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Nirvana - Songs of Love and Praise CD (album) cover

SONGS OF LOVE AND PRAISE

Nirvana

 

Proto-Prog

2.31 | 7 ratings

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ClemofNazareth
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk Researcher
3 stars I think this album got a bad rap when it was first released, and hasn't fared much better over the years. Granted, it isn't the same band that delivered a trio of solid mellow acid folk albums in the late sixties as a trio of Patrick Campbell-Lyons, Alex Spyropoulos and Sylvia Schuster (Schuster leaving before the second album was completed but returning to appear on this one). And the sounds here are much closer to glossy pop with Donavon and Beach Boys-like undertones that also owe a heavy debt to the Beatles.

But that's okay in my mind, especially since the band as it was originally known became no more after Spyropoulos departed not long after the 70s began. What else was Campbell- Lyons supposed to do? No band, plenty of original tunes at his disposal, studio savvy, and no shortage of musical and record business connections. It would frankly have been more of a shame had he hung it up and focused solely on producing other people's music.

'Songs of Love & Praise' represents the last of an era for Nirvana, and really the first Campbell-Lyons solo record, although like I said he did have Schuster back to provide strings and backing vocals to solid effect. There are a couple of recognizable early songs as well, with mixed results. "Rainbow Chaser" is probably the best-known Nirvana song, and the rendition here is decent enough but a bit too studio-glossed for my tastes. "Pentecost Hotel" on the other hand from 'The Story of Simon Simopath' is as good or better than the original and benefits from choral backing and more pronounced piano without losing any of its mellow trippy magic.

The rest of these songs are also pretty good, and though some have panned the sometimes over-the-top string arrangements I personally find them to be soothing and pleasant when they are employed, beginning with "Please Believe Me" and the "It's Too Late" Carole King piano ripoff from her megalithic 1971 album 'Tapestry'. "Lord up Above" also emphasizes strings with some soaring cello to augment the delicate piano and guitar work along with Schuster's harmonic backing.

Campbell-Lyons does manage to throw in at least some vestiges of the band's acid folk days with a Dylan-like vocal performance set to hand percussion, strident jazzy piano and a funky bass line on "She's Lost It" and again on the brief "Nova Sketch". He also throws in some trippy fuzzed guitar on "I Need Your Love Tonight" that falls just this side of pop but manages to recall the best of his early guitar work. And "Will There Be Me" is a clear blend of late-sixties West Coast pop and poetic post-beat glib prose. Reminds me of bands like The Comfortable Chair and Blossom Toes.

The producers pull out all the stops on the lengthy "Stadium" with smooth tempo shifts, plenty of strings that give way to improvisational jazz piano, horns, and crisp percussion as well as an extended instrumentation bridge to a hazy and somewhat abstract, swirling crescendo. Fans of the more ethereal Klaatu and Alan Parsons work will appreciate this one.

The CD reissue includes "On the Road", a bonus track that apparently dates to the late sixties with carefree lyrics of endless summer set to a distinct pop folk groove. Randy California would have approved (and maybe he did).

While this is certainly not the most progressive album from a band that was not the most progressive to begin with, it is a solid and enjoyable collection of tunes that are all worth spinning a few times for those who enjoy tastefully arranged compositions that have noticeable connections to the heyday of acid folk. I can't quite go to four stars but don't have any problem rating this as a very high three star record, and would recommend it to most any acid folk, folk rock or late sixties hippie pop music fans.

peace

ClemofNazareth | 3/5 |

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