Great Mellotron albums

By progfan97402 progfan97402
updated 2 months ago

If you love the sound of the Mellotron, these albums come essential. I don't have this list in any particular order, simply what springs up to mind. While I include stuff like Yes, Genesis and the Moody Blues, most of you already know that stuff already, so I'm not going to list every albums by those acts that used the Mellotron, just their albums with the most impressive use. My main emphasis is on lesser known and obscure releases that are essential to the tron fan!

By the way, since about the mid 1990s, there's been a flood of recordings that have started using sampled Mellotron, beginning with the EMu Vintage Keys, and, as years went by, the M-Tron, Memotron, Clavia Nord Stage, and the M4000D (beware: there's also the Mellotron M4000 without a "D", which is a real tape driven Mellotron, any recording using the M4000 in large amounts and used impressively will be included on this list - so far none -, but not the M4000D), or any other samples. Some artists are honest that they aren't using a real Mellotron, particularly when none are mention. Also I do appreciate when they admit the tron is fake, like Tomas Bodin in the Flower Kings or any given Opeth album, Hertiage aside (as they used a Mark VI).

All artists have now been alphabetized with relevant albums in chronological order.

  1. All Traps On Earth - A Drop Of Light

    Änglagård totally surprised me when they unexpectedly (to me) delivered a new album in 2012 with Viljan Öga. I truly didn't see that coming given the reunion from them in 2002-'03 amounted to little more than a handful of concerts and that was it. Since Viljans Öga the band had witnessed numerous lineup changes, no doubt because many of the members had busy schedules, but managed to tour despite this change. Now comes 2018 and Johan Brand, Thomas Johnson, current Änglagård drummer Erik Hammarström (formerly of the Flower Kings) and Johan's daughter Miranda Brand. From listening to this the Änglagård influence cannot be denied, which is hardly any surprise given who were involved. The music seems less symphonic and closer to RIO/avant prog than Änglagård, as well as elements foreign on an Änglagård album. Also All Traps on Earth doesn't go much in acoustic, pastoral territory like Änglagård did, but I assume that's because of a lack of full-time guitarist (they do have a guitarist for a guest, though). Elements foreign on an Änglagård album include jazzier passages and trumpet solos from various guest members. But both Thomas Johnson and Johan Brand are credited to the Mellotron, and the Mellotron work is very undeniably Änglagård-like; however, they are also credited with the M4000D as well, but hoping they were using that for sounds that were not included in their M400 tape library. The choirs are very much real as the key clicks give it away, but there are sounds that don't exist in the M400 library I'm sure they were using the M4000D for, like Chamberlin female voices and MK II vibes. The music is lengthier than anything Änglagård came up with, but the same quality control is found here as with Änglagård so the music never outstays its welcome. It's a no-brainer who I recommend this to: fans of Änglagård. A sure hit for progheads everywhere!

  2. Anekdoten - Until All The Ghosts Are Gone

    Well, I probably could include the entire Anekdoten discography on this list. These guys seemed to be Mellotron fanatics, and this, their latest offering only proves that. Apparently Per Wiberg of Opeth makes an appearance here (but he plays organ). Although I'm not familiar with everything they done, it's apparent they became less heavy since 1999's From Within, but on Until All the Ghosts Are Gone, they brought back some of that heaviness. I also have to be upfront: I was never a big fan of this band, the other two CDs I own, Vemod and Nucleus, although considered classics, and features lots of Mellotron, just leaves me cold, sounding too close to '90s alternative rock for me liking, despite the Crimson influences. Until All the Ghosts are Gone, unsurprisingly has less of that '90s alternative rock vibe, which is a plus for me, so I actually prefer this to their early material.

  3. Ange (4) - Guet-Apens

    I remembered in 1997 being told that Ange used Mellotron. I just heard of these guys and never tried anything from them, so I tried Emile Jacotey, which was available for me in Aeon Music (prog rock mail order catalog now defunct). Liked the music but didn't hear a single note of Mellotron. I hear this strange Viscount organ French prog bands tended to have a habit of using (Carpe Diem, Arachnoid, to name a couple others). The band often had a habit of making the organ sound like a Mellotron, except I could tell it wasn't one. And the couple of albums Mellotron is credited (like Par les Fils de Mandrin), it's so buried you can hardly notice it. Turns out Guet-Apens, a 1978 is their actual Mellotron album. Sure that organ is used, but at least the Mellotron is not hidden, the tron choir being a bit obvious, and glad to hear some strings that sound tron and not Viscount organ. It's also their last worthy album, from a prog standpoint.

