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Progressive Rock CD Reviews


Man In The Moon

Review by Gary Hill

In the 1980's hair metal and new wave were king. It must have been really hard to be a prog band in those days because so many of them felt the urge to jump on the pop bandwagon to try to stay afloat. Nektar was no exception. With Magic Is A Child the band had flirted with more commercial song structures and arrangements. Well, if that was a flirtation, then Man In The Moon is a dinner date with breakfast in bed the next morning. The opening cut feels much more like pop-metallers Europe than it does like Nektar. Only one song, Torraine, really feels like it captures any of the magic of old.

I should point out, though, the one thing that truly saves this album from being completely forgettable is Roye Albrighton's vocals. With the musical complexity gone, more interest falls to his voice, and he rises to the occasion. His voice carries this album much in the same way that Rob Halford's voice is the only thing that makes Judas Priest's Turbo album listenable. It is a true tribute to Albrighton's vocal presence that this album is listenable at all. It is a shame that they didn't work harder on sticking to their musical guns, though. This one is probably just for the die-hards.

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

Track by Track Review
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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