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Decameron Mammoth Special album cover
3.05 | 21 ratings | 4 reviews | 0% 5 stars

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Studio Album, released in 1974

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Mammoth Special (3:48)
2. Rock & Roll Woman (2:13)
3. Just Enough Like Home (3:53)
4. A Glimpse of Me (2:43)
5. Late on Lady Day (3:53)
6. Breakdown of the Song (3:06)
7. The Cheetah (4:57)
8. Jan (3:10)
9. The Stonehouse (4:30)
10. Parade (5:05)
11. The Empty Space (This Side of Innocence) (5:58)
12. Twinset and Pearls (bonus on CD) (2:23)

Total Time: 45:39

Line-up / Musicians

- Dave Bell / 6 and 12 string acoustic guitars, Fender bass, lead vocals
- Johnny Coppin / 6 and 12 string acoustic guitars, piano, lead vocals
- Dik Cadbury / 12 string acoustic guitars, lead guitar, tiple, Bass, Guitar, Harmonica, Mandolin, high strung guitar
- Geoff March / Organ, Piano, Violin, Cello, Sax (Tenor), Vocals, Tin Whistle


- Mongezi Feza / Percussion
- John Halsey / Percussion, Drums
- Robert Kirby / String Arrangements
- Gaspar Lawal / Percussion
- Dudu Pukwana / Percussion
- Frank Ricotti / Percussion
- Shamsi Sarumi / Percussion

Releases information

LP Mooncrest 19
CD Mooncrest 13
CD Edsel 686
CD Mooncrest 13
CD Universal 1073

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DECAMERON Mammoth Special ratings distribution

(21 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(0%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(32%)
Good, but non-essential (53%)
Collectors/fans only (16%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

DECAMERON Mammoth Special reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by kenethlevine
3 stars If "Say Hello to the Band" was atypical in the Decameron discography for its carefree down home sensibilities, at least these were convincingly conveyed, not to mention deftly juxtaposed with more serious selections. In contrast, for most of side 1 of the "Mammoth Special" LP on which this review is based, our boys seem to flail from one hackneyed idiom to another. Unfortunately these forays put this sophomore effort a notch below the debut, even if the second part contains some of Decameron's best work.

While the pop-funk of the title cut does have its charms, it also seems like so much of what we have heard from that era, by groups more suited to that style, which repeats, more or less, on "A Glimpse of Me". The most redeeming quality of both cuts is the witty lyricism. In contrast, the Stephen Stills-penned "Rock n Roll Woman is dire; the first recorded exercise of the embryonic alter ego, the Magnificent Mercury Brothers, is as wooden as a corpse, with even the harmonies sounding static.

The proceedings improve dramatically with "Late on Lady Day", which, along with "Stone House" later in the album, show the first indications of the progressive penchant of including a song within a song, with decidedly different moods, holding together as an entity. Both are haunting, heartfelt and bittersweet narratives with layers of acoustic dimension, and I find myself moved by the astuteness of the observations coming from relatively young men. "breakdown of the Song" is like a holdover from the first album, with similar feel and thematic content to LINDISFARNE's "Taking Care of Business" off "Roll on Ruby", taking a piece out of music industry leeches.

Other highlights are "The Cheetah", which is a more or less conventional rocker enhanced by an entire percussion section and monster work by newcomer Dik Cadbury on bass. The mildly misogynist tone is more a result of sympathy for the protagonist than blatant criticism. "Jan" is perhaps my favourite track here, a tasteful romp through 1930s swing framed as a tribute to a 1930s swing violin player, with plenty of 1974 violin on display. The portrayal of proper ladies "taking tea in the afternoon" is one of the many images conjured by this gem. "Parade" is a dirge like proggy track with much mysterious fiddle, chunky bass, and a reverent vocal by John Coppin. The album closer, "The Empty Space", is perhaps a tad too string heavy but the beauty of the melody more than compensates.

"Mammoth Special" ultimately adopts the approach to be retained in Decameron's most progressive outings. It is worth picking up if you enjoy folk oriented rock with unique observations on the life of olde and new (70s) England, even if it is somewhat woolly in parts.

Review by Sean Trane
3 stars Second album from this Gloucestershire now-quintet group as they added Cadbury a fulltime bassist (although he would also diddle the fiddle) and they now moved onto Mooncrest Record to have their "classic years" although this should stay relative and all things considered. Musically becoming a quintet did not modify greatly the sound of the band, but it's clear it gave them more opportunities, although you wonder why they did not take advantage of it more. So we still have this prog folk rock that sounds somewhere between Strawbs (especially when they do flirt with country rock), String-Driven Thing and BJH.

11 tracks, the longest of which is just below 6 mins plus two more hovering the 5 mins mark, and all of them (bar a useless Stills' RnR Woman cover) written by either Ball or Coppins or both is somewhat deceiving considering all five members (still no fulltime drummer) are multi-instrumentalists, including sax and cello. Interestingly enough, the violin gives them a SDT edge as you'd swear that Graham Smith joined Decameron. Vocally speaking, we never far away from Cousins' vocals, but there is tinge of BJH as well. Drum-wise, this is the guests appearance galore, including to Indian-sounding names on percussion instruments.

