Nektar - 'A Spoonful Of Time'

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Nektar - 'A Spoonful Of Time'

It’s merely an “interesting” rather than an “essential” album.

Unbelievably, British prog legends Nektar are now well into their fifth decade and this new album is the first time that they have swerved into producing an album of covers, albeit assisted by an amazing array of guest performances from members of bands including Toto, Symphony X, Marillion, Asia, Tangerine Dream, Yes, Dream Theater, King Crimson, Hawkwind, Argent, Opeth, Cream, Mahavishnu Orchestra and The Moody Blues!

As founder member Roye Albrighton comments “The idea originated from Cleopatra Records...they thought it might be a good idea to do an album of classic songs with a multitude of different players but under the Nektar banner. Klaus, Ron and myself were to be the staple musicians taking part and the files would be given out to various musicians to do their parts. I was asked to do most of the vocals except for the one track which was (‘Africa’) and quite a few guitars too. Ron did a lot of the drums and Klaus was prominent on several of the tracks on Hammond and mellotron.”

Not only is the array of guests improbable, so is the selection of the fourteen tracks, including as they do ones from Rush (‘Spirit Of Radio’), Steve Miller Band (‘Fly Like An Eagle’), Pink Floyd (‘Wish You Were Here?’), The Rolling Stones (‘2000 Light Years From Home’) Neil Young (‘Old Man’), Gary Wright (‘Dream Weaver’) 10CC (I’m Not In Love’) and Toto (the aforementioned ‘Africa’).

There is a wonderful uniformity of sonics here, so given the way in which the album has been assembled, the mixing (by Billy Sherwood) and production must be applauded, and so must the instrumental contributions by guests and the three band members themselves. But (and there almost always has to be one in a project such as this) it all comes across as rather “loungecore” and incredibly “safe” while additionally Albrighton’s vocals are laid bare on the range of material, ranging from cringeworthy (on ‘Spirit Of THE Radio’ as so titled here!) to merely passable. I hate having to say this, as on the band’s original material, I have never had a quibble; but when covering well known and even classic rock songs as is the case here, comparisons are all important. ‘Africa’ is the important exception, where Bobby Kimball provides vocals – and it’s such a blessed relief!

So, it’s merely an “interesting” rather than an “essential” album, whose success is severely qualified as I have suggested. Nevertheless I can well imagine anyone who purchases everything featuring, for instance, Edgar Froese will have to make a purchase because of his keyboard contribution to ‘Wish You Were Here?’ It will also, of course, be a “gimmie” for all those long-time followers of Nektar. But it’s almost a travesty of the band’s name.

Paul Jerome Smith

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