Song Of The Day 3/13/2014: The Graham Bond Organization - "Baby Can It Be True"

The Happy Electrode: The Mellotron is a darling little machine created in Birmingham, UK in 1963. In effect it's an analogue sampler - it contains segments of magnetic audiotape with any one of various sounds on it, and playing correspondent keys shifts the sounds to different notes on the scale. That flute-sounding introduction to "Strawberry Fields Forever" is actually a Mellotron. You could change out the tape samples to whatever you wanted, though that wasn't always advised. The instrument became a bit too unwieldy after digital sampling introduced itself, but it's still surprisingly common even in contemporary albums. Here's a site that purports to list every known album on which a Mellotron, or its direct ascendent the Chamberlin, appears.

Wikipedia, that indispensable resource for speculative real estate data and panoramic pictures of tornado-wracked steel towns, says the first hit single to use the Mellotron was the Graham Bond Organization's "Baby Can It Be True." You can hear it in there between the sprawling organ textures and the husky crooning.

I also found a charmingly stiff demo film which outlines the Mellotron's swagger, as well as an up-and-coming musician demonstrating its artistic potential.

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