Bellaphon 1973 / Purple Pyramid 2013
Ziggy visiting Tommy? No. But there’s a progressive masterpiece with a massive twist!
An idea of an alien communicating with earthlings via a blind boy might look hilarious, as might an idea to follow the template of “Thick As A Brick” and “Tubular Bells” and have an album-long suite broken in two parts to fit a vinyl record side. But when it came to their fourth LP, NEKTAR had another grand concept on their mind: to conquer America. So while the others explored the art rock possibilities, this quartet stitched a tapestry from the more commercial elements, thus fashioning a winning formula.
They thread their gobelin hangs on from the off is funk and country lines of Roye Albrighton’s multicolored guitar that the vocal harmonies take the rainbow paint from. Sunny folk tones make this an irresistible mix, and when the soft rocking gets sharp there’s a delicate piquancy of the best pop songs a collection of which “Remember The Future” essentially is. When the flow gets harder, Allan Freeman’s keyboards add some pomposity to the end of the first part, yet on the second one the soft cosmic expanse prevails, and the lightness becomes even more commercial, almost mirror ball-like. No wonder, the record found many a listener on both sides of Atlantic. Too mellifluous in places, it hits all the right buttons save for the memorable immediacy, but yet music’s good while it lasts.
The second disc of this anniversary edition embellishes the impression with three radio edits of the most out-of-context accessible album tracks as well as with “Boston Tapes”, laid down in the USA when the Hamburg-based English quartet had caught the eye of an American producer. Nothing came out of the sessions, yet three songs resurfaced, fully fledged, on “…Sounds Like This”, a predecessor to “The Future”, but the naïveté of songs like “Do You Believe In Magic” is arresting, and there’s the best take on the evergreen “Sealed With A Kiss” you’re ever likely to have in both the past and the future.