Mos-My

 

Moskowitz & Fregulia (USA): Yesterdays (Blue Koala BK 2, 1978)
Jazz
Dorothy Moskowitz (lead vocals)
Completing Dorothy Moskowitz’s short but diverse musical CV (United States Of America to Steamin’ Freeman to this is pretty astonishing), Yesterdays offers a selection of jazz standards with piano backing. Along the way, the duo throw in a few of their own songs and demonstrate a high level of virtuosity – I don’t particularly like this kind of music but find the album enjoyable. GRADE: C+.
See also Steamin’ Freeman, United States Of America

Mostly Autumn (UK): For All We Shared… (Cyclops CYCL 080, CD, 1998)
Progressive/Folk/Rock
Heather Findlay (occasional vocals, guitar, tambourine), Angela Goldthorpe (flute)
This long-running band’s debut is an odd blend of soft Pink Floyd pastiches (mostly the first half, peaking on the two best numbers ‘Porcupine Rain’ and ‘The Last Climb’) and Celtic folk/rock (mostly the second half), shot through with occasional drunken humour. It’s all pleasant enough, with a nicely trippy feel on the better tracks, but the songwriting is fairly pedestrian throughout. GRADE: C+.
Mostly Autumn (UK): The Spirit Of Autumn Past (Cyclops CYCL 082, CD, 1999)
Folk/Rock/Progressive
Heather Findlay (joint lead vocals, guitar, percussion), Angela Goldthorpe (flute, whistle)
Whereas their first was soft neoprogressive with folky edges, this features a procession of gentle singer/songwriter-style ballads spiced up with a few minor progressive touches. Again it’s all perfectly listenable and decently crafted, and in fairness sometimes quite beautiful, but the disc is decidedly short on excitement. Probably the most notable cut is the uncharacteristic hard rocking opener ‘Winter Mountain’, on which they unexpectedly recall Hawkwind. GRADE: C+.
Mostly Autumn (UK): The Last Bright Light (Cyclops CYCL 100, CD, 2001)
Folk/Rock/Progressive
Heather Findlay (joint lead vocals, percussion), Angela Goldthorpe (flute, recorder, backing vocals)
Mostly Autumn’s third album isn’t always brilliant, but it is a huge step forward from anything they’d done before. The songwriting this time round is highly competent, and there are some very effective instrumental textures, particularly on the superb title track, ‘Mother Nature’ and the soaring symphonic instrumental ‘Helms Deep’. GRADE: B–.
Mostly Autumn (UK): Music Inspired By ‘The Lord Of The Rings’ (Legend CRL0854, CD, 2001)
Folk/Rock/Psychedelic/Progressive
Heather Findlay (joint lead vocals, guitar, percussion, recorder), Angela Goldthorpe (flute, recorder, backing vocals)
Recorded by the band in a couple of weeks, this much heavier album – which is often as psychedelic as folky or progressive in feel – was supposedly regarded by them as nothing more than a throwaway diversion, and not to be considered a regular studio LP. Perversely, it’s largely excellent – and among the best things they ever recorded. GRADE: B–.
Mostly Autumn (UK): The Story So Far… (Classic Rock Legends CRP0978, DVD plus CD, 2002)
Progressive/Folk/Rock
Heather Findlay (joint lead vocals, guitar, percussion, recorder), Angela Goldthorpe (flute, recorder, backing vocals)
Mostly Autumn’s first live DVD and album (of very, very many) isn’t brilliantly filmed, and the sound quality is good rather than great, but it does offer a fine cross-section of material from their albums and demonstrates them to be an engaging and accomplished live act.