  4. Angel (24) - Angel

    Who could imagine I would include Angel, because of their connection to Kiss. For one thing, they were discovered by Gene Simmons. Secondly, thanks to him, they got signed to Casablanca Records, just like Kiss. The label was quick to exploit the group with a silly dressed in white image, like a stark contrast to the dark image of Kiss. On their debut they apparently dressed like your typical '70s rock band. Musically they're nothing like Kiss. Early on they were more of a prog/pomp/hard rock crossover band. While Kiss was more focused on their silly image and makeup, Angel had the music to back them up. Lots of Mellotron on many of the songs, with strings, brass and flutes. Also if you hate Angel, it's because they really went downhill by the late '70s. They became more of a standard hard rock/metal band who helped lay the blueprint of the glam metal scene of the 1980s. This album is surprisingly good and, of course blows Kiss totally out of the water. Too bad it was Kiss that became huge, and Angel was exploited to the max by the label (to be fair so did Kiss) and somewhat forgotten these days. Surprisingly the band continued to use the Mellotron on all their albums but it's on their debut they used it quite a lot. Recommended even if you can't stand their later stuff.

  5. Änglagård - Hybris

    Really, you need all three of their albums (or four, if you also include Buried Alive, a live album from 1994, released in 1996).

  6. Änglagård - Epilog

    The Mellotron really went through a dry spell in the 1980s, then in the 1990s comes this great Swedish prog band, who helped bring the Mellotron back from the grave. Both of these are essential!

  7. Änglagård - Viljans Öga

    5 For Sale from $19.00

    Who could ever imagined in their wildest dreams this group would ever actually release a new album. After nearly 18 years, too! Musically, it's as if they never left, plus it's stuff with that Mellotron, once again!

  8. Argent - Nexus

    Argent isn't some band I've just recently discovered, although I only started buying their albums (as of this typing I have All Together Now and now Nexus), because I knew they were frequently inconsistent. I had always enjoyed "Hold Your Head Up", right from my teen years, even if it was 1989 and not 1972 (in fact I was born in 1972, so I couldn't know that song when it was brand new). I was already aware of Rod Argent's previous career in the Zombies. What I didn't realize at the time was Rod Argent at one point was a big time Mellotron user. His first use was in the Zombies in songs like "Care of Cell 44" and a few others off Odessey & Oracle, but the first three Argent albums were completely tron free, just organ, piano, and electric piano. Mellotron first appeared on "Losing Hold" on In Deep, but I got a feeling Rod Argent bought the Mellotron just as recordings of In Deep were winding down just in time to record that song. But he really goes for it on the next album, Nexus. Like other Argent albums, it seems to be a strange bag of full-on prog and more pop-oriented material, no doubt the schism between the Rod Argent/Chris White team, and Russ Ballard, in which Russ Ballard was more inclined to hit-oriented pop. several of his songs did became hits for others, like "Liar" (Three Dog Night, although Argent recorded a version of it before TDN) and even "God Gave Rock and Roll to You" had been recorded by KISS many years later. It seemed with Nexus they seemed to have a better idea what they're doing, so ended up with more consistent songwriting, although "Love" is a bit sappy and I can do without. But no doubt "The Coming of Koutek"/"Once Around the Sun"/"Infinite Wanderer" is nothing short of amazing, it's partially based off an old medieval hymn "Dies Irae". "Man For All Reasons" is a bit in Yes territory, but "Gonna Meet My Maker" has a bit of a boogie and gospel feel. Regardless Rod Argent really goes for it with the Mellotron, although some songs more than others, and a couple without.

  9. Backnee Horn - Backnee Horn

    1 For Sale from $6.74

    Unusual modern psych band from Israel, with a rather ominous and dark feel, with vocals singing in an incomprehensible language (does not sound like Hebrew to me, I'm pretty certain it was made up). Anyways, Zohar Cohen appears on this release, and he's Israel's top Mellotron player, given how few Mellotrons made it to that country (there was one in the '70s used on one cut by a band called NoNames). He in fact owns none other than a Mark II once owned by Pink Floyd! He uses it on each and every cut, and tons of it, from a country not exactly known as Mellotron haven (there are plenty of countries you can be certain you won't find a Mellotron, I doubt there's a single Mellotron in Zimbabwe or Albania). I also notice some M400 choirs which leads me to believe he owns an M400 as well.

