sampler, its pre-recorded tapes included everything from a symphony orchestra and church choir to samba combo and rock'n'roll drum rhythms.

Those sounds created legendary moments such as the dreamy flutes intro to the Beatles' Strawberry Fields Forever and the soaring strings on the Moody Blues' Nights in White Satin. By the 70s the Mellotron had become an icon of progressive rock and its haunting tones found a climax in classics like Genesis's Watcher of the Skies and Led Zeppelin's Kashmir. Today it has experienced a renaissance after being championed by acts like Paul Weller and Radiohead.

Covering subjects as wide as the baby boomer generation, the Swinging 60s, Sgt. Pepper, Hendrix, Holst's The Planets and the advent of punk and disco, top musicians describe how they were inspired by the unpredictable keyboard affectionately dubbed 'The Beast', explaining too why the Mellotron and post-war society in the UK created a unique melting pot that made the world rock to a British beat.

Featured in this volume are musicians (not all of them keyboardists) who unlocked the Mellotron's potential, many confessing to a love-hate relationship with the keyboard due to its eccentric mechanism: Tony Banks (Genesis), Mike Pinder (Moody Blues), Ian McDonald (King Crimson, Foreigner), Woolly Wolstenholme (Barclay James Harvest), Greg Lake (King Crimson, Emerson Lake & Palmer), John Wetton (King Crimson, UK, Asia), Nick Magnus (Autumn, Steve Hackett Band), Martin Orford (IQ, Jadis), Roine Stolt (Flower Kings, Transatlantic, Tangent), Jakko Jakszyk (Level 42, 21st Century Schizoid Band, Tangent), John Hawken (Renaissance, Strawbs), Doug Rayburn (Pavlov's Dog), Tony Clarke (Moody Blues), David Cross (King Crimson), Dave Cousins (Strawbs), Blue Weaver (Strawbs, Bee Gees), Robert Kirby (Strawbs), Robert Webb (England), Dave Gregory (XTC), Andy McCluskey (Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark). Bill Bruford (Yes, King Crimson) provides a drummer's view of working with four classic Mellotron bands, and there are perspectives from Geoff Unwin, the first Mellotronics demonstrator, John Bradley & Martin Smith of Streetly Electronics, the original makers of the Mellotron, and Planet Mellotron's Andy Thompson.

-----Geoff Unwin did a demo "video" early in the 1960s and it can be found on Youtube. By the way, Mike Pinder of the Moody Blues worked at Streetly Electronics for about a year and a half, testing them as they came off the assembly line. But based on the info below, the Moodies didn't get their own until early 1967 when the band could afford to buy a used one. While doing some research found this very interesting tidbit that links Duane Allman to the Mellotron in a sick kind of way :

BEAT INSTRUMENTAL (UK magazine)-September 1965
GRAHAM BOND AND HIS ORCHESTRA !!!

Graham Bond is now part of an orchestra-yet there are still only three members of his "Organisation". Work that out! I'll simplify matters by saying that Mr. Bond has splashed out £975 for an instrument called a Mellotron which resembles an organ in appearance and produces the sound of strings, brass and woodwind. Hard to believe! Yes, indeed, but it really does do just this.

“Lease On Love” (Rick Minas/Mike Banwell)
Recorded July 1 1965 at Olympic Sound Studios, Carton Street, London
Released in the UK, July 23 1965:
B side also features the Mellotron with better sound
Graham Bond (organ, Mellotron, vocals)
Jack Bruce (bass, double bass, vocals)
Ginger Baker (drums)
Dick Heckstall-Smith (tenor sax).

On Friday October 15, 1965, the Organization was featured on ITV's weekend show, Ready Steady Go!, on which they promoted their new single, "Lease on Love." Bond also used the opportunity to demonstrate his newfound keyboard, the Mellotron. The Mellotron resembled an organ but was able to emulate strings, brass and woodwind, giving Bond command of a mini orchestra. Graham played live and showed fascinated onlookers such as P. J. Proby, The Pretty Things and Moody Blues how this "orchestra in itself" can be used. As Bond explained to Melody Maker, "The Mellotron uses pre-recorded tapes of other instruments. For example, every note in the register of the trumpet is recorded-and I can play it on the organ keyboard getting the real sound." The instrument created a minor sensation when Bond first publicly used it at the Marquee. However, they soon suspended its use in shows because, as Dick Heckstall-Smith told Blues-Rock Explosion, "It went out of tune the whole bloody time. It was also very big." "Lease on Love" may have been the first recording to feature the Mellotron, and the song garnered outstanding reviews.

