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Nektar - Down To Earth CD (album) cover

DOWN TO EARTH

Nektar

 

Psychedelic/Space Rock

3.41 | 129 ratings

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stefro
Prog Reviewer
3 stars Somewhat undervalued by prog fans and often mistaken for a German act due to their popularity in that part of Europe, Nektar have nevertheless enjoyed a fairly successful career since the release of their 1971 debut, the dense psychedelic concept piece 'Journey To The Centre To The Eye'. Since then, the British outfit have slowly developed from an early-Pink Floyd style acid-rock group into purveyors of fully-fledged progressive rock, as evidence on the excellent sophomore effort 'A Tab In The Ocean', the 'live-in-the-studio' double album ''...Sounds Like This' and 1973's fan favourite 'Remember The Future', all the while building up a loyal following throughout Europe and North America. Like many of their colleagues, they produced their best work during the early-to-mid part of the 1970s, before pursuing a more commercial direction as the musical times began to change. Released in 1974, 'Down To Earth' - another concept album-of-sorts - can be counted as the last essential Nektar release before American success blunted their once highly cosmic edge. Featuring Hawkwind vocalist Robert Calvert as an eccentric ringmaster introducing many of the tracks, the album revolves around a highly-original circus theme whilst also employing a hard-rock approach that wouldn't again be utilised until the group's 21st century material saw them, like many others, returning to their roots as progressive rock started to rise in popularity again. However, unlike it's predecessors, 'Down To Earth' is fairly brief, featuring a selection of memorable, slightly quirky(as befits the them) but ever-so-slightly lightweight songs, a style that would also grace follow-up release 'Recycled' and also appear in a softer, gooier guise on 1977's sentimental 'Magic Is A Child'. Simply put, 'Down To Earth' was Nektar's first step on that tricky commercial road many popular progressive rock groups would tread as the synthesized 1980's loomed ahead. Thankfully, however, there are still some excellent Nektar nuggets to be found here, with the psych-tinged rock of 'Nelly The Elephant' backed up by some wonderful keyboard-guitar interplay courtesy of Roye Albrighton and Alan Freeman on the intense mini-epic closer 'Show Me The Way'. Although this is very much a streamlined version of Nektar, 'Down To Earth' is still recommended to those who enjoy the group's earlier recordings, though the cosmic ambience of the first two albums has been replaced by a more anthemic rock sound. Still, there is much satisfaction to be gleamed from experiencing the group's skilful mixture of complex themes and dynamic musicianship, making 'Down To Earth' the group's last real entry into the progressive rock canon. Recommended.

STEFAN TURNER, STOKE NEWINGTON, 2012

stefro | 3/5 |

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