But the very fact that he had such skill in controlling and taming the mellotron in and of itself qualifies him as one of the great underrated keyboardists of all time.
Indeed, the mellotron has always been considered one of the greatest, most monstrous enemies of keyboard players through the ages, and most of today's developments in synth sound were driven for the sole purpose of putting the mellotron in the past.
Mostly though, it's the fact that everyone in the band (they all contributed songs) was willing and able to be honest to the world and bear their heart and soul in the music.
Now, keep in mind, this is one of the main criticisms that Rolling Stone has of them, but if you have a sensitive bone in your body, this stuff can't help but move you.
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I will admit that they had their share of stinkers, yes, but more often than not, they all demonstrated a total, intuitive comprehension of what a great melody should sound like.
Their 'core seven' are all filled with phenomenally beautiful songs, and even when the band changed many parts of their original style as the 80's came along, they were still able to make music which was, well, terrific in spite of itself. The arrangements were almost always gorgeous and always very different from what others were doing (more on that in a bit) and the lyrics were always profound, bombastic (if you prefer, 'overblown') and memorable.
I would approach it with this sense of fear and forboding, not knowing what sound would come out of it when I played it; could be strings, could be a trumpet, maybe an oboe ...
over time moisture would buildup in it and the tapes would get warped and stretched ..." You get the idea.