Nektar – Live In Italy – 1973 – Past Daily Soundbooth
Nektar in Concert – recorded live at Studio Comunale, Bologna, Italy – August 30, 1973 – RAI-Radio 3 –
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Nektar in concert tonight – not complete, but an extended excerpt and enough to whet your appetite if you’ve never heard them before.
The band formed in Hamburg, Germany in 1969. The founding members were Englishmen Roye Albrighton on guitars and lead vocals, Allan “Taff” Freeman on keyboards, Derek “Mo” Moore on bass, Ron Howden on drums and artists Mick Brockett and Keith Walters on lights and “special effects”. Though the concept of non-performing bandmembers was not unprecedented (i.e. lyricist Keith Reid in Procol Harum), it was considered unusual that a third of Nektar’s lineup had no role in performing or writing their music. Throughout their early existence the band’s songwriting was credited to all six members on the album sleeves, but BMI records show that the music was written by the four performing members (Albrighton, Freeman, Moore and Howden). Mick Brockett did however co-write the lyrics with “Mo” Moore, and invented or contributed to the original album titles.
The band’s debut album, Journey to the Centre of the Eye (1971), consisted of a single song running over 40 minutes, with the last 100 seconds of the first side repeated at the beginning of the second side to maintain continuity. It was a concept album, following an astronaut who is given overwhelming knowledge by extraterrestrials, with sonic textures reminiscent of psychedelic rock. The follow-up, A Tab in the Ocean (1972), drew on more conventional rock and blues influences. Walters had left by the time of their third album, the heavily improvised live-in-the-studio double LP …Sounds Like This (1973), though the band would continue to use his art in their shows and album designs for a time. A cult following grew for the band, based largely on word of mouth.
Nektar’s U.S. release, Remember the Future (1973), propelled the band briefly into mass popularity. A concept album revisiting Journey to the Centre of the Eye’s theme of extraterrestrials granting a human enlightenment, but with a blind boy as the protagonist. It demonstrated a much more melodic sound than previous albums and shot into the Top 20 album charts in the U.S.. The follow-up, Down to Earth (1974), was another concept album (this time with a circus theme); it also sold well, breaking into the Top 40 album charts and including their only song to chart on the Billboard singles charts, “Astral Man”. The next album, Recycled (1975), was stylistically close to bands like Gentle Giant and carried on the band’s close connection with progressive rock.
They are still around (of a sort) – if you aren’t familiar with Nektar, here’s a chance – although the sound leaves something to be desired here and there, it’s a serviceable introduction to a band that had a cult following for a very long time.