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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Nektar

...Sounds Like This, 2CD Remastered & Expanded Edition

Review by Gary Hill

This new set from Cherry Red is the first official release of ...Sounds Like This available for some time. The album was the third they recorded, but it was unusual. It was essentially a live album, recorded without an audience. It was a studio set, but all the songs were tunes from their live repertoire and they were recorded as a live performance of them. This isn't exactly the kind of prog space stuff throughout that one expects from Nektar, although there is a healthy helping of that. There is much more going on than just that, though. I like this set a lot. The first CD includes the original album in remastered form. The second disc is made up of alternate versions and other bonuses. It all comes in a nice digipack with a great booklet. I should note that I've reviewed some of the songs here previously on another set. The track reviews for those songs as presented here are either taken from that review or modified from it.

This review is available in book (paperback and hardcover) form in Music Street Journal: 2022  Volume 4. More information and purchase links can be found at: garyhillauthor.com/Music-Street-Journal-2022.

Track by Track Review
CD One:
                 
Good Day

This rises up tentatively and melodically before guitar screams overhead. It drops to mellower tones for the verses and there’s almost a Nektar does gospel texture to the choruses. The progression on this is rather simple and it doesn’t go very far, but it’s still effective.

New Day Dawning
This track’s an intriguing one. In some ways it’s trademark Nektar. Other parts of it, though, particularly the vocal hooks, feel closer to a combination of The Beatles and Mott the Hoople. There are snippets of some classic rock covers built into this later.
What Ya Gonna Do?
A big change, this comes in with a real blues rock sort of vibe. It gets some more decidedly Nektar moments, but overall really stays pretty centered on that unusual (for them) blues rock kind of thing.
4 1-2-3-4
There is almost an Elvis Presley vibe to this in some ways. The cut drives outward with style and more Nektar concepts and a proggy element are added to the tapestry. This is another that's a big change from what you expect from Nektar. Yet, it's also got some trademark elements. The instrumental section that comes in around the halfway mark really brings the prog with a vengeance, yet it also works to more familiar things like Deep Purple zones. As this extended instrumental movement continues, there are parts that make me think of the Allman Brothers, but there plenty of other things at play, too. The bass work gets pretty amazing at times.
Do You Believe In Magic
Acoustic guitar opens this with style. It feels like it might become a blues rocker, but instead it works out to an energized and accessible jam that’s so classically Nektar it’s unmistakable. This thing rocks out very well and is really one of the best tracks the band ever did. They run through on this version and then drop back down to a mellow acoustic guitar based section mid-track. They build it back out into some powerhouse jamming as they continue.
Cast Your Fate
This cut is intriguing. It’s got a rather stripped back and trippy arrangement, but there are some bits of this that would ultimately be reworked and land in “Remember the Future.” It’s a powerful and evocative cut by itself that works extremely well. There are some killer hard rocking psychedelic moments later, too.
A Day in the Life of a Preacher Preacher
There are country edges to this number as it gets going. The track works out from there to more traditional Nektar sounds. This thing gets really fierce and driving as it continues. The extended instrumental movement is on fire. This thing is so cool.
Squeeze Mr. H
This comes in with a more stripped back mainstream rock approach. In a lot of ways this is a mainstream melodic rock song. It does have some trademark Nektar elements in the mix, though.
Wings
The verse on this almost feels like something George Harrison might pen, but there’s still plenty of classic Nektar sound in the mix. The chorus is more trademark Nektar. All in all, this is an intriguing number that’s both accessible and rather trippy.
Odyssey
Take a bluesy, jazz jam and add some Nektar stylings and you have this track as it gets underway. They take it through a number of shifts and changes along the road and Ron Howden gets a drum solo. They take it out from there into a more mainstream Nektar sounding movement. That eventually gives way to more of a jam band kind of thing that again makes me think of Allman Brothers again.
CD Two:
       
Recorded at Dierks Studio, Stommeln, Germany, 12th October, 1972
                   
Good Day

For some reason the opening build up on this version makes me think of the Grateful Dead just a little. The cut works out into a killer rendition of the tune.

New Day Dawning
This is another alternate take on the cut from the first CD. I think I might prefer this version. It has some seriously incendiary moments.
Sunshine Down On The City
This thing is just so cool. It has a lot of driving up-tempo rocking that is trademark Nektar. The guitar solo section on this thing almost has a Jimi Hendrix vibe at times. Of course, that's tempered by more trademark Nektar elements. This thing works through all kinds of changes along the road. I'd say this is at least as strong as anything on the album proper.
Recorded at Dierks Studio, Stommeln, Germany, 19th February, 1973
                       
Da Da Dum

This is fierce hard rocking Nektar music. It has a jam band quality and some hints of Hendrix in the mix.

Recorded at Dierks Studio, Stommeln, Germany, 12th October, 1972
                   
What Ya Gonna Do?

This version feels a bit more jam-band like as it gets underway in comparison to the other version. That said, the blues angle is still very pronounced.

It’s All In Your Mind
There is a mellower build up section early on here. That gives way to a harder rocking movement with neo-classical elements at play. This continues to evolve with contrasting mellower and harder edged sections alternated. There are parts of this that would later become part of "Remember the Future." Those parts are a little less spacey here.
Cast Your Fate Jam
They turn this into a nearly 20-and-one-half-minute jam here. It comes in with some blues rocking. From there they eventually take into more trademark Nektar stuff. The cut continues to grow and evolve. There is some screaming hot guitar soloing as part of a jam about ten minutes into the number. The bass and drums turn it a little jazzy after that section finishes. The other instruments add to that vibe from there. They eventually take it back out into more typical Nektar jamming from there. A blues rocking jam emerges later that makes me think of Led Zeppelin to some degree. That plays through, and then chaos with a lot of space built into it ensues. From there we get a drum solo that's driving near the end that takes the track its end.
Recorded at Dierks Studio, Stommeln, Germany, 19th February, 1973
                    
Wings

There is an almost country rock angle to this at the start. It works out to the more familiar angles of the track from there.

 
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