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Nirvana (UK)

Songs of Love and Paradise Remastered & Expanded Edition

Review by Gary Hill

Here's a history lesson for you. Would you be shocked to learn that Kurt Cobain and his crew were not the first band to release albums under the name "Nirvana?" Well, it's true. This British band we're putting out music in the early 1970s. This is a reissue of their 1972 release with a couple bonus tracks. It's a great album. It has a lot of folk prog and psychedelia in the mix, but that's far from the whole game here. Much of this has horns and strings added to augment the mix. I really like this album. It's compelling and varied.

 

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2017  Volume 4 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Rainbow Chaser

I love the horns on the introduction to this. The cut has a definite prog rock texture with some jazz added to the mix on this segment and some other powered up ones. The mellower parts are more full on psychedelia. The combination, though, is full old school progressive rock. The vocal arrangement is great and some of the musical elements (a bit of an ELO like break for one) are just so cool, too. All in all, this is a great song and an excellent choice for opener.

Please Believe Me

This is more of a ballad. The strings bring something special to it. There are definitely some Beatles-like elements here. All in all, this is a classic tune that works particularly well.

Lord Up Above

"Folk prog" is without question the correct label for this song.  The mellower verses are more in line with a psychedelic folk music, but when it powers up it's full on prog. The strings are again an integral part of the piece.

She's Lost It

I can definitely hear some Beatles influence on this number. I love the bass line. This is an energized rocker that's perhaps more straight-ahead rock than it is prog, but there are enough touches of proggy things here to keep it there. The piano dominated jam later is great.

Nova Sketch

Coming in jazzy, I'm definitely reminded of Traffic as this makes its way forward. There are some bits of psychedelic sound here. The piano soloing is the real star of this short instrumental, though.

Pentecost Hotel

While folk and psychedelia are the main leanings here, this makes me think of Procol Harum in a lot of ways. I like the female choral vocals. The general hooks really sell it, too. This is a catchy cut that still has plenty of proggy meat on its bones. The horns later in the track bring something special to it, too.

I Need Your Love Tonight

There is no huge change here. This is a mid-tempo psychedelically tinged number that works quite well. It's part folk rock and part prog. The echoey guitar soloing on the extended closing section is really classy. This is another tune that makes me think of the Beatles a bit.

Will There Be Me

To me this feels a lot like what a cross between Captain Beyond and Nektar might sound like. There are more folk rock styled sections here as this moves forward. I dig the acoustic guitar soloing. The whole piece is pretty classy stuff.

Stadium

The introduction here is orchestral with bombastic bits of some familiar classical music. The cut shifts from there to a British sounding old time music, like the kind of thing Queen often did. There are bits of horns and strings as this grows forward. In a lot of ways it has plenty of that folk rock texture built into it. This is a very theatrical piece that perhaps gets a little over the top in terms of its arrangement. They break out in another jam that reminds me of Traffic for the second half of this extended number. That part doesn't suffer from the over the top element. The first part of this instrumental movement is done without horns and strings, with piano driving it. Those elements are added to the mix later but don't seem overdone at all. Then the whole thing drops back to the earlier mellower old-time music after the climax of that movement. Another instrumental comes in later that's full on symphonic prog and quite bombastic. It really makes a great closer for the album proper.

Bonus Tracks
         
Lazy Day Drift
Piano brings this into being and drives a lot of the arrangement. It works from there to a cool folk meets prog and jazz number. This was the B-side of the "Pentecost Hotel" single. The piano really drives a lot of this instrumental, but there are plenty of other things vying for the spotlight at times.
Ad Lib

This was released as the flip side of the "Rainbow Chaser" single. This is another instrumental. This time, though, guitar really drives this. It is sort of a rock and roll jam. Mind you, even though there is a big focus on the guitar, other instruments get to shine, too. I'm reminded just a little of the Grateful Dead on this thing. The powerhouse prog jamming later in the track really rocks it out into the stratosphere. As strong as this cut is, I'm shocked that it wasn't on the album proper. It's actually one of my favorites here.

 
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