GRADE: B–.
Mostly Autumn (UK): Heroes Never Die – The Anthology (Classic Rock Productions CRP0899, CD, 2002)
Progressive/Folk/Rock
Heather Findlay (joint lead vocals, tambourine), Angela Goldthorpe (flute, recorder, backing vocals)
In a peculiar decision, given that their repertoire extended to just four studio albums, Mostly Autumn decided to re-record their favourite songs for this ‘best of’ collection. The material is well-chosen but the re-recordings don’t really add much, and I wouldn’t find myself choosing to listen to this in preference to their last three sets. GRADE: C+.
Mostly Autumn (UK): Catch The Spirit (Classic Rock Productions CRP1020, double CD, 2002)
Progressive/Folk/Rock
Heather Findlay (joint lead vocals, tambourine), Angela Goldthorpe (flute, recorder, backing vocals)
In an even odder decision, Heroes Never Die was withdrawn after a few months and replaced by this double CD of re-recordings. Disc one is actually Heroes Never Die with one track substituted, whilst the much superior disc two concentrates on the band’s heavier and more progressive material. Whilst I find the thinking behind the set baffling, the back cover’s assertion that ‘this is the definitive introduction to Mostly Autumn’ probably isn’t too wide of the mark. GRADE: B–.
Mostly Autumn (UK): Live In The USA (Classic Rock Legends CRL1093, CD, 2003)
Progressive/Folk/Rock
Heather Findlay (joint lead vocals, guitar, percussion), Angela Goldthorpe (flute, recorder, backing vocals)
Another day, another live album; once again, it’s a decent set, showcasing most of the band’s best songs. Whether it was strictly necessary, of course, is a wholly different argument. GRADE: B–.
Mostly Autumn (UK): The Fiddler’s Shindig (Classic Rock Legends CRL1119, CD, 2003)
Progressive/Folk/Rock
Heather Findlay (joint lead vocals, guitar, percussion, recorder), Angela Goldthorpe (flute, recorder, backing vocals)
Mostly Autumn’s third live album (and fifth consecutive release to contain no new material) is an enjoyable set, offering a good overview of their career to date. However, with most of the songs also being featured on Live In The USA, their tendency to make a little work go a long way was already becoming obvious, and would become increasingly wearing via an endless stream of live CDs and DVDs. GRADE: B–.
Mostly Autumn (UK): The Next Chapter (Classic Rock Legends CRL 1120 PAL, DVD, 2003)
Progressive/Folk/Rock
Heather Findlay (joint lead vocals, guitar, percussion, recorder), Angela Goldthorpe (flute, recorder, backing vocals)
DVD number two stitches together live performances from various venues with interview segments and a couple of passages of the band miming to studio songs against pastoral backdrops. For the umpteenth time, it provides an excellent ‘best of’ for the band’s early years. GRADE: B–.
Mostly Autumn (UK): Passengers/Live At The Canterbury Fayre (Classic Rock Legends CRL1131/1145, double CD, with slipcase, 2003)
Progressive/Folk/Rock
Heather Findlay (joint lead vocals, guitar, percussion), Angela Goldthorpe (flute, recorder, backing vocals)
At this point, Mostly Autumn were at the peak of their powers, offering a procession of wonderfully melodic, richly arranged songs varying between mellow Pink Floyd spaciness and a more crystalline folk sound. For sure, it’s hardly mouldbreaking stuff and they prominently wear their influences on their sleeve, but for sheer consistency this is hard to fault. Initial copies came with another live album Live At The Canterbury Fayre, whilst Passengers was remixed into surround sound and issued the following year as both a DVD-A (Classic Rock Legends CRL1548) and SACD (Classic Rock Legends CRP1706). Based on the DVD-A, the surround mix is excellent and well worth hearing, though for no apparent reason the album was resequenced. GRADE: B–.
Mostly Autumn (UK): At The Grand Opera House (Classic Rock Legends CRL1515 PAL, DVD, 2004)
Progressive/Folk/Rock
Heather Findlay (joint lead vocals, guitar, percussion, whistle), Angela Goldthorpe (keyboards, flute, recorder, backing vocals)
Focusing largely on Passengers material, this is a solid live set, with some numbers given epic dimensions by the addition of a string section and choir. That said, I’m not sure they bring much to the two cover versions (‘Smoke On The Water’ and ‘Comfortably Numb’) and the sound is rather average given the use of DTS surround. GRADE: B–.
Mostly Autumn (UK): At The Grand Opera House (Classic Rock Legends CRL1543, SACD, 2004)
Progressive/Folk/Rock
Heather Findlay (joint lead vocals, guitar, percussion, whistle), Angela Goldthorpe (keyboards, flute, recorder, backing vocals)
The audio version of the release features an edited setlist – it's musically good but suffers from the same rather odd mix as the DVD. The back cover notes that ‘this band has often been hailed as the new Pink Floyd and this recording of that special night is an intriguing pointer to just how far this [sic] Mostly Autumn could go towards claiming that crown’, but I’d call it gross hyperbole. GRADE: B–.
Mostly Autumn (UK): The V Shows (Classic Rock Productions CRL1595, double DVD, with book sleeve, 2004)
Progressive/Folk/Rock
Heather Findlay (joint lead vocals, guitar, percussion, recorder), Angela Goldthorpe (keyboards, flute, recorder, backing vocals)
Another day, another live DVD – and this one is a double, with the first disc devoted to a complete performance of the Passengers album and the second to the band’s ‘greatest hits’ (plus a cover of Genesis’s ‘Afterglow’). With good performances throughout, this is probably the definitive Mostly Autumn live set, although with each disc running for little more than an hour I’m unclear why it’s a double set. (The two sets were in fact edited into a single disc with less lavish packaging and a running time of just over 90 minutes – Classic Rock Productions CRP1699). GRADE: B–.
Mostly Autumn (UK): Pink Floyd Revisited (Classic Rock Productions CRP1662, double DVD, 2004)
Progressive/Folk/Rock
Heather Findlay (joint lead vocals, guitar, percussion, recorder), Angela Goldthorpe (keyboards, flute, recorder, backing vocals)
It was inevitable that some would acclaim Mostly Autumn as ‘the new Pink Floyd’ due to the close similarity in the bands' sounds (notwithstanding that Mostly Autumn had none of Floyd’s scope and ambition, with a songwriting style closer to mainstream rock acts like Fleetwood Mac). When Rick Wright himself made the comparison, Mostly Autumn chose to become a Pink Floyd tribute act for a night and issue the results on DVD and CD. The Floyd covers are well enough handled, but ultimately I’m left asking myself what the point of the exercise really was. The second disc Greatest Hits Live is a straight repackage of the single disc version of The V Shows, indicating the band’s huge fondness for recycling material. GRADE: C+.
Mostly Autumn (UK): Pink Floyd Revisited (Classic Rock Productions CRL1707, CD, 2004)
Progressive/Folk/Rock
Heather Findlay (joint lead vocals, guitar, percussion, recorder), Angela Goldthorpe (keyboards, flute, recorder, backing vocals)
The CD version of the set – featuring the same songs, but with the band’s stage announcements removed for no reason I can fathom – is as competent and consistent as the DVD, but again leaves me wondering why they bothered. GRADE: C+.
Mostly Autumn (UK): Storms Over Still Water (Autumn AUT1770, CD plus DVD, 2005)
Rock/Progressive
Heather Findlay (joint lead vocals, percussion), Angela Goldthorpe (flute, recorder, backing vocals)
This is a logical follow-up to Passengers, offering a similar if more robust sound, with definite influences from blues/rock and hard rock. However, the songs are nowhere near as well crafted this time around, although the instrumental textures are robust, the guitar work is more Pink Floyd-like than ever and the choruses are rousing and anthemic. But using a similar modus operandi on every song creates a rather dull album that owes a heavy debt to countless seventies mainstream rock bands. The first pressing included a bonus DVD featuring a few live cuts, back projection films from the band’s concerts and a couple of promo videos. GRADE: C+.
Mostly Autumn (UK): The Fiddler’s Shindig (Autumn AUT1872, DVD, 2005)
Progressive/Folk/Rock
Heather Findlay (joint lead vocals, guitar, percussion, recorder), Angela Goldthorpe (flute, recorder, backing vocals)
Issued two years afther the CD, the DVD version of The Fiddler’s Shindig strangely drops the closing ‘Heroes Never Die’ but otherwise offers an identical set. GRADE: B–.
Mostly Autumn (UK): Spirits Of Christmas Past (Mostly Autumn AUT9333, with gatefold minisleeve, 2005)
Rock
Heather Findlay (joint lead vocals, guitar, percussion), Angela Goldthorpe (flute, whistle, backing vocals), Olivia Sparnenn (backing vocals)
This Christmas-themed EP (or short album if you prefer, at just under 25 minutes) features three new original songs, two cover versions (‘Merry Christmas Everybody’ and ‘Fairytale Of New York’) and the traditional hymn ‘Silent Night’. How you feel about it will probably depend on what you feel about Christmas music, but it’s all competently done. GRADE: C+
Mostly Autumn (UK): Storms Over London Town (Mostly Autumn AUT6333, CD, 2006)
Rock/Progressive
Heather Findlay (joint lead vocals, percussion), Olivia Sparnenn (occasional vocals), Rachel Jones (occasional vocals), Angela Goldthorpe (flute, recorder, backing vocals)
Another day, yet another live album. As the title suggests, this mainly consists of Storms Over Still Water material, mixed with some greatest hits, and largely performed in an unsubtle heavier rock style. Karnataka’s Rachel Jones guests on backing vocals and duets on ‘Storms Over Still Water’. GRADE: C+.
Mostly Autumn (UK): Heart Full Of Sky (Mostly Autumn AUT2333, double CD, 2006)
Rock
Heather Findlay (joint lead vocals, guitar, percussion), Angela Goldthorpe (piano, flute, recorder, clarinet, backing vocals), Olivia Sparnenn (backing vocals)
Only ‘Further From Home’ really recalls their original Pink Floyd-inspired style; the rest is mainstream soft and hard rock with some of the anthemic feel of their earlier work, but with songwriting that’s a clear step down from Storms Over Still Water (itself vastly inferior to Passengers). On the plus side, ‘Gaze’ is a beautiful ballad with a Mellotron-based arrangement, ‘Yellow Time’ sounds uncannily like Oasis (the RJ Fox-related outfit, not Messrs Gallagher et al) and the opening ‘Fading Colours’ (featuring the same chorus melody as ‘Further From Home’) has the majesty and swagger of old. The rest, sad to say, is pretty mediocre and mostly rather dull. GRADE: C+.
Mostly Autumn (UK): Glass Shadows (Mostly Autumn AUT733, CD plus DVD, with digipak and booklet, 2008)
Rock/Progressive
Heather Findlay (joint lead vocals, piano, percussion), Anne-Marie Helder (flute, backing vocals), Olivia Sparnenn (backing vocals)
The atmospheric eleven-minute title track is the only progressive rock number, and it’s by far the best thing on offer. The rest is mellow soft rock with bluesy and folky influences: all well composed and crafted, but rather lacking in dynamics and excitement. The limited first pressing came with a bonus DVD containing a very lengthy ‘making of’ video diary plus three bonus songs. GRADE: C+.
Mostly Autumn (UK): Live 2009 – Part I (Mostly Autumn AUT 0331, CD, with gatefold minisleeve, 2009)
Progressive
Heather Findlay, Anne-Marie Helder, Olivia Sparnenn
The recording quality isn’t brilliant, but this is one of Mostly Autumn’s better live performances, with a well-chosen selection of material. Of course, whether the world needed yet another live album from them is quite another matter. GRADE: B–.
Mostly Autumn (UK): Live 2009 – Part II (Mostly Autumn AUT 0331, CD, with gatefold minisleeve, 2009)
Progressive
Heather Findlay, Anne-Marie Helder, Olivia Sparnenn
Why they released this live set in two volumes is anyone’s guess – they’re both from the same show, and hardly anyone was likely to buy one album and not the other (so perhaps the decision was motivated by sheer greed?). In any case, this isn’t as good as Part I, but still has its moments. GRADE: C+.
Mostly Autumn (UK): That Night In Leamington (Mostly Autumn AUT 0335, double DVD, with booklet, 2010)
Rock/Progressive
Heather Findlay (joint lead vocals, guitar, tambourine, recorder, whistle), Anne-Marie Helder (guitar, keyboards, flute, tambourine, recorder, backing vocals), Olivia Sparnenn (backing vocals)
Marking the end of Heather Findlay’s stint with the band, this expansive set features two-and-a-half hours of live performance plus a rather uninteresting half-hour interview with Findlay and Bryan Josh. The actual concert, however, is pretty impressive, providing a fitting tribute to Findlay as well as a superb document of Mostly Autumn’s first incarnation. GRADE: B–.
Mostly Autumn (UK): Go Well Diamond Heart (Mostly Autumn AUT 0336, double CD, with digipak and booklet, 2010)
Rock
Olivia Sparnenn (joint lead vocals, percussion), Anne-Marie Helder (guitar, keyboards, flute, backing vocals)
The departure of Heather Findlay didn’t make a great deal of difference, with Olivia Sparnenn stepping up to replace her. This double album offers a lot of music, with sixteen songs, but they’re pretty uninspired, alternating majestic, anthemic (but not catchy) mid-paced rockers in the band’s usual style and some rather lugubrious ballads. Even the lyrics follow well-worn territory for the band, indicating that Bryan Josh’s purple patch as a songwriter was several years behind him. GRADE: C+.
Mostly Autumn (UK): That Night In Leamington (Mostly Autumn AUT0338, double CD, 2011)
Rock/Progressive
Heather Findlay (joint lead vocals, guitar, tambourine, recorder, whistle), Anne-Marie Helder (guitar, keyboards, flute, tambourine, recorder, backing vocals), Olivia Sparnenn (backing vocals)
The CD version of the Leamington set (oddly issued the following year, after Go Well Diamond Heart) confirms that it was a fine show, with strong performances of well chosen material. However, compared to their latest studio set it also tends to confirm that their glory days were in the past. GRADE: B–.
Mostly Autumn (UK): Still Beautiful – Live 2011 (Mostly Autumn AUT0339, double CD, 2011)
Rock/Progressive
Olivia Sparnenn (joint lead vocals, guitar, percussion), Anne-Marie Helder (keyboards, flute, backing vocals)
They’re still issuing live albums at a rate of knots, but whether they’re still beautiful is open to question. This is a solid enough set, but their sound is increasingly moving in a mainstream stadium-rock direction: even some of the old stuff sounds comparatively plodding and pedestrian here. GRADE: C+.

Mostly Autumn (UK): High Voltage (Concert Live CLCD354, double CD, with digipak, 2011)
Rock/Progressive
Olivia Sparnenn (joint lead vocals), Anne-Marie Helder (keyboards, flute, backing vocals)
I only learned about this live album several years after its release – apparently it was manufactured and sold at the High Voltage festival itself, but appears easy enough to pick up online. It’s not the most substantial set, with just six songs in good (though not studio) sound quality, but they’re among my favourites from the band’s repertoire. This is the Mostly Autumn I love: dynamic, rocking and richly melodic as they stretch out on some fine jams, and a world apart from the mediocrity of their recent studio albums. As a footnote, this isn’t a double album: the second CD is a data disc featuring a couple of video clips and a photo gallery. GRADE: B–.
Mostly Autumn (UK): The Ghost Moon Orchestra/A Weather For Poets (Mostly Autumn AUT0340, double CD, with digipak and booklet, 2012)
Folk/Rock/Progressive
Olivia Sparnenn (joint lead vocals, percussion), Anne-Marie Helder (keyboards, percussion, flute, backing vocals)
The Ghost Moon Orchestra is a definite step up from Go Well Diamond Heart (and probably Glass Shadows as well), recapturing some of their old swagger. However, only the majestic coda to the closing ‘Top Of The World’ really demonstrates the band at its best, with an unwelcome stage musical feel creeping into some of the other songs. Meanwhile, A Weather For Poets (only included with the initial limited pressing) offers acoustic re-recordings of the band’s greatest hits plus four new songs and a haunting instrumental. If anything, this is the better of the two discs. GRADE: C+.
Mostly Autumn (UK): Live At The Boerderij (Mostly Autumn AUT0342, double DVD, 2013)
Rock/Progressive
Olivia Sparnenn (joint lead vocals, tambourine), Anne-Marie Helder (keyboards, tambourine, flute, backing vocals)
Decidedly better than the lukewarm Still Beautiful, this is an enjoyable live document mixing old material and new to good effect, and offering Olivia Sparnenn her best showcase with the band to date. GRADE: B–.
Mostly Autumn (UK): Live At The Boerderij (Mostly Autumn AUT0343, double CD, 2013)
Rock/Progressive
Olivia Sparnenn (joint lead vocals, tambourine), Anne-Marie Helder (keyboards, tambourine, flute, backing vocals)
The CD version of the set confirms the impression that this is Mostly Autumn’s best work for a while – but the chances of them producing another studio album as good as The Last Bright Light, Music Inspired By ‘The Lord Of The Rings’ or Passengers look increasingly slim as the years roll by. GRADE: B–.
Mostly Autumn (UK): Dressed In Voices (Mostly Autumn AUT0344, double CD, with digipak and booklet, 2014)
Rock/Progressive
Olivia Sparnenn (joint lead vocals, percussion), Anne-Marie Helder (flute, backing vocals)
Alternating anthemic, stately rockers with delicate folk ballads, this is another solid album from Mostly Autumn. However, occasional flashes of brilliance on earlier albums suggested they are capable of being far more than solid, but they never manage it here. GRADE: C+.

