New Album of Old Music from Prog Legends Nektar

A Spoonful of Time  Magic Is A Child (2012 ReMaster) Recycled - Deluxe Edition Sounds Like These [LP, DE, Bacillus BDA 7501]

Tonight I clicked on my favorite progressive rock website, Prog Archives, just to see what was up. Just beneath the site’s banner, which, by the way, is a very cool mural that makes for a great exercise in “name that album art”, is a listing of the top 50 artists of the last 24 hours. Presumably this list is based on the site’s activity. I was mildly stunned to see one of my favorite prog bands, Nektar, listed first.

Nektar, you see, while well-known to old prog heads (and people like me who befriended old prog heads and/or gave ear to their rantings) rate more as a bit of rock esoterica to younger music fans. Like say, Uriah Heep. But without the hits. Anyway, I was excited and a little concerned to see their top-of-the-list status on the site, knowing it likely indicated either a buzz over a new release…or perhaps the death of band leader Roye Albrighton. (Isn’t is so that the old bands usually make headlines only for one or the other of the two?)

Gladly I confirmed it was indeed a new release that was generating Nektar-related searches. A Spoonful of Time is the band’s first-ever covers album, and a very credible one it is. In fact, Prog Archives allows contributors to rate albums on its site, and A Spoonful of Time (which has been out in Europe since September 11) is actually, shockingly, rated higher than even their legendary 1970’s releases. So let’s see what all the fuss is about:

An A-list of prog legends contribute their talents: Geoff Downes (Asia/Yes), Mark Kelly (Marillion), Ian Paice (Deep Purple), Rod Argent (Zombies/Argent), Steve Howe (Asia/Yes), Ginger Baker (Cream), Rick Wakeman (Yes), Bobby Kimball (Toto), David Cross and Mel Collins (King Crimson) and many more.

The ambition of the album matches its list of hired guns. It’s either real ballsy or outright folly to try to cover songs like Rush’s “Spirit of the Radio“, Toto’s “Africa“, Steve Miller’s “Fly Like an Eagle“, Pink Floyd’s “Wish You Were Here”, Blind Faith’s “Can’t Find My Way Home” and the Doors’ “Riders on the Storm“, not to mention Alan Parsons Project’s iconic and ubiquitous  instrumental “Sirius“. More audacious still, perhaps, is the decision to mix in pop, folk and R&B classics: 10cc’s “I’m Not in Love”, Neil Young’s “Old Man” and The O’Jays’ “For the Love of Money”. The breadth of this playlist invites disaster of Hindenburg proportions. Unless…

Did I mention the stellar cast of musicians? I did. I should also mention that, although Nektar’s heyday of mass popularity is decades behind them, Roye Albrighton still helms the ship. And, since their return from a generation-long hiatus around 2002 they’ve released a very respectable string of new records that manage somehow both to sound like classic Nektar and yet not sound dated. The guy knows what he’s doing, and seems incapable of releasing a dud album. Surely covering such sacred songs is the test of that. Albrighton and company pass with flying colors.

A Spoonful of Time will be released domestically on November 27th. You can listen to samples here:

By the way, a little Nektar trivia: their 1977 album Magic is a Child (pictured top right) featured a young, unknown model named Brooke Shields on its cover.

Check out Prog Archives (and test your knowledge of iconic prog cover art by seeing how many albums you can name from its banner.)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: