Progarchives, the progressive rock ultimate discography
Nektar - A Tab In The Ocean CD (album) cover




Psychedelic/Space Rock

4.07 | 576 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars From the opening strains of a monumental organ theme you know this is going to be Prog Heaven. Right on cue the band crashes in and off we go on a roller-coaster ride of majestic proportions. It is a journey that will take us stomping through rough seas of real heavyweight guitar action, sometimes floating lightly on a calm sea beneath the stars of some mellow verses, bobbing bemused on confused waters of quick-fire disorientating theme changes, or surfing serenely on giant Atlantic rollers as riff follows giant riff.

Along the way we open doors into worlds of such delight that no listener will be able to resist, wow moments that cause an involuntary physical reaction, maybe to break into a beatific grin accompanied by a sudden urge to thump something rhythmically. These guys had hit a rich seam of creativity at this time and few bars are without something exciting happening, toying with our emotions and leaving us wanting more.

Based on trademark riff structures from multi-tracked guitars, title track A Tab In The Ocean has a genuinely complex Symphonic Prog structure, with continuous organic progression throughout, awash with key, tempo and mood changes in an ever-flowing monster of a piece. It even has a final sting in its tail with a fantastic guitar motif at 16:00 that is gone before it has time to sink in. A Tab In The Ocean is one of those beloved 'epics' that ought to stand proud alongside Tarkus, Supper's Ready and Close To The Edge as a shining example of the best of Prog.

After a noisy start, Desolation Alley settles into a cool groove, jazz-inspired but with a hint of Floydian blues too, notable by some lovely touches from organ and bass. A mid-song instrumental ups the tempo with guitars and organ bashing away as the bass holds tension. Later, a languid mood is maintained by the wonderful Waves with its spoken vocal, an old Moody Blues trick and very well executed.

Crying In The Dark begins quietly, slowly building tension until a killer riff is finally unleashed. Forever shifting and changing within a hard rock framework, the track proceeds with organ and guitar soloing to segue into King Of Twilight which continues the mood with staccato percussion and a welcome touch of Mellotron choir. It also contains some stunning instrumentals including thrusting power space rock, and it rocks off to an unexpected abrupt end on the word 'free'. Rock doesn't get much better than this!

One thing about Nektar - each album had its own special imprint, a character quite distinct from its siblings. A Tab In The Ocean is their most overtly Classic Prog, less psychedelic and more assured than Journey To The Centre Of The Eye, darker and less 'vocal' than the funkier, more mainstream road they would later travel. Despite Albrighton's dominant, almost virtuoso, performance on guitar, there is little soloing as such, just lots of solid riffs and structured progressions dripping with Prog quality oozing from every pore.

Aside from his uplifting guitar, Albrighton's singing is fine without being special or noteworthy, perfectly in keeping with the mood of the music. Taff Freeman plays a mean Hammond throughout, only occasionally jumping to something different, but is slightly too recessed in an otherwise excellent transparent production. Mo Moore's bass playing is always strong, and quite forward, often playing semi-lead runs like Jon Camp of Renaissance as a counterpoint while at other times laying a solid foundation for the others.

A Tab In The Ocean was remastered and released in 2004 by Dream Nebula with two versions on the CD - the original German 1972 mix, and a vastly inferior USA 1976 version. Sound is good, though there would appear to some slight problems with a wobbly bottom on one or two occasions. It is presented with a decent booklet containing lyrics and extensive interesting notes.

In the 1970s, Nektar passed underneath my radar, as they must have for most British Prog fans of the time. It was only later I discovered them and soon realised the error of my ways, but I still find it sad they don't command the same respect as Yes or Genesis. A Tab In The Ocean remains a phenomonal achievement, well deserving of a place in all classic Prog collections.

And all this arose from a chance remark, while admiring the antics of some captive fish, wondering what would happen if someone dropped a giant tab in the ocean!

Joolz | 5/5 |


As a registered member (register here if not), you can post rating/reviews (& edit later), comments reviews and submit new albums.

You are not logged, please complete authentication before continuing (use forum credentials).

Forum user
Forum password

Share this NEKTAR review

Social review comments () BETA

Review related links

Copyright Prog Archives, All rights reserved. | Legal Notice | Privacy Policy | Advertise | RSS + syndications

Other sites in the MAC network: — jazz music reviews and archives | — metal music reviews and archives