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Nektar - Man In The Moon CD (album) cover




Psychedelic/Space Rock

3.25 | 102 ratings

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3 stars This is the dawn of the 1980s - the decade most proggers love to hate. Out went intricacy and progression, in came bombast and power ballads. It is the age of Arena Rock when bands like Foreigner, Styx, Journey and Boston ruled the airwaves, when old Prog bands had to adapt to survive. While there is some good material on Man In The Moon, you can forget about Prog because this is FM-friendly AOR USA-style with cheesy generic song structures, big production values and wailing vocals with a little of the band's glorious heritage knocking on the door to be let out occasionally.

Quality is subjective, but these songs are a mixed-bag ranging from very good to very poor. Guitar is the principal driving force of the album, mostly rhythm and riffs rather than solos, ably supported by a varied bunch of keyboards. There are not too many soft and gentle songs: intimacy and dynamics are not generally a fundamental of this kind of music, so there isn't much variation. Angel is a fairly typical example - a cheesy soft-ballad that turns into a cheesy big-power-ballad. Yeuk! Telephone and Can't Stop You Now are equally poor, while Torraine is worse, much worse, with some awful 'Phil Collins' shouty vocals, though the guitar work in an excellent instrumental break is worth hearing.

Remove those four songs and you are left with a pretty decent mini-album. Too Young To Die [ha!] has a three-note riff that catches up on you, not original in any way but well executed with a catchy tune though I hate endlessly repeated vocals at the end of a song. Far Away has another good riff though the song becomes a little ordinary and it fades without really developing into anything. The heavy rocking We is lively enough, has a cute synth solo and I like the multi-tracked vocals. You're Alone is the stand-out song, a ballad with an inventive arrangement, a little Mellotron amongst acoustic guitars and an evocative melancholy mood mirroring the subject. Man In The Moon gets a bit too bombastic, and there's more 'Phil Collins' vocals, but it has a meaty riff and the gutteral man-in-the-moon voice is a neat trick. By the way, the bonus tracks add little of value: Impossible Years is an alternative, but very similar, take on Too Young To Die, while Straight Jacket has more shouty vocals.

You become very aware that these songs are all short - none go beyond 4 minutes. Compact and concise may have been buzzwords at the time, but several songs would have benefitted greatly from longer passages and theme progressions. As is so often the case, there are some good ideas here, but they are not developed into anything other than interesting little embellishments. If you like the stereotype you may well find much to like on this album, but don't expect too much classic Nektar.

Joolz | 3/5 |


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