Mostly Autumn (UK): Box Of Tears (Mostly Autumn AUT0346, CD, 2015)
Rock/Progressive
Olivia Sparnenn (joint lead vocals, percussion), Anne-Marie Helder (keyboards, percussion, flute, backing vocals)
Mostly Autumn’s umpteenth live album is a little different, consisting of a complete performance of the first disc of Dressed In Voices. My impression was that that album was good rather than great, but to be fair to the band this is a great performance of it. GRADE: C+.

Mostly Autumn Acoustic (UK): In Support Of The Genesis Revisited Tour 2014 (Mostly Autumn AUT0347, CD, with gatefold

minisleeve, 2015)
Folk
Olivia Sparnenn (joint lead vocals, percussion, flute)
The difference between this Mostly Autumn live album and the other 107 (or so it feels) is in the slightly amended band credit: this is Bryan Josh and Olivia Sparnenn (plus Anne-Marie Helder on one number) performing as an acoustic duo whilst supporting Steve Hackett. It’s all fairly slight, with seven songs in about 33 minutes, but on the better material (‘Simple Ways’, ‘Evergreen’, ‘Heroes Never Die’) it’s all rather lovely. GRADE: C+.

Mostly Autumn (UK): Sight Of Day (Mostly Autumn, double CD, with digipak and booklet, 2017)
Rock/Progressive
Olivia Sparnenn (joint lead vocals, keyboards, tambourine), Angela Goldthorpe (flute, recorder, whistle, backing vocals)
Their recent albums have been so predictably disappointing that I knew what I was going to write before listening: another Mostly Autumn studio set; another expensive limited edition with bonus disc; another solid but uninspiring set of hard and soft rock. Then I heard Sight Of Day and concluded that it was their first really good studio album since Passengers, nearly a decade and a half ago. They’re not breaking any new ground here, but then I didn’t expect them to. However, the songs have great hooks, the ballads are affecting, the rockers have genuine swagger and poise, and the guitar solos soar rather than plod, and I didn’t expect that either. Whilst the album never recaptures the heights of the superb opening title track and the second disc is weaker than the first (quite rightly too) it never sags, and they even manage the ultimate Scottish rocker (Big Country, eat your heart out) on ‘Forever And Beyond’ which somehow manages to fuse ‘Auld Lang Syne’ and ‘After The Gold Rush’. They’ve clearly put something in the water in Yorkshire to revitalise the group, and I can think of several other bands who could do with a sip. GRADE: B–.

Mostly Autumn (UK): White Rainbow (Mostly Autumn AUT0351, double CD, with digipak and booklet, 2018)
Progressive
Olivia Sparnenn (joint lead vocals, keyboards), Angela Goldthorpe (flute, recorder, backing vocals)
Having considered Sight Of Day Mostly Autumn’s best studio album in 14 years, I wondered how they would fare on the follow-up (seemingly a concept album about their late guitarist Liam Davison, and including a song from his solo album on the second disc). To my amazement, the answer is surprisingly well. Sure, a few of the songs here are rather average, and the second disc strikes me as slightly better than the first (in contrast to its predecessor), but when they’re in full majestic Pink Floyd mode – as on ‘Procession/Viking Funeral’, the title track and the extended version of ‘Gone’ – this is wonderful stuff. GRADE: B–.
See also Breathing Space, Heather Findlay, Anne-Marie Helder, Iain Jennings, Josh & Co Limited, Karnataka, Luna Rossa, Odin’s Dragonfly, Panic Room, Parade

Mother Earth (USA): Living With The Animals (Mercury SR 61994, 1968)
Blues/Rock
Tracy Nelson (joint lead vocals)
This rootsy band’s debut offers blues/rock with a gritty, authentic feel – more Chicken Shack than, say, Big Brother & The Holding Company. It’s well done, with fine singing and musicianship, and there’s plenty of interest for white blues aficionados, but it’s a bit short on excitement for psychedelic or progressive fans. GRADE: C.
Mother Earth (USA): Make A Joyful Noise (Mercury SR 61226, 1969)
Blues/Country/Rock
Tracy Nelson (joint lead vocals, piano)
A bit livelier than its predecessor, their second album is divided into ‘city’ and ‘country’ sides. The former offers a mixture of soul, R&B and blues, including a strong version of ‘Need Your Love So Bad’. The second is basically self-explanatory, with several songs having a notable country/rock flavour. The best song on this side is the gentle, wistful ‘The Fly’. GRADE: C.
Tracy Nelson & Mother Earth (USA): Mother Earth Presents Tracy Nelson Country (Mercury SR 61230, 1969)
Country
Tracy Nelson (lead vocals)
It’s not entirely clear from the confusing cover credit whether this album should be assigned to Tracy Nelson or Mother Earth, although the former gets larger billing. What is clear is that many readers are not going to like this. That’s not because it’s bad: it’s actually very listenable, but for the most part it’s fairly middle-of-the-road country/rock (leaning towards pure country and western). Only one song is self-penned, with the remainder being covers of familiar Dolly Parton, Tammy Wynette and Hank Williams numbers. GRADE: C.
Mother Earth (USA): Satisfied (Mercury SR 61270, 1970)
Blues/Rock
Tracy Nelson (lead vocals, piano)
Satisfied’ is about right: this is by far the most enjoyable and accomplished of Mother Earth’s albums. An excellent blues/rock effort that’s languid without being lethargic, and stately without being soporific, it shows the band playing fully to its strengths – and thankfully avoiding country music altogether. GRADE: C+.
Tracy Nelson & Mother Earth (USA): Poor Man’s Paradise (Columbia KC 31759, 1973)
Blues/Rock
Tracy Nelson (lead vocals, piano)
This is another recommended blues/rock album, again without the country distractions that mar some of Nelson’s other work. GRADE: C+.
See also Tracy Nelson

Mother Gong (UK/France/Spain): Fairy Tales (Charly CRL 5018, with insert, UK, 1979)
Folk/Rock/Progressive
Gilli Smyth (lead vocals)
Formed by Smyth and her new musical partner Harry Williamson, this Gong offshoot featured an interesting line-up of musicians including Didier Malherbe, Atila’s Eduardo Niebla and Hawkwind’s Nik Turner. Building on the style she established on the final track of her solo album Mother, Smyth narrates three rather surreal children’s stories over beautiful, flowing progressive folk backing. GRADE: B.
Mother Gong & Anthony Phillips (UK/France): Battle Of The Birds (Ottersongs, cassette, 1981)
Folk/Rock/Progressive
Gilli Smyth (joint lead vocals), Claire Jones (occasional vocals)
This collaboration between Smyth, Williamson, Malherbe and former Genesis guitarist Anthony Phillips basically reprises the format of Fairy Tales in an unplugged setting. The end result is a pleasant album, but it’s nowhere near as varied as its predecessor – and I’m unsure what they intended to achieve by trying the same approach twice. GRADE: B–.
Mother Gong (UK/France): Robot Woman (Butt 003, with poster, 1981)
New Wave/Jazz/Rock
Gilli Smyth (joint lead vocals, synthesiser)
In an attempt to remain current, Smyth, Williamson and Malherbe crossed elements of the familiar Gong sound (including a pretty good impersonation of Daevid Allen by lead guitarist Yan Emeric) with musical theatre, new wave and funky pop on this concept LP. The end result is only moderately successful, and sounds far more dated today than any of Gong’s seventies work. GRADE: C+.

