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MCC (UK): Thursday’s Child Has Far To Go (Pilgrim/Grapevine GRV 126, with insert, 1979)
Elga Askew (joint lead vocals)
This album by an instrumental trio plus guest vocalists and musicians is odd, to say the least. The basic style is rather MOR Christian folk/rock but shot through with all kinds of progressive embellishments and twists, including a lengthy opening section. With lots of orchestration, the songs have a very theatrical feel, and the whole thing sounds like a rock opera or the soundtrack to a stage musical, although the liner notes make no mention of this. Along the way, the disc takes in a lot of territory, including an all-advised stab at pop/reggae on ‘Looking Up’ (complete with an excruciating mock-Jamaican vocal). Band member Rob Cox was ex-Sounds Of Salvation and the musicians and backing singers include other alumni from that outfit as well as Reflection. GRADE: C.

Kay McCarthy (Ireland): Stormy Lullaby (RCA ML 31697, with inner, 1983)
Kay McCarthy (lead vocals, harp)
Irish vocalist Kay McCarthy had previously been a member of Róisín Dubh, an Italian band playing Irish ballads and jigs. She remained in Italy for her solo album, which is in the same vein, but even more delicate and beautiful, with a haunting and rather mediaeval atmosphere. Unsurprisingly, this rare album is extremely sought-after by collectors. GRADE: B–.
See also Róisín Dubh

Christa McCartney (Isle of Man): Shee (No label, CD, 2018)
Folk/New Age
Christa McCartney (lead vocals, piano, harp)
Accompanied only by her own piano and harp, McCartney croons and whispers tales of Manx legends on a single suite, occasionally interspersed with the sound of running water. Beautiful, minimalist and haunting, her album represents a neoclassical sidestep from bands like Clannad, though it has a blissed-out quality that could make it appeal to fans of trippy ambient music. GRADE: C+.

Gayle McCormick (USA): Gayle McCormick (Dunhill DS-50109-B, 1971)
The former Smith vocalist’s first solo album is gentle and unassuming pop/soul. It’s very listenable and beautifully put together, benefiting from a clearly substantial production budget, but there’s nothing in the way of excitement here. GRADE: D.
Gayle McCormick (UK): Flesh And Blood (MCA DL 75364, 1972)
Gayle McCormick (lead vocals)
Very different from its predecessor, McCormick’s second solo set was recorded at Ike Turner’s Bolic Sound studio. Not surprisingly, several cuts bear a close resemblance to contemporary Ike & Tina Turner, whilst others range from white blues (‘Sweet Feeling’) to soulful pop uncannily recalling Sandie Shaw (‘Near You’). The best songs, however, are first-rate R&B, with highpoints including ‘Take Me Back’, ‘Knight In Shining Armour’, ‘Alabama’ and the title track. This is easily the finest of her three solo LPs. GRADE: C+.
Gayle McCormick (USA): One More Hour (Fantasy F-9467, 1974)
McCormick’s final disc is more in the vein of her first than Flesh And Blood, sad to say. A lot of money must have been thrown at this, as the arrangements and production are first-rate, but it’s all so utterly generic GRADE: D.
See also Smith

McCully Workshop Inc (South Africa): McCully Workshop Inc (Trutone STO 727, 1970)
Glenda Wassman (organ, backing vocals)
This is among the rarest and most sought-after South African LPs, but to my ears it’s good rather than great. Musically it’s melodic song-based psychedelia with a strong pop influence, notable similarities to the Beatles and a few moments of mildly avant-garde trippiness. Following the album’s release, McCully Workshop continued in a more progressive direction whilst Glenda Wassman went on to pop success with first Pendulum and then Clout. GRADE: C+.

See also Clout, Pendulum

Shelagh McDonald (UK): The Shelagh McDonald Album (B&C CAS 1010, 1970)
Shelagh McDonald (lead vocals, guitar, keyboards)
That she employs Fotheringay’s rhythm section is no accident – the talented Shelagh McDonald bears a remarkable resemblance to Sandy Denny in her voice, songwriting style and penchant for powerful though subdued folk/rock settings. ‘Let No Man Steal Your Thyme’ is acoustic, however, and several tracks have baroque orchestrations – if anything, they’re even darker and more melancholic than Denny at her most introspective. GRADE: B–.
Shelagh McDonald (UK): Stargazer (B&C CAS 1043, with inner, 1971)
Shelagh McDonald (lead vocals, guitar, keyboards)
This is widely regarded as the better of Shelagh McDonald’s two albums, but I vastly prefer her debut. This time around, the arrangements are more stripped-down and acoustic and the flavour more transatlantic, with her vocal mannerisms and writing style owing more to Joni Mitchell than Sandy Denny. Significantly, by far the best track is the only non-original – an excellent seven-minute prog-folk reading of the traditional ‘Dowie Dens Of Yarrow’. GRADE: C+.

Mae McKenna (UK): Mae McKenna (Transatlantic TRA 297, 1975)
Mae McKenna (lead vocals)
Quite different from her excellent electric folk album with Contraband, McKenna’s solo debut sounds like sophisticated singer/songwriter fare, mixing lush ballads with a couple of uptempo pop/rock numbers. However, none of it was self-penned – instead she tackles songs by Jimmy Webb, Stevie Wonder, Gerry Rafferty, Elton John and John Lennon amongst others. There’s no doubting the quality of the singing, arrangements, orchestration and production here, but like many solo albums consisting entirely of covers the whole thing is rather lacking in personality, though it could appeal to fans of Julie Covington or Judy Collins. GRADE: C+.

Mae McKenna (UK): Everything That Touches Me (Transatlantic TRA 321, 1976
Mae McKenna (lead vocals, piano)
Once again, McKenna covers the best: Richard Thompson (a nice reading of “For Shame Of Doing Wrong’), Anna McGarrigle, Wendy Waldman, Carole King and Rosemary Hardman. Again, it’s superbly recorded and executed, with a tasteful and elegant sound – but it’s all a touch generic. GRADE: C+.

See also Contraband

McLynns (Ireland): Old Market Street (CBS S 63836, UK, 1970)
Paula McLynn, Barbara McLynn

This Irish family band offer beautiful three-part harmonies, with well-judged and restrained backing comprising acoustic guitar plus occasional string bass and piano. Unlike many major label folk albums of the era, they manage to avoid both Seekers-style pop edges and the staid, formal coffeehouse style, creating a delightfully relaxed and unpretentious LP. GRADE: C+.

McPhee (Australia): McPhee (Violets Holiday SVHL-934391, 1971)
Faye Lewis (principal vocals, percussion)
On the opening ‘The Wrong Time’ and ‘Indian Rope Man’ they betray a strong Julie Driscoll influence and sound very much like the German band Frumpy. Elsewhere the resemblance is less pronounced, although they’re definitely operating in the same territory, offering powerful early progressive rock with a bluesy edge and a jamming feel. The album is bolstered by a remarkably good recording for its era but rather undermined by their reliance on cover versions: only two cuts out of seven are self-penned. The aforementioned numbers work well and their version of ‘Southern Man’ is outstanding, but ‘Superstar’ isn’t obviously suited to their style and ‘I Am The Walrus’ is simply a baffling choice. (That said, Affinity, another band they occasionally recall, also had a stab at it, so it clearly had some appeal for this kind of outfit.) These quibbles aside, this is a strong and enjoyable early prog album. GRADE: B–.

Gillian McPherson (UK): Poets And Painters And Performers Of Blues (RCA SF 8220, 1971)
Gillian McPherson (lead vocals, guitar)Gillian McPherson was one of a number of female singer/songwriters – alongside Claire Hamill, Catherine Howe, Shelagh McDonald and others – to emerge at the start of the seventies with the promise of becoming the British Joni Mitchell or Carole King. Her album, produced by Danny Thompson and recorded with Dave Cousins, Roy Babbington, Tommy Eyre, Johnny Almond and others, was obviously the work of considerable love and care. The arrangements – from light jazz-influenced shuffles to acoustic numbers with strings arranged by Robert Kirby – are excellent and her material is unfailingly pleasant. But an album like this lives and dies on its songs, and for the most part she simply sounds passionless and bland. GRADE: C+.

Jacqui McShee, Gerry Conway & Spencer Cozens (UK): About Thyme (GJS GJSCD 012, CD, 1995)
Jacqui McShee (principal vocals)
Very different from Pentangle, this project offers more modern sounds, with strong world music elements and a relaxed, slightly mystical character. It’s elegant and accomplished stuff, but the lack of rock vitality is notable, and I could especially have done without the languid supperclub balladeering of ‘Indiscretion’. GRADE: C+.
Jacqui McShee’s Pentangle (UK): Passe Avant (Park PRKCD46, CD, 1999)
Jacqui McShee (lead vocals, handclaps)
How McShee got permission to brand this as a Pentangle album, I have no idea; this has nothing to do with her previous band and is basically the second McShee, Conway & Cozens LP (using most of the same guest musicians). Like About Thyme this is quite creative, but it’s far too polished and lugubrious for my tastes; once again they throw in a jazz standard (this time ‘We’ll Be Together Again’) that I find excruciating. GRADE: C+.
Jacqui McShee’s Pentangle (UK): At The Little Theatre (Park PRKCD53, CD, 2000)
Jacqui McShee (lead vocals)
This live album mixes Jacqui McShee’s Pentangle and Pentangle (or ‘the old band’ as the sleeve notes call them) material, with the latter confirming my impression that McShee’s new cohorts are not really in the same league as her former bandmates. Nonetheless this is a good set: far livelier and more rock-influenced than the preceding studio albums, with the closing ‘We’ll Be Together Again’ being the only real misstep. GRADE: B–.
Jacqui McShee & Ulrich Maske (UK/Germany): The Frog And The Mouse (Jumbo 440 053-2, CD, Germany, 2003)
Jacqui McShee (lead vocals)
The first of two collaborations between McShee and a German arranger and producer (who is not credited with playing on the album), this offers charming adaptations of a variety of traditional children’s songs. Unlike Tim Hart’s ventures into similar territory, McShee & Maske offer gentle acoustic interpretations based around guitar and flute. GRADE: C+.
Jacqui McShee & Ulrich Maske (UK/Germany): The Cat And The Fiddle (Jumbo 440 054-2, CD, Germany, 2003)
Jacqui McShee (lead vocals)
Volume two is slightly more varied but also slightly less enjoyable than its predecessor; whilst it’s pleasant enough, one gets the impression that McShee and Maske were struggling to find really good songs. GRADE: C+.
Jacqui McShee’s Pentangle (UK): Feoffees’ Lands (GJS GJSCD 022, CD, 2005)
Jacqui McShee (principal vocals)
Once again masterminded by McShee, Conway and Cozens, Feoffees’ Lands offers their familiar blend of jazz, folk (now the secondary influence on many of the cuts) and light rock. It’s nimbly played, accomplished stuff, with well-written original songs, but it’s often too polite and polished for my tastes, and once again there’s a by-the-book rendition of a jazz standard (‘You’ve Changed’). I also question the wisdom of giving Spencer Cozens a lead vocal (‘Now’s The Time’), as he’s no great shakes in the singing department. GRADE: C+.
John Renbourn & Jacqui McShee (UK): In Concert (Vestapol 13097, DVD, USA, 2006)
Jacqui McShee (principal vocals)
Recorded several years after the identically titled DVD below, but released shortly before it, this reunites McShee with her former Pentangle colleague John Renbourn. With Renbourn’s guitar the only instrument (though a second guitarist occasionally joins in) it’s a fairly sedate performance though also a pretty virtuosic one. GRADE: C+.
Jacqui McShee’s Pentangle (UK): In Concert (Park PRKDVD94, DVD, 2007, recorded 2000)
Jacqui McShee (lead vocals)
This is the video version of the At The Little Theatre album, with the same tracklisting plus the addition of an interview with McShee and Gerry Conway. They’re a fairly static band with limited stage presence, as one might expect, but the musicianship is superb. GRADE: C+.
Jacqui McShee’s Pentangle (UK): Live In Concert 1997-2011 (GJS GJSCD, with digipak, 2011, recorded 1997-2011)
Jacqui McShee (principal vocals)
As its title suggests, this set features previously unreleased live recordings from between 1997 and 2011, although no specific details are given for individual songs. Unlike the earlier At The Little Theatre, all the material is recent, with no Pentangle numbers being performed. As with the earlier live set, this confirms that the band are more engaging on stage than in the studio, though as usual ‘Now’s The Time’ and ‘We’ll Be Together Again’ are very definitely the low points. GRADE: B–.
See also Pentangle, John Renbourn Group

Me & My Kites (Sweden): Like A Dream Back Then (ÅÄÖ Fonogram ÅÄÖ-003-lp, with inner, 2013)
Lisa Isaksson (occasional vocals, piano, flute, harp, saw), Billie Lindahl (occasional vocals), Jennie Ståbis (occasional vocals), Anna Myrsten (occasional vocals, vibraphone), Karin Engqvist (keyboards), Maria Arnqvist (saxophone), Johanna Hessel Slim (violin), Oona Libens (cello)
As the band name makes clear, the principal inspiration here was Fuchsia, and there’s a definite resemblance, with the band offering some lovely, lush folk/rock with psychedelic and progressive edges. It’s yet another excellent offshoot from the Vårt Solsystem collective, with this one showcasing the writing talents of David Svedmyr. GRADE: B–.

Me & My Kites (Sweden): Is It Real Or Is It Made? (Porcelain Porcelain-CD002, CDR, with minisleeve, 2015)
Lisa Isaksson (joint lead vocals, cello, flute, harp, saw), Karin Engvist (joint lead vocals, keyboards)
Like their debut, this effectively bridges singer/songwriter, folk/rock and pastoral psychedelic sensibilities, creating airy atmospheres redolent of the early seventies. Some people may find it too retro or a touch too whimsical, but to these ears this is beautiful, beatific stuff. GRADE: B–.
Me & My Kites (Sweden): Natt O Dag (Sound Effect SERC045, CD, with digipak, Greece, 2018)
Lisa Isaksson, Karin Engvist, Jennie Ståbis, Anna Myrsten, Agnes Nykäsenoja, Hanna Pauser Lindgren
This probably isn’t inferior to their earlier work, but it’s certainly a bit straighter. Indeed, it doesn’t really pick up until the end, with two superb instrumentals: the minute-long ‘All Colours, Come Back!’, in which Mellotron lines entwine to create the album’s trippiest moment, and the superb jam ‘Man Kan ta Allt Ur Jorden Och Använda Det, Men Det Kommer Inte Tillbaka’. Whilst the rest is pleasant, these two cuts single-handedly lift the album from a strong C+ to a just-about-B–. GRADE: B–.

Me & My Kites (Sweden): A Safe Trail (Download, 2023)

Lisa Isaksson (joint lead vocals, flute. harp), Agnes Nykäsenoja (joint lead vocals, violin), Emma Nordenstam (joint lead vocals, cello), Hana Passer Lindgren (joint lead vocals), Karin Engqvist (synthesiser)
Whilst this occasionally gets a little too whimsical for its own good – step forward, ‘With The Sun In Your Eyes’ – for the most part it’s delightful stuff: serene, beatific psychedelic folk carried aloft on relaxed, mildly jazzy rhythms and soaring flute (and occasional Mellotron). Peppered with dainty but highly effective instrumental vignettes, the songs draw on the Beatles and all kinds of other influences to create a sound that’s simultaneously retro and modern and always very, very ethereal. GRADE: B–.

Laura Meade (USA): Laura Meade (Doone DR6-669563, CD, 2007)
Laura Meade (lead vocals, piano)
The IZZ singer’s solo album (or, more accurately short EP, with five songs totalling around 15 minutes) is very different from her parent band, although they provide the musical backing. This is classic singer/songwriter music, ranging from simple ballads with piano backing to uptempo pop/rock cuts: good, well done and very listenable, but similar to countless other releases. GRADE: C+.

Laura Meade (USA): Remedium (Doone DR15-669563, CD, with digipak and booklet, 2018)
Laura Meade (lead vocals, piano, chimes)
Meade’s second solo release is an interesting blend of singer/songwriter and progressive influences, with two extended numbers adding some interesting musical diversions. For the most part, she concentrates on atmosphere and ambience, though a few rock breaks, delivered by her colleagues in IZZ, add some welcome energy and variety. GRADE: C+.

Laura Meade (USA): The Most Dangerous Woman In America (Doone DR18-669563, CD, with digipak and booklet, 2021)
Laura Meade (lead vocals, keyboards)
Once again backed by IZZ, Meade offers a procession of songs – dominated by piano and trip-hop-influenced programmed percussion – that are glossy, melodic, atmospheric and accomplished. Unfortunately, they don’t sound distinctive or memorable or even particularly heartfelt. GRADE: C+.

See also IZZ

Meadow (USA): The Friend Ship (Paramount PAS 6066, 1973)
Laura Branigan (joint lead vocals)
This obscurity is only remembered for having featured a very young Laura Branigan. That’s a pity, as there’s none of the pop/rock bombast of her later hits here: it’s excellent progressive folk with a slight psychedelic edge (particularly on the standout cut ‘Lawless Lady’). While not enormously rare, it could become a price riser once more collectors are familiar with it. GRADE: C+.

Meadowsilver (UK): Meadowsilver (MillerSounds milledCD013, black CDR, with inserts, stickers, badges and tin, 2019)
Gayle Brogan
A collaboration between Gayle Brogan (Electroscope, Pefkin, United Bible Studies), Stephen Stannard (Rowan Amber Mill) and Grey Malkin (Hare & The Moon) was clearly going to be something special, and this doesn’t disappoint. Rich, melodic and trippy, the music may arguably be undercut by the murky sound quality and primitive programmed drums, but equally the soupy mix could be said to add psychedelic ambience. Oddly, four of the eight songs (in slightly different edits) were released just weeks before as the EP Singles (MillerSounds milledCD012, black CDR, with inserts, stickers and badges); aside from making a bit of extra cash by selling punters the same material twice, this seems an odd modus operandi, though at least both sets are beautifully packaged. GRADE: B–.

Meadowsilver (UK): II (MIllerSounds milledCD021, CDR, with poster, photographs, stickers, badges and tin, 2022)
Gayle Brogan (lead vocals, keyboards, violin, effects)
Like their debut, the second Meadowsilver album isn’t what you’d call an audiophile experience and the mix frequently crosses the line between ‘impressionistic’ and ‘muddy’. But perhaps that’s the point of this hazy, trippy music, which aims to do for folk what shoegaze did for rock – and mostly does it very successfully. GRADE: B–.
See also Electroscope, Pefkin, United Bible Studies

Meanstreak (USA): Roadkill (Mercenary MER 2106, with inner, 1988)
Bettina France (lead vocals), Marlene Apuzzo (guitar), Rena Sands (guitar), Lisa Martens Pace (bass), Diane Keyser (drums, percussion)
This obscure all-female band offer rather good stripped-down metal with a welcome absence of eighties trimmings (no symphonic keyboards or singalong choruses and only a little screaming in the vocals). With a definite Black Sabbath influence in the guitar work and some fast tempos, it’s a solid set, if not a particularly varied or substantial one. GRADE: C+.

Mechanical Butterfly (Italy): The Irresistible Gravity (Ma.Ra.Cash 8019991878972/MB01, CD, 2015)
Francesca Pulvirenti (lead vocals), Laura Basile (keyboards)
This heavy progressive album has plenty of variety, taking it far beyond simplistic neoprog, a few minor industrial and techno edges, and (for once) an Italian vocalist with a perfect command of English. But whilst it’s consistently good, showing considerable promise for the future, it lacks the really memorable material that would have made it great. GRADE: C+.

MediaBanda (Chile): Entra La Inseguridad Y El Ego (No label, CD, with digipak and booklet, 2003)
Regina Crisosto (joint lead vocals, keyboards), Arlette Jequier (joint lead vocals)
MediaBanda is essentially the same outfit as the stellar Fulano, with the two groups branching off from the same origin and sharing a significant number of musicians. Finding differences between them is difficult: this has a few anthemic, singalong numbers, but it’s by no stretch of the imagination commercial: wild rock jamming, scat singing, classical solo piano, flamenco and reggae rhythms, passages that sound like a more intense Pink Floyd and plenty of crazy shifts of mood and tempo add up to a truly stunning piece of experimental prog. GRADE: B.​

MediaBanda (Chile): Dinero Y Terminación Nerviosa (No label, double CD, with digipak and booklet, 2007)
Arlette Jequier (joint lead vocals, clarinet), Regina Crisosto (joint lead vocals, keyboards)
Essentially the yang to their debut’s yin, this 90-minute magnum opus swaps its predecessor’s wildness for languid, mildly funky grooves that are closer to modern jazz than progressive rock. It’s still eclectic, adventurous stuff, with lots of scatting and glossolalia over elongated passages of elegant fretless bass, but I do find myself missing the crazy abandon and constant surprises of their first. GRADE: B–.
MediaBanda (Chile): Siendo Perro (No label, CD, with digipak and booklet, 2010)
Regina Crisosto (joint lead vocals)
Livelier, funkier and more tightly edited, their third again often resembles modern jazz more than prog, sometimes hints towards the seventies Canterbury sound of Cos, and includes a couple of heavier cuts that should delight anyone enjoying RIO (or simply classic prog like King Crimson). GRADE: B–.
MediaBanda (Chile): Bombas En El Aire (Radical Beat, CD, with gatefold minisleeve, 2017)
Valentina Mardones (principal vocals)
By any standard, this is a fine album of modern jazz: elegant, virtuosic, varied and rocking in all the right places. However, the sheer audacity of their earlier work (and their alter ego as Fulano) is all but gone, and the few experiments here (some borderline rapping, a little scratching, occasional hints of modern RnB) sound more like token attempts to remain relevant than anything else. GRADE: B–.

MediaBanda (Chile): Maquinarias (Radical Beat, CD, with digipak, 2021)
Florencia Novoa (principal vocals)
Continuing a trend, this is decidedly straighter than their earlier work, often coming as close to conventional jazz-fusion as progressive jazz/rock. Nonetheless, it’s absolutely superb jazz-fusion – brilliantly structured, played and recorded, so it’s well worth a listen. GRADE: B–.

See also Fulano

Medley Folk Band (West Germany): The Medley Folk Band (Ringstrasse RRP 338 665, 1986)
Bernadette Ecker (joint lead vocals)
Why German musicians would want to play English and Irish folk music (complete with faux-Irish accents on some cuts), I have no idea. Nonetheless, this is a nice album of traditional folk/rock, with wide-ranging acoustic instrumentation. GRADE: C+.

Medusa (USA): Medusa (Columbia JC 35357, 1979)
Cheryl Alexander (joint lead vocals)
The promotional insert with my copy compares them to Rufus, Sly Stone, Parliament, Funkadelic, Foghat, Led Zeppelin and Lynyrd Skynyrd. I’d also add in Mother’s Finest and Ike & Tina Turner, as this is a slick synthesis of funk, soul and hard rock, all with a glossy AOR sheen. They don’t have the songs, let alone the original vision, to rival their influences, and didn’t get to cut a second album. In any case, the heaviest songs here are very definitely the best. GRADE: C+.

Meet Jesus Music (UK): Meet Jesus Music (ECHO ECH 002, 1971?)
Lou Hayles (joint lead vocals, recorder), Angie Routledge (joint lead vocals)
The disc opens strongly with ‘Jehovah Shalom’, an excellent progressive piece with a middle section closely resembling Renaissance on their first album. Thereafter, the LP fails to recapture the same heights, with several cuts having a jazzy MOR slant with rather hymnal vocals. However, this is considerably more interesting than most Christian folk/rock albums, with the ten-minute ‘Where Jesus Is’ featuring a drum solo and the fine closer ‘He Will Return Again’ sporting a lively rock break. GRADE: C+.
Meet Jesus Music (UK): Gold (Dovetail DOVE 21, with insert, 1975)
Lou Hayles (joint lead vocals, keyboards), Angie Routledge (joint lead vocals)
Recorded with essentially the same line-up, this has a slightly different modus operandi, with exclusively short tracks and with the songwriting credits spread among the members (including four well-crafted but rather unexciting singer/songwriter numbers from Lou Hayles, presaging her solo work). Along the way, the album manages forays into Latin, hard rock, psychedelic and even reggae territory, generally with fairly successful results. GRADE: C.
See also Lou Hayles

Melinda (USA): Melinda (JAC Recording, one-sided acetate, 1973?)
I know nothing about the provenance of this single-sided acetate, which features four songs: ‘To Be Alone With You’, ‘The Letter’, ‘Groovy Thing’ and ‘Just Like A Woman’. The music is slightly soulful rock with professional studio backing and occasional stinging fuzz guitar (on ‘The Letter’). Melind herself has an excellent voice, and I can only presume that this was intended for release on a major label but shelved for some reason. As for the date, this is the kind of thing that could have been cut any time from the late sixties to the early eighties, so the above is merely my best guess. GRADE: C+.

Mellow Candle (Ireland/UK): Swaddling Songs (Deram SDL 7, UK, 1972)
Alison O’ Donnell (joint lead vocals), Clodagh Simonds (joint lead vocals, keyboards)
This album is rightly regarded as a progressive folk masterpiece, with originals selling for well into four figures. Highpoints include the beautiful, mediaeval-esque opener ‘Heaven Heath’, the floating, spacy ‘Sheep Season’, with its extended piano and Mellotron coda, the haunting ballads ‘Silver Song’ and ‘Reverend Sisters’ and the brilliant harder rock track ‘Lonely Man’. There are also a couple of slightly weaker Celtic rock songs, but even these work well enough; one of them, ‘Dan The Wing’, was released as a single backed by ‘Silver Song’. GRADE: A–.
Mellow Candle (Ireland): The Virgin Prophet (Kissing Spell/Erewhon KSCD 9520-F, CD, 1995, recorded 1969-1970)
Alison O’ Donnell, Clodagh Simonds
This interesting collection of demos features virtually the entire Swaddling Songs album in rudimentary form, plus five unreleased numbers. ‘Pretty Polly’ is traditional, whilst I assume the other four to be self-penned (as there are no proper credits); the best of them is ‘Crabtree’, which has a late sixties psychedelic pop feel unlike their other work. Whilst emphasising the extent of the band’s talent, The Virgin Prophet also indicates how much Swaddling Songs benefited from David Hitchcock’s subtle but clever production touches. GRADE: B.
See also Éishtlinn, Flibbertigibbet, Alison O’ Donnell, Fovea Hex, Mike Oldfield, Owl Service, Clodagh Simonds

Melody (France/USA/Belgium/Cambodia): Come Fly With Me (Pôle 0011, France, 1975)
Diana Chase (joint lead vocals, percussion)
With its basement production, raw edges and dramatic soul-tinged vocals, this progressive rock album is quite unusual to say the least. Whilst a number of individual songs are credited, this basically comprises two side-long suites of music, including some passages of considerable intensity. It may be an urban myth, but a persistent rumour suggests that this was the band’s original demo tape, and that rather than paying for the material to be professionally re-recorded Pôle simply issued the demo as the LP. A second pressing on Tapioca manages to substitute Mahogany Brain’s music on one of the sides. GRADE: B.
Melody (France/USA): Yesterlife (Vogue LDA 20278, France, 1977)
Diana Chase (joint lead vocals)
Although this reworks several segments from Come Fly With Me, the feel of the music is totally different. Bereft of the basement charm of its predecessor, this is pleasant and accomplished but not really exceptional soft progressive with some lovely keyboard textures. GRADE: C+.

David & Tina Meltzer (USA): Poet Song (Vanguard VSD 6519, 1969)
Tina Meltzer
The former Serpent Power leaders’ solo effort is a rather different kettle of fish: gentler, folkier, and less psychedelic. Most of the songs (and inevitably, less so the spoken poems) are highly effective. The orchestrated ‘It Is For You’ is especially beautiful, demonstrating Tina’s haunting vocals to superb effect. However, despite occasional similarities (notably on the excellent ‘Pure White Place’, featuring some heavy acid guitar), those expecting a second Serpent Power may be in for a shock. GRADE: C+.
Tina & David Meltzer (USA): Green Morning (RD 5, Switzerland, 1999, recorded 1969)
Tine Meltzer (joint lead vocals)
The countrified, gospellish opener ‘Heavenly City’ isn’t especially promising, but the rest is charming period folk/rock with full band arrangements and some strings. Although it’s an enjoyable and accomplished LP, Capitol declined to release the disc at the eleventh hour and it did not see the light of day for another thirty years. GRADE: C+.
Tina Meltzer (USA): Faces (Folkways FG 7470, with booklet, 1984)
Tina Meltzer (lead vocals, guitar, banjo)
The subtitle ‘New Songs For Kids’ says it all: this is Meltzer performing her own compositions for children, accompanied only by acoustic guitar or banjo. There’s obviously a limit to how exciting something like this can be, and none of the songs here is really anything above average. In fact, the most notable feature is that Folkways was still using its traditional style of cover (a wraparound paste-on over textured black board) as late as 1984. GRADE: C–.
See also Serpent Power

