Band members                              Related acts

  line up 1 (1969-1976)

- Roye Albrighton (RIP 2016) -- vocals, lead guitar
- Mick Brockett -- lights, visuals

- Allan "Taff" Freeman -- keyboards, backing vocals 
- Ron Howden -- vocals, drums, percussion, backing vocals

- Derek "Mo" Moore -- vocals, bass, backing vocals


  supporting musicians (1974)

- P.P. Arnold -- backing vocals

- Phil Brown -- tuba

- Bob Calvert -- spoken word

- Ron Carthy -- trumpet

- Kenneth Cole -- backing vocals

- Steve Gregory -- sax

- Butch Hudson -- trumpet

- Chris Mercer -- sax

- Chris Pyne -- trombone

- Stephan Wick - tuba


  line up 2 (1976-77)

- Roye Albrighton (RIP 2016) -- vocals, lead guitar
- Mick Brockett -- lights, visuals

- Allan "Taff" Freeman -- keyboards, backing vocals 
- Ron Howden -- vocals, drums, percussion, backing vocals

- Derek "Mo" Moore -- vocals, bass, backing vocals


  supporting musicians: (1975)

- Larry Fast -- synthesizers


  line up 3 (1976-77)
- Mick Brockett -- lights, visuals

- Allan "Taff" Freeman -- keyboards, backing vocals 
- Ron Howden -- vocals, drums, percussion, backing vocals

- Derek "Mo" Moore -- vocals, bass, backing vocals

NEW - Dave Nslon -- vocals, lead guitar (replaced Roye Albrighton)


  line up 3 (1980-82)

- Roye Albrighton (RIP 2016) -- vocals, lead guitar, backing vocals
- Allan "Taff" Freeman -- keyboards, backing vocals 

NEW - David Prater -- drums, percussion, backing vocals (replaced 

  Ron Howden)

NEW - Carmine Rojas -- bass, vocals, keyboards (replaced

  Derek Moore) 

  line up 4 (1999)

- Roye Albrighton (RIP 2016) -- vocals, guitar
- Allan "Taff" Freeman -- keyboards, backing vocals 

NEW - Ray Harwick -- drums, percussion (replaced 

  David Prater) 


  line up 5 (2002-2003)

- Roye Albrighton (RIP 2016) -- vocals, guitar
- Mick Brockett -- lights, visuals

- Allan "Taff" Freeman -- keyboards, backing vocals 
- Ron Howden -- vocals, drums, percussion, backing vocals

- Derek "Mo" Moore -- vocals, bass, backing vocals


  line up 6 (2004-2007)

- Roye Albrighton (RIP 2016) -- vocals, guitar
- Mick Brockett -- lights, visuals

NEW - Randy Dembo - bass (replaced Derek Moore)

NEW - Tom Hughes -- keyboards (replaced Allan Freeman)

- Ron Howden -- vocals, drums, percussion, backing vocals


  line up 7 (2007-)

- Roye Albrighton (RIP 2016) -- vocals, guitar
NEW - Klaus Henatsch -- keyboards (replaced Ron Howden)

- Ron Howden -- vocals, drums, percussion, backing vocals

NEW - Peter Pichl - bass (replaced Randy Dembo)





- Roye Albrighton (solo efforts)

- Baby Grand (Carmen Rojas and David Prater)

- Martin Cure and the Peeps (Roye Allbrighton)

- The Grand Alliance (Roye Albrighton)

- The Lucky Bishops (Tom Hughes)

- The Peeps (Roye Albrighton)

- The Rainbows (Roye Albrighton)

- Spy (Dave Nelson)





Genre: progressive

Rating: *** (3 stars)

Title:  ... Sounds Like This

Company: United Artists

Catalog: UAD 60041/42

Year: 1973

Country/State: UK/Germany

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: double LP; gatefold sleeve

