“Semi-Detached Suburban Mr. James”: More Early Mellotron

Graham Bond‘s July 1, 1965 recording of “Baby Can It Be True” (as noted in the previous post) was likely the first appearances of a Mellotron in popular music.  Manfred Mann‘s “Semi-Detached Suburban Mr. James” – the Mellotron’s next big pop moment – would be released as an A-side in October, 1966 at the same time The Beatles’ were incorporating a Mellotron in their demos for “Strawberry Fields Forever”:

“Semi-Detached Suburban Mr. James”     Manfred Mann     1966

Planet Mellotron pegs “Semi-Detached Suburban” as “possibly the first Mellotron hit” (reached #2 UK).  Manfred Mann would continue to use the Mellotron to great effect on 1967’s (single-only) “Ha! Ha! Said the Clown” and “So Long Dad.”

Manfred Mann 45-bManfred Mann 45-aManfred Mann 45-cManfred Mann 45-d

Lennon Takes Delivery of His Mellotron

Love the fact that the Mellotron merits an entry in The Beatles Bible for August 16, 1965 – “John Lennon’s Mellotron is Delivered to Weybridge“:

“While The Beatles were on tour in North America, a Mellotron was delivered to Kenwood, John Lennon’s home in Weybridge, England.   Lennon had seen a Mellotron for the first time on 9 August 1965, while producing The Silkie’s version ‘You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away’ at London’s IBC Studios.

The Mellotron had a range of ‘sampled’ sounds stored on magnetic tapes, which had been recorded at IBC in 1964.  Lennon was intrigued and impressed with the instrument, and immediately ordered one in black.

The instrument was used on a number of recordings by The Beatles from 1966 onwards, perhaps most notably in the introduction to ‘Strawberry Fields Forever.'”

“Baby Can It Be True”: Early Mellotron

“Strawberry Fields Forever” would take the music world by storm in February, 1967, in no small part, due to the opening flute sounds produced by a tape-driven sampling keyboard known as a Mellotron [link to “Top 10 Mellotron Songs” from Ultimate Classic Rock].

Mellotron Diagram

Two years earlier, however, Graham Bond had already employed this radical and revolutionary instrument to great effect on what is widely considered to be the first use of a Mellotron on a popular recording — 1965’s “Baby Can It Be True“:

“Baby Can It Be True”     The Graham Bond Organization”     1965

Recorded in one take on July 1, 1965, “Baby Can It Be True” – strictly an album track,from There’s a Bond Between Us – would never enjoy release in 7-inch form.

Graham Bond LP[Left to right (above): Ginger Baker; Jack Bruce; Graham Bond & Dick Heckstall-Smith]

Ginger Baker is out on tour and will be playing at DC’s historic Howard Theatre – June 19.

Graham Bond Organisation:  Secret Musicians on B-Side by The Who!

As Graham Bond points out on his own website, the Graham Bond Organisation is the uncredited jazz quartet simply identified as “The Who Orchestra” on “Waltz for a Pig” – an instrumental that was used (for unclear reasons) as the flip side of The Who’s Top 10 UK (and Australia, Netherlands & New Zealand) radio hit, “Substitute” in March, 1966.

The musicians on “Waltz For A Pig:  Graham Bond (organ), Ginger Baker (drums), Dick Heckstall-Smith (tenor sax) and Mike Falana (trumpet).

“Waltz for a Pig” written by “Butcher” — coincidence?

Who 45

This is the thirteenth Zero to 180 piece to be tagged electronic musical instruments.

Link to related piece:  “Semi-Detached Suburban Mr. James“:  More Early Mellotron