  10. Barclay James Harvest - Live

    For years I've heard BJH referred to as a Mellotron band. Back in 1997 when I bought my first BJH album, Once Again, I was wondering, "Where's the tron?" Most of the songs had orchestration from Robert John Godfrey. Plus I wasn't familiar with the sound of the M300 model, which Woolly Wolstenholm was well known for using. Years later, I was able to identify the Mellotron on the album, but only used on a couple songs. Turns out most of the BJH albums are like that, only a couple using tron, the rest using strings of some sort.

    There is one huge major exception, this 1974 Live album! They couldn't afford to hire an orchestra, so what do they do? Let Woolly Wolstenholm take care of that, all on his M300 Mellotron! Every song is plastered with it. I was really tripping over this version of "Galadriel" because it sounded so much like the original (the original had tron, but mainly orchestration, but this version is all tron!). If you're wondering how BJH was referred to as a Mellotron band, look no further than this album!

  11. Beggars Opera - Waters Of Change

    Second album where they bring in a female Mellotron player by the name of Virginia Scott. Alan Park sticks to the Hammond organ, but Ms. Scott gives plenty of nice Mellotron on several cuts, including "Time Machine", "I've No Idea", "Nimbus", lots of fanfare tron brass on "Silver Peacock Intro", plus tron in general on "Silver Peacock", nice tron flute on "Festival". The Mellotron has resurfaced on two of their following albums, but in minute amounts, Pathfinder features minor amount on their take on "MacArthur Park", and Get Your Dog Off Me features it on their take on "Classical Gas", and that's it. So Waters of Change is the one you need for the Mellotron lovers.

  12. Besombes - Rizet - Pôle

    Strange electronic music from this French duo. Recording for the Pole label means you get some off-the-wall stuff. Watch out for the current reissue: it's been issued as a single LP and therefore missing some tracks, and apparently the MP3 downloads cut the length of some of these pieces.

    So, obviously seek the original or the Tapioca reissue (Tapioca took over the Pole catalog). This album does have your standard tron sounds, but also tron vibes and various tron FX like bells and percussion. Strange electronic music, a bit like Heldon but without the Crimson influence.

  13. Bloque (4) - Música Para La Libertad

    Spanish band who released their debut in 1978, and I find it strange that their debut would be completely Mellotron-free, but not their next albums. This was their last, and most Mellotron-ladened of albums, mostly tron choirs here. Unsurprisingly, it's Bloque with a bit more modernized and updated sound, for 1981, so in reality it sounds like one foot in the '70s, the other foot in the '80s (not all the nasty traits of '80s sound and production had surfaced in 1981, the Yamaha DX-7 was still two years away).

  14. Cathedral (3) - Stained Glass Stories

    Besides the SFF mentioned, here was another inspiration from Änglagård. Now you get to know where that band got many of their ideas. From this American band. Tom Doncourt just lays it thick with Mellotron, on each and every cut with few pauses!

  15. José Cid - 10.000 Anos Depois Entre Vénus E Marte

    This Portuguese musician is mainly known for some pretty dreadful pop music, but he actually made some great prog for a short time, in a country not known for prog, and this is one of them. He tends to use just the tron choir here, but you can't argue with an album in which one song bears the title "Mellotron O Planeta Fantástico"!

  16. Clearlight Symphony* - Clear Light Symphony

    For some reason this album passed by radar scope, as I've owned it for years. Clearlight was a band lead by keyboardist Cyrille Verdeaux, and here he invites members of Gong (Steve Hillage, Tim Blake, Didier Malherbe), as well as Christian Boulé, Gilbert Artman of Lard Free, etc. This is truly wonderful prog, frequently compared to Mike Oldfield, but much more electric with use of synths, but most of all, amazing use of Mellotron used throughout the album, although the first part clearly used it much more, still this album is a must have for the Tron fan. Their next album Forever Blowing Bubbles still featured some Tron, but after that, their following albums were completely Tron free.