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 2789

Price: $20.00


Co-produced by the band and Peter Hauke, 1973's " ... Sounds Like This" was a nine track, double album set.  Hoping to capture their in-concert sound, the initial recording sessions captured the band over a three day period live in front of a small group of friends.  In terms of material those sessions found the band working with a mixture of existing ideas and  song fragments, rounded out by lots of in-the-studio improvisation.  The original intention was to record the album without any post-production work, but hearing the results the band were disappointed and decided to go back into the studio with producer Hauke.  The end result saw most of the original tracks dropped in favor of re-recorded tracks.  Apparently only the short and sweet ballad 'Wings' survived intact, while two of the original compositions were dropped entirely ('Sunshine Down On the City' and 'It'a All In Ya Mind').  Those songs were replaced by newly written material.  In spire of the post-production work, the final album retained a heavy and raw sound, very obvious on tracks like the bluesy rocker 'What You Gonna Do?' and the extended jam 'One-Two-Three-Four'.  And that's going to have a major impact on your reaction to this album.    Folks expecting to hear a continuation of the band's mash-up of psych and space rock moves were likely to be confused, or outright upset by this release.  In other words, this ain't no "Journey To the Centre of the Eye".  I'll admit to being confused by largely improvised, extended jams, like 'A Day In the Life of a Preacher' and 'Odyssee', but over time I've come to enjoy the collection.   The fact they managed to churn this out in such a short timeframe and the fact they could sound this strong in the studio was quite a testament to the band.   


"... Sounds Like This" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Good Day   (Derek "Mo" Moore - Ron Howden - Taff Freeman - Dave Nelson - Roy Albrighton) - 6:46   rating: **** stars

As exemplified by 'Good Day', Roye Albrighton's lead guitar has always struck me as being highly melodic and when you added in the song's breezy, lysergic feel and the group-sung refrain; well what was there to dislike ?   Ever wondered what The Dead would have sounded like if they'd been European ?   Well, this might be a good place to start to answer that question.  Accompanied by a live, rather spare version of the song, YouTube has an interesting, if slightly odd, black and white Jay Tuck produced  promotion film for the song: 

2.) New Day Dawning   (Derek "Mo" Moore - Ron Howden - Taff Freeman - Dave Nelson - Roy Albrighton) - 5:04   rating: *** stars

More of hard rock ballad than a psych effort with a strange, un-credited 'Norwegian Wood' segment popping up midway.

3.) What You Gonna Do?   (Derek "Mo" Moore - Ron Howden - Taff Freeman - Dave Nelson - Roy Albrighton) - 6:25   rating: ** stars

Bluesy bar band rocker with a touch of Rory Gallagher thrown in the mix ...   quite raw and likely to be a major surprise to the band's legion of fans who were acclimated to their studio psych-tinged moves.


(side 2)
1.) One-Two-Three-Four
   (Derek "Mo" Moore - Ron Howden - Taff Freeman - Dave Nelson - Roy Albrighton) - 12:50
rating: *** stars

Anyone who saw these guys as nothing more than a group of freak flag flying hippies might want to check out the blazing, anti-war themed 'One-Two-Three-Four'.  The first three minutes were quite structured, but stretched out to a seemingly endless jam with each member given an extended shot at the spotlight, the song was admittedly way too long for its own good.  Still, a nice showcase for Albrighton's sadly overlooked guitar chops.  A shortened, studio version appeared as the "B" side to the German 'Do You Beieve In Magic' 45.

2.) Do You Believe In Magic   (Derek "Mo" Moore - Ron Howden - Taff Freeman - Dave Nelson - Roy Albrighton) - 7:20   rating: **** stars

The bluesy ballad 'Do You Believe In Magic' was simply one of the prettiest songs the band every composed.  This one could have been a single. The vocals have always reminded me a bit of the late Rory Gallagher.   There's an even better studio version that was released as a 1972 Germansingle and subsequently was included on the 1976 "Nektar" compilation album:




- 1972's 'Do You Believe In Magic' b/w '1-2-3-4' (Bachillis catalog number BF 18087)








(side 3)

1.) Cast Your Fate   (Derek "Mo" Moore - Ron Howden - Taff Freeman - Dave Nelson - Roy Albrighton) - 7:20   rating: **** stars

'Cast Your Fate' offered up another bluesy ballad, with a dark, slightly ominous feel.  Albrighton sounded great on lead vocals.

