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NIRVANA

Proto-Prog • United Kingdom


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Nirvana biography
The original NIRVANA was founded at United Kingdom in year 1967 by Irish born Patrick Campbell-Lyons (ex SECOND THOUGHTS) and Greek guitarist Alex Spyropoulos. Their original line-up consisted of six musicians, but the persons and number of them varied during the following years. The band was active to the early 70's, but they have produced new material sporadically at the present day. Their music is melodic late 60's pop building up from a large palette of styles (rock, pop, folk, jazz, Latin rhythms and classical music), and their work have been compared to THE BEATLES albums "Revolver" and "Rubber Soul", MOODY BLUES and early PROCOL HARUM. There are also some classical chamber music elements in their recordings due their orchestrations.

Chris Blackwel signed the band to the new Island record label, which managed also bands like TRAFFIC and FREE. They were photographed for the press and then presented to the audiences at London's Saville Theater. After this they released their first LP "The Story Of Simon Simopath" (1967), which is sci-fi themed concept album, predating the forthcoming concept albums by THE PRETTY THINGS "S.F.Sorrow" (1968), THE WHO "Tommy" (1969) and THE KINKS "Arthur" (1969). The band also produced some singles like "Pentecost Hotel", "Tiny Goddess" (from "all of us") and "Rainbow Chaser", which was their most successful tune ever (34th in UK singles chart at May 1968). This song is also thought to be the first-ever British recording to feature the audio technique known as phasing, which was identified with the psychedelic musical style. Despite this excursion, and their group name and hippy outlooks, the band's music didn't have much any other psychedelic elements.

Next some demo recordings were done for their forthcoming album "All of Us". As the representatives of their production company had heard this stuff, they made a deal to include it in as a theme song in a movie "The Touchables", of which production the company was involved. During next week the band recorded the album, which songs are melancholic and dreamy pop tunes, and some of them were highly orchestrated.

After their second LP the band's personnel was cut down to the ...
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NevermindNevermind
Geffen Records 1991
Audio CD$2.99
$0.02 (used)
MTV Unplugged in New YorkMTV Unplugged in New York
Geffen Records 1994
Audio CD$2.88
$0.24 (used)
NirvanaNirvana
Extra tracks
Interscope 2002
Audio CD$5.98
$0.05 (used)
In UteroIn Utero
Explicit Lyrics
Geffen Records 1993
Audio CD$1.99
$0.01 (used)
IncesticideIncesticide
Geffen Records / DGC 1992
Audio CD$2.52
$0.01 (used)
Bleach (20th Anniversary Deluxe Edition)Bleach (20th Anniversary Deluxe Edition)
Extra tracks · Deluxe Edition
Sub Pop 2009
Audio CD$10.54
$7.99 (used)
In Utero (2CD - 20th Anniversary Deluxe Edition)In Utero (2CD - 20th Anniversary Deluxe Edition)
Geffen Records 2013
Audio CD$18.43
$12.90 (used)
BLEACH [Vinyl]BLEACH [Vinyl]
Remastered
Sub Pop Records 2011
Vinyl$11.53
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With The Lights OutWith The Lights Out
Box set
Geffen Records 2004
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Live at ReadingLive at Reading
Geffen Records 2009
Audio CD$5.18
$4.10 (used)
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NIRVANA shows & tickets


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NIRVANA discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

NIRVANA top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.16 | 16 ratings
The Story of Simon Simopath
1967
3.04 | 9 ratings
All of Us
1968
3.19 | 15 ratings
To Markos III (aka Black Flower)
1969
2.20 | 14 ratings
Local Anaesthetic
1971
2.32 | 5 ratings
Songs of Love and Praise
1972
3.00 | 1 ratings
Nirvana / Patrick Campbell-Lyons: Me and My Friend
1973
2.98 | 3 ratings
Orange and Blue
1996

NIRVANA Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

NIRVANA Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

NIRVANA Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.00 | 1 ratings
Travelling On A Cloud
1992
1.95 | 3 ratings
Secret Theatre
1995
0.00 | 0 ratings
Chemistry
1999
4.00 | 1 ratings
Forever Changing: An Introduction To Nirvana
2003

