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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Nektar

A Tab In The Ocean (Remaster)

Review by Gary Hill

When I first discovered Nektar, my favorite album by them was without a doubt Remember The Future. The thing is, the only copy of A Tab in the Ocean that I ever had was an LP that was scratched almost to point of total unplayability. So, upon getting this CD, I am amazed to find out that it is quite probably the best album the band has ever recorded. This one is an awesome release, and I am rather upset that it took me this long to discover it. This one is probably the most progressive disc the group ever released, and it combines space rock sounds with those prog leanings into a very listenable combination, that at times feels quite a bit like early Pink Floyd. The reissue includes a remaster of the original mix and a remastering of the 1976 US mix. I think that they could have left off that US version. Truly once you have heard the other one, I doubt you'll be listening to that version. It comes across as quite inferior. With that in mind, the track by track here will only focus on the first set, as the songs remain the same, only the mix is changed in the second edition.

Track by Track Review
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, the 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.
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