2.) A Day In the Life of a Preacher (Preacher) (Squeeze) (Mr. H)   (Derek "Mo" Moore - Ron Howden - Taff Freeman - Dave Nelson - Roy Albrighton) - 13:05   rating; *** stars

'A Day In the Life of a Preacher' was a three part medley.  'Preacher' started out with a touch of country influence, before revealing the band's overlooked commercial streak.   This was one of these melodies that stuck with you long after you'd filed the album away.  The 'Squeeze' segment was devoted to an extended jam session that may have underscored the group's technical prowess, but struck me as kind of pedestrian and dull.   Admittedly the song did improve in correlation to the amount of beer you consumed.  'Mr. H' found the band settling into a nice groove, adding some dark and ominous vocal and a nod to Hendrix to the jam.  Again, I always liked Albrighton's voice, but this was hardly an essential addition to the Nektar catalog.


(side 4)

1.) Wings   (Derek "Mo" Moore - Ron Howden - Taff Freeman - Dave Nelson - Roy Albrighton) - 3:48   rating: **** stars

The only song to survive fro the band's original October 1972 recording sessions ...  Short, sweet, and focused, the ballad 'Wings' was quite the outlier in this collection of extended jams.  Beautiful ballad that highlighted Derek Moore's melodic bass.

2.) Odyssee (Ron's On) (Never, Never, Never) (Da-Da-Da)   (Derek "Mo" Moore - Ron Howden - Taff Freeman - Dave Nelson - Roy Albrighton) - 14:37   rating; *** stars

'Odyssee' was another extended, three part medley.  Spotlighting Albrighton's jazzy guitar licks and Allan Freeman's Hammond B-3, the opening section, 'Ron's On' was a jazzy instrumental that sounded like something off a Ramsey Lewis album  As the song went along the jazzy component faded away in favor of a blues-rock sound.  Hard to tell where one section stops and the next starts, but I'm guessing Ron Howden's extended drum solo marked the start of 'Never, Never, Never'.  If you like drum solos, great song.  Actually, after the introductory drum solo Albrighton' wailing voice and wah-wah guitar kicked in giving the song a nice bar-band flavor.   




Genre: progressive

Rating: **** (4 stars)

Title:  Remember the Future

Company: Passport

Catalog: PPSD-98002

Year: 1973

Country/State: UK/Germany

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: gatefold sleeve

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 4922

Price: $10.00




Chronologically 1973's "Remember the Future" was the band's third studio set, providing the group with their first true European commercial success.  As a result of  a distribution deal with Passport Records, the album also served as the band's official American debut.  Produced by Peter Hauke and the band, the album offered up another heavily orchestrated concept piece that's seen by many of the group's older fans as their creative zenith.  Structurally the album was broken out into two parts coinciding with the two album sides, each in turn broken down into multiple sections.  While the concept was completely lost to my ears, the music proved surprisingly innovative, commercial and likeable.  Propelled by Albrighton's casual voice, the album was full of interesting textures, twists, turns and structural complexities.  That said, I'm constantly surprised by the fact tracks like 'Images of Light', 'Returning Light' and 'Questions and Answers' were so tuneful and even radio friendly - 'Path of Light' and ''Tomorrow Never Comes' actually sported funky breaks that would have sounded pretty good on top-40 radio.   


In support of the album the group also played their first American concert.  Partially documented on the 1978 "Thru the Ears" retrospective (see below), their September 1974 debut concert took place at New York's Academy of Music.  It must have been quite a show since among other memorable moments, they managed to blow the building's power supply.


"Remember the Future" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Remember the Future (Part 1) - 16:38

    a.) Images of the Past   (Nektar)

    b.) Wheel Time  (Nektar)

    c.) Remember the Future  (Nektar)

    d.) Confusion  (Nektar)


(side 2)
1.) Remember the Future (Part II) - 18:55

    a.) Returning Light  (Nektar)

    b.) Questions and Answers  (Nektar)

    c.) Tomorrow Never Comes  (Nektar)

    d.) Path of Light  (Nektar)

    e.) Recognition  (Nektar)

    f.) Let It Grow  (Nektar)




Genre: progressive

Rating: **** (4 stars)

Title:  Down To Earth

Company: Passport

Catalog: PPSD-98005

Year: 1974

Country/State: UK/Germany

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: gatefold sleeve

Available: 3

Catalog ID: 6082

Price: $10.00



I've owned this album since the mid-1970s, though I probably haven't listened to it for 15 years.  That said, I was watching something on cable television that featured a song I really liked, though not enough to track it down.  The very next day I was looking at a book on Krautrock and decided to pull out some of my German albums.  The first one I put on the turntable was "Down To Earth".  The minute I put it on I recognized the song I'd heard the previous evening - 'Astral Man'.  Strange to say the least ...


Produced by Peter Hauke and the band, 1974's "Down To Earth" was the group's fifth studio set and marked a creative turning point for the band.  Although a pseudo-concept piece built around a circus theme (don't ask me what the plotline was about  ... life as a cosmic circus?), the album was surprisingly mainstream and commercial.  Such an abrupt change in musical direction probably cost the band the bulk of their longstanding fan base, while the collection's new found accessibility (hard to imagine saying that in a Nektar review) didn't do much to generate mega sales.  For what its worth, I think the album was pretty killer.  Backed by an all star cast including singer P.P. Arnold, Hawkwind's Bob Calvert (serving as ringmaster complete with a horrible German accent) and sax player Chris Mercer, tracks such as 'Astral Man', 'Early Morning Clown' and 'Show Me the Way' were catchy, highly melodic and radio ready.  Think that was hard to believe?  Okay, the instrumental 'Nelly the Elephant', 'Fidgety Queen' and 'Oh Willy' were actually funky !!!  No bullsh*t.  F-U-N-K-Y.  If they'd given it a chance older fans would've found quite a bit to like, including 'That's Life' which featured a wonderful mix of progressive and rock moves and some sterling bass moves from Derek Moore.  Definitely a highpoint in the group's extensive discography.    


"Down To Earth" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Astral Man   (Nektar) - 3:07    rating: *** stars

Opening up with what sounded like circus crowd sound effects (and featured throughout the album), 'Astral Man' showcased Derek Moore's innovative bass and proved a surprisingly commercial slice of pop-rock.  This one would not have sounded bad on top-40 radio stations.  

2.) Nelly the Elephant (instrumental)   (Nektar) - 5:02     rating: ** stars

Yeah, Bob Calvert's Teutonic-favored spoken word segments didn't seem to have much to do with the story, but if anything, the instrumental 'Nelly the Elephant' was even more pop-oriented, with a great melody and some tasteful synthesizers from Allan Freeman.

3.) Early Morning Clown   (Nektar) - 3:21   rating:**** stars 

With a beguiling melody, 'Early Morning Clown' was easily one of the prettiest songs they ever wrote,  The song also featured a fantastic Roye Albrighton lead guitar segment.  Shame it wasn't longer.   

4.) That's Life   (Nektar) - 6:49    rating:**** stars 

Powered by some great fuzz bass and the band's frequently overlooked skills in the harmony vocal department, 'That's Life' offered up a wonderful mix of commercial and more progressive moves (Moore's performance was breathtaking).  Overlooking Calvert's irritating spoken word segment this was another album highlight.   


(side 2)
1.) Fidgety Queen   (Nektar) - 4:04 
rating:**** stars 

Opening up with some nice Albrighton slide guitar and a funky horn section, Fidgety Queen' was a totally unexpected slice of funk ...  You wouldn't have though an Anglo-German progressive unit could pull something like this off, but they somehow managed to do it.  

2.) Oh Willy   (Nektar) - 4:00    rating: *** stars

'Oh Willy' found the band diving headlong into conventional hard rock ...  By all intents it should have been a total creative disaster, but to be honest it wasn't half bad.  Once again Albrighton turned in some nice guitar runs and the song's abrupt changes in direction (about half way through it morphed into a pretty, bluesy instrumental), before returning to it's initial rock orientation gave it some additional depth.  

3.) Little Boy   (Nektar) - 3:03    rating: *** stars

Showcasing Albrighton's frequently overlooked acoustic guitar chops, 'Little Boy' was another pretty ballad that had commercial potential.  

4.) Show Me the Way  (Nektar) -     rating: ** stars

To my ears 'Show Me the Way' was the album's most progressive oriented effort.   Not exactly progressive in the way their earlier albums were, but still more elaborate than the rest of the album's pop orientation.  The track also featured P.P. Arnold sharing vocals with Albrighton.  

5.) Finale (instrumental)  (Nektar) - 1:36    rating: ** stars

There simply wasn't much to say about the closing instrumental 'Finale'.  It was over in a flash ...  rating: ** stars 


The album was tapped for a pair of singles in the UK


- 1974's 'Fidgety Queen' b/w 'Little Boy' (United Artists catalog number UP 35706)

- 1974's 'Astral Man' b/w 'Nelly The Elephant' (United Artists catalog number UP 35853)


Way too commercial for long time fans, yet too progressive for pop fans ...  no way for these guys to win in the court of commercial sales.