NIRVANA Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

0.00 | 0 ratings
Tiny Goddess / I Believe In Magic
1967
0.00 | 0 ratings
Pentecost Hotel / Feelin' Shattered
1967
4.09 | 2 ratings
Rainbow Chaser / Flashbulb
1968
2.00 | 1 ratings
Oh! What A Performance / Darling Darlene
1969
0.00 | 0 ratings
Two of a Kind
1976
0.00 | 0 ratings
Love Is
1978
0.00 | 0 ratings
Restless Wind (featuring Joe Fagan)
1979
0.00 | 0 ratings
The Picture of Dorian Gray
1981

NIRVANA Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 The Story of Simon Simopath by NIRVANA album cover Studio Album, 1967
3.16 | 16 ratings

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The Story of Simon Simopath
Nirvana Proto-Prog

Review by historian9
Special Collaborator Jazz Rock/Fusion Team

3 stars This very charming album is one of the first concept/story albums around, predating the greats like THE WHO's "Tommy" by two years. The album is pretty tight regarding the story and not some loosely concept flowing about. In 10 short songs we hear the story of Simon who is bored of his work behind the computer, wishes to fly and find love. While it starts of just a bit dreamy but realistic, the story does get well, psychedelic for the lack of terms. It is very easy to follow and no one should have trouble grasping the lyrics, I think vocals Patrick Campbell are very enjoyable. The songs themselves are nice psychedelic pop and I think the comparison to BEATLES of Sgt.Pepper era isn't far behind. Not really progressive but nice little record (around 25 minutes), recommended to fans of 60's pop.

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 Forever Changing: An Introduction To Nirvana by NIRVANA album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2003
4.00 | 1 ratings

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Forever Changing: An Introduction To Nirvana
Nirvana Proto-Prog

Review by 1967/ 1976

— First review of this album —
4 stars Nirvana is not the only the Grunge band of Kurt Cobain, but, between 60's and 70's a British band who could have become very popular but, for various reasons, failed to become a success band but that becomes a cult band. Nirvana was the band of Patrick campbell-lyons and Alex Spyropulos, two songwriters who decided to form a band that we could now define a mix betwwen The Beatles ("Revolver"/ "Rubber Soul" style), The Moody Blues, Procol Harum with echoes of Aphrodite's Child (pre "666") and the POP side of The Kinks. At the time the mix that I described was wanted by the labels and the Island do not let them get away, throwing them as their response to Procol Harum. Reflecting a little on this fact that I recognize that Island was sincere. Yet today rereading the style of Nirvana and Nirvana Procol Harum I find that Nirvana have produced a music aged best. Probably because most POP, most romantic and without fthe fixing patterns of R&B. Honestly Nirvana sound based less on keyboards (present, present) because the use of orchestral arrangements and a relaxing atmosphere, almost Folk, make the most intriguing the music of Nirvana. This discussion is not to say that Nirvana is better of Procol Harum because in reality both bands have produced excellent music.

"Forever Changing; An Introduction To Nirvana" is a good compilation based on 1967/ 1968 production for Island plus two songs, one from 1986 (From 1967/ 1968 and previously unreleased?) and one from 2003 (previously unreleased?). "Forever Changing" is a good introduction to Nirvana and his Baroque POP/ Progressive with good songs ("Pentecoste Hotel", "The Touchables (All Of Us)", "Rainbow Chaser", "Girl In The Park", "In Courtyard Of The Stars", "Take This Hand" and "Melanie Blue" of all, for me) and in my vision a great introduction to Nirvana if you do not own anything of this band.

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 To Markos III (aka Black Flower) by NIRVANA album cover Studio Album, 1969
3.19 | 15 ratings

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To Markos III (aka Black Flower)
Nirvana Proto-Prog

Review by 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

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  Secret Theatre by NIRVANA album cover Boxset/Compilation, 1995
1.95 | 3 ratings

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Secret Theatre
Nirvana Proto-Prog

Review by ClemofNazareth
Special Collaborator Prog Folk Researcher

2 stars I've written before that most of the Nirvana (UK) CD reissues and probably at least one of the band's reunions wouldn't have happened without the success Kurt Cobain and Nirvana (US) and the resulting lawsuit filed on behalf of Patrick Campbell-Lyons since his use of the name predated Cobain's by twenty years.

I only mention this because it's the best explanation for this collection of outtakes, b-sides, demo cuts and other rarities, compiled and released in 1995 in the shadow of Cobain's funeral. I'm pretty sure the planning for the record began prior to Cobain's death so I'm not suggesting Campbell-Lyons was trying to capitalize on the media attention surrounding that (which would have been a particularly egregious plan); but that said, I'm sure Edsel's representatives realized that they could move quite a few copies by getting them out into distribution and letting confusion work to their advantage. It's telling that all Nirvana (UK) compilation CDs and DVDs except this one feature photos of Campbell-Lyons and early work partner Alex Spyropoulos, and their artwork clearly place the music in the late sixties. This one has a sort of futuristic cover depicting a theme that few serious Nirvana (UK) fans would have associated with the band's body of work.

All that aside, the music should speak for itself regardless of how and why it got released. Here again, I can't get particularly enthusiastic. Almost none of these songs appear anywhere else in the band's discography, so anyone looking for a convenient hits package or even an anthology will be quite disappointed. About the only recognizable track is "Rainbow Chaser", a peppy pop-pych number trimmed with brass accompaniment that gained the band some fame when it first released in the late sixties. Otherwise many of these songs are either early promos or demo tracks that never made it onto studio releases when they were first recorded, several of which came from the latter days of the band after Spyropoulos left and Campbell-Lyons became pretty much a solo act.

But this doesn't mean the CD has no redeeming value. In fact, turns out the most interesting parts are the snippets of spoken-word narration Campbell-Lyons tells about certain music-industry people he has known, using them to preface related songs. "Bad Boy" prefaced by "Indiscreet Harlequin" tells of the rise and fall of Island Records A&R man Guy Stevens, best known for producing Traffic, Mott the Hoople and the Clash. "Dali" explains Campbell-Lyons' relationship with the artist Salvador Dali and is followed by the fractured love story tune "Jacqueline" which I assume was written around the same time as the band's interaction with Dali. And "Rio de Janeiro" describes a concert and collaboration between Nirvana and reggae star Jimmy Cliff on the eve of Cliff's big break, leading into "Waterfall" which features lead vocals by Cliff.

Not everything works well. "Radio UFO" is a rather sloppy mushpile of electronic sounds, dance rhythm and unoriginal guitar work that doesn't sound like anything that would belong on an album by this or any other Nirvana band. "Electric Money" is pure pop, almost glam- inspired and complete with Motown-like female backing vocals and a vapid theme covering the evils of money. Sounds more like something Sweet or Paper Lace or one of those sorts of groups would have put out. And "Tiny Goddess" sounds all the world like an early Cars demo with Ric Ocasek behind the mic.

But there are a few keepers as well, including a cover of "Girl in the Park" by an obscure mid-sixties pop-psych outfit known as The Smoke and whose only album was titled 'It's Smoke Time' (not very subtle but at least the rolling papers weren't included in the liner notes). "Pascale" is another decent song that showcases Campbell-Lyons' ability to sound very much like a young Roy Orbison when he felt like doing so. "Restless Wind" features vocals by Joe Fagin who I've never heard of, but his voice combined with call- response choral accompaniment give an otherwise pedestrian Campbell-Lyons tune a bit of a lift out of the hippie days and at least into the 80s.

The closing "Girl From Roxyville" is the strangest of all on this album, sounding very much like an 80s new-wave crooner and possibly intended to hint at future work from the Nirvana camp that never really came to fruition.

In all I think this was probably an exploitive album that would never have been released had it not been for Nirvana (US), but I do really like the real-life stories introducing a handful of the songs, and there are a few decent tunes otherwise. Still, this is clearly a compilation that will appeal (at best) only to fans of the band, so I can't give it more than two stars or more than a tepid recommendation. Pick up 1992's 'Travelling on a Cloud' for a better example of the band's best work compiled into a single hits collection.

peace

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 Songs of Love and Praise by NIRVANA album cover Studio Album, 1972
2.32 | 5 ratings

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Songs of Love and Praise
Nirvana Proto-Prog

Review by 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

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 Nirvana / Patrick Campbell-Lyons: Me and My Friend by NIRVANA album cover Studio Album, 1973
3.00 | 1 ratings

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Nirvana / Patrick Campbell-Lyons: Me and My Friend
Nirvana Proto-Prog

Review by ClemofNazareth
Special Collaborator Prog Folk Researcher

— First review of this album —
3 stars Here's an odd addition to the Nirvana legacy courtesy of founding member Patrick Campbell-Lyons. This was originally released in 1973 as a solo album featuring several friends and studio musicians, but was reissued in 2001 as a Nirvana (UK) CD in the wake of a renewed interest in the band. This was partially a result of an earlier temporary reunion of Campbell-Lyons and original member Alex Spyropoulos, but in all honesty was probably just as much a byproduct of lingering confusion between this band and the much more well-known grunge group Nirvana (US) following the sensational death of Kurt Cobain. Nirvana (UK) had even succumbed to the temptation of capitalizing on their second 15 minutes of fame by recording an acid folk version of Cobain's "Lithium" on their 'Orange and Blue' collection shortly after Cobain's passing.

Campbell-Lyons put together this collection of original songs during a hiatus of island living off the coast of Spain in the early seventies, and following the dissolution of the original Nirvana lineup. The themes are mostly about relationships and experiences during this period, including the poppish acid folk ditty "Friends" in tribute to several acquaintances he made during this time; "Look Out For Cassius Clay" for John Conteh, a boxer he befriended while in Spain; and the organ-laden "Mother England" on which he put a poem of the late Dominic Behan by the same name to music.

The mood on these tracks is decidedly more upbeat and light-hearted than the last couple of Nirvana albums, and the arrangements are considerably closer to pop than most of the stuff he Campbell-Lyons and Spyropoulos recorded together. But at the same time there isn't nearly as much going on musically as there was on those records either, not surprising considering acid folk was rather passé by the mid-seventies and anyone from that period with hopes of still getting records released needed to move much closer to the center of the musical spectrum.

Campbell-Lyons shopped these tracks to Capitol and British labels, eventually getting a nod from the fledgling Sovereign Records. Unfortunately for him, the label folding shortly after this release leading to a quick deletion of the album from any active catalog or distribution vehicle.

I can't get too excited about this record or any of its songs. They are decent pop tunes with remnants of the acid folk days in the slightly hippy feel of the vocals and eclectic percussion, but this is Nirvana in name only and my overall impression is one of mild nostalgia and slight disappointment. "Jesus Christ Junior" is a bit of a throwback to the first Nirvana record, and "On the Road" recalls the acid folk heyday with its loose guitar strumming and carefree lyrics, but that's about it.

The original vinyl is impossible to find, but that's just as well since the CD reissue includes 7 of the 9 tracks from the last legitimate Nirvana album "Songs of Love & Praise" so at least it's a bargain. This is a little better than a collectors-only record but not by much. But a little anyway, so three out of five stars feels right and slightly recommended if you are (or were) a Nirvana fan.

peace

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 Orange and Blue by NIRVANA album cover Studio Album, 1996
2.98 | 3 ratings

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Orange and Blue
Nirvana Proto-Prog

Review by ClemofNazareth
Special Collaborator Prog Folk Researcher

3 stars This is a pretty funny album. Not that the music is intentionally humorous, but more in how it came to be. Nirvana (UK) gets into a legal tussle with Nirvana (US) over rights to the band name, which ended up being settled without too much ado. As a result of the fame of Nirvana (US) and suicide of Kurt Cobain, Nirvana (UK) enjoyed a mild resurgence of interest in their music, almost by proxy. The original duo of Patrick Campbell-Lyons and Alex Spyropoulos had actually reunited in 1985 after a fourteen year hiatus and a couple years before Nirvana (US) were even a band. In the end the unexpected and tangential publicity led Edsel Records to release this collection of rarities and outtakes from early Nirvana (UK) sessions. The band even threw in a cover of the seminal Nirvana (US) hit single “Lithium”, although it admittedly is almost unrecognizable after being given an acoustic acid-folk treatment. Still holds up pretty well though.

It’s also interesting that the album title and first two songs are all veiled drug references, “Orange and Blue” a pop-psych number with trippy guitars, keyboards and helium-laced backing vocals; while “Lithium” of course is a song Cobain always insisted referred to religion as an opiate rather than the mind-numbing bi-polar drug treatment itself. Who really knows for sure?

The rest of the album is rather ant-climatic for most folks. Old fans of the band who managed to get their hands on a copy of this CD were probably interested to hear some of the stuff that was left on the cutting-room floor more than twenty years prior. Several of these tracks have been remixed, while others seem to have been included almost untouched from their original versions. “As Long As I Can See You” for example is a decent remix and is basically a mostly acoustic Donovan-sounding pop-psych tune; while “My Little Red Book” sounds like it may have been originally mono and was simply split across stereo tracks and otherwise left alone.

None of these songs stand out really, but as an historical collection the CD is worth checking out by fans of the band as well as anyone who wants to hear some rather rare and pretty tasty string arrangements from the late sixties (on “The Face at the Window” in particular). Overall this is really not much more than a collector’s piece, but I have to say that with the exception of “My Little Red Book” it’s at least as consistent as the band’s first couple of original albums and the production is better thanks to modern technology, so I’ll err on the side of positive and stick three stars on this one. If you are really interested in this band start with their first, second and fourth albums; this should be reserved for serious fans and those who have already explored the rest of the discography.

peace

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 All of Us by NIRVANA album cover Studio Album, 1968
3.04 | 9 ratings

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All of Us
Nirvana Proto-Prog

Review by ClemofNazareth
Special Collaborator Prog Folk Researcher

3 stars The short-lived ‘band’ version of Nirvana was gone by the time the studio sessions for this album commenced, although there are a handful of tracks with the former bassist, cellist and French horn player. The rest are made up of the original band duo of Patrick Campbell- Lyons on vocals and most of the guitar work, and Alex Spyropoulos on keyboards (and a fair bit of the song arrangements).

This album gets a lot of gushy praise for the opening “Rainbow Chaser”, and particularly for the ambitious string arrangements. Those of us who grew up on ELO are probably a bit jaded when it comes to strings in rock music, but for the time period this was pretty innovative stuff. The rest of the album isn’t quite as grand, although a few tracks like “Melanie Blue” and especially “Girl in the Park” (my personal favorite on the album) are also great examples of tasteful melding of mildly progressive pop and real orchestral strings. There are a few places where I’m pretty sure the ‘strings’ are actually a Mellotron, but for the most part these are the real deal.

While the duo’s first record was a concept album, this one is simply a collection of pleasantly poppish tunes though in much the same vein as their debut. The record spawned a handful of singles with “Rainbow Chaser” managing to break into the Top-40 the year of its release. There isn’t a ton of variety here and some forgettable moments like the rather tepid “Trapeze”, but in all the record at least has some continuity of sound and is a great example of what was a fairly popular sound at the time. One other song worth noting is the mellow and flute-laced “The Show Must Go On”, another heavily stringed piece with very nice violin and cello accompaniment.

I have to rate this album about the same as their first, which was also good but not great, so three stars it is. This is a band that had their fifteen minutes of fame in the latter sixties but hasn’t aged all that well. Still, I’ve started to hear groups emerge even today that trade on the breakthrough sounds of bands like Nirvana (Pugwash and the Moore Brothers come to mind), and while I’m not sure Nirvana influenced them the fact that the same sort of easy pop rock with traces of orchestral and psych influences persist today mean the sound is still attractive to at least some folks. Mildly recommended if the words above intrigue you at all.

peace

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 Local Anaesthetic  by NIRVANA album cover Studio Album, 1971
2.20 | 14 ratings

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Local Anaesthetic
Nirvana Proto-Prog

Review by ClemofNazareth
Special Collaborator Prog Folk Researcher

2 stars One has to keep in mind while listening to this album that there were a lot of mind-altering substances floating around in the late sixties and, while some of them may have “opened” people’s minds, others had a tendency to dull one’s ability to distinguish between personal perception and reality. That’s a nice way of saying that a lot of late sixties and early seventies music sounded much better to the people playing it than to those who were listening. The music on this album falls into that category.

I really hate to write negative things about this record because it is housed in what I consider to be one of the truly great and timeless album covers of all time. The very creepy and frozen mother being tended to by her sardonic daughter against a backdrop of a barren and whited-out house with a dilapidated fireplace and Patrick Campbell-Lyons looking away from a side window was a scene just full of symbolism and fodder for ill-informed discussion among impressionable young teens who may have been dabbling in some substance-driven mind-alteration themselves. Too bad for me I never discovered these guys back in the day, but I can imagine some of the weird conversations among those who did.

This is really a solo album since Campbell-Lyons’ writing partner Alex Spyropoulos had moved on by this point and the duo had long since abandoned the pretense of the group being anything more than just the two of them although occasional guests and session musicians would continue to appear on their records and in rare live appearances even after the quartet recruited after their first album’s success had all gone their separate ways.

But despite great packaging the music doesn’t live up to expectations. It’s pretty evident Spyropoulos’ arrangements made more of a contribution to the Nirvana sound than Campbell-Lyons may have cared to admit. While the first handful of the albums by the two are really closer to well-constructed pop than progressive rock, this one is almost the opposite – pretty progressive arrangements but so loosely constructed as to appear almost improvised at times (and probably it was). The most immediate comparison I could make would be to some of the stuff Marc Bolan did pre-T. Rex (‘A Beard of Stars’ comes to mind). One major difference though is that the guitar work on this record is decidedly heavier with blues riffs and less about either psych fuzz or folk-inspired chords like Bolan tended toward before he became a glam king (or queen, whatever).

The record consists of two songs, one (“Modus Operandi”) being this lengthy sort of mess that starts off as a promising avant-jazz tune before quickly descending into hollow vocal cries and eventually an almost boogie motif with frequent yet random and disjointed tempo, instrument and mood changes and vocals that may tell a story but honestly I can’t be bothered to try and figure this one out.

“Home” is in suite form with unoriginally-labeled sections. Campbell-Lyons is quite a bit more disciplined here, with each section being fairly contiguous, and all of them fit together nicely. There are some issues, namely the opening salutation dragging on far too long and the ‘destruction’ section threatening to sound like a Tommy James pop-rock tune but managing to just barely avoid doing so. Otherwise the back side of the record is pretty good stuff, though I can’t say it holds up all that well after nearly forty years. Then again, there’s a lot of other stuff from that period that hasn’t aged even this well.

I’d really like to give this record three stars, but honestly unless you are either a strong fan of the band or of acid folk in general I doubt you’ll find much to like here, so two it is but probably the best two star album I've ever reviewed. If you are then by all means I’d recommend looking this one up; otherwise stick to the better-known classics of the genre.

peace

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 The Story of Simon Simopath by NIRVANA album cover Studio Album, 1967
3.16 | 16 ratings

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The Story of Simon Simopath
Nirvana Proto-Prog

Review by ClemofNazareth
Special Collaborator Prog Folk Researcher

3 stars ‘The Story of Simon Simopath’ released the same year as ‘Sgt. Pepper’, ‘Days of Future Passed’, and ‘The Who Sell Out’. Like all of them this was one of the earliest incarnations of a rock concept album (using that term fairly liberally in the case of the Who). But unlike them this wasn’t a collaborative effort by an established band; rather, the UK version of Nirvana was really just a duo of songwriters (Patrick Campbell-Lyons Alex Spyropoulos) who brought in session musicians to complete this recording. They would also employ some of those artists in a couple of brief attempts at touring and cameo live appearances, but in the end most of what Nirvana would put out in their sixties heyday would come from the work of Campbell-Lyons Spyropoulos.

The story line is rather trite today, but creative and clever enough for 1967 I suppose. Simon, the main and almost only human character, is a young daydreamer who wants to learn to fly and find someone spectacular to live rather than be confined to Earth and to his dreary job behind a computer terminal. This in itself is rather reaching considering the first personal computer wouldn’t be introduced for nearly fifteen years after the album released and very few non-scientific jobs of that day involved using a mainframe terminal.

Then again perhaps Simon had connections in the science world, since he manages to land a gig shooting around the cosmos in a shuttle ship (also something not invented at the time but which has been since) and sending reports back to Earth. In the course of his travels he encounters a space-bound centaur (okay, not everything in this story ends up coming true in real life). The centaur transports him to a faraway world of bliss and peace and beauty and – well, basically Nirvana. There he meets and marries his dream girl and presumably lives happily ever after.

So that’s the whole story, and the album isn’t much longer than that, clocking in at less than 26 minutes spread over ten very brief songs, each representing pretty much one scene in the tale. The album closes with the very premature “1999”, an inaccurate prediction of when such a story might come to fruition.

The music here isn’t really progressive, although in 1967 it was probably considered to be. The similarities to ‘Sgt. Pepper’ are stronger than to ‘Days of Future Passed’, with simple guitar riffs, jaunty piano and peppy rhythms abounding. Think a less pensive version of Klaatu’s ‘Hope’ and you’ll get the idea.

While the duo enjoyed brief success and critical acclaim for the record, they were never able to make the band work as a live act and would disband just a few years later after managing to release four additional albums, all of which are slightly more progressive musically than this one. This is a mildly interesting and entertaining record, but nothing to get too excited about. I’m going to say it merits three stars for being innovative in its day, but not enough so to rate the label ‘essential’. Check out ‘Local Anaesthetic’ first, which is my personal favorite and features one of the greatest progressive music album covers of all time. If you’re still interested then this one will likely appeal to you as well. Otherwise just spin ‘Sgt. Pepper’ again and call it good.

peace

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Thanks to Eetu Pellonpää for the artist addition.

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