Mother Gong & Dave Sawyer (UK/France): W F M (Ottersongs OT9, cassette, 1982)
World Music/Jazz/Folk/Rock
Gilli Smyth (occasional vocals)
This collaboration between Mother Gong and experimental musician Dave Sawyer (credited with ‘all other instruments’, though he mostly seems to play tuned and hand percussion) is quite different from the contemporaneous Robot Woman albums. It hints towards the post-Gilli Smyth Gong set Shamal, with its mainly instrumental fusions of world (principally Japanese) music, folk, jazz and rock. The result is decidedly better than the Robot Woman LPs, and I might have rated it a B– had it been a little less fragmentary. As a footnote, Smyth barely appears on the album, with the sung vocals on the closing ‘Thirteen Eight’ being provided by Claire Jones. The cassette was reissued in the same format, with completely different artwork, as Words Fail Me (GAS OTT 002) in the late eighties or early nineties. GRADE: C+.
Mother Gong (UK/France): Glastonbury Fayre (Ottersongs OT 14, cassette, 1982)
Jazz/Rock/Progressive
Gilli Smyth
This live set has the energy and passion that the Robot Woman album generally lacked, and is mostly very enjoyable, although the spoken word and musical theatre sections don’t work too well. A few numbers from the tape also appeared, in edited versions, on Robot Woman and the Glastonbury Festival 1979-1981 retrospective CD. GRADE: C+.
Mother Gong (UK/France): Robot Woman 2 (Shanghai HAI 100, with poster, 1982)
New Wave/Jazz/Rock
Gilli Smyth (joint lead vocals)
The second part of the Robot Woman trilogy is considerably better (and considerably better recorded) than its predecessor, but has a style even further removed from the Gong. In fact, the album’s satirical funky, jazzy pop puts me in mind of the later Cos LPs more than anything. The album came with a huge 36" x 24" poster with a comic strip on one side and lyrics and credits on the other, but the cover artwork is particularly unattractive. GRADE: C+.
Mother Gong (UK): Robot Woman 3 (Shanghai HAI 109, with booklet, 1986)
Pop/Progressive
Gilli Smyth (joint lead vocals)
Down to a duo of Smyth and Williamson (plus guests including Daevid Allen and their son Orlando), Mother Gong embraced the eighties with this largely awful pop LP. With instrumentation based around synthesisers, drum machines and samplers, the skeletal approach has dated badly and lays bare the lack of decent melodies as well as the increasingly repetitious nature of Smyth’s lyrics. On the plus side, a few more ambient tracks (‘Faces Of Woman’, ‘Men Cry’ and ‘Magenta’) are quite listenable, even if they’re little more than pastiches of material from Mother. The mid-eighties did some dreadful things to sixties and seventies artists, and Robot Woman 3 proves that Gong were not immune. GRADE: D+.
Mother Gong (UK/Australia): Buddha’s Birthday (Ottersongs OTT 011, cassette, UK, 1989)
Jazz/Rock/Progressive
Gilli Smyth (lead vocals)
Recorded in 1987 but not released until two years later, this marked the debut of the new Anglo-Australian Mother Gong line-up (including Robert Calvert, ex-Catapilla, on saxophone). It also marked a spectacular return to form after the disastrous Robot Woman 3. Recapturing something of the spirit of seventies Gong, it features lengthy, jazzy jams with a trippy feel (though less overtly psychedelic than the original band) occasionally overlaid with Smyth’s poetry and ‘space whispers’, creating a highly effective and organic groove. GRADE: B–.

Mother Gong (UK/Australia): Fish In The Sky (Ottersongs OTT 012, cassette, UK, 1989)
Jazz/Rock/Progressive
Gilli Smyth (lead vocals)
Again recorded in 1987 and released in 1989, this is gentler and more reflective than Buddha’s Birthday – and ultimately not quite as compelling. Nonetheless, it’s pleasant enough, though I don’t find its mixture of poetry-with-music and mellow instrumentals hugely exciting. GRADE: C+.
Daevid Allen & Mother Gong (Australia/UK): The Owl And The Tree (Magnum Music Group CDTL 012, CD, 1989)
Jazz/Rock/Progressive
Gilli Smyth (joint lead vocals), Wandana Arrowheart (harmonium, backing vocals)
This is one of the more confusing entries in the Gong family back catalogue: the front cover credits it to Daevid Allen, Gilli Smyth, Harry Williamson & Wandana Arrowheart and the CD back cover to Gong, whilst the LP label credits it to Daevid Allen & Mother Gong. In fact, it’s a split album, with the LP featuring two songs from Allen and Arrowheart on one side and five from Mother Gong on the flip. The CD adds a bonus Mother Gong cut ‘Tudor Love Poem’ and puts most of the Mother Gong numbers before the Allen & Arrowheart cuts, though bafflingly lists them the other way round. The Mother Gong contributions are gentler and more pastoral than on Buddha’s Birthday, containing some beautiful moments, whilst Allen and Arrowheart offer one whimsical folky song with glissando guitar and harmonium (‘The Owly Song’) and a fourteen-minute piece with electric band backing (uncredited, but possibly Mother Gong) combining singer/songwriter and progressive influences and entitled ‘I Am My Own Lover’. Finally, the later CD (Voiceprint VP278CD, 2004) appends a two-minute Mother Gong piece ‘Coda Wave’, which is the spaciest of all the recordings. GRADE: C+.
Mother Gong (UK): Live 1991 (Mothermusic MM 101 CD, CD, 1991)
Jazz/Rock/Progressive
Gilli Smyth (principal vocals)
Reduced to a nucleus of Gilli Smyth, Harry Williamson and Robert Calvert (plus guest ‘Tom the Poet’), this live album sees Smyth performing her poetry and space whispers to minimalist backing from electric guitar, synthesiser, saxophone and programmed drums. This stripped-down, partly electronic, backing doesn’t prove a huge problem, and whilst not brilliant this certainly isn’t another Robot Woman 3. An interesting tracklisting is another bonus, stretching all the way back to ‘I Am Your Pussy’ from The Flying Teapot. GRADE: C+.
Mother Gong (UK/Australia): Wild Child (Demi-Monde DMCD 1026, CD, UK, 1994)
Jazz/Rock/Progressive
Gilli Smyth (principal vocals)
Recorded in 1989 but for some reason unreleased until 1994, this starts out in a more commercial vein than most Mother Gong, with pronounced pop and funk edges, though it still sounds improvised. It gradually gets weirder as it progresses, with the most free-form material towards the end, but it’s all a great deal less psychedelic, and somewhat less consistent, than Buddha’s Birthday. GRADE: B–.

Mother Gong (UK/Australia): She Made The World/Magenta (Voiceprint VP 134 CD, CD, UK, 1993)
Jazz/Rock/New Age/Progressive
Gilli Smyth (principal vocals)
The unusual dual title reflects the fact that this is effectively two albums in one: the 32-minute meditational drone ‘Magenta’, with backing from Daevid Allen, followed by about 40 minutes of shorter Mother Gong songs and improvisations. The drone is a damn sight better than half an hour of new age-ish backing and spoken vocals has any right to be, whilst the remainder of the album is surprisingly varied – from folky to funky moments and more – adding up to a fine collection of music. GRADE: B–.
Mother Gong (UK/Australia): Tree In Fish (Tapestry 76000-2, CD, USA, 1994)
Jazz/Rock/Progressive
Gilli Smyth (lead vocals)
Like its predecessor, this consists of slightly older recordings: in this case a mixture of studio and live numbers from between 1989 and 1991. Mainly serving as a showcase for Gilli Smyth’s poetry, with musical backing behind and between the poems, it has a light, whimsical feel and is pleasant but rather inconsequential. Strangely, the reissue on Voiceprint (VP281CD, 2004) has a radically different tracklisting, with only six out of seventeen songs reappearing. Despite having a similar number of cuts, this version is around a third shorter than the original, and it features both a more dynamic selection of tracks and much improved audio quality. GRADE: C+.

Mother Gong (UK/Australia): Mother Gong (Voiceprint VPR 007 CD, CD, UK, 1994)
Jazz/Rock/Progressive
Gilli Smyth (principal vocals)

With four tracks in 21 minutes, this radio session release is an EP rather than album, but its musical contents – at the weirder, spacier and more improvisational end of the band’s repertoire – are excellent. This is the Mother Gong I really love. GRADE: B–.
Mother Gong (UK/Australia): Eye (Voiceprint VP176CD, CD, UK, 1994)
Jazz/Rock/Progressive
Gilli Smyth (principal vocals)
Like She Made The World, this is a varied set, taking in most facets of the band’s sound. For the most part, it’s equally good, with some fine improvisations, but it does get rather fragmentary (not to mention slightly self-indulgent) towards the end, so ultimately it’s – just – a very strong C+ rather than a borderline B–. GRADE: C+.
Mother Gong (UK/Australia): 2006 (Voiceprint VP404CD, CD, UK, 2006)
Jazz/Rock/Progressive
Gilli Smyth (lead vocals)
This unusual album is almost arranged like She Made The World/Magenta in reverse: nine live songs recorded at the Unconventional Gong Gathering in Glastonbury in 2005 followed by studio tracks in more a meditative mode. The live songs are sinuous and trippy, with lots of synthesiser and as much a funk as a jazz orientation, providing a new twist on the band’s familiar sound, whilst the two studio cuts – totalling around 14 minutes – are even spacier, one with multi-layered voices combining to create a trippy cauldron of sound and the other a psychedelic jazz/funk jam recalling ‘Fohat Digs Holes In Space’. GRADE: B–.

Mother Gong (UK/Hungary): The Robot Woman Trilogy (Madfish SMABX1097, quadruple CD, with digibook, 2019, recorded 1981-1986)
Jazz/Rock/Progressive
Gilli Smyth (joint lead vocals, synthesiser), Tasmin Smyth (occasional vocals)
This excellent set compiles all three Robot Woman albums (none of which had previously appeared on CD), including extended takes of a few sections, with a fourth disc of demos, offcuts and live numbers. It confirms my impression that Robot Woman 2 is the best of the trilogy by some margin and the highly electronic Robot Woman 3 by far the worst thing Gilli Smyth ever recorded. With fine sound quality and some outstanding music on the fourth disc, this is a superb overview of this phase of Smyth’s career. GRADE: C+.

Mother Gong (UK/Australia/France): O Amsterdam (Voiceprint VP423CD, CD, UK, 2007)
Jazz/Rock/Progressive
Gilli Smyth (lead vocals)
The last Mother Gong album is a rather good live recording from the 2006 Unconventional Gong Gathering. They deliver a decent set, with elegant instrumentation based around Graham Clark’s violin and Didier Malherbe’s winds, with a mixture of old and new material, but I would have welcomed a little more wildness and a touch more jamming. GRADE: C+.
See also Gong, Gongmaison, Planet Gong, Gilli Smyth

Mother Hen (USA): Mother Hen (RCA LSP 4641, 1971)
Singer/Songwriter/Country
Jane Getz (lead vocals, keyboards)
Not really a band but a pseudonym for singer/songwriter Jane Getz, with a country-influenced style. Her writing is competent enough, and the backing is as good as you would expect from the players (Clarence White, Danny Kootch, Pete Kleinow, Jerry Scheff, Lee Sklar, Russ Kunkel et al), so if you like this kind of fare you should definitely check this album out. GRADE: C.
See also Jane Getz

Mother Love (USA): Carousel Of Daydreams (Epic BN 26520, 1970)
Pop
Myrna Janssen (joint lead vocals, piano)
Mixing originals and covers, this is a pleasant and well-executed album of dreamy soft-pop. British readers might also derive amusement from the back cover photograph of band member Wally Keske, who looks like a cross between a wartime spiv and Boycie from 'Only Fools And Horses'. GRADE: C.