Memoria Zero (Italy): Free Sdraio (Lizard CD 0023, CD, with digipak, 2001)
Federica Santoro (principal vocals)
This interesting RIO album is probably best compared to B-Shops For The Poor or the Art Bears, although it’s closer to free jazz and not as creative as the latter (whilst being equally weird). The short track format (26 in all, ranging from 22 seconds to five-and-a-half minutes) ensures a high level of variety but also creates a rather disjointed set, which would have been lifted considerably by a few long jams where the band could really stretch out. Nonetheless, the disc is consistently good and frequently excellent. GRADE: B–.

Men Of No Property (UK): England’s Vietnam (Resistance RES 1001, 1975)
Irene Clarke, Sandra Kelly
Apparently issued as a fundraiser for the IRA, this consists of (all-original) Irish rebel songs with raw acoustic folk/rock settings, harsh male vocals and savage pro-Republican lyrics. The end result is often akin to the Pogues unplugged, ten years before the fact. The best couple of tracks, however, have more of an acid-folk feel, with a droning musical backing and startling, ultra-high pitched female singing. The band released at least three other albums, but this is by far their best and rarest. GRADE: C+.

Menayeri (Puerto Rico): Futura Historia (Aerisnigma EREH401, CD, 2004)
Sonia Ivalisse (lead vocals)
Whilst this is firmly rooted in neoprogressive, it doesn’t have the understated, hard-riffing style common to many Latin American bands. On the contrary, it offers plenty in the way of tempo changes and unexpected instrumental fugues, with a light and slightly jazzy mood. That said, its spindly guitars and trebly synthesisers – not to mention Sonia Ivalisse’s piercing voice, which sometimes sounds slightly sharp – do not deliver a particularly satisfying listening experience. GRADE: C.

Mentat Routage (France): Mentat Routage (Muséa Parallèle MP 3099, CD, 2010)
Sylvie Daguet (percussion, effects)
At times recalling Magma, Henry Cow, Univers Zéro and a number of others, this instrumental album blends elements of modern jazz, rock and experimental music. Like many releases of its type, it has some impressive and incendiary musicianship; also like many releases of its type, it’s a bit fragmented and somewhat lacking in truly unforgettable riffs and tunes. GRADE: C+.

Menú Del Día (Chile): Almas Del Osorno (Mylodon MyloCD047, CD, 2008)
Consuelo Schuster (lead vocals)
This jazz-fusion album was the vehicle of guitarist and composer Vladimir Groppas, who performs his compositions along with a female singer and a rhythm section. It’s all breezy and virtuosic enough, with some ethnic elements thrown in, but like a lot of such music is rather lacking in energy and passion. GRADE: C+.

Sheila Merchant Barish (USA): Planetary Person (Planetary Productions PP 72109, with inner, 1984)
Singer/Songwriter/MOR/‘Incredibly Strange Music’
Sheila Merchant Barish (lead vocals, piano)
The space-themed front cover and inscription ‘A musical vision of oneness – dedicated to all: Musica Planetaria’ make clear that this isn’t just any album of orchestrated ballads. For the most part, Merchant Barish sounds like a slightly spaced-out Barbra Streisand, though she also takes in diversions into pop/funk (‘Rhythm In My Soul’) and spacy hard rock (‘Born To Sing’) along the way. Beautifully arranged and very professionally sung, this isn’t what you’d call a musical masterpiece, but it is wigged-out enough to be an interesting score for ‘real people’ aficionados. GRADE: C.

Mercy & The Wild Sea (UK): Mercy And The Wild Sea (Hardy Laurels WSP-MATWS-01-VIN, 2016)
Corinne Lucy (principal vocals)
This attractively packaged private pressing, featuring both a gatefold sleeve and a full-size booklet, was the soundtrack to a science fiction film presented at the Edinburgh Fringe, with copies being given away to audience members. Musically, it’s fairly straight stuff, with narration linking songs and instrumentals that vary from the hard rocking to the folky, suggesting a definite influence from Mostly Autumn as well as bands like Heart. GRADE: C+.

Merlin (West Germany): Merlin (No label BL 30840509, 1984)
Christiane Haase (principal vocals, flute)
Most of the fairly short cuts on this obscure LP are led by piano and have sedate tempos; coupled with Christiane Haase’s clear singing, this gives a rather hymn-like feel to much of the material, although I’m not aware that the band had any Christian leanings. When they up the rock quotient slightly and she extends her range, this could at a push be compared to Renaissance or to a lesser extent Carol Of Harvest, although even the better songs are undermined by the thin sound and lack of variety. That said, the two uptempo cuts sung by male band members are the worst things on offer: one a piano-based rock ’n’ roller and the other dumb boogie in a Suzi Quatro vein. GRADE: C.
Merlin (West Germany): Vanish To The Moon (WMMS 005, CD, 1989)
Christiane Haase (joint lead vocals, flute)
Their second and final album suffers from the same thin sound as their first, but the melodies are better and the mood a little livelier. The opening ‘Unavailing’ has a gorgeous tune and flute line, and several other songs are rather winsome, but overall this is somewhat simplistic and lightweight stuff. Not all the musical diversions work well, either – the electropop and slight jazz tinges on ‘Just Another Lie’, for example, do not suit the band’s style at all. GRADE: C+.

