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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Nektar

Magic Is A Child

Review by Gary Hill

1977's Magic Is A Child was never considered by fans to be among Nektar's best, because it is a lot more accessible and less prog rock-oriented than the majority of their catalog. The album's low esteem is really less about the quality of this album, though and more about the incredibly high quality of the rest of the band's repertoire. In fact, a good chunk of the material here would really have been at home on any other Nektar disc. The title cut in particular is a great harpsichord-based ballad that by itself is worth the price of admission.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2002 Year Book Volume 1 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Away From Asgard
Fast paced and triumphant in sound, this cut feels a little light for Nektar early on, but the pre-chorus is very dramatic. It is really easy to hear Starcastle as emulating the sound of this number. A drop to the very sparse and sedate triggers another great movement with a killer dramatic sound. The cut just keeps evolving on these themes and integrating new segments. This one gets so dramatic and even a little bluesy at times. Anyone who feels this album is sub-par Nektar really needs to give this dynamic piece another listen. What a great way to start the album.
Magic Is A Child
This cut has always been a favorite of this reviewer, but I need to add that I am a sucker for harpsichord. Still, this is a very unusual, powerful and evocative ballad of childhood fantasy. The arrangement gets very lush and intricate.
Eerie Lackawana
Coming in fast, the song quickly changes gear to a mainstream rock sort of melody. This one is a bit basic and uninspired, but it has its moments.
Midnight Light
Beginning in very dramatic fashion, this cut is quite a solid and powerful prog number. It includes plenty of changes, drama and meaty melody lines. This is a killer cut.
Love To Share (Keep Your Memories Behind You)
This one starts in a more rock ballad sort of mode, feeling a bit like the Beatles throughout most of its length. In fact, this one is a bit too Beatles influenced at times.
Train From Nowhere
A frantic hard edged riff begins this cut, then a more typical Nektar mellow guitar melody takes the piece. This one is quite intriguing as this less melodic sort of hard-edged style keeps taking the piece from the sedate with little warning. The instrumental break is a great jam that occasionally feels just a little like ELP.
Listen
This is another that is a little quirky. It feels a bit like the bluesier side of Pink Floyd at times, but this one really rocks out with a dramatic flair. The group seems to know exactly when to drop it way down and just when to jump it back up. The track screams dramatic power and motion. This is definitely one of the standouts on the album.
On The Run (The Trucker)
Another that comes in hard edged and fast, the percussion steals the show early on. Count this track as another Nektar jam that really delivers both in terms of power and progressive fury. It should have plenty of quirkiness and prog changes for even the most demanding prog-head.
Spread Your Wings
This one starts with a riff that feels more like Captain Beyond than Nektar, the cut is more straight forward rock than Nektar prog, but they do a convincing job of the style and that opening riff is a recurring one that really does smoke.
 
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