Songs You May Have Missed #716

Nektar: “Lonely Roads” (1973)

In 1973 underrated English prog rockers Nektar produced what many consider to be their masterwork, Remember the Future.

Comprised of two album-side length epics, it was suited to FM rock radio, but difficult to shoehorn onto AM–think Tales from Topographic Oceans.

The forlorn, atmospheric “Lonely Roads”, an excerpt from the album’s second side, was used as a radio promo, and it nicely shows off the guitar textures, vocals and songwriting of one Roye Albrighton, the band’s creative beacon.

Side one of RTF is highly recommended.

See also:

Songs You May Have Missed #493

magic is

Nektar: “Magic is a Child” (1977)



For all intents and purposes, Roye Albrighton is Nektar. Lead guitar wizard, lead vocalist, main songwriter–he’s everything to the band Ian Anderson is to Jethro Tull.

The last thing Nektar fans would want is an album without Albrighton. But when he left the band for a brief period that’s what they got in 1977’s Magic is a Child. And though it’s the least Nektar-like (and least prog-sounding) album in the band’s catalogue, it’s actually a pretty decent record.

Most of it sounds like straight-ahead 70’s British rock, stripped of the lofty space rock tendencies that are Albrighton’s forte. But the title track sounds a different note entirely. What it sounds like is exactly what it was to me as teenager: a sort of anthem for hyper imaginative, inward-turned, Tolkien-reading misfits.

Oh, and that happens to be a young Brooke Shields on the album’s cover and inner sleeve–speaking of the genre of fantasy.

At the time I was a little boy
All my senses were in bloom
The forests were adventure
There dwelt the legends of my mind
I was the keeper of the golden key
I made all the rules
I only had to dream to create the scene

Magic is a child
Imagination is alive
Magic is imagination
A child is alive

How the trees were so high
The cheese in the sky
Were part of my imagination
I was goblins and elves
With small mushroom shelves
As Brothers Grimm would tell their stories

Opening my eyes in the morning I would see
Patterns in the trees making shapes that were a
Face to me

In those tireless times
And those carefree lines
That we draw ourselves
But they’re never kept
I know magic is a child
Imagination is alive
Magic is imagination
A child is alive
Magic is a child
Imagination is alive
Magic is a child
Alive as a child’s imagination


See also:

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.)

%d bloggers like this: