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Nirvana - To Markos III (aka Black Flower) CD (album) cover

TO MARKOS III (AKA BLACK FLOWER)

Nirvana

 

Proto-Prog

3.21 | 15 ratings

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ClemofNazareth
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk Researcher
3 stars Nirvana's third album pretty much spelled the end for the band, although co-founder Patrick Campbell-Lyons would keep the name alive with a series of solo recordings and the occasional reunion/tour, some of them including original member Alex Spyropoulos and even early live tour cellist Sylvia Schuster. The album was originally recorded for Island Records' Chris Blackwell and had the working title 'Black Flower', but Blackwell rejected the project as too derivative and declined to release it. The duo secured funding, reportedly from a family member of Spyropoulos, and issued a limited run titled 'Dedicated to Markos III' on the Pye Records label in 1970, which may have been intended only as a promo. There was also an Americas release on Metromedia Records around the same time. This is the same label that was an experiment on music promotion by the MetroMedia communications conglomerate. The label never managed to properly promote any of their acts including the Bay area Latin prog band Gypsy, psych band the Astral Projection, and a latter lineup of the folk revival icons Holy Modal Rounders. The only act they did manage to succeed with was the pop icon Bobby Sherman. The label folded not long after their Nirvana release and that album as well had only a limited run and is pretty much impossible to find today.

Several reissues have been published since the early nineties under a variety of titles including 'Black Flower', 'Dedicated to Markos III' and simply 'To Markos III'. The recordings for each are pretty much the same except that a couple of CD reissues include two bonus tracks, 'Shine' and 'Pentacost Hotel', one of the better known Nirvana singles that first appeared on 'The Story of Simon Simopath' and later in a slightly different version on the Campbell-Lyons solo Nirvana release 'Songs of Love & Praise'.

This is a cohesive album of sorts, with most of the tracks centering on themes of love, love lost, and yearning. One exception is the West Coast pop-psych sounding 'Christopher Lucifer' which was supposedly written in response to Chris Blackwell's refusal to release the album.

Most of these songs are glorified pop with occasional light psych leanings in the harmonizing vocals and guitar work, and more importantly some solid orchestral arrangements on songs like the opening 'The World is Cold Without You', a particularly lush 'Aline Cherie' and the mellow-jazz track 'Love Suite' with layers of horns to augment classical string arrangements, lilting piano and female backing vocals.

In total this isn't as consistent as the band's first two records, and possibly Blackwell was right not to release it at the time considering shifting musical tastes toward more pretentious progressive artists and 'cosmic' country rock that was being promoted by the Island label on the eve of the 70s. But today one has to wonder why someone didn't have the foresight to capitalize on the band's name and their penchant for complex pop-psych that was certainly at least comparable to similar works by the Beatles, ELO and even the Beach Boys circa the same period. Surely with some decent promotion some of these songs would have made decent singles and the album as a whole would have moved a respectable number of copies. Too bad, but for those who are interested in the band I'll rate this a solid three star effort that is worth finding, especially if you are a collector of obscure, semi-legendary albums from this period.

peace

ClemofNazareth | 3/5 |

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