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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Nirvana (UK)

Local Anaesthetic: Remastered & Expanded Edition

Review by Gary Hill

Long before Kurt Cobain and company formed a band called "Nirvana," there was a British act releasing music under that name. While Cobain and band were the poster-boys of grunge music, the earlier Nirvana was a psychedelia meets proto prog act. This new release is a reissue of their 1971 album with a couple bonus tracks. Perhaps not everything here is progressive rock, but the general concept clearly is, and so is a lot of the music. However you label this, though, it's quite an intriguing release. It should be noted that the main guy in this act (I suppose one could call him, this Nirvana's Cobain) was Patrick Campbell-Lyons, who we've covered previously.
This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2017  Volume 4 at
Track by Track Review
Modus Operandi

Rising up gradually, there is a spacey kind of trippy vibe permeating the music here, with some jazzy elements. There is a person completely losing it, though, screaming and crying in the beginning. Then the jazz sounds take over, driving it forward as that person drops from the mix. A weird space sound takes it forward and then ends. A Grateful Dead kind of jam emerges with the vocals coming over the top of that.  There is a section beyond that where percussion serves as the only backdrop for the vocals. Then the vocals go away and just the drumming remains, getting pretty involved. Other music rises up and takes over with a psychedelia meets classical approach. Some jazzy textures are heard as this moves forward, but by the time the vocals rejoin it's full on psychedelia. That eventually works through. Then a new jam emerges. It's a fast paced rocking sound that's part psychedelic rock, part folk music and part prog. After the vocals leave, this works out to a killer jazz meets psychedelic rock jam. It's a real powerhouse. It moves from there to another jam that makes me think of early Grateful Dead. The instrumental section that follows also grooves with a definite Dead vibe, right down to the guitar soloing. The jam turns quite proggy as it continues and keyboards take a prominent role. This cut is over 16 minutes in length, and they sure pack a lot of different sounds into that space. That said, the last couple minutes are taken up by talking and some acapella goofing around that gives way to a piano sing-along.

This piece is an even longer one, weighing in at almost 19 and a half minutes. It's a suite divided into five parts. Percussion starts it with the bass joining. That stops and there is some silence. Then it restarts with other sounds added to the mix as it grows outward. Then around the one minute mark some harpsichord brings it into a new psychedelic rock styled mode for the first vocal segment of the piece. It makes me think of something Queen might do, especially as it builds forward from there. The jam that follows the sung portion includes some particularly cool guitar work, but that's not to diminish anything else, particularly the piano work. It fades down as it approaches the six minute mark, obviously signaling the next section. After some silence that comes in mellow and again like something one might have expected from early Queen. There is some jam band type stuff built into it as it works to more of a rocking jam later. That segment fades to end near the 11 and a half minute mark. It works out into a Grateful Dead styled jam as it comes into the next movement. At around the 15 and a half minute mark a piano based arrangement brings in a new movement. It grows outward from there in decidedly proggy ways. This works through some evocative music as it continues. That movement ends as the cut approaches the 19 minute mark. A piano solo rises up to take up the last short section of the piece.
Bonus Tracks: A & B sides of single

The Saddest Day of My Life

This is one of the Queenish sections of the song "Home." It works nicely in this single version. It works to a killer hippie styled jam.

I Wanna Go Home
This is another segment from the previous suite. It's a cool jam band styled thing that is effective in this format.
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