Nektar - Journey to the Centre of the Eye (Bellaphon) 1972
1. "Prelude (1:24)
Trippy! Spacey! Far Out! Wow, like, check out the colors man, the colors. Dude, is that a cow flying over there? Uh, ha-ha, check it out man, that clock has no hands. Hahahahahaha! How about throwing on some "Ummagumma'? Dude, pass that thing over here. Oh man, do you have any Visine dude, I gotta go home. Huh, oh, right, I was suppose to be commenting on Nektar's "Journey to the Centre of the Eye." Hey wait, I think I already did.
Nektar - A Tab in the Ocean (Bellaphon) 1972
1. "Tab in the Ocean"
This album was so far superior to their debut, it's almost like two different bands. What's odd and uncommon about that is "Tab in the Ocean" was released within months of the band's debut. Rather than being totally lost in some sci-fi drug adventure, Nektar added some actual melody and rhythm to their heavy metal/post-psychedelic, art-rock making it more palatable for those who do not have relapses of acid days like myself. The title track to Nektar's second album is an epic, progressive, art-rock song with plenty to hold your interest, without being on drugs. When this was released on vinyl in '72, this track took up all of side one and I can remember playing it over and over again. Side two, however, is even better as there is more guitar passages intermingled with excellent somber, mellow musical interludes and some heavier, crushing guitar parts.
1. Good Day (6:45)
"...Sounds Like This" is the third album from German progressive rock band Nektar and was the first of two studio albums recorded in 1973. "...Sounds Like This" was a double album clocking in at around seventy-five minuted and was the result of a two day studio recording 'experiment' in which the band went in with basic ideas for songs and just jammed and recorded the whole thing. Though it's not really a live album, as it was not recorded in front of an audience, is does capture that live spontaneity and energy. The recording itself is much heavier, rawer and more organic than anything the band had captured on tape previously. What's results is still progressive, slightly psychedelic and definitely a jam. Several songs are nothing more than extended jams that clock in at over ten minutes long. A couple of song clock in at around seven minutes long and the remaining few are around the four to five minute mark. At times, the sound here reminds me of early Deep Purple and Uriah Heep with those gnarly Hammond organ sounds and Roye Albrighton's wicked guitar sounds. Albrighton's guitar work is perhaps some of his best as he demonstrates incredible skill with some fantastic soloing.
Though the album is build around the longer jams, a couple of the shorter tracks, including "Do You Believe In Magic?" and "Good Day" are both Nektar classics. "Good Day" in particular is one of the band's more underrated cuts. The song is a grandiose progressive rock number with a super catchy, sing-along chorus. "New Day Dawning" is a very bluesy number that has a very short interlude of The Beatles "Norwegian Wood" buried into the middle of the song.
Nektar were never a band to repeat themselves and obviously were not afraid to take some musical risks. "...Sounds Like This" was a successful experiment for Nektar that is sandwiched between two of the band's more popular records,"A Tab in the Ocean" and "Remember the Future". As such, it's a forgotten gem in the Nektar discography.
Nektar - Remember the Future (Bacillus/Bellaphon) 1973
1. "Remember the Future
Part One" (16:41)
Classic progressive rock! The fact that this album didn't take Nektar into the same realms of popularity as bands like Yes, Genesis and Pink Floyd is a a bit of a mystery. I suppose the problem was that the masses just didn't get it. The same holds true for Yes' "Tales From Topographic Oceans". People were still looking for the radio hit. Bands like Yes may have had their epic songs, but mixed along with those was the "Roundabout" and "Starship Trooper". "Remember the Future" offers no "hits". However, true progressive rock fans were never interested in the hits to begin with, which is why Nektar have maintained a core, underground following. I mean, what more can a prog fan ask for than an album made up of two songs each filling up an entire side of the vinyl release? Well, how about the fact that these epic songs don't feel like they are draggin on in the slightest. How about stellar musicianship and superiour song writing. "Remember the Future" showcases a very underrated, and misunderstood band at the top of their game.
In 2004 this album was remastered and rereleased with far superior sound quality, so while this CD is part of my collection, it is also still on my want list.
