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Argent - Nexus CD (album) cover

NEXUS

Argent

Crossover Prog


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lewisoutrider
4 stars I doubt that many prog rock fans from the golden years (1972-75) would have held Argent up as thier favourite group - strictly second division with the likes of Manfred Mann's Earth Band - but the album "Nexus" was very seductive. Although a little cheesy in places, the content is often sublime. Check out "Music from the Sphere's", track 5, the guitar outro goes on for ever and you still want more. Russ Ballard was no Steve Howe but he always got our attention. If you want just one Argent CD then this is the one.
Report this review (#26641)
Posted Saturday, January 10, 2004 | Review Permalink
Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars Music from the spheres

"Nexus" is Argent's most progressive album. The pop indulgences of "Hold your head up" and "God gave rock and roll to you" are largely gone, to be replaced by much more structured and serious compositions.

From the synthesiser driven three part instrumental opener "The coming of Kohoutek" through the dramatic "Music from the spheres" to the slightly more traditional Argent on side 2 of the LP, there's a coherence throughout.

Almost inevitably, the album was not as successful as "In deep" or indeed "All together now". There were no obvious singles, the band relying on the fan base they had acquired through their previous singles, to stay with them. It appears the lack of success for the album was a factor in Russ Ballard's subsequent departure, which in turn led to Argent (the band) rapidly becoming a spent force. "Nexus" however gave a wonderful illustration of how things could have been

Well worth seeking out.

Report this review (#26642)
Posted Monday, February 23, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars I really have to admit that i (also) like Argent in their "birth" ...as the first album is good clean,fun pop music !! Also i like their last two: "Counterpoints" and " Circus"...for the sheer brilliance of music capability!! But...now for "Nexus" ...ringing in at 42.20 minutes...its a stunner....first track "The coming of Kohoutek"...with its under theme (Classical)..is quite a masterpiece..with keys to the fore...Rod is a master of his trade.....actually its rather close to some work of ELP or Triumvirat.....gliding into a slow piece ...there´s that classical theme again (why cant i remember ...from where???)...the power of those first 2 songs instrumental are really awesome!! Mind you... Russ Ballard is no guitarhero...but he manages to come through....track four brings us...ahem.. back to the Argent we know a beautiful song with strong vocal arrangements....and plenty of keys (moog and mellotron)...and the ever reliable Bob henrit & Jim Rodford on the bass/drum basement!! I dare you to mention ANY band that slightly bares resemblance to Argent. These guys are unique...thank you for that!! "Nexus" is a master piece in its own right!! Find it...buy it...enjoy !!!
Report this review (#26643)
Posted Thursday, May 6, 2004 | Review Permalink
The Owl
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars In my teenage years, this disc got lots of turntable time (dating myself here). The disc seems to have a split-personality, divided between straight-up prog and straight-up rock 'n roll of a very high calibre I hasten to add. It was this dichotomy that actually made Argent a compelling listen for me.

"The Coming of Kohoutek" is a killer opening track (I think the main theme is from an old Gregorian chant of some sort) and the two succeeding parts are equally stunning, great keyboard work, fiery and upfront yet not obnoxiously overbearing either, a scary tightrope to walk and yet Rod Argent pulled it off so beautifully!

The ballad "Love" I could've done very well without, but the following track "Music Of The Spheres" is one that sticks with me long after it fades, very nice vocal arrangement, cool music and that repeating figure on the Rhodes and guitar together is so hypnotic, like another reviewer said it seems to go forever and you STILL want more! So true.

"Thunder and Lightning" is a good straight-up rocker, "Keeper of the Flame" is positively heart-wrenching with its haunting Mellotron and plaintive vocals. "Man for All Reasons" doesn't make much of an impression on me, but the disc closes strongly though with the fiercely rocking "Gonna Meet My Maker".

If Argent had one positively maddening aspect to it, it was Russ Ballard's guitar work, while certainly not bad by any means, it just didn't add much to the band either, especially on the more progressive tracks where some scorching lead guitar would've been a welcome sound. It seemed like he was afraid to just let go and burn up the fretboard. My impression is that Russ was more of a songwriter than instrumentalist anyway.

A very fun and engaging disc, misgivings aside, "--Kohoutek" alone makes it worth the price.

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Posted Thursday, May 6, 2004 | Review Permalink
Sean Trane
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Folk
3 stars 3.5 stars really!!