Genre: progressive

Rating: **** (4 stars)

Title:  Recycled

Company: Passport

Catalog: PPSD-98011

Year: 1975

Country/State: UK/Germany

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: gatefold sleeve

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 148

Price: $10.00


Wow, Roye Albrighton and company get down to social responsibility.  Released in 1975, 'Recycled' was apparently intended as a concept piece built around the misuse of natural resources.  The band claimed the inspiration came during their 1974 tour of the States when they were simply stunned by the amount of waste they saw during their performances - audiences literally tossing away tons of paper and plastic cups, and soda and beer cans.  Side one was basically a 16 minute, seven part suite telling the story of an earth dependent on recycle energy (hum, guess Alrbrighton knew something the rest of us didn't).  Musically the overarching sound wasn't all that different than their previous couple of albums.  Perhaps the biggest change was the addition of guest performer Larry Fast's synthesizers to the mix (occasionally giving the album a slight Krautrock feel ('Cybernetic Consumption'), which served to push Albrighton's guitar to the sidelines.  On side two the plotline became vaguer (frankly I've never been sure what was going on), though the music took on a much broader spectrum including stabs at disco, adult contemporary pop, and one of their prettiest ballads.


I'll have to agree with the majority of folks on this one - the album's good and well worth owning, but simply doesn't match their earlier releases.  


By the way, Helmut Wenske's cover art was a treat.  Wonder how many hours I've spent staring at it ...





"Recycled" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Recycle   (Nektar) - 2:47

The title track started out with the combination of Ron Howden's drums and Larry Fast's synthesizer washes sounding like a train rolling down the tracks.  Then Albrighton's whiny vocals kicked in giving the song a dark, gloomy overtone (fitting for the album's depressing theme).  rating: *** stars

2.) Cybernetic Consumption (instrumental)   (Nektar) - 2:32

Opening up with percussion and sound effects that mimicked a futuristic production line, the brief instrumental 'Cybernetic Consumption' actually sounded a bit like a slice of mid-'70 Kraftwerk.  rating: *** stars

3.) Recycle Countdown   (Nektar) - 1:51

After a brief snippet of Albrighton's lead guitar, 'Recycle Countdown' briefly returned to main theme (same jumpy melody)   rating: *** stars

4.) Automation Horrorscope   (Nektar) - 3:08

After some effects-treated explanatory narrative "Webs of concrete giving off waste dust that marks the search of an age of a thousand vast empires sweeping away legends untold to human ears. While shafts of steel clutch the stars nature supplies ...  once numerous]...  now lapse into eerie silence recycled energy becomes the only form of life as it was and now new forms are moulded from patterns alewdy used to struggle to survive"), 'Automation Horrorscope' (great title) served as one of the few tracks to spotlighted Albrigton's guitar and Allan Freeman keyboards before shifting gears into side one's prettiest segment.    rating: *** stars

5.) Recycling   (Nektar) - 1:46

And back to the main theme for just under two minutes ...   rating: *** stars

6.) Flight of Reality   (Nektar) - 1:18

Showcasing drummer Howden, 'Flight of Reality' was a rollicking pop song.  It also gave Albrighton a brief opportunity to showcase his excellent slide guitar.   rating: **** stars

6.) Unendless Imaginations   (Nektar) - 4:36

Introduced the English Chorale, 'Unendless Imagination?' ended side one with a brief slice of Pink Floyd-styled instrumentation.   rating: *** stars


(side 2)
1.) São Paulo Sunrise   (Nektar) - 3:05

'São Paulo Sunrise' found the band incorporating a disco element (seriously) in the mix.  I guess it was excusable in that they were trying to support the theme (whatever it was at this point), but I've got to tell you ever time I hear it, this one throws me for a loop.   rating: ** stars

2.) Costa del Sol   (Nektar) - 4:04

And just when you were trying to get over the disco tinges, 'Costa del Sol' found the band reaching out to embrace adult contemporary lite jazz.  Luckily a nice keyboard melody some surprisingly sweet harmony vocals,, and a breakout Albrighton solo saved the track.  rating: *** stars

