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Nektar

A Tab in the Ocean (Deluxe Edition)

Review by Gary Hill

This is a reissue of the classic A Tab in the Ocean album from Nektar. The difference here is a second disc is included, “The Boston Tapes.” These recordings were made very early in Nektar’s career, basically as demos. As such the sound quality isn’t up to the best standards and the music is closer to psychedelia than the sound Nektar came to play later. Still, the disc is intriguing and entertaining and well worth having. It should be noted that I’ve already reviewed A Tab in the Ocean previously, and since the first disc here is the same as that, I’m reprinting those track by track reviews for consistency.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2011  Volume 3 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Disc 1
A Tab In The Ocean

Ambient tones start this, and organ eventually enters to gradually begin building the piece up. After a time, the entire band joins in, creating a powerful and triumphant sounding progressive rock movement. They play with this for a while, then drop it to a very dramatic segment based mostly on the rhythm section. The group works through this new segment for a time, and it eventually resolves out to a balladic prog section that feels a lot like Pink Floyd meets the Beatles. This forms the structure of the verses. As they move this forward it eventually gains a new intensity through a more pronounced rhythm section, the group eventually explodes this out for a short time in prog fury, then they drop it back to more Floydian texture. They bring this back up to the rhythmic fury dominated segment continuing through this then creating another highly dramatic segment. This gives way to amore catchy chorus section that is punctuated by some solid jamming. After this plays through, they move to another verse segment. This explodes out into more frantic prog jamming that is trademark Nektar. This dynamic jam keeps growing and changing. It gets rather tough to keep track of all the changes, but suffice it to say that this one is a prog extravaganza. At nearly 17 minutes, this epic is just awesome!

Desolation Valley / Waves

Coming in with hard edged prog jamming, this drops to another segment that calls to mine early Pink Floyd. This also has a laid back jazzy texture that feels a bit like some of the sounds from the first Yes album. They eventually change this up to another fast paced excursion that's all Nektar. This moves toward a resolution section that again has their trademarks all over it before returning to the Floyd/protoYes segment for the next verse. This continues to evolve forward by working and reworking these various segments as it carries on. A slow half-space rock/half-jazzy segment emerges later, and eventually carries this straight into the next track.

Crying In The Dark
Starting with the mellower elements left behind from the previous piece, a new, understated guitar jam takes it for a time. This section stays around a bit to long for my testes, but eventually a stomping hard-edged prog rock extravaganza takes over.
King Of Twilight
This cut, a solid, if a bit straightforward, prog rocker includes enough progressive rock excitement to win over even the hard to please prog head.
Disc 2
New Day Dawning
Starting gradually, this is rather psychedelic with some definite Pink Floyd built into the mix. The vocals have an almost pop rock feeling to them. It alternates between louder and mellower sections. This is good tune, but not all that exceptional, really.
Do You Believe In Magic
Although in some ways this isn’t that far removed from the first track on this CD, it’s more typical Nektar. The bass driving this is awesome and the vocal arrangement is trademark Nektar. Some of this sounds close to something from Remember the Future. There’s a cool harder rocking section later with a tasty guitar solo. At times this reminds me a bit of the Ziggy Stardust era of David Bowie.
Candlelight
The opening section of this is mellow and combines classic Nektar sounds with something not that far removed from early Yes. The vocals are trademark Nektar and the number builds gradually in a very tasty way. A harder rocking section calls to mind early Hawkwind in a lot of ways. A crazed bass line later serves as the background for some smoking hot guitar soloing.
Gooday
Keyboards start this and the cut builds with a rhythm that calls to mind “The Bolero.” Guitar weaves lines of sound and texture across the top as the track continues to rise upwards. They drop it down to a mellower adventure, but eventually power back up from there. After running through in the harder rocking mode for a while they drop it back down to mellower balladic modes for the vocals, but then power it up for the chorus. It works through by alternating the main musical themes, but there’s a cool guitar solo driven segment that serves as the outro.
The Life I've Been Leading
Harder rocking, there’s almost a blues rock element to this, but it’s very much psychedelia meets Nektar in texture. The guitar solo section later really has a killer psychedelic vibe and in some ways this cut calls to mind the band H. P. Lovecraft a little.
Where Did You Go
Sort of a straight forward rock ballad, this is tasty, but not one of the best cuts. Still, it does have some trademark Nektar sounds.
Sealed With A Kiss
This is a cover of the classic pop song. A killer hard rock sound starts this off and as they take it out into the song proper it feels like Nektar meets White Album era Beatles.
Our Love Will Last Forever
While this definitely has a classic rocker element to it, there are also a lot of trademark Nektar nuances.
 
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