Nektar - Down To Earth (Bellaphon) 1974
1. "Astral Man"
Recycled was the first Nektar album that I ever heard. It was that album that had me hunting the used record stores trying to find copies of other Nektar releases. Fortunately in NJ in the 80's their albums were easy to find. Unfortunately, their cds are now very hard to find and often very pricey. I e-mailed a friend in Germany to tell him that I was looking for this disc. He found me a used copy and sent it to me for free. Ah, God bless the internet. In any case, this disc has a circus them to it and like Recycled features some excellent progressive rock. Nektar really had their own distinct sound apart from many of the other prog-bands. Highly recommended for those into 70's prog-rock.
Nektar - Sunday Night at the London Roundhouse (Bacillus/Bellaphon) 1974
1. "Desolation Valley"
Yet another Nektar release that was never released in the U.S. How annoying! Anyhow, the original single disc version of "Sunday Night at the London Roundhouse ." The single disc version contains exactly the same track listing and track order as the original vinyl release. Tracks 1 and 2 were recorded live at the Roundhouse, London, November 25, 1973, Tracks 3-5 were recorded live at Chipping Norton Studios, Oxfordshire, March 27, 1974.
This disc was recently re-issued as a double disc in Germany (BELLAPHON 9724327). The extra disc contains several additonal tracks, as well as having been remasted. See below.
Nektar - Recycled (Bellaphon) 1975
8. "Sao Paulo Sunrise"
Albright's progressive rock outfit, NEKTAR, never caught on to the extent of bands like Emerson, Lake, & Palmer, Genesis, Yes, or even King Crimson. This German band whose music was way ahead of it's time, had a cult following in the 70's by fans of the aforementioned bands. For a while in the mid-70's it even seemed that Nektar would take America by storm, but for some reason it never happened. As a result most of their albums filled the delete bins which is how I discovered this awesome band in the early 80's. I bought "Recycled" on 8-track from Woolworth's for 50˘ and listened to it on my parents stereo repeatedly. Unlike ELP or Genesis, this was heavy stuff. Nektar mixed in crunchy guitar tones and some elements of what would be known as industrial long before it became in vogue almost a decade later. Perhaps nostalgia, perhaps not, but I went on a quest to find this on CD soon after I sold off my vinyl collection and finally ended up special ordering this pricey import for $20 from a local music store. Of course, this was before I discovered the internet. Regardless, it was worth the $20 as "Recycled" remains among my favorite albums of all time and certainly my favorite Nektar CD.
Nektar (Bellaphon) 1976
1. "Do You Believe
in Magic" (3:43 )
This CD re-issue of Nektar's
1976 compilation was released in 1987 in Germany. It features the same tracks
as on disc two of
1. "It's All Over
Nektar "Live in New York" is a phenomenal show with remarkably good sound. This show was recorded at the Academy of Music, New York City, NY on September 28th 1974 when the band were in their prime. My favorite tracks here are "Good Day" and the epic "A Day in the Life of a Preacher". Part of my reason for enjoying these songs so much is because I actually heard this live album before ever hearing the studio versions on "Sounds Like This." I also think that the live energy is captured quite well on these tracks.
This one has been released with multiple covers. I have two different versions, both pictured above. The Legend version features a somewhat generic cover with a band photo, while the Bellaphon version features the original cover as it appeared on vinyl in 1974.
Nektar - Magic is a Child (Bellaphon) 1977
1. "Away from Asgard"
This album is somewhat of an enigma in the Nektar catalog. Fans seem to either love it or hate it. I guess the biggest problem most fans have with this CD is that guitarist and vocalist Roye Albrighton left the band. I suppose this would be like Led Zeppelin without Jimmy Page. It's just unheard of. Other complaints are that the songs are shorter and less progressive in nature. However, despite this major line-up and sound changes, this isn't a bad CD. The music is sophisticated hard rock, with a some progressive influence. The tracks are varied, so it's difficult to really pin down a style. Perhaps my favorite track is the bluesy "Listen" which is probably the closest to the classic Nektar sound and "Love to Share" which reminds me a bit of The Beatles more experimental stuff. I don't know. Perhaps I am just a Nektar die-hard because I really find this CD to be enjoyable, even if it isn't of the same calibur as "Remember the Future" or "Recycled".
Nektar - More Live Nektar in New York (Bellaphon) 1978
1. "Fidgety Queen"
his one is basically the remainder of the set from the "Live At New York" album that was recorded at the Academy of Music - New York City on September 28th 1977. These two albums were released seperately on vinyl, then again on CD. A few tracks are repeated here from the "Live in New York" set, which is kind of strange.
