Artists | Issues | CD Reviews | Interviews | Concert Reviews | DVD/Video Reviews | Book Reviews | Who We Are | Staff | Home
 
Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Nektar

Man in the Moon/Evolution

Review by Gary Hill

This new release features remastered versions of two previously released Nektar discs and EP added to the second CD. It’s a cool set that should please fans of the group. Like others being released from this label (Cleopatra), the disc packaging is quite cool and well worth having. Since I’ve previously reviewed Man in the Moon, I’m going to use the track reviews from that article for the sake of consistency.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2012  Volume 3 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Always EP
Always (Single Edit)
As the title suggests, this is a single version of the previous track. It’s a real winner. In some ways, it seems like it works better in this shorter format.
Child of Mine (Single Edit)
I have to say that I definitely like this shorter version of this piece more than the original. While I generally like longer pieces, there’s not a lot going on within this number in the full version, so condensing it down seems quite appropriate.
Telephone (Live In Studio)
Here we have a live version of the track from Man in the Moon. First off, it’s impressive that they can get this kind of sound live (albeit in studio). Secondly, I think this version stands above the one on the original album. It feels more like Nektar to me.
Angel (Live In Studio)
The source for the original version of this album is the same as on the previous piece. However, this one still seems kind of pedestrian for Nektar. It’s OK, but just not all that special.
Disc 1 Man in the Moon
Too Young To Die

An '80's styled arena metal texture, ala Europe, begins this one, but as it drops to the verse the mode is closer to old Nektar. Still this is far more pop than prog. The chorus, in particular, is all pop/metal. It does drop to a break that seems a little more like the Nektar we know and love. The vocals are really what saves the track. Albrighton makes it listenable.

