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Nirvana - The Story of Simon Simopath CD (album) cover

THE STORY OF SIMON SIMOPATH

Nirvana

 

Proto-Prog

3.17 | 15 ratings

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ClemofNazareth
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk Researcher
3 stars ‘The Story of Simon Simopath’ released the same year as ‘Sgt. Pepper’, ‘Days of Future Passed’, and ‘The Who Sell Out’. Like all of them this was one of the earliest incarnations of a rock concept album (using that term fairly liberally in the case of the Who). But unlike them this wasn’t a collaborative effort by an established band; rather, the UK version of Nirvana was really just a duo of songwriters (Patrick Campbell-Lyons Alex Spyropoulos) who brought in session musicians to complete this recording. They would also employ some of those artists in a couple of brief attempts at touring and cameo live appearances, but in the end most of what Nirvana would put out in their sixties heyday would come from the work of Campbell-Lyons Spyropoulos.

The story line is rather trite today, but creative and clever enough for 1967 I suppose. Simon, the main and almost only human character, is a young daydreamer who wants to learn to fly and find someone spectacular to live rather than be confined to Earth and to his dreary job behind a computer terminal. This in itself is rather reaching considering the first personal computer wouldn’t be introduced for nearly fifteen years after the album released and very few non-scientific jobs of that day involved using a mainframe terminal.

Then again perhaps Simon had connections in the science world, since he manages to land a gig shooting around the cosmos in a shuttle ship (also something not invented at the time but which has been since) and sending reports back to Earth. In the course of his travels he encounters a space-bound centaur (okay, not everything in this story ends up coming true in real life). The centaur transports him to a faraway world of bliss and peace and beauty and – well, basically Nirvana. There he meets and marries his dream girl and presumably lives happily ever after.

So that’s the whole story, and the album isn’t much longer than that, clocking in at less than 26 minutes spread over ten very brief songs, each representing pretty much one scene in the tale. The album closes with the very premature “1999”, an inaccurate prediction of when such a story might come to fruition.

The music here isn’t really progressive, although in 1967 it was probably considered to be. The similarities to ‘Sgt. Pepper’ are stronger than to ‘Days of Future Passed’, with simple guitar riffs, jaunty piano and peppy rhythms abounding. Think a less pensive version of Klaatu’s ‘Hope’ and you’ll get the idea.

While the duo enjoyed brief success and critical acclaim for the record, they were never able to make the band work as a live act and would disband just a few years later after managing to release four additional albums, all of which are slightly more progressive musically than this one. This is a mildly interesting and entertaining record, but nothing to get too excited about. I’m going to say it merits three stars for being innovative in its day, but not enough so to rate the label ‘essential’. Check out ‘Local Anaesthetic’ first, which is my personal favorite and features one of the greatest progressive music album covers of all time. If you’re still interested then this one will likely appeal to you as well. Otherwise just spin ‘Sgt. Pepper’ again and call it good.

peace

ClemofNazareth | 3/5 |

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