Mother Mallard’s Portable Masterpiece Co (USA): Mother Mallard’s Portable Masterpiece Co (Earthquack EQ 0001, 1973)
Progressive
Linda Fisher (keyboards)
This pioneering electronic music ensemble eschews atonal avant-gardism here, demonstrating different facets of their sound on the three long instrumental tracks. ‘Easter’, which occupies the whole of side one, is very systemic, with its rhythmic electronic bleeps and pulses creating a haunting atmosphere and uncannily presaging both trance and industrial music. Over on side two, the fifteen-minute ‘Ceres Motion’ is probably the best cut here, layering richly melodic swathes of synthesiser and blending influences from classical music and progressive rock, whilst the seven-minute ‘Train’ is eerie and minimalistic. This album’s long-held reputation as a classic is thoroughly deserved, and it sounds innovative and contemporary even today. GRADE: B.
Mother Mallard’s Portable Masterpiece Co (USA): Like A Duck To Water (Earthquack EQ 0002, 1976)
Progressive
Judy Borsher (lead vocals, synthesiser)
This is as enjoyable and accomplished as their first, but nowhere near as startling – mainly because it sounds almost exactly the same. Indeed, they follow the same formula of having a single twenty-minute track on the first side and two slightly shorter ones on the flip. Nonetheless, fans of early electronic music will want both LPs (or more likely the CDs, which contain quite a number of unreleased outtakes). GRADE: B–.

Mother Superior (UK): Lady Madonna (SMA SMA 3014, Sweden, 1975)
Rock/Progressive
Audrey Swinburne (joint lead vocals, guitar), Lesley Sly (joint lead vocals, keyboards), Jackie Badger (bass, backing vocals), Jackie Crew (drums, backing vocals)
As an all-female progressive rock band, Mother Superior was unique. Lady Madonna is a strong album too, with a funky and jazzy sound and some impressive original material (especially the superb opener ‘No Time Toulouse Lautrec’). Some critics have disparaged the two cover versions (‘Love The One You’re With’ and the title track), but I like those as well. The album’s only release was on a Swedish microlabel, though a British test pressing exists. GRADE: C+.

Motor Totemist Guild (USA): Infra Dig (Rotary Totem RTLP001, with insert, 1984)
Jazz/Rock/Progressive/Avant-Garde
Christine Clements (joint lead vocals, piano, percussion, saxophone, clarinet, Vocoder), Iris Alberts (occasional vocals), Jessica Zaccaro

(occasional vocals)
This was the project of multi-instrumentalists James Grigsby and Christine Clements, with the former composing almost everything and performing several tracks entirely solo. Musically, it’s fascinating: drawing together elements of jazz, new wave, pop and classical music in a patchwork quilt of vignettes that are simultaneously very weird and very catchy and recalling all manner of European RIO pioneers whilst breaking new ground of its own. On the downside, it starts to ramble a little about halfway through side two, but most of the remainder is superb. GRADE: B–.
Motor Totemist Guild (USA): Klang (Rotary Totem C6004, cassette, with booklet, 1985)
Jazz/Classical/Avant-Garde
Emily Hay (cello)
Reconfiguring as a three-piece, the Guild return with a second album that builds on elements of their first whilst taking them in a somewhat different direction. It’s still RIO, but now at the more austere, neoclassical, chamber music end of the genre, with almost everything being instrumental and the material almost entirely sounding improvised rather than composed. With the pop and rock elements almost entirely removed, and with the spectre of free-jazz intruding here and there, this is more serious and arguably more significant than its predecessor, but I do find myself missing Infra Dig’s sheer joie de vivre – and its great tunes. GRADE: B–.

Motor Totemist Guild (USA): Shapuno Zoo (No Man’s Land nml/RTR 8, West Germany, 1988)
Jazz/Progressive/Avant-Garde
Emily Hay (principal vocals, flute, piccolo), Becky Heninger (cello)
The introduction of Emily Hay’s quasi-classical vocals moves them significantly closer to Henry Cow, though the dainty chamber music backing asserts their own identity. With its weird, vaguely ethnic songs, complete with quirky hooklines and oddly insistent riffs, this is fascinating, challenging stuff. GRADE: B–.
Motor Totemist Guild (USA): A Luigi Futi (Recommended DMM10R, Italy, 1989)
Jazz/Rock/Progressive/Avant-Garde
Emily Hay (joint lead vocals, flute), Becky Heninger (cello)
Even more varied than its predecessor, this covers all kinds of territory with aplomb. The whole first side is devoted to a long collage of the band playing live, interspersed with ethnic music, found sounds and more, creating a fascinating journey. Side two offers the pure avant-gardism of ‘Lightly Into Nappy’ and the mutant funky rock of ‘Farmer Without Strings’ (recalling a jazzier, weirder twist on Talking Heads) before ending with a reworked and even more radical version of ‘Barbie Variations’ from Klang. The result is one of the most interesting avant-prog albums of the eighties. GRADE: B.

Motor Totemist Guild (USA): City Of Mirrors (Cuneiform RUNE 116, CD, 1999)
Jazz/Rock/Progressive/Avant-Garde
Emily Hay (joint lead vocals, flute), Bridget Convey (keyboards)
The presence of two saxophonists, two trombonists and a trumpeter is no accident: this is by far their jazziest album, and is as much a modern jazz work as a piece of avant-prog. It’s nonetheless superb, being mostly instrumental and extremely complex, with the free-jazz elements kept in careful check. On ‘Scarfnet’ Emily Hay sounds more like Dagmar Krause than ever, but elsewhere this is as close to Carla Bley as it is to Henry Cow. GRADE: B.
Motor Totemist Guild (USA): All America City (Independent IR01552, CD, 2000)
Jazz/Classical/Progressive/Avant-Garde
Bridget Convey (piano)
Apparently the soundtrack to a (possibly imaginary?) film entitled ‘Yu Gakusei’, All America City consists of entirely instrumental music, with 23 tracks running for between 18 seconds and 27 minutes. Taking the band back towards modern classical music, the material mixes jazzy acoustic strumming with musique concrète – the results are weird, austere and challenging, yet perversely lush and catchy at the same time. GRADE: B.

Motor Totemist Guild (USA): In Concert With Musicians Of Cambodia And Laos (Rotary Totem RTRDVD01, DVDR, 2012, recorded 1988)
World Music/Jazz/Rock/Progressive/Avant-Garde
Emily Hay (lead vocals, flute, piccolo), Becky Heninger (cello)
This DVD isn’t going to win any prizes for professionalism: it was shot on a camcorder, complete with timestamp on the first song and with people walking in front of the camera. As the title suggests, this sees the band sharing the stage with a large troupe of musicians and dancers from Cambodia and Laos, sometimes performing together and sometimes separately. Whilst the result is an interesting cross-cultural fusion, I would have liked more Motor Totemist Guild and less world music, so this is more an interesting historical document than an essential counterpart to their superb run of studio albums. GRADE: C+.
See also Emily Hay, Michael Whitmore & Brad Dutz, Vinny Golia Large Ensemble, IAM Umbrella, Jeff Kaiser Ockodectet, Adam Rudolph & Go:Organic Orchestra, U Totem

Mount Salem (USA): Endless (No label, CDR, with digipak, 2013)
Metal
Emily Kopplin (lead vocals, organ)
This is doom metal with female vocals and prominent organ, so one might expect it to sound similar to early Blood Ceremony – and indeed it does. Whilst it doesn’t quite have the same epic sound as peak Blood Ceremony, nor such accomplished songwriting, it’s a very enjoyable (if short and rather slight) set with excellent singing and suitably stripped-down arrangements. GRADE: B–.

Mount Whateverest (USA): 5 Years Higher (No label, download, 2020)
Psychedelic
Sasha Soukup, Cyn
They describe themselves as ‘the highest band on earth’; whilst I’m not sure I’d go that far, this is certainly rather good psychedelia, crossing the retro sensibilities of the Magic Mushroom Band with the trash aesthetic of the B52s. There’s nothing particularly life-changing among the four songs and 16-odd minutes of music here, but it’s an enjoyable enough trip nonetheless. An earlier release (also an EP) exists from 2014, but I haven’t encountered it. 

GRADE: C+.

Mountain Ash Band (UK): The Hermit (Witches Bane, with insert, 1975)
Folk/Rock
Lynda Hardcastle (occasional vocals, recorder)The band members were residents at the Burley in Wharfedale Folk Club, but this is as far from typical folk club fare as one can imagine. Their biggest influence was clearly Fairport Convention, but rather than the Liege And Lief era they obviously idolised the Dave Swarbrick-fronted line-up from the early seventies. In particular, this follows the template established by Babbacombe Lee, mixing narration with songs to tell the story of a historical character. Whilst drawing on traditional sources, the music is largely original and extremely well composed and performed, particularly considering that the album was recorded in just two days. In fact, Mountain Ash Band demonstrate a level of ambition unmatched by virtually any other folk private pressing I can think of. GRADE: B–.

Mountain Caller (UK): Chronicle I: The Truthseeker (New Heavy Sounds, CD, with digipak and booklet, 2020)
Metal/Progressive
El Reeve (occasional vocals, bass), Claire Simson (guitar)
Almost entirely instrumental and played entirely on guitars, bass and drums, Mountain Caller’s music is powerful, dynamic and riff-driven. But whilst the mainly female trio’s debut is impressively aggressive and atmospheric, they don’t deliver the killer tunes that would elevate such deceptively simple music to the next level. As such, whilst this often comes close to a B– it doesn’t quite make it, and overall it represents a portent of more exciting albums to come rather than a fully realised vision in its own right. GRADE: C+.