Angel
Piano and vocals begin this one in balladic form. The cut expands on this texture, moving forward, but remains a fairly generic ballad. Only the vocal arrangement pulls the chorus out of total banality.
Telephone
A piano line that begins this one flirts with signs of a Nektar of old, but alas it is not to be. This ballad has more going on than the last one, but still comes across as quite lackluster in terms of Nektar-ness.
Far Away
Quirky and bouncy, this one feels a little bit like Reggae in the intro. It drops to the droning back beat and vocal line that was so popular with bands like Survivor in those days for the verse. The chorus, however, works pretty well, based on a strong vocal line and high intensity arrangement.
Torraine
Another that starts with keys, this one jumps to a slightly jazzy style for a few measures during the intro. Then the cut explodes out and we have signs of the Nektar that used to be. Indeed, this cut could probably have fit better on the accessible, but less poppy, Magic Is A Child. After this potent, triumphant sounding verse segment runs through, a full on, trademark Nektar instrumental break ensues and the listener realizes that they do still have it in them. For a little while at least we can feel that the Nektar we know and love is back. Indeed, there are dramatic, evocative moments on this cut that call to mind Remember The Future, even. This is the only full-on winner of the CD.
Can't Stop You Now
With an incredibly poppy keyboard flourish, this one is on its way. It is a very accessible pop/rock number with some traces of the vintage Nektar sound. The bridge is a bit more proggy and old school, but still kind of like Nektar-lite.
We
This one comes in feeling a bit like the Rolling Stones. It is a fairly generic pop rock tune. The chorus, although kind of cool and positive, is over the top brand accessible. The instrumental break holds the only true signs of old Nektar, and it features a rather cool prog jam. Once that jam ends, though, it's back to the generic rocking style.
You're Alone
Acoustic guitar in a pretty pattern begins this one and starts a building process. The vocals enter and the mode is of a rock ballad. The chorus, still in an acoustic style, is rather strong. This one never really delivers, but it has its moments.
Man In The Moon
Title track material, a keyboard flourish leads to a crescendo to start the piece. Then atmospheric tones take it. There is a very gradual building process for a time, then a riff erupts that could pass for old Nektar, but the cut is really more '80's style pop metal than true prog. Still it is heads above most of its genre.
Impossible Years (Too Young To Die)
This one is basically a reprise of the opening number.
Straight Jacket
Starting with a flourish, this one explodes into frantic jamming. The cut feels rather punky on the chorus - imagine that, Nektar doing punk!
Disc 2 Evolution
Camouflage To White
There’s a cool introduction, then they launch out into some great guitar dominated progressive rock from there. This is powerful, symphonic progressive rock that’s definitely in keeping with the best of Nektar’s glorious past. After running through like that for over two minutes, at times feeling a little metallic, it drops way down and the sounds of astronaut chatter are heard. Then we get a new progression emerging. It still rocks, but it’s more melodic and the vocals come over the top of that. The vocal arrangement is pretty complex and multi-layered. There are quite a few changes in this cut. It is definitely modern, but certainly feels like classic Nektar at the same time. It’s a great way to start the album and show that Nektar is back in style.
Old Mother Earth
Starting mellow with just piano the first vocals are in that musical motif. Then a little before the one minute mark, this powers out to a real classic progressive sound. It’s also got a multi-layered vocal arrangement and a lot of great musical elements. Around the three and a half minute mark, where many pop songs would be ending, this drops to a very melodic movement that’s mellow and pretty. It almost feels like we’ve stepped into another song. Then it grows out tentatively from there. Eventually it powers out into a killer symphonic prog jam that’s got some crunchy guitar and some killer progressions. The vocal arrangement brings it into more melodic territory as it pulls back to the song proper. It eventually drops to a piano based segment outro, serving as a great bookend to the piece.
Child of Mine
Coming in extremely mellow, the acoustic guitar is delicate and the keyboard layers are quite space rock oriented. In some ways this calls to mind Pink Floyd a little, but it seems more classically oriented than that. It evolves into a very balladic cut that has a smooth flow to it. The vocals come in over this backdrop and the track grows quite gradually and slowly. This is not the most dynamic cut, but it is pretty and powerful.
Phazed by the Storm
They seriously rock out as they bring this one into being. It’s melodic and yet hard rocking at the same time. The vocals definitely bring more melodic elements with them and somehow I can hear some Procol Harum in the mix on this tune. There’s almost a soulful, R & B kind of element here. Still, this is also decidedly Nektar. Later in the track it works to an almost bluesy prog jam. It’s slow and very dramatic and powerful. It gives way to a different movement later that certainly has a Pink Floyd vibe. Mind you, it’s recognizable as Nektar, but it’s not far removed from the music of the Floyd.
Always
After a short effects laden introduction, they power out into some great melodic progressive rock that’s both classic Nektar and just a little fusion-like. It drops back down around the minute and a half mark and acoustic guitar rises up. The vocal come in over the top of that backdrop and it gradually builds out from there. It stays balladic until it fires out after the four minute mark to a soaring progressive rock jam.
Dancin' Into The Void
Melodic, but energized AOR opens this. It drops from there to mellower territory to continue. The song sort of hangs between those two ends of the spectrum, rising and falling. The main hook and vocal line are definitely trademark Nektar. There’s a cool, mellow guitar solo later. Then we get some atmospheric tones with spoken words over the top. Eventually it works back out to the song proper after this interlude. There’s a mellower rocking jam later in the track. It’s kind of bluesy. Once again, we’re taken back to the song proper from there. That segment eventually fades down to take it out.
The Debate
They power this one in hard rocking and very progressive rock-like. From there we get more of a straightforward rock and roll sound. It’s high energy and quite cool, but the arrangement is very stripped down and acoustic based. The chorus powers up with keyboard laden prog and some great instrumental work. There are several varying segments, at times feeling closer to classic Nektar. It’s an intriguing cut, but not my favorite of the set by a long shot. That said, it does turn out to a killer jam later with some great guitar soloing and a lot of awesome textures. Truly, that extended instrumental section is among the most classic Nektar like bit on display here.  
After The Fall
An acoustic guitar solo opens this number. It works out to a balladic cut. This is pretty and very interesting. They take it through a number of changes with different instruments serving as the dominant one at different times. It turns towards more rocking territory, but really qualifies even then as a powered up progressive rock ballad. Then, around the five minute mark, it shifts out to pure atmospheric space rock.
 
More CD Reviews
Metal/Prog Metal
Non-Prog
Progressive Rock

Ultimate Indie Bundle Banner
 
Google

   Creative Commons License
   This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 United States License.

    © 2019 Music Street Journal                                                                           Site design and programming by Studio Fyra, Inc./Beetcafe.com