Sure, there are some catchy songs, including the piano-lead Late On Lady Day (a short interesting crescendo) and Cheetah (killer bass line over dramatic vocals, while the other instruments, flute included, are whizzing by) or the awesome slow-developing Stone House (Cadbury's bass again plays a definite role). Clearly in this respect, the better tracks are on the flipside. Some tracks are downright cheesy, such as the String-sunk ballad like the Just Enough Like Home, the closing string fondue Empty Space (a cousin of Cousins) and the title track, while others are hovering on country-rock like Glimpses of Me and Breakdown of The Song (mind you if everybody in the country rock realm was as pleasant, I'd probably like country better), Other tracks like Jan are simply nothing worth more than mentioning.

What really lacks Decameron is one or two good lengthy rockers to not only let loose, but really work it up, get down and boogie it away and add a good touch of prog nirvana. I'm sure they could've done it well enough to. But since they didn't dare, their albums are lacking the "je sais exactement quoi" feel and therefore are only good but nowhere close to essential.

Review by Marty McFly
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Errors and Omissions Team
3 stars Well, it's edge of folk, prog and perhaps even pop. There are songs that makes me push rating higher, but there are also ones that I hate and found quite useless. Just Enough Like Home would be one of disputable ones. There are strings, melody, nice guitar work (I like it here, but it's not much to be heard), but it sounds like Bee Gee's "How Deep Is Your Love", or at least is similar. Next one, A Glimpse of Me is also strange, I found vocal here quite irritating, but other elements suggests prog sound. Probably, very strange sound, I really don't know what to think about it.

And about songs in general, there are better and worser, but I lack country element from their debut, which is good for prog (I suppose), but I'm afraid that they replaced it with pop and that's bad thing. Mostly shorter ones, but they are full of promising ideas. Late on Lady Day, if they just made it longer, spanning few minutes, it could be great prog hit (watch bass line here, strong one). And others are again, perfect, or little bit worse, as Jan with its "ye olde" style with one. Same with next track, The Stonehouse (reminds me King Crimson's second release with its "peaceful" ending song). Only disappointment is a bonus track. And after giving it fair chance (more listens), it's little bit better. Still average track, nothing perfect, but not completely failure.

4(-) guys and girls, there's just too much good things for me to give lesser. Even I agree that some of things shouldn't be here. Pleasant successor to their debut, but by my opinion, can't beat

Review by ClemofNazareth
3 stars Decameron opened their supporting tour of this album with a concert backed by an orchestra, which is kind of hard to imagine if one only listens to the first side of the record. Their sophomore effort is clearly aimed at a more commercial sound; thankfully by the time they got around to the backside of the album the group seem to have settled back into a more grooving and comfortable folk-rock sound.

Other than the bland commercial rock opener and an awkward cover of Stephen Stills' "Rock and Roll Woman", the record's a-side includes a very Strawbs-sounding "Just Enough like Home"; the funky "A Glimpse of Me" that features Geoff March with some decent saxophone; balladry in the form of "Late on Lady Day", also including saxophone along with somber piano that seems somewhat inspired by the more languid Roger Hodgson-penned Supertramp tracks; and a catchy "Breakdown of the Song" that tells the tale of a journeyman singer-songwriter whose financial gains seem to get mostly divvied up between everyone except the artist himself. In all a modest side of music, with only "Late on Lady Day" approaching the folkish charm of the band's first record.

Fortunately things get better on the back half, starting with another funky tune (thanks to Dik Cadbury's tasty bass). "The Cheetah" offers the first real glimpse of the band's multi- instrumental talents with flute, that tight bass, a bit of mandolin and plenty of percussion. A bit of a departure from the band's early sound but a welcome bit of musical exploration at least.

"Jan" sounds a bit like old London music hall, jaunty and piano-driven with well-formed vocal harmonies and a couple of playful tempo shifts as if meant to be delivered like a penny theater production.

The band tries for something a bit more profound with the somber "Stone House", scored to choral backing vocals, strings and once again more prominent bass than was heard anywhere on their first record. "Parade" centers itself around strings as well, and manages to be even more languidly delivered than "Stone House". Love the cello on this one.

The album closes with an almost nostalgic "The Empty Space (This Side of Innocence)", once again with gentle strings and soft backing vocals which build to a sort of slow climax before winding down in a wash of poignant string flourishes. Meant to be a bit sad, it's a gentle and somewhat depressing way to end the album but certainly well in character for folk rock music of the period. This one veers well into Barclay James Harvest territory, and was I suppose sincerely meant to be emotive and serious at the time.

I didn't get past the opening side of this record the first several times I sat down to play it, and even though the band acquits themselves for the most part on the final five songs I still have to say this is not up to the par of their debut album, nor of the one that would follow. I'm going to say this is a three out of five start effort anyway, just because the songs that do deliver are certainly good enough for that, and the ones that don't rise just enough above filler to merit more than a 'collectors-only' stamp. If you're not familiar with the band I wouldn't start with this one though. Pick up their debut and then work your way backwards from their final release to this one. Hopefully their better work will soften your overall opinion of this one.


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