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Nektar - A Tab In The Ocean CD (album) cover




Psychedelic/Space Rock

4.07 | 571 ratings

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Easy Livin
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars "Climb aboard imaginary waves of thought beneath the veils of bluey green"

I was introduced to Nektar when a friend, who no longer had a turntable, gave me his entire vinyl collection. While much of the music he gave me was dance and pop related, there were a few more interesting albums, including four by Nektar.

Unlike their emphatic opening statement, "Journey to the centre of the eye", the band's second album, "A tab in the ocean" is not a complete concept album. That said, the whole of the first side is occupied by the single piece which give the album its name. The lyrics of this track are suitably psychedelic, with a drug related undercurrent and imagery, along the lines of "Lucy in the sky with diamonds".

The track opens with drifting ocean sounds which are quickly overtaken by a building organ motif, followed by an ELP like marching theme. We are then taken through a succession of FLOYDIAN themes leading to the opening distorted vocals. The piece has a distinctly heavy feel, while staying well away from any metallic influences. The organ playing of Allan "Taff" Freeman's (no relation to "Fluff") is dominant throughout as the piece weaves it way through successive melodies and moods. It is interesting to speculate on what might have become of this epic had it been recorded by ELP or YES. There can be little doubt that, but for the inexplicable lack of awareness of the band especially in the English speaking nations, such pieces by them would now sit alongside "Close to the edge" and "Tarkus" at the top table of prog masterpieces.

Taking of "Tarkus", these is a bit of a feel of two sides to the story with "A Tab in the ocean". The second side is occupied by four shorter tracks, paired together to make two longer ones. "Desolation valley/waves" has many of the ingredients which make the epic title track so appealing, but somehow lacks the refinement of the finished product. It is nevertheless, a fine piece of music which leans towards early GENESIS ("Trespass", "Nursery Cryme") to a greater extent than most of Nektar's output. "Cryin' in the dark/King of twilight" sounds great, with some superb guitar work by Albrighton. Here too though, the track is overshadowed by what has gone before.

The main gripe about "A tab in the ocean" is that it is woefully short, even for an LP. At less than 34 minutes, and only 16 minutes for the title track which occupies the whole of one side, there is a real feeling that the album is over far too quickly. Some CD reissues attempt to rectify this by simply including different mixes of the album.

In all, this is a fine second album by a criminally under recognised band. Those who enjoy powerful symphonic prog should investigate without delay.

Easy Livin | 4/5 |


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