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Nucleus Ian Carr's Nucleus: Roots album cover
3.45 | 46 ratings | 5 reviews | 15% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

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Studio Album, released in 1973

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Roots (9:24)
2. Images (4:55)
3. Caliban (4:35)
4. Whapatiti (3:23)
5. Capricorn (4:01)
6. Odokamona (3:24)
7. Southern Roots And Celebration (7:43)

Total Time: 37:25

Line-up / Musicians

- Ian Carr / trumpet
- Brian Smith / tenor & soprano saxophones, flute & bamboo flute
- Dave MacRae / piano, electric piano
- Jocelyn Pitchen / guitar
- Roger Sutton / bass
- Clive Thacker / drums, percussion (2)
- Aureo De Souza / drums (2), percussion
- Joy Yates / vocals

Releases information

Artwork: Keith Davis

LP Vertigo ‎- 6360 100 (1973, UK)

2xCD BGO Records - BGOCD567 (2002, UK) Bundled edition with "Labyrinth" album

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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NUCLEUS Ian Carr's Nucleus: Roots ratings distribution

(46 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(15%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(41%)
Good, but non-essential (28%)
Collectors/fans only (13%)
Poor. Only for completionists (2%)

NUCLEUS Ian Carr's Nucleus: Roots reviews

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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Sean Trane
4 stars Well, almost 4 stars, anyway!!

Still under the name Ian Carr's Nucleus, this is a much better album than its predecessor. With a altogether more cohesive line-up (although further changes lay ahead), the foundation of the group was set, Ian Carr will reuse the name Nucleus from the next album on. With Bryan Smith the only mainstay from Labyrinth and MacRae (who had guested on Belladona), Nucleus found a superb bassist in Roger Sutton and Jocelyn Pitchen as a very apt fusion guitarist. Drummer Clive Thacker is also known amongst progheads and fusion freaks, but will only remain for this album. The album is generally derived from a 40-mins composition that had been commissioned by some Music Society earlier that year. Unfortunately this album is again plagued by a cartoon-esque artwork and it's just as kitsch as Labyrinth.

Opening with the excellent steaming title-track, pouring red hot-lava in your iving room; but unfortunately followed up by a mediocre Joy Yates sung-jazz track Images (I am not a fan of vocal jazz except in the Fitzgerald-Armstrong genre), the third track is clearly a wink at Soft Machine (remember Ban Ban Caliban, from which it is derived), which was now filled up to the brim with old Nucleus-members. A Caliban filled with superb guitars (Soft Machine had no guitars at that time) from Jocelyn Pitchen and superb brass underlinings, Sutton is the man in charge. Clearly my fave track on the album.

Side 2 starts off good with the rapid-fire Whapatiti, and then slows down somewhat with that spell-binding finesse of Capricorn, but it is clearly the last two tracks are the main course. Odokamona is a surprisingly hard-sounding and riffy track (since their second album, we had not heard such hi-energy music) and ends in a superb chaos and the Southern Roots finale track being the apex of the album making you reach ecstasy, but with a hunger for more, despite an amazingly out-of-character start.

And from this original cast, more red-hot fusion will come with the following album, the first one to regain the full Nucleus name since the original two albums. More than a transition album, this is the start of the second classic Nucleus era. Ugly artwork sleeve, though! Maybe the only remaining link with the mediocre predecessor.

Review by Philo
2 stars With Jenkins gone from the band Carr stepped up to the plate with the Belladonna album, and the following Labyrinth certainly had it shinning moments, but there was something nagging at me when going through the Nucleus catalog in a chronological order and reaching this one. Sure the band, narrowed down somewhat from the last effort and adding yet another new guitarist (a Jocelyn Pitchen who pitches in and does a good job), are playing at a high tempo but there is little to differentiate this from the last two and no where can it be heard that the band have grown and are taking a new route (Routes?). Carr and company were falling into a hole which only allowed Nucleus to become repetitive and dull. The tunes on Roots are mere incidental pieces as the band now follow a formulaic pattern of making music. Roots can even be a little better than the Layrinth album but somewhere along the line there is going to have to be an album that will have to take the slack. For me Roots is the scapegoat of the bunch. The only true enjoyment I derived from the album was waiting tirelessly for each track to end and waiting for the next one to begin, but I was always left disappointed as Nucleus were offering nothing new anymore. Sure Carr adds some wah wah to his trumpet like his mentor Miles Davis did but it is old hat now. We get Joy Yates, electric piano player David MacRae's wife, adding some vocal on "Images" but I failed to be taken in by its emotive element but was rather bored by the whole experience. "Caliban" is alright, part of a larger commissioned piece rehashed I believe, while I also heard some salsa moods here somewhere and I [%*!#]ing hate salsa, even if Brian Smith is a decent tenor player. And so while the playing is typically good the album really is unnecessary. Sure I could have dropped a few negative points, slipped in a few superlatives and added a couple of extra stars to the rating but that would be missing the point. six albums in a three year period and with a host of musicians coming and going Nucleus was feeling the weight. Rather than Nucleus Roots it looks more a case of Nucleus Rots.
Review by Mellotron Storm
4 stars " "Labyrinth" had been all by me, composition-wise," recalls Carr." But I wanted to use the other guys in the band as writers. So I suggested to them that we do an album called "Roots", which would delve back into our childhood roots, or any kind of roots that meant something to us in our lives." So returning from the "Labyrinth" sessions were Carr (of course), Smith, MacRae and Thacker. Both albums were released in 1973 and I have a difficult time picking one over the other. They're quite different from one another but both are amazing.

"Roots" and the two tracks that follow are Carr compositions. I like the atmosphere to start on "Roots" as the drums beat and other sounds come and go. It kicks in before 3 minutes then settles back. This is so good ! The guitar, drums, bass, horns and keyboards all sound incredible. It settles back one more time to end it. "Images" is interesting because Thacker plays percussion instead of drums and Aureo De Souza plays drums instead of his usual percussion. This is a mellow tune and the only one with vocals. Joy Yates is the singer and she's married to keyboardist Dave MacRae. Some elctric piano and flute as well. Good track.

"Caliban" opens with solid drumming, guitar and electric piano. Horns around 2 minutes. Amazing sound after 3 minutes as the guitar comes to the fore and the horns blast. "Whapatiti" and the next two tracks that follow are Brian Smith tunes. Since he's from New Zealand he puts the focus on that country along with his astrological sign. The first of these is uptempo with lots of piano and horns. The drumming is outstanding as well. They slow it down on the next song "Capricorn" with smooth horns and liquid keys. Guitar before 2 1/2 minutes. "Odokamona" is one I like a lot, especially the rhythm section with the horns playing over top. It ends in an experimental manner. "Southern Roots And Celebration" is Dave MacRae's composition. He also is from New Zealand. The electric piano to open sort of echoes then the song picks up and gets fuller. Flute before 4 1/2 minutes. Big finish.

Man I just love NUCEUS' sound, I guess that's the bottom line when it comes to music isn't it ?

Review by Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars 'Roots' is the second Nucleus release in one year. There's hardly any difference with it's predecessor, not in style or sound. The line-up changed drastically though and apart from Carr, only saxophone player Brian Smith seemed secure of his spot.

The title track settles for a slow brooding groove with Nucleus's trademark sax and trumpet leads. It's one of their stronger cuts since the original line-up. But also 'Roots' isn't a consistent album, and the jazz song 'Images', with vocals from Joy Yates, is too run of the mill. 'Caliban' picks up the groovy approach from the opener. This is what we want to hear, inspired psychedelic jazz rock with mesmerizing soloing and engaging rhythms. The drummer and guitarist almost bring back the band's glory days. Excellent piece!

'Whapatiti' has a Latin flavor, very upbeat and extrovert, it slightly recalls Return To Forever. 'Capricorn' is the exact opposite, very slow and subdued. It's a nice piece but its placement after 'Whapatiti' is slightly awkward. Classic Nucleus follows on 'Odokamona', with a typical intricate melody spanning multiple bars. It has the guitar riff more upfront then usually. 'Southern Roots and Celebration' starts with slightly African flavored jazz rock, before it ' much like the title suggests - becomes more upbeat and joyous.

One of Nucleus's stronger albums from their second life. I'm not fully into the jazz vocal and the closing track but apart from those, excellent album. 3.5 stars overall.

Review by stefro
4 stars Finding enough superlatives to describe the music of Nucleus has become a real problem for this writer, and 'Roots', the groups fifth studio album, continues the trend. Issued on the Vertigo label during 1973, 'Roots' had some tough acts to live up to, namely Nucleus' ground-breaking debut 'Elastic Rock'(1970), the incendiary complexity of sophomore release 'We'll Talk About It Later'(1971) and the fiery fusion of the same year's 'Solar Plexus'. And this wasn't even the first Nucleus album of 1973, the group had already issued the funky 'Labyrinth' earlier in the year, yet it maintained the high standards set by the first three Nucleus albums and even helped the Ian Carr-led outfit develop their sound further, as they gradually headed into faster and more fluid areas of jazz-rock. Simply put then, 'Roots' really is a fine album. Those who have taken an interest in both Ian Carr and Nucleus will know that this was a group with a high membership turnover, and the revolving door policy partly explains the high quality of the music on offer. With so many great musicians playing alongside Carr over the years, its no surprise to find that each Nucleus album has it's own significant character, it's own quirks, styles and it's very own sound. For 'Roots', Carr was augmented by the likes of Brian Smith(sax, flute), Dave MacRae(piano), Roger Sutton(bass) and Clive Thacker(drums), none of whom featured on 'Elastic Rock', and with only Smith, MacRae and Thacker retained from previous release 'Labyrinth'. Vocalist Joy Yates, guitarist Jocelyn Pitchen and Brazillian percussionist Aureo Da Souza also feature, and the overall line-up lends 'Roots' a deep percussive groove which in turn provides the perfect foundation for the fiendishly complex rhythmic zig-zags cooked up by the ensemble players. This makes for a strangely hypnotic quality throughout, and the album's stand-out cuts, which includes the opening title-track and the excellent seven-minute 'Southern Roots & Celebration', rank alongside some of the finest Nucleus material of the decade. Of course, the key is Carr himself, a band-leader/trumpeter with exceptional organisational ability who seems blessed with an ability to get the best out of the musicians around him. An elegant and gutsy jazz-rock album, 'Roots' is yet another chapter in the exciting story of Nucleus and Ian Carr, and just like it's predecessors, comes highly recommended to all fusion freaks. Excellent. STEFAN TURNER, STOKE NEWINGTON, 2013

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