  17. Deluge Grander - Heliotians

    5 For Sale from $99.99

    Deluge Grander is a symphonic prog rock project lead by DC/Maryland-based Dan Britton. This is their third release, while their previous two featured rather good sampled Mellotron, Dan was able to access a real Mellotron this time around, and puts it to great use too. Great music too, although it's only available as a limited edition vinyl/CD (gatefold handwritten and hand numbered) although thankfully the full album has been posted by YouTube from his own label Emkog Records, and can also be downloaded at Bandcamp.

  18. Demon Thor - Written In The Sky

    Actually it's only side one that makes it a great Mellotron album as side two is actually pretty lousy and Tron free. Demon Thor was a Swiss project lead by Tommy Fortman with Written in the Sky being the second. The opening side-length title track is a great piece of progressive rock with plenty of Mellotron to go with it. I only wished side two was of equal quality, but it's not. It's pretty awful straight rock and roll, as if Mr. Fortman wanted commercial acceptance. Seems I'm hardly alone on this opinion from reviews I've seen. Get it for the wonderful title track and forget the rest.

  19. Diagonal (2) - Diagonal

    This is what you get with an album recorded at Toe Rag Studios in London. Toe Rag allows no digital or virtual gear in their studios. So this prog band (with psychedelic overtones) had to use analog gear, and they used plenty of Mellotron, one that was borrowed from Andy Thompson of the Planet Mellotron website and the band Litmus. You might just mistake this for a lost gem of the late '60s/early '70s, although fact is, none of the band were even alive at that time (they were all born sometime in the 1980s).

  20. Druid (3) - Toward The Sun

    I should not forget to include this. This group, like The Enid and England (the band that released Garden Shed) was very much a latecomer in the UK prog scene, so obviously they arrived too late to leave an impression (the punk scene that arrived in '76 only made that more clear that new UK acts playing prog could no longer stand a chance, even Druid never made it past a second album, and England only managed one album at the time, and only The Enid made it well into the 1980s). Of course Druid's resemblance to Yes meant that they were likely treated the same way in the UK as Starcastle had in the US. Regardless, recommended if you like Yes, plus there's plenty of Mellotron to keep you happy.

  21. Earth And Fire - Song Of The Marching Children

    This was Earth & Fire's first tron album. "Storm and Thunder" and the title track features plenty of it. You'll be glad to know of Earth & Fire if you're a lover of the Mellotron. It's a huge shock to learn that all their albums starting with this one and ending as late as 1982's In State of Flux uses the Mellotron. Obviously you need their early albums, as their later albums (like Andromeda Girl and In State of Flux) are pretty dreadful, despite the Mellotron, not to mention the Mellotron use on their later stuff wasn't particularly imaginative, but on the other hand I was rather surprised they'd still use one in the early '80s.

  22. Earth & Fire* - Memories

    This incredible single includes the Dutch #1 hit "Memories" and it's Crimson-esque flip side "From the End till the Beginning", tons of tron, both sides!

  23. Eela Craig - Stories / Cheese

    1 For Sale from $337.08

    Eela Craig did use their fair share of Mellotron on their late '70s releases (One Niter, Hats of Glass, one cut off Missa Universalis), but it wasn't something that blew me away on that front (great albums still, although the religious lyrics of Missa Universalis are a bit hard for me to take in). But in 1974 they recorded this impossible to find single, and it was obviously the sound of a band who discovered the Mellotron because both "Stories" and "Cheese" are loaded with it! Those songs were re-recorded on Hats of Glass, with much of the tron replaced by string synths, so obviously you want the originals for the Mellotron. While you probably can't find the original (or afford it), you can luckily get them as bonus cuts off the 1997 Garden of Delights CD reissue of their 1971 self-entitled debut, saving you time and money.

  24. Ethos (3) - Ardour

    Good American prog, from Fort Wayne, Indiana, with two keyboardists, one including Mellotron, the other Chamberlin, and nicely used throughout.

  25. Ethos (3) - Open Up

    So the Mellotron disappeared on this album, but why am I including this second release here? Because the Chamberlin is used throughout, and is the American precursor of the Mellotron, which operates much the same way. This is one album you get to know how the Chamberlin is like, so you can see how it differs from the Mellotron.