--------The epsidoe of RSG apparently is not extant, though if one looks on the web you can find images of Bond with Cindy McGowan explaining the mellotron to her and the audience. Now, the, the Moody Blues formed on 4 May 1964, but their first Mellotron based single was released in August 1967, "August Love And Beauty". I can only imagine how people like Fripp, Lennon, Brian Jones, et al must have reacted to that show. It was recorded "live": that is, the artists were allowed to play their own instruments, play the entire song without cuts or edits, and no miming. Anyone think Ashley Simpson could learn from that?

By the way, Duane is connected to the Mellotron via Clapton's old pals, Bruce and Baker

Damn, I am excited about this book coming out.....


 

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True Peach



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  posted on 7/17/2008 at 03:22 PM
Whew! For a moment I thought they were introducing a TAPELESS Mellotron! It just wouldn't be a Mellotron without that tape hiss!

 

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  posted on 7/17/2008 at 03:23 PM
Yeah, that freaked me out for a minute.

My band's album will be out in November. I used mellotron on a couple songs, I was quite excited. What a cool instrument!

 

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  posted on 7/17/2008 at 03:29 PM
Rusty, and PauliG, there actually is a VST of the Mellotron, as well as of the ARP2600. I believe Arturia makes them, for the PC musician. I am about to get a collection of their analog keyboard VSTs. Just think, eventually, Gregg Allman won't have to use a hair dryer, either on his scalp, or his B-3

Pauli, do you have a website for your band? Would be cool to get a 21st century "record" with a real mellotron. I caught "The Musical Box", the Genesis tribute band, and I think they fake a mellotron. It looked like a facade for a digital keyboard.

 

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  posted on 7/17/2008 at 04:15 PM
Carlos,

Yeah, my band has a website which is SO out-of-date (technical issues, it won't let us update and we weren't going to worry about fixing that until the album is out! hee hee) and we have a myspace. The music on both sites are really old demos with just me and the singer where I'm playing all the guitars, bass, keyboards and drums, so they're not very representative of what the album will be like, although all the songs on there were re-recorded for the album as well. Anyway, you can check it out at www.helpdeskmusic.com Click the drawer on the desk that says "myspace" and it'll take you to our myspace (I can't remember the exact address right now). The myspace is actually out of date too, but not nearly as bad as the website. (We quite playing out for the summer to finish the album up).

I'll definitely be happy to send you a copy of the album when it is out. The mellotron pops up on about 4 songs, only really one of which it is prominently featured. What I am proud of though is that we used all "real" keyboards and instruments. There are 2 songs where we used a synthesizer, because we wanted a "synth" sound, both times it is very background. Over 11 songs, other than tons of different guitars played through as many vintage amplifiers as possible, and different basses, drums and plenty of live percussion; we used 2 different upright pianos, a tack piano, mellotron, 3 different hammond organs (which were all very similar) obviously with Leslie speakers, 2 different fender rhodes, a wulitzer electric piano, a pump organ, a harmonium, one of the synthesizers was a mini-moog. Plus we have a horn section on one song (which is actually being recorded this Sunday, with the exception of a couple harmonies, it is the last thing we need to record for the album).

So anyway, this has been consuming my life for a while now and I can't wait for people to get to hear it anyway. I'm not sure what a lot of the people here will think when it's all said and done, but I'll be curious to hear some opinions.

 

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  posted on 7/17/2008 at 06:50 PM
Paul, just got to the website. Sounds like quite an exciting adventure. Looking forward to your release. By the way, if you hadn't check it out, I guess you can call me "The nohelp desk"

www.homestead.com/carlosofcoronado

I did a bunch of stuff by myself a few years, mainly computer based "noise/music" that folks didn't believe I actually created. So to play with their minds, I created a fake band, and did a live album in Athens and Piraeus Greece. Send me your addy and I will burn a copy off for you, just to scare you.

Cheers

Carlos "I'm not really a musician, just a musical historian" Rivera

 

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  posted on 7/18/2008 at 11:13 AM
Carlos, sounds great... I am PMing you now.
 
 


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