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Nektar - Down To Earth CD (album) cover

DOWN TO EARTH

Nektar

 

Psychedelic/Space Rock

3.42 | 158 ratings

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Progfan97402
4 stars When I was younger, I hated this album. I didn't like the commercial approach they were doing, with all those horns, female backup vocals (including Northern Soul singer P.P.. Arnold, a singer progheads know for The Nice backing her up before going their own way) and that stupid circus concept. Years later have been more kind to this album, as has Triumvirat's Spartacus and Acqua Fragile's Mass-Media Stars (albums I didn't initially care for but came to like them years later). I have to still admit "Show Me the Way" is rather lame, and that's probably why I had such a negative impression of the album. "Astral Man" is the opening piece, and I really enjoyed this, even back when I was much younger. It's rather catchy, and Robert Calvert provides some German-like narration on this album. "Nelly the Elephant" is another great piece, this one all instrumental, and the horns actually work fine here. "Early Morning Clown" is a more acoustic number, and it sounds like some low key synthesizers are being used. Also I noticed some rather low key Mellotron. "That's Life" was another one of those songs that gave be a bad impression of the album back in the day, I came to terms with it, what I didn't notice back then was this huge Mellotron strings and brass that ended this piece. I often wondered why Allan "Taff" Freeman didn't use more Mellotron (the most amount of Mellotron you'd find on a Nektar album is on Journey to the Centre of the Eye). "Fidgety Queen" and parts of "Little Boy" shows a more hard rock side of the band, while "Show Me Way" is really as bad as the song title suggests. "Finale" is simply a revisit of "Nelly the Elephant". It's obvious the band wanted to continue on the commercial success they had with Remember the Future (which had unexpected US success, despite the lack of hit singles, it probably had to do with pre-AOR FM rock, which was progressive FM rock, a format that was starting to decline, to be replaced by 1975 or '76 with AOR, the format that gave Boston, Journey, Styx, REO Speedwagon, Foreigner, and Kansas huge FM radio airplay and gigantic success in the late '70s despite their dislike from the rock critics). Down to Earth, despite the more commercial approach didn't quite meet up with sales expectation of its predecessor, one can guess the record buying public was put off by the more commercial approach, the horns, the strings, female backup vocals, and circus theme. Or the fact by 1975 (when this album was released in the States) FM rock radio was starting to become commercial and turning to the commercialized AOR format, which favored something like Foreigner's "Hot Blooded" and Kansas' "Carry On Wayward Son" and "Dust in the Wind" (OK so Kansas is liked by many progheads, but they have their detractors even in the prog community) over side-length concepts from Nektar (and DJs could no longer play "In-a-Gadda-da-Vida" in its full in order to have extra coffee breaks or to snooze).

I remembered hearing an online interview with Roye Albrighton, and he seemed to have glossed over Down to Earth like it didn't exist (he also glossed over ...Sounds Like This). Apparently the band had been rather dismissive of this album and look much more fondly to the next album Recycled.

So another one of those albums I used to think suck, but now I like (except "Show Me the Way). Certainly Remember the Future, A Tab in the Ocean and Journey to the Centre of the Eye are better albums, I won't deny that.

Progfan97402 | 4/5 |

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