Mountains Of Gold (UK): Mountains Of Gold (Look LK.LP.6055, 1976)
Folk/Rock
Lois Corfield (joint lead vocals), Jackie Alcock (joint lead vocals), Alison Andrews (joint lead vocals), Marion Bernard (joint lead vocals), Carole Berson (joint lead vocals), Vivienne Brayshaw (joint lead vocals), Paula Britton (joint lead vocals), Naomi Fineberg (joint lead vocals), Christine Flint (joint lead vocals), Melanie Gerrard (joint lead vocals), Caroline Guthrie (joint lead vocals), Claire Hardy (joint lead vocals), Alison Heap (joint lead vocals), Susan Ilsley (joint lead vocals), Jennifer Lynas (joint lead vocals), Mandy Nachman (joint lead vocals), Katheryn Payne (joint lead vocals), Patricia Plumb (joint lead vocals), Usha Pattel (joint lead vocals), Mary Robinson (joint lead vocals), Wendy Solk (joint lead vocals), Averil Townsley (joint lead vocals), Helen Welch (joint lead vocals)
This Tolkien-themed rock opera is more professional than most school projects, with solid backing from a band named Goblin and decent solo and massed vocals from the kids. With a bit more stretching-out, it would be even better – as it is, the music plays a supporting role to the vocals, but then that’s par for the course for the genre. GRADE: C+.

Mourning Phase (UK): Mourning Phase (No label, 1971)
Folk/Rock

Joy

For years, this was the most obscure of private pressings, having first been discovered in the bowels of a London studio in a hand-painted cover that credited it to 'Mike Conn’ with ‘Sandy Denny’ and ‘Eric Clapton’ and dated it as a 1971 recording. The disc has no Denny or Clapton involvement whatever, of course, but Conn was indeed the band's leader and principal songwriter (penning everything except 'Smile Song'). The vitriolic lyrics refer to the break-up of his marriage and the music was performed by a four-piece line-up, rather than a duo, as most collectors assumed; also contrary to assumption, they were a real gigging band rather than a studio aggregation. Whilst its mystique probably outweighs its musical importance, it contains some good rough-edged folk/rock and some catchy melodies. To shatter one final misconception: there was certainly more than one original copy made, with four known on the collectors' circuit, though only one has a sleeve (made by a friend of the band). GRADE: C+.

Mr Albert Show (Holland): Mr Albert Show (Philips 641 3001, 1970)
Blues/Jazz/Rock
Inez (joint lead vocals)
At various times recalling Julie Driscoll or to a lesser extent Affinity, this excellent album adds in strong psychedelic and progressive elements to its jazzy, bluesy rock base. It also has plenty of horns and a distinctly Dutch feel, making for an unusual piece of work that sounds rather dated today (but without losing any of its power). Following the album’s release, Inez was replaced by one Floortje Klomp, but she left before the recording of the band’s second and final album Warm Motor. Notwithstanding, the Canadian issue (retitled Dutch Treat, and with a completely different cover) pictured her as a band member and credited her as lead vocalist. GRADE: B–.

Mr Fox (UK): Mr Fox (Transatlantic TRA 226, 1970)
Folk/Rock
Carole Pegg (joint lead vocals, violin)
Mr Fox’s leaders Bob and Carole Pegg were invited to be founder members of Steeleye Span, but opted to launch their own electric folk band instead. Their take on the genre is slightly different from Steeleye’s: all the material is self-penned rather than traditional, though the music perversely feels more traditional and rustic, with a strong morris influence. However, they can be psychedelic too, as the excellent ‘The Gay Gosshawk’ and the title track prove, with their startling fuzz guitar and cello respectively. GRADE: B–.
Mr Fox (UK): The Gipsy (Transatlantic TRA 236, 1971)
Folk/Rock/Progressive
Carole Pegg (joint lead vocals, tom-toms, violin)
The first side of this far more ambitious follow-up is the real revelation, featuring the superb fourteen-minute title track and the lengthy tour de force ‘Mendle’, a psychedelic masterpiece built around a simple and constantly repeated organ figure, occasionally overlaid with distorted guitar on the edge of total feedback meltdown. Side two is no slouch either, opening with the unusual ‘Aunt Lucy Broadwood’ (a sort of proto-rap piece with backing from drums and percussion only) and a stunning interpretation of the traditional ‘House Carpenter’. GRADE: B.
See also Bob & Carole Pegg

Mr Reject (UK): Mr Reject (No label, with insert, 1971)
Pop/Psychedelic
Penny Ayling (occasional vocals), Toni Bevan (occasional vocals), Jo Billiter (occasional vocals), Marie Joëlle Briand (occasional vocals), Brenda Rooney (occasional vocals), Sara Carder (occasional vocals), Mandy Crampton (occasional vocals), Trisha Dair (occasional vocals), Pat Dunbar (occasional vocals), Sheila Emslie (occasional vocals), Nicki Fear (occasional vocals), Christine Finch (occasional vocals), Elizabeth Gamble (occasional vocals), Maureen Gillooly (occasional vocals), Judy Harris (occasional vocals), Alyson Hume (occasional vocals), Janet James (occasional vocals), Ann Johnson (occasional vocals), Thérese Keane (occasional vocals), Rose Keeling (occasional vocals), Alison King (occasional vocals), Sarah Lomas (occasional vocals), Katie Marshall (occasional vocals), Jane Montgomery (occasional vocals), Anne Morse (occasional vocals), Fiona Moy (occasional vocals), Linda Orrin (occasional vocals), Maggie Parker (occasional vocals), Nicki Poole (occasional vocals), Gail Shorter (occasional vocals), Marilyn Smith (occasional vocals), Jenny Syme (occasional vocals), Paula Tubby (occasional vocals), Mary Tyler (occasional vocals), Dawn Walkett (occasional vocals), Susan Westall (occasional vocals), Carol Woodburn (occasional vocals)
This ‘generation gap’ musical was composed by a blind keyboard player, and comes housed in a striking dark blue, orange and purple silkscreened cover. The first couple of cuts are rather underwhelming, and there’s occasional low-budget ‘Godspell’ feel about the remainder, but for the most part it’s rather good late Beatles-esque melodic pop with nice fuzz guitar and organ and a few mildly psychedelic edges. The insert, incidentally, is an erratum slip correcting the tracklisting, rather then a lyric sheet. GRADE: C+.

Mr Sirius (Japan): Barren Dream (Made In Japan MIJ-1013, 1987)
Progressive
Hiroko Nagai (lead vocals, piano)
This rather unusual album is simultaneously delicate and pastoral yet quite bombastic, with acoustic guitars and piano alternating with heavy electric guitar and synthesiser work. Occasionally it resembles a more fragile twist on eighties Renaissance, but with much stronger folk elements and a great deal more complexity; overall it’s interesting and sometimes quite captivating but doesn’t quite hang together. GRADE: C+.
Mr Sirius (Japan): Dirge (Crime KICP 69, CD, 1990)
Progressive
Hiroko Nagai (lead vocals)
Much more dramatic than its predecessor, this offers rather arch Broadway-like songs with jazzy edges, long flute-led folk passages, messy outbursts of King Crimson-like rock, and more. The end result is a strange, incoherent album that’s continually changing; the only constant is that most of it is very well done. GRADE: C+.
Mr Sirius (Japan): Incredible Tour (Made In Japan MCB-001, CD, with poster sleeve, 1992)
Progressive
Hiroko Nagai (principal vocals)
Limited to 500 numbered copies, this is subtitled ‘rescued recordings from the first time around’; I often find myself wishing that this particular rescue had been aborted. Notably, their cover of Kate Bush’s ‘Babooshka’, sung as a duet between Hiroko Nagai and (I presume) Kazuhiro Miyatake approaches Shaggs-like levels of ineptitude – Miyatake cannot sing to save his life and nor can he speak English with any degree of competence. Meanwhile, ‘Kokan Dé Jealousy’ opens with truly ludicrous falsetto vocals, while one cut consists of orchestral backing over which Miyatake narrates some tale or other in Japanese (which the audience appears to find very funny). Their cover of Yes’s ‘Siberian Khatru’ is enjoyable, despite Miyatake’s attempt at stand-up comedy at the beginning, which is excruciating to non-Japanese ears. The rest is more normal, but this is sometimes a horrendous album. As a footnote, it’s very badly dubbed from vinyl, suggesting that it was lifted from a bootleg; the cover dates the recordings to between 1989 and 1991. At least the sound quality is good. The disc was reissued two years later, with a different catalogue number (MJC-1004) and a conventional jewel case and booklet. GRADE: D.
See also Final Fantasy, Pageant, Sirius

Mr So & So (UK): The Overlap (No label SS001CD, UK, 1998)
Rock/Progressive
Charlotte Evans (occasional vocals)
After two albums with an all-male line-up, this neoprogressive band added a female singer for their third. The music is undemanding symphonic rock that’s pleasant and mellifluous but also completely forgettable. GRADE: C.
Mr So & So (UK): Sugarstealer (MSSR, CD, 2009)
Rock/Progressive
Charlotte Evans (joint lead vocals)
A much more mature album than its predecessor, this sees them moving away from symphonic rock in a more Paul McCartney-esque direction. There are still some progressive elements as well, most notably in the short, classical-styled instrumentals that pepper the disc, and this seems to be a concept piece of some sort. Whilst the album is a little thin-sounding and a touch light on really great songs, it’s a very tasteful set that alternates effectively between harder rockers, lighter pop-flavoured numbers and acoustic folk pieces, with a suitably climactic final cut. GRADE: C+.
Mr So & So (UK): Truth, Lies And Half Lies (MSSR 2, CD, with digipak and booklet, 2013)
Rock/Progressive
Charlotte Evans (joint lead vocals, tambourine)
The crushing riffs of the opening ‘Paperchase’ make you think Mr So & So have gone prog-metal; they haven’t, although this is a much heavier LP with several tracks demonstrating a hard rock influence. Elsewhere the vaguely Beatles-esque feel of Sugarstealer remains, though this feels more like a modern American prog album than anything British. In any case, it’s well put together and varied, if not especially complex or challenging. GRADE: C+.