An official, remastered, 2-CD set is scheduled for release through the band in '06 that will include the entire New York show.
Nektar - Man in the Moon (Voiceprint) 1980
1. "Too Young To Die"
Originally recorded in 1980, "Man in the Moon" has been out of print for several years. Since it was only ever released in Germany, it was quite the rare find. In May 2002 "Man in the Moon" was remastered and expanded with the addition of two bonus tracks and a booklet that includes many photos of the band. Unfortunately this disc was still only released in Germany. Thanks to the wonders of the internet, and the generousity of friends, however I was able to obtain this disc pretty easy. Musically, "Man in the Moon" continues with the tradition of Albright's late 70's progressive works with a slightly more commercial edge. At points I was reminded of Marillion or even late 70's Yes, while at other points I was reminded of something more akin to Donny Iris. So the progressive, epic nature of Nektar past is no longer present yet even though the songs are shorter and slightly more pop oriented, the songwriting is still solid and catchy and Albright's vocals sound better than ever. In other words, Nektar still sounds like Nektar.
Nektar - Highlights (Bellaphon) 1987
Nektar's music is hard as heck to find. I had been looking for "Remember the Future" for quite some time, so this disc was a nice surprise as it also offered a bunch of early material not unlike "Through the Ears," a compilation that has never been released on cd. In any case, the mastering on these two discs are awful, but listenable. Since I don't have any of these songs in cd format, this disc will just have to do.
Nektar - The Dream Nebula-The Best of 1971-1975 (Cleopatra) 1998
Listening to this compilation of "the best of" Nektar, I thought to myself how odd it is that I like them so much. They are so different from everything else I enjoy, yet I still listen to them on a regular basis. Nektar were progressive rock, which certainly is one of the most misunderstood genres of rock. For some reason few progressive bands have found major success, and those that have seem to define the style. Bands like Genesis, Yes, Pink Floyd, and ELP immediately come to mind. However, Nektar are very different from all these bands. Their music can perhaps best be described by holding you eyelids shuts with your fingers and and staring into that bizarre light that you see even in the dark. It's almost as if you are floating in a dream-like outer space. Trippy? Perhaps, but then it was the 1970's. This disc offers a chronological trip throught the band's most popular years (1971-1975). The first half of disc one features the band's early material, while "Do You Believe In Magic" signaled a change in direction for the band. While the song isn't the band's strongest, the attempt at writting a "hit" single actually worked well with the band's spacy songwriting tendencies. Personally, I have always been fond of the "Recycled" and "Down to Earth". I think that these two albums were the perfect mixture of what "Do You Believe in Magic" was an attempt at. Disc Two features material from both of these albums. However, I was a bit disappointed that more material from "Down to Earth" wasn't chosen. While "Fidgety Queen" is a good choice, I also think that "Astral Man" should have been included, especially since this song was released as a single. Despite my complaints, for a casual fan of the band this CD is a good introduction to the band's catalogue. For some it may be all the Nektar they ever need. Either way, this CD is a decent overview of one of the most overlooked progressive band's of the 70's.
Nektar - The Prodigal Son (Bacillus/Bellaphon) 2001
1. "Terminus / Oh
YES! (no, not the band, the statement!) Nektar has returned! Well, most of them, anyway. Three of the original four band members, including Taff Freeman, Ray Hardwick and vocalist/guitarist Roye Albrighton. When a band reunites old fans tend to hope for a rehashed sound from the bands past. Sometimes when a band revisits their old sound, it is a good thing, sometimes it is not. In the case of "The Prodigal Son", Nektar have met somewhere in the middle. What they have successfully managed to accomplish here is a melding of their classic, progressive rock sounds and some 21st Century influences and production values. The complex arrangements and the synthesizers are all mostly gone, replaced by a standard quartet of guitars, bass, organ and piano, and drums. However, the playing and songwriting is excellent, with both Albrighton and Freeman give us some exciting solos. I know this is probably considered blashpemy to Nektar die-hards, bit "The Prodigal Son" has an almost Pink Floyd quality to it and can almost be compared to albums like "Momentary Lapse of Reason." It's not that they sound the same, but they have that quality and that sort of distinction from their earlier works. The production is superb; the sound is crystal clear, making it easy to hear every instrument, every note and every nuance. This cannot be said of some of their early material and the muddier 1970's production. Sitting in my bed late at night, I was listening to this CD and completely enjoying all that the band had to offer, even though I did originally hope for the slightly more complex sounds of "Remember the Future" and "Recycled". "The Prodigal Son" was written entirely by Albrighton was inspired by Albrighton's own humanity with each song based loosely around his life as a rocker, family man, and transplant recipient. While I am not familiar with Albright's life, many of the songs seem to have that surreal, "life passing before my eyes" type of feel, recounting days gone by from this perspective. Overall, a solid album musically, an intersting album lyrically and a welcome return for Nektar.