3.) Marvellous Moses   (Nektar) - 6:37

The poppy 'Marvellous Moses' initially appalled me.  Seriously commercial (except for the enigmatic lyrics that still puzzle me after forty years), I remember thinking the track had sell-out stamped all over it.  Luckily I gave the song a couple of  more opportunities and over time it's charm caught my attention.  Yeah, it was catchy, but it also had a great melody and arrangement.  Derek Moore's pumping bass was a treat.   rating: **** stars

4.) It's All Over   (Nektar) - 5:11

The beautiful ballad 'It's All Over' ended the album on another high note.   rating: **** stars



SRB 3/2013





Genre: progressive

Rating: ** (2 stars)

Title:  Magic Is a Child

Company: Polydor

Catalog: PD-1-6615

Year: 1977

Country/State: UK/Germany/US

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: white inner label; original lyric inner sleeve

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 5208

Price: $15.00



For some reason Nektar's always been one of those 1970s-era progressive bands that I could stomach.  Mind you they could be as pretentious and overbearing as their contemporaries, but in prior outings front-man Roye Albrighton and company had managed to keep the experimentation in check, balancing it with material that was surprisingly commercial.  With Albrighton leaving right before the start of recording sessions for the album  (American singer/guitarist Dave Nelson stepping in), there wasn't much need to find a musical balance since the new Nektar line-up seemingly decided to cast their fortunes in a more commercial, AOR direction.  I wish I could be more positive about results.  Produced the band and Jeff Kawalek, "Magic Is a Child" had a couple of moments, including the commercial-rock-meets-King Crimson-experimentation 'Train From Nowhere' and the stark ballad 'Listen' (seemingly a leftover track since it was co-written by Albrighton), but for the most part these performances were dull and aimless.  Group-penned material like 'Away from Asgard', 'Love To Share (Keep Your Worries Behind You)' and 'Spread Your Wings' (the latter sporting what may have been the year's lamest cornball lyrics) came off as a weird blend of Yes, Moody Blues and late-'70s "hair" band influences that managed to highlight the worst aspects of all groups.  As new singer Nelson was competent, professional, and thoroughly anonymous (like most of these songs).  A couple of years later he reappeared fronting the band Spy.  


I'd suggest that Albrighton's absence from much of the proceedings was a major factor in the band's unenthusiastic release.  (For hardcore fans, a thirteen year old Brooke Shields was the model featured on the cover.)


"Magic Is a Child" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Away from Asgard   (Derek "Mo" Moore - Ron Howden - Taff Freeman - Dave Nelson - Steve Barth) - 5:30   rating: *** stars

The opening section left me wondering if I'd mistakenly slapped a Yes album on the turntable by mistake ...   With a storyline seemingly inspired by Norse legends, 'Away from Asgard' was certainly progressive with a pleasant melody that twisted and turned like a nice back road, but the song never delivered that special feeling.  The dual guitar segment was nice, but way too short.

2.) Magic Is a Child   (Derek "Mo" Moore - Ron Howden - Taff Freeman - Dave Nelson - Steve Barth) - 4:06   rating: *** stars

The title track offered up a pretty and surprisingly mainstream ballad.  Yeah, the lyrics were a little bit on the pompous side, but as a sucker for harpsichords, the opening section immediately captured my attention.  

3.) Eerie Lacawanna   (Derek "Mo" Moore - Ron Howden - Taff Freeman - Dave Nelson - Steve Barth) - 3:29    rating: ** stars

I'm not suggesting that you were going to here 'Eerie Lacawanna' at a local disco, but powered by Roye Albrighton's skitterish guitar, this one offered up at least a nod to the genre.    

4.) Love To Share (Keep Your Worries Behind You)   (Derek "Mo" Moore - Ron Howden - Taff Freeman - Dave Nelson - Steve Barth) - 4:27   rating: ** stars

Nektar striving for radio success?  The big ballad 'Love To Share (Keep Your Worries Behind You)' certainly sounded like it was being groomed for radio airplay.  It was sleek and mildly catchy and totally anonymous.  This could have been Toto for all that mattered, though it was apparently inspired by the band's affection for The Fab Four..  


