Ella Mental

album cover

Tracks:

  1. Eddie's Cat (Mac & Parr) (3:29)
  2. Seasons Come Season Go (Mac & Parr) (4:19)
  3. No Woman No Cry (Vincent Ford) (5:25)
  4. Walking in the Light (Mac & Parr) (4:07)
  5. Is it any Wonder (Col-rua/Tutty/Mac/Parr) (5:35)
  6. Freedom Jive (Mac & Parr) (5:13)
  7. Song For Jenny (Mac & Parr) (4:03)
  8. Seeds of Tomorrow (Mac & Parr) (3:40)
  9. Africa (Mac & Parr) (3:11)
  10. Madman (Mac & Parr) (4:15)

Produced by Stewart Levine for Oliverea Productions Ltd. (also produced Simply Red, Hothouse Flowers & Blancmange)
Recorded at Ocean Way Recording Studios - Hollywood California.

Musicians:

  • Tim Parr - Guitars & Vocals
  • Heather Mac - Lead Vocals
  • Robbie Brennan - Drums
  • Thomas Tutty - Bass
  • Kevin Strong - Keyboards
  • Dave MacHale - Piano & Keyboards
  • Lenny Castro - Percussion
  • Risenga Makondo - Percussion on 'Seeds of Tomorrow'
  • Aaron Zigman & Larry Williams - Synthesizer Programming & Additional Keyboards
  • Marc Russo - Saxophone Solos
  • Kim Hutchcroft - Saxophone
  • Jerry Hey - Trumpet & Flugelhorn

  • Background Vocals: Paulette Brown, Bunny Hull, Valerie Pinkston Mayo, Abner Abbey Mariri, Ronald Sithembile Kunene, Caseline Ntombana Kunene, Emily Moseki.

Release information:

1989, Warner Brothers for the US and WEA International Inc. "for the world outside the US", 925 882-1)

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Review:

After building up a good following in SA, Ella Mental moved to California to try and make the big time. The result was an album simply entitled 'EllaMental'. My first question was did they have to leave SA to make this album? I don't think so. In fact I think they actually lost something they had in South Africa. The punky edge to Heather Mac's voice is all but gone on the record, surfacing occasionally on the heavier, darker tracks such as 'Madman' and 'Is it any wonder', the latter being spoilt by Heather's attempt at rap (the American influence?) which borders on the embarrasing.

It sounds like a group who are not quite sure who they are, fluctuating between sounding like Mango Groove and pure American Rock, being Americanised, but desperately clutching to their African roots.

That said, there are some really good songs on the album. 'Africa' and 'Freedom Jive' are really good African Pop songs, while the melancholic cover version of 'No Woman No Cry' borders on sublime. There are some good brass arrangments on a number of songs keeping the general feel of the album in an upbeat mood. However underlying this is a sadness that is evident in lyrics such as "It's been sometime since I left my land of birth/ and the reasons for my leaving haven't changed" from 'Africa' and a strong political message in a number of songs.

This is not the EllaMental of 'Pressure' and 'See Yourself' days. They managed to produce a good but not great album which fell short of their early promise. I think the 30 million lonely people of South Africa would have been better off had they stayed.
-- John Samson, August 2000

Webpage:

All info supplied by John Samson, July 2000.


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