Now this is one heck of a live album. Originally released in 1974 as a single vinyl release. Apparently some of the tracks on that original vinyl (and later CD) release weren't even from the London Roundhouse set. Well this brand new and complete edition of the band's live album corrects those errors. On top of this, the sound is improved ten fold. This new edition has been extensively remastered and sounds absolutely phenomenal. Every hit on the high hat, every strum of the guitar, everything can be heard very clearly. It's actually hard to believe this was recorded in 1974. This set features almost the entire "Remember the Future" album. My favorite track is the opening "Crying in the Dark/King of Twighlight" but the epic "A Day in the Life of a Preacher" is equally stunning. There was just something special about live performances in the 70's, and that something special is most certainly captured on "Sunday Night At The London Roundhouse".
Nektar - Greatest Hits Live (Classic Rock) 2002
1. "A Tab in the Ocean"
Despite the generic sounding name of this CD, this is not just some collection of hits from various previously released recordings. Rather, what we have here is a live reunion CD. Nektar got together to perform at the Patriot Theater in New Jersey (my old stomping grounds) for Nearfest 2002 and in the process recorded this live album. Joinging Nektar on stage was synthesiser legend Larry Fast. Together the band created a fabulous live output that still sounds as fresh as it did back when these songs were originally written. The track listing is superb as well, taking songs from throughout the band's 1970's catalog. I wouldn't have minded if they added a few more songs from "Down To Earth", and "Astral Man" in particular would have been cool. However, as it stands, this is an excellent collection of live songs.
Nektar - Unidentified Flying Abstract-Live At Chipping Norton 1974 (Bellaphon) 2002
1. "Desolation Valley"
This is the Nektar remix and re-master of the recordings made at Chipping Norton Studios, Oxfordshire on March 27th 1974. Previously featured as edited versions on the original 1974 Bellaphon release of "Sunday Night at the London Roundhouse". This CD features all the tracks that were recorded at those sessions. The live recording session was a celebration of bassist Mo Moore's birthday. The music here is pretty much just a jam with the band exploring some new ideas that would never be heard again in this form, save for the opening track. "Desolation Valley", which originally appeard on "A Tab in the Ocean", appears here but is vastly different in it's approach than the original. Here it has a jazzier,lighter, more airy feel. Throughout the CD, Albrighton is given a chance to shine, and shine he does. The booklet included with this CD gives some wonderful insight into this recording session with extensive liner notes that tell the story of what led up to this recording session as well as in depth explanations of each song and unseen photos of the band. "Unidentified Flying Abstract" is an extraordinary recording and a choice piece of Nektar history.
Nektar - Evolution (Dream Nebula) 2004
1. "Camouflage To
Pure and simple, Nektar are masters of melody and hook. I've found something to like about all their release, but quit frankly, nothing they have done since "Recycled" and "Down To Earth" have been quit as good. "Evolution" is quite simply one of the finest releases since those classic albums. "Evolution" is not an album you can digest in just one listen. It will take two or three listens to begin to appreciate all the strong musicianship, the song writing and all the progressive elements. Of course, Roye Albrighton is the star of the show here. His brilliant guitar work and song writing is the catalyst for Nektar. However, Taff Freeman’s keyboards also take a lead role on "Evolution". His eloquent keyboard work plays a central role on this batch of songs. The songs vary, even within themselves, from sweeping acoustic passages to hard progressive rock. Nothing here is what I would describe as heavy. Rather, I would describe this album as relaxing. Past fans of Nektar should be more than pleased with this album. It's just such a shame that there aren't as many fans as there should be.