(side 2)
1.) Train From Nowhere   (Derek "Mo" Moore - Ron Howden - Taff Freeman - Dave Nelson) - 4:12   rating: **** stars

'Train From Nowhere' was one of the most schizophrenic songs I've ever heard.  The main part of the song was ear-candy pop and then you hit the refrain that was ... well something totally different.  The mid-section sounded like a King Crimson experiment.  That might have something to do with the fact Robert Fripp guested on guitar under the name Walt Nektroid.  Extra star for being so strange.  

2.) Listen   (Derek "Mo" Moore - Ron Howden - Taff Freeman - Dave Nelson - Roy Albrighton) - 6:02  rating: *** stars

The album's only Roye Albrighton writing credit, 'Listen' was a pretty ballad with the lead guitar effects adding to the song's appeal.

3.) On the Run (The Trucker)   (Derek "Mo" Moore - Ron Howden - Taff Freeman - Dave Nelson) - 4:40   rating: *** stars

The opening guitar recalled something out of the Frippertronics domain.  From there 'On the Run (The Trucker)' offered up a track that sounded like something Ambrosia might have recorded (particularly on the refrains).  Technically I guess it qualified as being a progressive tune, but it retained a commercial edge.  Admittedly this was probably Nelson's best vocal.  Was it really about truck drivers?

4.) Spread Your Wings   (Derek "Mo" Moore - Ron Howden - Taff Freeman - Dave Nelson) - 4:41    rating: *** stars

'Spread Your Wings' was a conventional AOR rocker with some unusual Fripp-esque lead guitar slapped on top of it.  Unfortunately that wasn't enough to save it from oblivion.  





Genre: progressive

Rating: *** (3 stars)

Title:  Thru the Ears

Company: Import

Catalog: IMP-9001

Year: 1978

Country/State: Germany/UK

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: gatefold sleeve; double set LP

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 4834

Price: $20.00



The late 1970s saw everyone and his mother releasing a double album set. For better or worse, the Anglo-German band Nektar joined the club in 1978 with the release of  "Thru the Ears".  A twelve track, double album set, the compilation offered up a mix of previously released studio material drawn from material ranging back to 1971 and three in-concert tracks drawn from a 1974 radio concert in New York City.  Cynics and some long standing fans will point out that the album was released at a time when Nektar had already lost a large chunk of its audience.  While the album would appear to be little more than a throwaway effort meant to grab a couple of  bucks before fading into oblivion, the collection actually had a lot going for it.  


I have to admit that I'm always surprised at how commercial much of this sounds - particularly 'Do You Believe In Magic' and the other four studio tracks on the first side.  Even more surprising is the fact that much of the live material is equally tight and focused.  Doubt that, then simply check out pretty ballad 'Good Day'.  Not that commercial is necessarily good, but in this instance these guys seem to have benefited from a bit of focus. Mind you, the set isn't perfect.  Long time fans are likely to squawk over the song selection, but as a casual fan I don't have a problem with the line up, though the fact that it isn't in any apparent order is kind of frustrating.  I've lost track of their CD catalog, but if you can locate a copy of this one, it's a great place for the curious or casual fan to start.


"Thru the Ears" track listing:
(side 1)

1. Do You Believe In Magic   (Nektar) - 3:46
2. The Dream Nebula 1 & 2   (Nektar) - 4:40
3. It's All In the Mind   (Nektar) - 3:22
4. King of Twilight   (Nektar) - 4:18
5. Wings   (Nektar) - 3:48


(side 2)
1.) Remember the Future (Part 1) - 16:36

     a.) Images of the Past   (Nektar)

     b.) Wheel of Time   (Nektar)

     c.) Remember the Future   (Nektar)

     d.) Confusion   (Nektar)


(side 3)
1.) That's Life   (Nektar) - 6:35
2.) Desolation Valley   (Nektar) - 9:45


(side 4)

1.) Astral Man   (Nektar) - 3:15

2.) Fidgety Queen    (Nektar) - 3:40
3.) Good Day   (Nektar) - 6:51
4.) It's All Over   (Nektar) - 5:20



Genre: rock

Rating: *** (3 stars)