Gary Merritt & Maureen Monroe (USA): Wedding Songs (Damon, acetate, 1968?)
MOR/Lounge/‘Incredibly Strange Music’
This bizarre and sometimes downright creepy album features music supposedly composed for a wedding, though the solo electric organ sounds more funereal, creating something of a David Lynch/horror film vibe. The oddness quotient is heightened by some dialogue in the background (not the wedding itself – it sounds more like two women arguing) as well as a dog howling along with the music. Over on side two, there are several actual songs with a light classical feel, performed by Gary Merritt, who had earlier issued a 78 rpm acetate (‘Jesus Alone’/‘He Is The Healer Of Broken Hearts’) on the same label. These two songs feature solo piano rather than organ and a female vocalist with a formal, classical style; whilst odd enough in their own right, they’re nowhere near as interesting as the later LP. GRADE: C+.

Merruwyn (UK): At The Grosvenor (Fanfare 2066, 1975?)
Ann Galvin (joint lead vocals, guitar, banjo), Theresa Honeyands (joint lead vocals, guitar, woodwind)
This female duo’s album mainly consists of cover versions of familiar folk club material like ‘Streets Of London’ and ‘Scarborough Fair’, and with its sweet, pure vocal harmonies and simple acoustic guitar backing is frequently reminiscent of Pattern and Spinning Jenny. However, it also includes three original compositions which are the best things on the disc: the eerie, haunting ‘When The Lightning Ends’ in particular is superb, with its Eastern tunings and acid-folk edge. In 1976 the band contributed several tracks to one of many multi-artist compilations on the Eron label, ‘Travelling Folk’. Their cuts are very similar to those on At The Grosvenor, and the one original is again the standout, so it’s a pity they didn’t compose more. GRADE: C+.
See also Various ‘Travelling Folk’

Merryweather & Carey (USA): Vacuum Cleaner (RCA SP 4485, 1971)
Lynn Carey (principal vocals, percussion)
This particular vacuum cleaner doesn’t suck, but nor does it offer anything that can’t be found on Carey and Merryweather’s other albums, as CK Strong, Ivar Avenue Reunion and Mama Lion. As usual, it’s solid, punchy blues/rock with a high energy level but not a commensurate standard of songwriting. The best number by far is ‘Captain Terrific’, which has a great riff and hookline. GRADE: C.
See also CK Strong, Ivar Avenue Reunion, Mama Lion

Mersmak (Sweden): Liten Groda I Stor Damm (Frog Music LEFK 02, 1978)
Kerstin Hedberg (occasional vocals), Kristina Holmgren (occasional vocals, cello)
I expected this to be folk, but from the opening track – a lively folk/rock instrumental with the band faking orgasms – it was obvious that it was a typical Swedish polit-rock LP. The best tracks have a folk influence and a mournful mood, but – typically for the genre – the band are also fond of musical parodies, particularly of fifties rock and roll. The end result is an atmospheric if inconsistent LP, but one is left with the nagging feeling that the music took second place to the concept in the band’s attentions. GRADE: C+.

Méséglise (Italy): Stranamente Sereno (Lizard CD 0123, CD, with digipak and booklet, 2016)
Maya Seagull (occasional vocals, bass), Maria Robaey (mandolin, violin)
Gentle, relaxed and very, very Italian, this is a lovely collection of folky songs with some effective progressive elements and a couple of nice classical-tinged instrumentals to finish. It’s certainly not the most substantial or profound album, but it’s atmospheric, charming and genuinely delightful from start to finish. GRADE: C+.

Messengers (West Germany): First Message (Red Point 89 211 OT, 1975)
Antonia Maass (principal vocals)
Mixing songs and instrumentals, this rather commercial album reflects current trends in German music (‘Man With The Sea-Blue Eyes’ in particular is a dead ringer for early Donna Summer) whilst sounding rather American (with particular shades of later Cold Blood). The disc is patchy, and for the most part pleasant rather than compelling, but anyone liking Bad Heads And Bad Cats-era Embryo or offshoot outfit Real Ax Band should thoroughly enjoy this. GRADE: C+.
Messengers (West Germany): Children Of Tomorrow (Warner Brothers WB 56 416, with insert, 1977)
Antonia Maass (principal vocals)
Altogether more accomplished than their debut, this is a solid example of progressive jazz/rock with some interesting lyrics, even straying slightly into Rock In Opposition territory on the lengthy ‘Colony Suite’. Whilst there’s nothing really killer here, only the bland closing cut harks back to the slicker style of their first, and could easily have been removed from a very lengthy album. GRADE: C+.
See also Antonia Maass

Messengers Of The Cross (UK): The Messengers Of The Cross (Emblem JDR 21, 1969)
Von Garrad (lead vocals)
Comprising mainly original material, this offers a cross-section of late sixties rock styles, from basement acoustic folk to West Coast-influenced folk/rock, white blues, light psychedelic pop and even progressive rock on the closing cover of ‘Exodus’. The results are schizophrenic and rarely brilliant, but the album has a certain naïve charm, which – coupled with its rarity – has made it a significant collectors’ item. As a footnote, the album has a later catalogue number than the Cobblers LP on the same label, yet is dated the year before. GRADE: C+.

