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Nektar - Evolution CD (album) cover




Psychedelic/Space Rock

3.42 | 109 ratings

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Easy Livin
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars Written for LP, arranged for CD

Having long since given up Nektar for dead in terms of new studio albums, it was with some considerable pleasure that I learned that Albrighton, Freeman and later Howden had regenerated the band. This is the second release by the reformed band, who are now joined by bassist Randy Dembo.

While the music is by no means a continuation of where they left off in the 1970's, there is still a real sense of quality here. The truly progressive sounds of their early albums are used as the basis for some more direct, but still finely constructed pieces. The first couple of tracks suggest that absolute priority has been given to a harder (but not metallic) edge. It is "Child of mine" though which re-assures us that the band's passion for a good melody is alive and well. To some this will be nothing more than a mush, MOODY BLUES like ballad. Lyrically there is undeniably a case to be made for that. This is though, a song a great beauty and finesse which stand alongside anything they recorded previously.

The following "Phazed by the Storm" continues the more subdued atmosphere, the understated, almost funky rhythm leaving plenty of room for fine vocal and instrumental performances. After a striking synth intro "Always" sets out as a dreamy acoustic ballad, before developing into a repetitive, harmonic piece with pop overtones. The vocal performances here, and indeed throughout the album are the high point of some excellent contributions by all the band members. "Dancin´ into the Void" harks back more to the band's older material, but with a much greater density of vocals.

Only "The debate" drags the quality index down, the highly unsubtle rock and roll drum beat spoiling what might have been an adequate (but no more) song. While Albrighton adds a fine extended guitar solo, the track fails to justify the 9½ minutes it is afforded. The closing "After the fall" is a supremely emotional ballad along the lines of "Friday's dream" by ARENA. The song mixes delicate acoustic guitar and piano with climactic choruses and wailing lead guitar. A stunning conclusion to the album.

The track lengths on the album are slightly deceptive, as virtually all are over 7 minutes. This is to some extent though through the extension what are in reality straightforward songs. This is a common phenomenon in albums recorded by long established bands, used to recording LPs. They feel obliged to endeavour to fill the additional space offered by CDs, but are reluctant to write additional material, so that which they have is elongated. Sometimes it works, sometimes it does not, but in this case the extended tracks are worthy of their length.

In all, "Evolution" is superb album. It will not necessarily appeal to those who were entranced by the band's early albums, but for those who enjoy a strong melody supported by a highly accomplished performance, this is a recommended album.

Easy Livin | 4/5 |


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