Argent's fifth album came after two commercial success, and probably as a result, their record label allowed them a bit more freedom on this one as it happens to be a tad less mass-appealing, but artistically-speaking this album is their tops, even if this is reached by the domination of Argent's songwriting of Ballard's. But this will be achieved at a great cost, as there will be no hit single on this album.

The three-part instrumental Kohoutek (presented on the Encore album as a 10-min Coming Of Kohoutek single track) is definitely the album's highlight as the first movement is taking its sweet time to unravel its mysteries and twists building from a slowly evolving synth drone to a full-blown guitar/bass twirls and climaxing with Argent's Moog and Hammond stabs at Emerson. The quieter second movement (once around the sun) is no less impressive with a rare Mellotron, while the third movement (Infinite Wanderer) is a little less successful because of Argent's piano work being a little too derivative, but this is a bit of nitpicking. Next to that monster track is the pale in comparison Love track, a rare Ballard credit on this album.

Another standout track is the Music From The Sphere where Argent finally dares to delve a little more in the jazz realm (he had done that successfully in Rings Of Hand with the Sleep track, where Auger's Hammond was obviously his master of thoughts), but his Rhodes is leading more towards Soft Machine's then-current albums (between 6 and Softs), and coupled with Ballard's soft singing, this turns out another strong track. Thunder And Lightning is another solid song (even if the Encore version is much more impressive) where the band proves it can deal drama as well as any other prog band of the era. Keeper Of The Flame is one of those too-often overlooked Argent classic and a favourite of mine. Again Rod Argent's full array of keyboards pepper the track to great effect and add precious depth to a finally-deep Argent album. A Man For All Reasons is another goodie but feels too much like a showcase for Rod's technical abilities, but unfortunately it doesn't stand up to the more glitzy competition. The album closes on the weakest track of the album, another Ballard-dominated Gonna Meet My Maker that unfortunately stands out like a sore thumb

While this album is clearly their better (and best) so far, it will also break up the group's unity. Argent's best prog compositions were clearly not well aligned with Ballard's poppier writings. Part of the frustration for progheads is that his poppier songwriting can be excellent (try out Barnett Dog - 79 and Into the Night - 81 to get a good idea of his songwriting capacities), it did not fit the proggier trackless of the group, his singing was rather uneven and his guitar work rarely more than apt, When Russ found himself with a little less space on this album (coupled with lower sales as it had no single), he took it wrong and left the band before the group's next studio album, but the Live! Encore album would be his swansong with them. In any case, Nexus is clearly Argent's definitive studio album, and clearly the one to investigate in priority, but I am still wary to call it that essential, especially if you own their Live8 Encore album, that is a résumé of Nexus' promotion tour.

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Posted Monday, May 10, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars NEXUS is simply one of ARGENT s' best albums. All songs are good, althought the production, could have been better (as in all Argent s' albums). The opening cut it is a masterpiece. Also good is "Keeper of the Flame" and "Music from the Spheres". Russ Ballard s' contributions are as always, good. I feel that if this record could be remixed and remastered, could improve to our delighment.
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Posted Sunday, December 19, 2004 | Review Permalink
ExittheLemming
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Interior Designer v Scaffolder

I always thought of Argent as being a very underrated band but on reflection, and after having listened again to most of their output, must conclude that the dichotomy between the 'songwriter' (Ballard) and the composer (Rod Argent) is not dissimilar to the underlying tensions that afflicted ELP (with Lake and Emerson playing these roles, respectively)

Nexus is certainly one of the more progressively slanted albums in their career and one of my favorites for that reason. (So guess which side of the Rod/Russ debate I'm on?)

'The Coming of Kohoutek' - probably the best Argent track ever and although a more powerful and perhaps 'gutsy' version of the piece exists on the live Encore album this is a brilliantly realized composition from start to finish. Based entirely on a theme* stated by Rod on Mellotron at the outset, it goes through some inspired transpositions and stylistic avenues with brilliant use of synth, pipe organ, piano, Hammond, guitar, drums and bass. All the band get their chance to shine here and I am continually struck by how good and sophisticated were Henrit, Ballard and Rodford as players

*Now I ain't no grass or nuttin' Rod but there is a rather large chunk of yer tune that is just a teeny weeny bit identical to Liszt's Totentanz...

'Love' - This is more representative of the 'song' based side of the group and contains some stunning harmony vocals which became something of an Argent trademark. There is a smidgen of the Fab Four circa Abbey Road in places with a rather 'too clever for its own good' arrangement. Very good song and one of the better Russ Ballard dominated efforts in their repertoire.

Music of the Spheres' - the aforementioned battle between the competing designs of Rod/Russ reaches a satisfying 'ceasefire' on this track which blossoms into a lasting truce between the technicalities of prog and the hook driven quest for memorable lyricism. In short, the song is strong enough to stand on its own shorn of the elaboration provided by the keyboard wizardry, but is all the stronger for the latter. Wonderful electric piano solo in the middle and you wish that the exploitation of the powerful main theme at the end could go on forever...

'Thunder and Lightning' - Clever and simple use of 'weather' effects and delay on the intro. Memorable and classic song which contains a similar and successful synergy as employed by Spheres The band would never achieve quite as perfect and happy a blend as this again.

'Keeper of the Flame' - Decent enough song but suffers from a relative ordinariness by what precedes it. The quiet section in the middle is tastefully done and almost redeems this number with some delicate then slowly building up crescendo work from Henrit and Rod. Close, but no cigar.

'Man for All Reasons' - Henrit's martial beat echoes Hold Your Head Up a bit too closely for comfort and the melody is not particularly memorable. Despite a good synth solo and some nice piano flourishes from Mr A, the piece never really goes anywhere and the band seem unsure where or how to end the tune satisfactorily.

'Gonna Meet My Maker' - Very much on the heavier rock side of prog with some bluesy guitar and harmonica on the intro. The time honored device of merely singing the exact same notes as the verse guitar riff can be effective, but here I think it substitutes for a lack of melodic ideas sourced from some dull harmonic ones. Good guitar playing from Ballard but not a very satisfying conclusion to the album.

Given that Russ Ballard subsequently went on to compose some extremely successful (but frankly repellent) hard rock songs for a variety of artists, we cannot really be too surprised at the eventual estrangement between the main parties here.

Rod Argent does not escape entirely unscathed either, as his own solo work could charitably be described as very uneven.

For those wishing to hear Argent at their most consistent, the best place to start would be the double live album Encore which certainly contains versions of much of their most enduring work.

Report this review (#169569)
Posted Friday, May 2, 2008 | Review Permalink
ZowieZiggy
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars This fifth "Argent" album is by far their most prog one.

The first trios of track are particularly brilliant. "Argent" is at its best. The organ play is absolutely gorgeous and the rhythm is well sustained during the opening number, although the full glory of "The Coming Of Kohoutek" is more intense in their good live album "Encore".

Both "Once Around The Sun" as well as "Infinite Wanderer" are extremely pleasant as well. The former is a soft instrumental with bombastic guitar and organ. It is a very emotional number which is so different than any prior "Argent" track. It is just a pity that it lasts for such a short time.

I guess that the band never was so close to ELP than during "Infinite Wanderer". Upbeat song and heavy organ. This is another great instrumental (the third one in a row). It is much in the style of the Rooster as well. It closes brilliantly this series of excellent (but short) tracks.

There is even a mellowish and IMO very dispensable song in the form of "Love". Indeed, it has the flavour of a love song. Pay attention not to fall asleep during these four minutes.

The band is also exploring the jazzy mood in the first part of "Music From The Spheres". Fortunately, they will be more inspired in the second one which is very much "Santana" oriented. It features a great guitar break (there are not many of those in their whole career). It is a very song after all.

The band is heading more into the heavy / funky rhythms with "Thunder And Lightning". Since it is the only one of the genre, let's not complain too much.

"Argent" reverts to a more prog sound and organ oriented song with "Man For All Reasons". This album is rather diversified and flirts with several musical genres. The last one to be taken into consideration is the heavy blues a la Purple Mark III. "Gonna Meet My Maker" is such a song. For the second time, the guitar work from Ballard is to be noticed.

This album is pleasant almost all the way through (except "Love"). Still it doesn't hold real classic and memorable songs. Three stars.

Report this review (#182717)
Posted Wednesday, September 17, 2008 | Review Permalink
SouthSideoftheSky
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Symphonic Team
3 stars Nexus is probably the best and most progressive album by Argent. Still, it is far from a masterpiece. The progressive keyboard music of Rod Argent - much in the vein of Keith Emerson and Rick Wakeman - and the more straightforward rock 'n' roll of Russ Ballard alternate, but almost never truly integrate. Had they been able to write together I suspect that they could have made something truly interesting. There is nothing here of low quality, not at all. But I also miss something that is truly excellent.

Rod is allowed to start the album with three instrumental keyboard numbers giving the impression that this is going to be an all instrumental album. Then the soft ballad Love comes in followed by a number of vocal tracks. Maybe the album could have been better if they had put the songs in different running order?

The songs are melodic and there is nothing to complain about, really. Still, this album doesn't quite do it for me. It is good, but not great. There are many other bands in progressive rock that you would need to check out before turning to Argent. But if you want to explore this band, Nexus is the best place to start.

Good, but non-essential.

Report this review (#195246)
Posted Saturday, December 27, 2008 | Review Permalink
Progfan97402
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars The name Argent is hardly new to me. In the late '80s, in my teens, I would frequently hear "Hold Your Head Up" on a local classic rock station, and fully aware of Rod Argent's career in The Zombies. But I had been resistant in buying their albums until recently. Probably because inconsistency seems to be a major understatement to a lot of their work. I bought All Together Now and that's plain to show. There's some excellent material, including the classic "Hold Your Head Up" and "Tragedy", at the same time some rock and roller type of material that seriously clashes. It shows they're not the most progressive of bands, and Russ Ballard was the least interested in that, while Rod Argent probably would have wanted to go full-on ELP if it weren't for his other bandmates, particularly Russ. Now I went and got Nexus. "The Coming of Kohoutek" is really a three piece suite disguised as three songs. Wow! They actually go full-on symphonic prog. Here they take on a Moog and Mellotron drenched version of the medieval hymn "Dies Irae" with some ELP-like moves. Amazing piece of music that even if you're scared away by a lot of Argent's other music, you will love this! None of the rest of the album is in that full-on symphonic prog natures of that title track. "Love" is the next piece. This is a Russ Ballard piece, and I really think it's a pretty lame song, the presence of Mellotron certainly doesn't help. "Music For the Spheres" is luckily an improvement, and I do enjoy "Thunder and Lightening" and "Keeper of the Flame". "Man of All Reasons" has a bit of a Yes thing going on, while the last piece "Gonna Meet My Maker" has that rocking gospel feel to it. While there's still that schism between the Rod Argent/Chris White and Russ Ballard team of songwriting, it sounded like they were attempting to make some more compromise, unfortunately Russ Ballard left after this album (he obviously felt more comfortable with radio-friendly material), leaving Rod Argent clearly in charge. No Nexus isn't in danger of making my "all time favorites" list any time soon, I find it rather enjoyable.
Report this review (#1014326)
Posted Thursday, August 8, 2013 | Review Permalink
apps79
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Named after keyboardist Rod Argent, this English Rock group from Saint Albans, Hertfordshire came to birth out of the death of the legendary The Zombies, where Argent played along with bassist Chris White, who followed him with songwriting-only credits in this new effort.The original line-up comprised also of Russ Ballard on vocals, guitar and piano, Jim Rodford on bass and vocals and Robert Henrit on drums, piano and vocals.Argent produced four albums for Epic Records between 1970-73 (''Argent'', ''Ring of hands'', ''All together now'' and ''In deep''), the most succesful period of the band with several hits on a pure Rock direction and slight progressive vibes.When Bullard left in order to become a solo artist, John Verity and John Grimaldi entered the picture on guitar and voices and the band shifted towards a more progressive sound, starting with ''Nexus'' in 1974, another release on Epic.

At this point Argent not only flirted with Progressive Rock, but they were definitely among the most versatile bands of the style, throwing Classical, Jazz and Heavy/Psych elements in the mix.I'd dare to say that they were one of the most American-sounding British bands, they sounded closer to STARCASTLE, ETHOS or KANSAS than, to say, Genesis or King Crimson, although they had some evident E.L.P. and YES influences.The 9-min. excellent three-part opener was representative of the direction they had taken, this was a maniftest of keyboard-based Prog Rock with strong symphonic orchestrations, highlighted by a talented Rob Argent and his alternating organ, piano, Mellotron and synth parts, switching tempos and climates and offering one of the best pieces ever written by the quintet.The rest of the album is a bit more diverse, featuring some rockin' themes, the rise of an obvious jazzy influence with lots of electric piano and, still, some dominant symphonic flavors.Plenty of bombastic and dramatic instrumental sections, a combination of Fusion stylings and Classical-drenched keyboard showering and some Hard Rock-in' tunes in the process are all welcome characteristics of Argent's new proposal.Vocals are mostly inspired by YES' pompous lines, but the music comes as a mixture of organ-smashing themes, dark Mellotron and quirky synthesizers for a very dense and convincing sound.

Absolutely satisfying work of Symphonic Rock/Fusion with Argent shining behind an emphatic keyboard palette.Somewhere between YES, KANSAS, PENTWATER and ETHOS.Highly recommended.

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Posted Sunday, November 30, 2014 | Review Permalink

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