Nito Mestre & Los Desconocidos De Siempre (Argentina): Nito Mestre Y Los Desconocidos De Siempre (Microfón SUP-776, 1977)
María Rosa Yorio (joint lead vocals)
This offshoot of Porsuigieco offer lovely mellow soft prog on their debut album. With folky and occasionally rural edges, it hints (obviously unintentionally) towards Québecois and Welsh seventies prog styles, with a light, breezy feel but also some assertive lead guitar. The second half of side one, when the band stretch out, is particularly good, but this is an accomplished set all through. GRADE: B–.
Nito Mestre & Los Desconocidos De Siempre (Argentina): Nito Mestre Y Los Desconocidos De Siempre (Sazam 50 14.405, with inner, 1978)
María Rosa Yorio (joint lead vocals)
Attractively packaged in a die-cut sleeve with matching inner, their second album (also self-titled) continues in the same breezy feel as their first, with a jazzier edge in parts. Once again it’s a good album, with some decent hooks and excellent harmony vocals, though their level of ambition is somewhat reduced and with six songs and two instrumentals totalling 28½ minutes it doesn’t seem like they have a lot to say. GRADE: C+.
Nito Mestre & Los Desconocidos De Siempre (Argentina): Saltaba Sobre Las Nubes (Sazam 50 14.492.2, 1979)
María Rosa Yorio (joint lead vocals)
Their third and final album sees a further simplification of their style, making their pop roots more clear. In fact, most of this consists of delicate ballads and light riff-driven rock, but there’s still some complexity and some supple musicianship beneath the surface, making for an enjoyable set. GRADE: C+.
See also Porsuigieco, María Rosa Yorio

Metamorfica (Argentina): Tiempo De Escupir Y Vomitar (Lepork LPR003, CD, USA, 2006)
Alejandra Mariona (joint lead vocals, guitar), Mariela Talento (joint lead vocals, guitar)
Fronted by two female singers and guitarists, this Argentine band offers lively garage rock, with some excellent interplay between electric and acoustic guitars. Sometimes folky and sometimes trippy, they’re not afraid to experiment mildly, as the surprise cover of the Smiths’ ‘There Is A Light That Never Goes Out’ proves, adding up to a promising and understated debut. GRADE: C+.
Metamorfica (Argentina): Sinapteina (Oui Oui Oui-33, CD, with digipak and inserts, 2012)
Alejandra Mariona (joint lead vocals, guitar), Mariela Talento (joint lead vocals, guitar)

It’s all change here: all the guitars are electric and Metamorfica have gone hard rock (occasionally hinting towards a seventies glam sound) with some minor progressive edges and a few typical Latin American touches. The packaging is less conventional: inside the digipak, each song has its own insert with a picture on the front and the lyrics on the reverse, creating a lovely package. GRADE: C+.
Metamorfica (Argentina): Cisma (Oui Oui Oui-45, CD, with digipak and inserts, 2012)
Alejandra Mariona (joint lead vocals, guitar), Mariela Talento (joint lead vocals, guitar)
With their final album, Metamorfica make the jump from ‘good’ to ‘great’. This is first-rate progressive hard rock: powerful, dynamic and inventive, filled with pummelling riffs and unexpected twists and turns. In fact, the only disappointing thing about this is the fact that they never recorded again. GRADE: B–.

Metamorphosis (Switzerland): Metamorphosis (Studio 108, CD, with minisleeve, 2011)
Gabrielle Maeder (keyboards)
This short EP (comprising three tracks between five and six minutes apiece) was the Swiss band’s fifth release, but their first to feature keyboardist Gabrielle Maeder. The music is powerful, majestic and beautifully recorded, though the lack of complexity and adventure places it firmly in the neoprogressive camp. GRADE: C+.
Metamorphosis (Switzerland): The Turning Point (Black Rabbit Production, CD, 2016)
Gabrielle Maeder (keyboards)
This full-length album is rather more ambitious, with a more symphonic feel and songs of up to nine minutes, some of which are interlinked. It’s still not the most ambitious album in the world, but it create some solid mid-paced rock grooves with a mild mid-seventies Pink Floyd spaciness. GRADE: C+.

Methodos (UK): Kum Ba Yah (Jomol 6898 L, 1969?)
Only a handful of copies are known of this sleeveless folk private pressing, recorded in mono. Despite the band name, there is no religious content here; instead this is Northern folk club stuff in a style similar to many of the releases on Folk Heritage or Midas. GRADE: C+.

Metropolis (West Germany): Metropolis (Pan 87 439 IT, 1974)
Ute Kannenberg (joint lead vocals, percussion)
This varied progressive album covers a lot of ground, from melodic sympho-prog to folk/rock to Frumpy-like bluesy sounds to Gong-style glissando guitar to a long passage of experimental music. This could have made for an unfocused and patchy LP, but everything works well, creating an impressive record that constantly surprises. GRADE: B.

Marcia Meyer (Canada): Phases (No label WRC1-1922, with inner, 1981)
Marcia Meyer (lead vocals, guitar, piano)
Housed in a stunning multi-coloured psychedelic sleeve, this album is sometimes compared to Linda Perhacs. It’s delicate, refined and ethereal acid-folk, mostly with just classical guitar and flute for accompaniment and with lengthy instrumental passages fringing new age. A couple of more light-hearted uptempo cuts slightly break the flow, but overall this is a mesmerising, beautiful and understated piece of work. GRADE: C+.

Patrice Meyer (France): Dromadaire Viennois (No label, 1986)
Catherine Tantin (occasional vocals), Léa Lucine (occasional vocals), Florence Antraygues (occasional vocals)
The hideous front cover suggests a jazz/funk or fusion monstrosity, but the line-up of musicians is impressive: Hugh Hopper, Pip Pyle, Patrick Morgenthaler and Didier Malherbe, with guitarist Meyer himself also a member of Anaïd. Side one starts as competent but rather unexciting jazz-fusion before developing into some incendiary Canterbury jamming, whilst side two has a sparser, folkier and more classical feel, making for a very varied and generally very accomplished album. GRADE: B–.

MFA Kera (France): MFA Kera (RCA PL 37574, with 7" single and inner, 1981)
Rock/World Music
Marie-France Anglade (lead vocals)
I have seen this album described as progressive rock and compared to both Armande Altaï and Catherine Ribeiro. The Altaï reference sometimes makes sense, but the disc is nothing like Ribeiro and not really progressive, being slightly funky mainstream rock with lots of African percussion. That said, the closing cut is a fine piece of ethnic prog/fusion. GRADE: C+.
See also Marie-France Anglade

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