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Various Artists (Concept albums & Themed compilations) - Rime Of The Ancient Sampler - The Mellotron Album CD (album) cover

RIME OF THE ANCIENT SAMPLER - THE MELLOTRON ALBUM

Various Artists (Concept albums & Themed compilations)

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erik neuteboom
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars My #500 review is dedicated to the unsurpassed Mellotron and what a coincidence, it's all about MELLOTRON'S!! This CD is an initiative from Alan Fluff Freeman, the executive producer is Martin Smith and it's dedicated to Leslie and Norman Bradley and to the memory of Frank Bradley and Bill Franssen. All these aformentioned people contributed very much to the rise of the Mellotron in the late Sixties. The 8 page booklet contain a foreword by Alan Freeman and a story about the Mellotron, short but comprehensive and very pleasant to read.

The CD delivers 18 tracks in which we can enjoy the Mellotron in all its splendor: voices, electric guitar, violins, choirs, sound effects, harps, waltz, backward piano (!), Hammond organ, boys choir, flutes, vibes, 16 voice choir, female choir, oboe, trumpet, Spanish guitar, mandolin, strings, brass and saxes. These sounds are produced by several Mellotrons, a Birotron and Chamberlain and played by a lot of known progrock musicians like Michael Pinder, Sheila Maloney, Blue Weaver, Nick Magnus, Woolly Wolstenholme, Julian Colbeck and David Etheridge. The music is on a varied level (from boring New Age to wonderful prog) and contains some splendid pieces like "Deceivers all" from Woolly Wolstenholme (close to the early BJH sound), "Bradmatic" from Martin Smith (wonderful Spanish guitar/choir-Mellotron duel), "Mellow blues blues" from Blue Weaver (indeed, blues featuring the Mellotron) and "Julia" from Gordon Reed and "Lift" from David Kean, both with David Cross on midi- violin, very compelling! The final track "1964 Mellotron demonstration disc" from El Cumbanchero is a very entertaining and funny one, a person tells enthousiasticly about the numerous possibilities and you can hear guitars, violins, mandolin, several rhythms and an latin orchestra, "..what a thrill..."!

ESSENTIAL FOR EVERY TRON-MANIAC!!

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Send comments to erik neuteboom (BETA) | Report this review (#46388)
Posted Monday, September 12, 2005 | Review Permalink
soundsweird
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars Hmmmm.....good thing I didn't pay full price for this stinker. Don't expect the types of sounds usually associated with the Mellotron, and don't expect anything out of the ordinary compositionally. The best track on the album? The final track, which is the original 1964 Mellotron demonstration piece, has more originality than the all the other tracks combined. Too bad the recording sounds like it was made in 1964, or it might make the album worth keeping. It doesn't help that I expected great things from the star- studded lineup. The whole thing reeks of that mid-to-late-80's New Age hangover style of music, where everything sounds great, but there's no "there" there. The Mellotron becomes just another sampling keyboard here, and there are few moments of inspiration, spread thin over the course of the album. Nice idea, bland result.

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Send comments to soundsweird (BETA) | Report this review (#46480)
Posted Monday, September 12, 2005 | Review Permalink
Joolz
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
2 stars Mellotron Overload!

Back in 1993 I read in a magazine that this was about to be released and I thought "I wantsss it, yesss" because: 1 - I love Mellotron; 2 - I love Woolly Wolstenholme & Mike Pinder. Back then, the Mellotron had long gone off my radar and both Pinder and Wolstenholme had left the industry, so it seemed a way of recapturing something of that 70s magic. Alas ....

Rime Of The Ancient Sampler is a compilation of tracks donated by a variety of artists, all of whom have some sort of connection with the Mellotron in its many forms. Most will be familiar to PA members in one way or another, such as luminaries Patrick Moraz, Blue Weaver and David Cross in addition to Pinder and Wolstenholme, but no Tony Banks. I am not sure how many of these tracks were recorded specially for the album: I believe Pinder's is a special recording, whereas Wolstenholme plucked something from the archives. Of the others I have no idea!

Of the 17 tracks [not counting the final 'El Cumbanchero' taken from the 1964 demonstration disc], only one has a vocal. The best instrumental is Gordon Reid's 'Julia' which uses classic Tron-flutes and strings with a throbbing synth bass underpinning some meaty guitar licks in a Prog-like framework, and Derek Holt's atmospheric 'Resurrection', another guitar based piece which has a husky voice repeating "aaaah" at intervals. Overall though, the outstanding track on the album, both because it is so good and because it is so different from everything else here, is Woolly Wolstenholme's 'Deceiver's All', a classic Woolly song with Mellotron based keys and soaring guitars. My only criticism of Deceiver's All is the mix could have been better as his voice is not prominent enough, otherwise it is amongst his best.

The remainder are bland, insipid, laid-back going-nowhere saying-nothing exercises in high-gloss well-produced padding, suitable as background for middle-aged dinner parties I imagine. Uninspired and forgettable. And, sadly, that includes Moraz, Weaver and Pinder. Maybe I am being a bit harsh here, but I am not a fan of smooth keyboard-and-sequencer instrumental music which exists purely for its own sake - it starts, it noodles about, then it ends and it all seems so inconsequential. Sure, it might be pleasant enough, but some of it is only a stone's throw away from those awful mood music CDs you see in displays at garden centres. Very disappointing indeed. There are exceptions: Ken Freeman's has a nice melody from various Tron-choirs and a little get-up-and-go about it and David Etheridge incorporates excerpts of some familiar themes like Strawberry Fields and Nights In White Satin in his piece.

All in all, Woolly's contribution aside, not a lot to get excited about on the music front. You do at least get lots of lovely Mellotron in its many guises, including Birotron and Chamberlain, but is that enough? Not for me, it isn't. Sorry, gotta go with the thumbs-downers - deux point [but only thanks to Woolly]!

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Send comments to Joolz (BETA) | Report this review (#79515)
Posted Saturday, May 27, 2006 | Review Permalink

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