Title:  Man In the Moon

Company: Ariola

Catalog: 202 215-320

Year: 1980

Country/State: Germany/UK

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: German pressing

Available: 1

Catalog ID: --

Price: $20.00


The abundance of leather and '80s hairstyles shown in the group photos was a good indicator this was not the Nektar of the early-'70s.  That said, 1980's "Man In the Moon' was notable for front-man singer/guitarist Roye Albrighton's return to the fold.  He rejoined original keyboardist Allan "Taff" Freeman, though the longstanding rhythm section of bassist Ron Howden and drummer Derek "Mo" Moore were gone.  They were replaced by bassist Carmine Rojas and drummer David Prater.  After a three year absence and one none-Albrighton album (1977's "Magic Is a Child"), it was curious the music business didn't seem to care Albrighton was back.  In fact, the band was unable to secure a contract to release the album in either the UK.,or the US.  Signed by Ariola, initially the collection only saw a release in a couple of European markets - Germany, Greece and Italy.  With Albrighton resuming his role as prime songwriter (several tracks co-written with keyboardist Allan Freeman), the album continued the band's shift towards a more commercial album oriented rock sound.  Hearing power ballads like 'Angel', 'Telephone' and 'Torraine', most folks would have a hard time distinguishing these guys from Ambrosia, Phil Collins-era Genesis, Kansas, Styx, or any of the slew of early-'80s AOR bands that dominated top-40 radio.  Material like 'Too Young To Die' and 'Can't Stop You Now' wasn't bad in an AOR sense, but I suspect longtime fans expecting to hear something along the lines of "A Tab In the Ocean" or "Recycles" were going to be confused and disappointed.  Was there any good news?  Well, the title track reflected a touch of progressive influences and was probably the album's standout performance.  Elsewhere Albrighton's voice remained in good form and the band didn't embarrass themselves with anything like a dive into disco, or new wave.  Is it a classic Nektar album?  Nah.  Will you survive without it?  Certainly.


And that was it until a 2001 reunion and the release of "The Prodigal Son."


"Man In the Moon" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Too Young to Die   (Nektar - Roye Albrighton - Allan Freeman) - 4:20   rating: *** stars

Progressive ... well judging by the opener 'Too Young Die' Nektar seemed to have shifted their attention to an album oriented rock sound.  I guess you couldn't blame them for wanting to be commercially relevant.  Albrighton and company clearly had bills to pay.  Still, this was more Ambrosia than early Nektar.  Certainly commercial with a refrain that was radio friendly, though the song was pretty anonymous and forgettable.  YouTube has a brief promotional clip in support of the song: Nektar - Too young to die - YouTube  The track was also released as a German single:





- 1980's 'Too Young To Die' b/w Can't Stop You Now'' (Ariola catalog number 102 861-100)







2.) Angel  (Nektar - Roye Albrighton) -  3:31    rating: *** stars

'Angel' was one of the prettiest melodies Albrighton ever wrote.  Curiously, his vocal has always reminded me of a cross between Paul Carrack and Peter Gabriel.

3.) Telephone   (Allan Freeman - Carmine Rojas - Roye Albrighton) - 3:44    rating: *** stars

Another pretty ballad with a touch of Phil Collins-era Genesis in the melody.

4.) Far Away   (Nektar - Roye Albrighton) -  3:21    rating: *** stars

Kicked along by a chugging synthesizer, 'Far Away' wasn't exactly progressive, but at least it wasn't a ballad.  That bad news is it sounded a bit like a mid-career Journey performance.

5) Torraine   (Nektar - Roye Albrighton - Allan Freeman) -  5:28   rating: ** stars

'Torraine' was yet another power ballad cloaked in slashing guitar, jittery synthesizers and some pseudo-progressive touches.  Coupled with Albrighton's ragged lead vocals this one was simply forgettable.


(side 2)
Can't Stop You Now   (Nektar - Roye Albrighton) - 4:22     rating: *** stars

Who put on the Kansas album?  I like Kansas, but I thought I was listening to some Nektar ...

2.) We  (Nektar - Roye Albrighton) -   4:41     rating: *** stars

The harmonies were nice and Freeman turned in a tasty synthesizer solo, but the rest of the song was little more than a mash-up of top-40 band moves.  Supertramp anyone?

3.) You're Alone  (Roye Albrighton) - 4:09      rating: *** stars

The ballad 'You're Alone' started out with some pretty Albrighton acoustic guitar. Kind of a David Gilmour/Pink Floyd vibe.  The tune also showcased Albrighton's overlooked vocal chops.

4.) Man in the Moon   (Roye Albrighton - Allan Freeman) - 6:43

The title track was also the album's closest brush to a progressive song.  The Barry White-styled spoken word segments were a bit unexpected.