Have you ever heard of Nektar? I, for one, had not. This album is really cool. I really enjoyed listening to it and researching this band. Nektar was formed in Hamburg, Germany in 1969 by 4 Englishmen. They started out making psychedelic rock albums. Their third album was the first one released in the United States. It was called “A Tab in the Ocean”. They developed a cult following largely by word of mouth. The next album called “Remember the Future” (1973) was a big hit and made it up to the Billboard top 20 album chart. It was a concept album about a blind boy who could communicate with Aliens. The Album I have in front of me now was the follow up. “Down to Earth” was released the next year (1974). It is a concept album as well. It is about a circus. It also sold well and made it up into the Billboard top 40 album chart. The album features their only single that made it onto the Billboard charts “Astral Man”. in 1975 they released the album “Recycled” which is considered their masterpiece. I have read that is sounds a lot like Gentle Giant. What is really amazing to me is that they are still around performing and recording. They reformed in 2002. As a matter of fact they are in studio now recording a CD for release this year. Check out their website at http://www.nektarsmusic.com/nn/home/home_new.asp
So let’s review the LP.
Astral Man/Nelly the Elephant
The Album starts with the sounds of a crowd and circus music. Then the sounds of Astral Man. It’s a very easy song to listen to. Upbeat and happy. All the songs were co-written by the entire band. The song uses the Master of Ceremonies of the Circus to transition the song into the next cut Nelly the Elephant. Nelly starts out with a great brass instrumental passacaglia over which the lead guitar blasts out this great fuzz guitar solo. The MC returns “Elephants are extremely fond of Oranges of which they consume an enormous quantity!” The brass returns and fades out.
Early Morning Clown
This is a short and very beautiful song. It sounds like the Moody Blues to me. I really like the complexity of the opening instrumental.
Side one closes with this great cut That’s Life. Very jazz influenced. Great instrumental work. I really like the guitar work of Roye Albrighton (Lead Guitar, Lead Vocal). The song closes with the return of the Ring Master on a rant and the chorus.
The German Ring Master begins side 2 telling us how much we are going to enjoy the show. Fidgety Queen has the sound of Funk. Great brass playing. Once again a great guitar hook in the song followed by another great guitar solo. The lead vocal has a McCartney like quality to it.
This is just a great Rock n Roll song. It just makes you want to move. Then it goes into this dream like instrumental section. Awesome quiet guitar solo that leads to a crescendo and a recap of the rock section.
This is one of the best songs on LP in my opinion. It has great lyrics and melody. It also has a memorable chorus. It has a sound sort of like old Fleetwood Mac (Pre Buckingham/Nicks) or even old Moody Blues again. I can’t quite put my finger on it.
Show Me The Way
This song starts with great rock piano. It has an interesting middle section. The transition to the slower middle section is very creative. I love the transition back to the main rock them where the vocalist repeats over and over “show me the way”
The music fades in and we get one more taste of the great passacaglia of Nelly the Elephant and then fades out. A really creative interesting album. Nektar for my ears! n I loved it.
This album makes me want to explore more. I’d love to find Remember the Future and Recycled. I look forward to hear the newer music from Nektar as well. Check them out. You will not be disappointed.