Don Mrozek (USA): Hug (Fanfare Studios FM 75121, with inner, 1975)
Singer/Songwriter
Sandra Ricketson (occasional vocals), Laura Bodie (occasional vocals)
This sophisticated singer/songwriter affair has mainly Christian lyrics, but this isn’t reflected in the striking (and very effective) cover art. The music ranges from lush soft rock to delicate acoustic settings, with four lead singers including Mrozek himself (although the two women don’t get to do much). GRADE: C+.

MTA 62 (West Germany): Furth – Western Songs And Ballads (Thorofon ATH 111, 1970?)
Folk
Helga Adamczewski, Ingrid Pfeifenberger, Ursula Seiler
Issued on the same obscure label as the first Emtidi album, this is among the rarest German LPs. Musically, it’s pretty gruesome, though, being a sort of campfire singalong folk LP with the double whammy of mostly American material and a children’s choir. Overall it sounds like a particularly bad school project LP, with only the delicate ‘Speed Bonnie Boat’ and the mournful ‘In Bed Lies A Woman’ being worth a second listen. GRADE: E+.

Mugwumps (USA): The Mugwumps (Warner Brothers W / WS 1697, 1967)
Folk/Pop
Cass Elliot (backing vocals)
Released in 1967 following the huge commercial success of the Mamas & The Papas, these late 1964 recordings feature ‘Mama’ Cass Elliot, ‘Papa’ Denny Doherty, Zal Yanovsky of the Lovin’ Spoonful and Elliot’s then-husband and former Big 3 collaborator Jim Hendricks. Unsurprisingly, the sound is very similar to the Mamas & The Papas (and indeed the early Beatles), and whilst lacking the songwriting brilliance of John Phillips these recordings are good enough to make one wonder why they weren’t released at the time. Two of the songs were co-written by Elliot, though she strangely takes no lead vocals. GRADE: C+.
See also Big 3, Cass Elliot, Mamas & The Papas

Kanyina Mukala’s Magoma (UK): Kanyinda Makala’s Magoma (No label, cassette, 1993)
World Music/Progressive
Lorraine Ayensu (occasional vocals), Rosetta Eligon (occasional vocals), Lisa Cherian (percussion)
No prizes for guessing that this is Afro-rock, in this case with jazzy and proggy edges and some long, percussion-driven tracks. The closing ‘Zaïre’ could suggest the origins of some members. GRADE: C+.

MultiFuse (UK): Journey To The Nesting Place (Crooked Cat Music CCM20081, CD, 2008)
Progressive
Cherie Emmitt (lead vocals)
MultiFuse was largely the vehicle of composer, arranger, producer and multi-instrumentalist Peter Fallowell, who contributes guitar, keyboards, drums, percussion and harmony vocals here. The album has an unusual style: mellow and pop-influenced, but complex at the same time, with most of it consisting of a single lengthy suite. There’s a definite Magma influence too, but not from the usual end of the band’s repertoire: Fallowell was mainly inspired by the soft, repetitive piano chords and multilayered vocals of Mekanïk Destruktïw Kommandöh rather than the album’s more bombastic moments, meaning that this cannot really be classified as zeuhl. Altogether it’s an impressive piece of work, although too understated and mellow to command attention for most of its duration. GRADE: C+.

MultiFuse (UK): Harmony Of Opposites (Crooked Cat Music, CD, with digipak and booklet, 2014)
Rock/Psychedelic/Progressive
Cherie Emmitt (occasional vocals)
This may open with MDK-style piano, but thereafter zeuhl influences disappear, with the album instead straddling the singer/songwriter, mainstream rock, psychedelic and soft progressive genres. Overall this is less ambitious than their first, and less unusual too, but it’s also more consistent, with Peter Fallowell delivering some excellent material and revealing his prowess as a guitarist. As a footnote, Cherie Emmitt does very little this time around, with almost all the lead vocals being shared by Richard Robinson and Fallowell himself. GRADE: C+.

Sarah Murcia (France): Never Mind The Future (Ayler AYLCD-149, CD, with digipak, 2015)
Jazz/Avant-Garde
Sarah Murcia (joint lead vocals, double bass)
This collection of mildly avant-garde jazz and jazz/rock covers of Sex Pistols numbers is radical, fascinating and surprisingly relaxing. There’s always a danger with this kind of thing that the music crosses over into self-referential cleverness, but Never Mind The Future actually functions as an enjoyable modern jazz album. GRADE: C+.
See also Pearls Of Swines

Murari (USA): Murari (Desire Tree 10999, with insert, 1979)
Country/Folk/Rock
Lynda Hynes
I’d always imagined this Christian communal band’s work to be mystical acoustic folk, but in fact it’s tight, well-arranged electric rural rock. Country/rock isn’t among my favourite genres and there are a few weaker cuts, but overall this is an excellent example of the style – not far behind, say, Jimmy Carter & Dallas County Green. GRADE: C+.
Murari Band (USA): Dreaming (Desire Tree NR12401, 1981)
Folk/Country/Rock
Lynda Hynes (principal vocals, guitar, keyboards)
This is a bit of a step up from their first, with a fine set of songs. The best cut here, and possibly the best thing they ever recorded, is the slow, bluesy ‘Can Somebody Tell Me?’, featuring some atmospheric lead guitar and electric piano work. GRADE: C+.
Murari Band (USA): In Flight (Desire Tree NR14705, 1983)
Rock
Lynda Hynes
Very different to their first two, this is polished eighties rock with AOR edges and elements of urban funk. In keeping with their communal roots, there’s quite a spacy feeling to most of the LP and some rather good jamming sections with mildly trippy guitar work, but this isn’t psychedelic in any significant sense. It is, however, a solid album mixing some very good material with a fair degree of filler. The band subsequently issued a compilation on an obscure Italian label (Musica Divina KC108014, with inner) featuring tracks from their first two LPs. GRADE: C+.

Murietta (USA): Murietta (Cherry Red CR 5103, 1972)
Blues/Rock
Judi Brown (principal vocals)
Blues/rock without the Big Brother & The Holding Company-style psychedelic or garage leanings common to such bands during the era. Well-composed and played throughout, its only notable features are the excellent proggy closer ‘The Second Song’ and the striking cover featuring a man in clown make-up. GRADE: C+.

Paddy Murphy & Marie O’Shea (Ireland): Romantic Ireland (Polydor 2908 008, 1973)
Folk
Marie O’Shea (principal vocals, guitar, piano, viola, recorder)
The obvious comparison here is Shades Of Mac Murrough: this has exactly the same kind of bittersweet atmosphere and ornate backing, with Marie O’Shea providing the arrangements, the bulk of the instruments and most of the vocals. However, both she and husband Paddy Murphy opt for a more classical style of singing, meaning that this may have less broad appeal. GRADE: C+.

Music Box (UK): Songs Of Sunshine (Westwood WSR 013, 1972)
Folk
Pip (organ, percussion, recorder, backing vocals)
An unusual release for the Westwood label, this has no traditional folk or country leanings whatever. Instead it’s mellow contemporary folk, acting as a vehicle for talented singer/songwriter Rob Armstrong, with embellishments from organ and glockenspiel adding a trippy, toytown popsike edge (especially on the standout track ‘The Happy King’). One dealer list declared this to be better than Mellow Candle, but that’s pushing things a bit; in any case, the two albums are completely unalike, with the music here having a lighthearted, good-time feel a world away from Mellow Candle’s mellow introspection and spiritual spaciness. Armstrong later became a renowned luthier, building guitars for George Harrison, Bert Jansch, Alvin Lee and Martin Barre among others. GRADE: C+.

Music Emporium (USA): Music Emporium (Sentinel LP PC 69001, 1969)
Progressive
Carolyn Lee (joint lead vocals, bass, keyboards), Dora Wahl (drums, percussion)
Once the most expensive American psychedelic collectible, Music Emporium’s sole LP has a unique sound. Whilst the songs are all short, the band was more proto-progressive than psychedelic, as song titles like ‘Prelude’ and ‘Catatonic Variations’ imply, with a fondness for odd, minor-key chord progressions and shifts of mood and tempo within songs. The material ranges from uptempo rockers (‘Nam Myo Renge Kyo’, ‘Prelude’, ‘Sun Never Shines’) to dreamy, moody ballads (‘Velvet Sunsets’, ‘Gentle Thursday’, ‘Winds Have Changed’) and occasionally forays into pop (‘Times Like This’), with the only constant being the strong, almost liturgical, organ sound. GRADE: C+.

Música Dispersa (Spain): Música Dispersa (Diábolo S 30.011, with poster, 1970)
Folk/Psychedelic
Selene (joint lead vocals, piano, bongos, flute)
Short, whimsical, hypnotic and trippy, this superb psychedelic folk album hints towards both the Incredible String Band and Catharsis, whilst mixing in local musical traditions. The songs – though they sound more like improvisations – are based around electric guitar, bass, woodwind and hand percussion, sometimes with classically-influenced piano and sometimes with wordless vocals. Some listeners will find the whole thing too inconsequential, but whilst the record never actually goes anywhere it’s a truly mesmerising trip. GRADE: B.

Musica Ficta (Israel): A Child And A Well (Fading FAD006, CD, Italy, 2012)
Progressive
Julia Feldman (lead vocals)
Giving no hints of its Israeli origins (apart from the Yiddish lyrics, belying the title), the band is rooted in sympho-prog but works in all other kinds of influences. Hard rock guitars, acoustic folky passages, mediaeval touches and outbursts of powerful King Crimson-like prog come and go, with some of the latter moments being truly impressive, but overall it’s an odd and unfocused record that makes little impression. GRADE: C+.

Musique Noise (France): Fulmines Regularis (Muséa FGBG 2028, with insert, 1989)
Jazz/Rock/Progressive/Avant-Garde
Isabelle Bruston (joint lead vocals), Cornélia Schmid (joint lead vocals)
This accomplished if not very original zeuhl LP is virtually a homage to late seventies Magma, mainly operating at the jazzier and more accessible end of the band’s repertoire. The 2001 CD reissue (Muséa FGBG 4409.AR) adds almost an album’s worth of additional recordings from December 1992 that were presumably intended to constitute an aborted follow-up; these cuts are more experimental and further removed from zeuhl. GRADE: C+.
See also Various ‘Hur! – Hommage À La Musique De Christian Vander’

Mutantes (Brazil): Os Mutantes (Polydor LPNG 44.018, 1968)
Psychedelic
Rita Lee (joint lead vocals, percussion, flute)
This defining tropicália album covers a variety of late sixties psychedelic and baroque pop styles, with lots of sound effects and orchestrations adding an avant-garde edge. With moods ranging from early Pink Floyd to late Beatles, tempered by plenty of ethnic elements, this is a very varied and original LP that stands as a landmark of its genre and era. GRADE: B.
Mutantes (Brazil): Mutantes (Polydor LPNG 44.026, 1969)
Psychedelic
Rita Lee
Even more eccentric than their first, this is Mutantes’ classic – covering everything from eerie and beautiful folk/rock to weird electronica, heavy acid-rock, circus music and more. The cover (depicting the band in fancy dress, including Rita Lee in a wedding gown on the front, and made up as aliens on the back) gives a fair indication of the disc’s level of eccentricity. GRADE: A–.
Mutantes (Brazil): A Divina Comédia Ou Ando Meio Desligado (Polydor LPNG 44.048, 1970)
Psychedelic
Rita Lee (joint lead vocals, percussion, effects)
The opening title track is a straightforward, rather groovy rock song that makes you think they’ve changed direction completely. However, as the album progresses various weirdnesses come to the fore, though (despite being very varied) this is less genuinely experimental than their first two. Nonetheless, it’s still a very interesting, if sometimes quite patchy, LP that contains some great acid-rock. In particular, the closing instrumental ‘Oh! Mulher Infiel’ has some fantastic fuzz guitar and heavy drumming. GRADE: B.
Mutantes (Brazil): Jardim Elétrico (Polydor 2.451.002, 1971)
Pop/Psychedelic
Rita Lee
Showing a rapid softening of their style, this is often as close to baroque pop and folk/rock as it is to psychedelia. ‘Tecnicolor’ is a beautiful piece of West Coast folk and the title track is a pretty good acid-rocker, but overall this is even less consistent than its predecessor (though it improves as it goes on). GRADE: B–.
Mutantes (Brazil): Tecnicolor (Universal 73145466802, CD, with slipcase, 1999, recorded 1970)
Pop/Psychedelic
Rita Lea (joint lead vocals, keyboards)
Recorded around the same time as Jardim Elétrico, this was an attempt to break Mutantes in Europe and America via an English language album. However, the project was aborted before release, and the album did not see the light of day for almost 30 years. The disc showcases re-recordings of material from across their career, and is very much in the lighter psych/pop style of Jardim Elétrico rather than the more avant-garde mood of their first couple of works. GRADE: B–.
Mutantes (Brazil): E Seus Cometas No País Do Baurets (Polydor 2451 010, 1972)
Rock/Psychedelic/Progressive
Rita Lee
Mutantes’ final album with Rita Lee is largely a record of pastiches – mostly funky rock, but also everything from borderline metal to prog to ballads to rock ’n’ roll. As usual, it’s an eccentric disc, but sometimes the weirdnesses (phasing, vocal ad-libs, falsetto singing, unexpected changes of mood and tempo) sound rather forced and occasionally rather juvenile. Like their last couple of albums, this steadily improves as it progresses, with the second half effortlessly outclassing the first. GRADE: B–.
Mutantes (Brazil): Mutantes Live – Barbican Theatre, London, 2006 (Luaka Bop VVR1047282, DVD plus CD, with digipak and booklet, 2007)
Rock/Psychedelic
Zélia Duncan (joint lead vocals, percussion)
This reunion concert is impressive both musically and visually, with lively performances and an excellent cross-section of material; it must have been a thrilling gig to attend. Zélia Duncan, who was briefly a full-time band member, was also a prolific singer/songwriter, although I haven’t heard her solo LPs. GRADE: B.
Mutantes (Brazil): Haih Or Amortecedor… (Anti- 7041-2, CD, with digipak and booklet, Holland, 2009)
Rock/Psychedelic
Bia Mendes (joint lead vocals, percussion)
With yet another female singer, Mutantes returned with a new studio album that’s patchy and occasionally irritating – but that’s par for the course for them. When this is good, it’s very good, and more importantly it sounds like Mutantes. GRADE: B–.
Mutantes (Brazil): Fool Metal Jack (Krian 302062423-2, CD, with digipak, USA, 2013)
Rock/Psychedelic
Bia Mendes
Comeback album number two is also varied, creative and well crafted. However it’s pleasant rather than challenging, and doesn’t deliver any suprises, which in itself is surprising for a Mutantes album. GRADE: C+.
See also Cilibrinas Do Éden, Rita Lee

Mynd Muzic (UK/USA): Imagine This (Poor Person Productions PPPR3, with booklet and insert, UK, 1994)
Psychedelic
Karen T (occasional vocals)
Typical of early releases on the Poor Person Production label, this largely consists of long, rather formless jams that achieve a genuinely hypnotic quality. How much you enjoy this will depend on your tolerance for trippy, minimalist space jams, but to my ears this is an excellent example of its style, and the album never falters through its many different movements. As a footnote, the CD version (Lone Starfighter LSD 002, USA, 1994) adds a six-minute bonus track. GRADE: B–.
Mynd Muzic (UK/USA): I? A Concept Of Our Reality (Poor Person Productions PPPR6, CD, UK, 1995)
Psychedelic
June Player (occasional vocals)
Like its predecessor, this is shapeless, minimalist and tripped-out to the maximum, almost like a stripped-back version of the Grateful Dead jamming during ‘Dark Star’ or some of the material from Blues For Allah. Many modern bands have offered these kinds of free-from jams, but few have done it as satisfyingly as this. GRADE: B–.

Mynd Muzic (UK/USA): Muzical Myndz (Poor Person Productions PPPR17, CDR, with pen, UK, 1998)
Psychedelic
Mandie Tor (occasional vocals)
The final Mynd Muzic album is essentially performed by the duo of Bob Bone and Dave Tor (Mandie Tor is credited as a full band member, but contributes only the spoken vocal and lyrics for the very short title track). It’s even more formless than their earlier work, once again recalling the Dead but this time at their most aimless; whilst the results are enjoyable, the album is frequently directionless and only occasionally particularly diverting. GRADE: C+.
See also Apotheosis, Bus Trip, Earcandy, Famous Unknowns, Ozley’s Acid

Carrl & Janie Myriad (New Zealand): Of All The Wounded People (Spin SEL 934477, Australia 1972)
Folk/Country/Rock
Janie Myriad (joint lead vocals, guitar, dulcimer, recorder)
Although this duo was from New Zealand, their rare album was only issued in Australia. It’s an excellent set of hippie folk and country/rock that may be too mellow in parts for some tastes, but the songwriting is extremely strong throughout. There are no really weak moments, but the best cuts are the slightly spooky and mildly psychedelic ‘The Ballad Of Rachelene’, which has a powerful acid guitar solo, and the gorgeous folk/rocker ‘Lovers In The Mirror’. GRADE: B–.

Mystery Maker (UK): Mystery Maker (Caves UHC 3, with booklet, 1977)
Folk
Joan Evans (occasional vocals)
This Christian band started life as Anawim, contributing several tracks to the 1975 Charisma label compilation Beyond An Empty Dream. Two years later they issued this extremely rare private pressing as Mystery Maker. The disc is sometimes compared to Ithaca in dealer lists, but for the most part I don’t see the resemblance: Mystery Maker is certainly not symphonic, and not really progressive in any way, consisting mainly of haunting and rather eerie electric folk music. The rock elements are more prominent on side two, particularly on the title track, with its heavy electric guitar chords, and on the elegiac closer ‘The Road To Emmaus’, which climaxes with a stunning solo. GRADE: C+.

See also Various 'Beyond An Empty Dream'

Mystic Charm (Holland): Shadows Of The Unknown (Shiver SHR 008, CD, Belgium, 1995)
Metal
Rini Lipman (lead vocals, keyboards)
I like the backing on this doom metal album, which sometimes reminds me of the great Blood Ceremony. However, Rini Lipman’s death vocals don’t appeal at all and they’re not great songwriters, so whilst this is powerful it isn’t hugely memorable. GRADE: C+.

Mystic Zephyrs 4 (USA): Maybe (Two:Dot HRH 6873, 1974)
Pop/‘Incredibly Strange Music’
Lynne Macleod (joint lead vocals, guitar, flute), Gayle Macleod (joint lead vocals, keyboards), Joyce Macleod (occasional vocals, drums)
This mostly female family band (comprising 18-year-old Lynne, who writes and arranges almost everything, 14-year-old Gayle, 12-year-old Joyce and 16-year-old Keith on joint lead vocals, guitar, trumpet and trombone) is often compared to the Shaggs. However, the vibe is somewhat different, with more of a soft pop sensibility and much more proficient singing and musicianship (though the vibe is still very strange and Joyce has a Shaggs-like predilection for odd, busy rhythmic fills). On ‘Into Our Band’, they sound uncannily like the Daisy Chain, whilst ‘Reach Out To The Universe’ sounds like mystical hippie pop through a bizarre ‘real people’ prism. This mind-boggling masterpiece was also released as a single (Two:Dot HRH 4172) backed by another album track ‘Don’t Bring Me Down’; the band also had two non-album 45s (‘Oh… My Hands’/‘Youth Quake’, HRH 1171, and ‘Searching’/‘Hey, Son’, HRH 5471). These songs are equally charming, with all their records making for delightful period pieces. GRADE: C+.

Mythologic (USA): Standing In Stillness (Progressive Music Management PMM 0600, CD, 2003)
Metal/Progressive
Melissa Blair (lead vocals)
This is basically the third Leger De Main album, with the addition of a second guitarist and the adoption of a heavier, more metallic sound. Although some of the crushing riffs work well enough, this simply serves to confirm that I really do not like their messy, tuneless songwriting style or Melissa Blair’s frequently off-key singing. GRADE: C–.
See also Leger De Main