Note: Reprinted in memory of Nektar co-founding member / guitarist / vocalist Roye Albrighton (1949-2016)
Spotlight: Nektar – A Spoonful Of Time (2012 – Purple Pyramid,a division of Cleopatra Records, Inc.)
By: Gary “Uncle G” Brown
I first started listening to the progressive rock group Nektar back in the 70’s. The album I absolutely adored the most was their ’73 release: Remember The Future. The bands fourth album, broke ice here in America, and was very popular within certain circles. Caught on with me immediately. One highlight among several for me was the skilled and at times funky playing (it was the ’70’s) of original guitarist: Roye Albrighton. Of course the man didn’t carry the whole record himself. All band members shine as players and songwriters, respectively. The album’s remained a favorite of mine, all this time. Matter of fact, I would rate Nektar’s ‘Remember The Future’ as one of progressive rock’s finest achievements. If not in one’s collection already, I strongly recommend rectifying that as soon as one can.
Here just recently the Nektar camp had some activity. The band released a new CD entitled; A Spoonful Of Time. It’s a cover album of for the most part, ultra popular classic rock songs. Staples of that format. For a musician, most compositions listed like Rush’s ‘Spirit Of The Radio’, takes some expertise to play. Nailing that, Nektar plays this one of two ways. The first is by playing it close to the chest. They present the song similar as to how the original is heard on the airwaves, as they interpreted it. Number two is by injecting their own original ideas into already fine crafted pieces of art, and in the process, making the music their own. Pretty much golden rules when creating a record of songs that the musicians didn’t actually write themselves. Several bands or performers over the decades caught peoples attention following along with this somewhat easier approach to get out a product. When I think Van Halen for example, Roy Orbison and The Kinks do come to mind. Either way, the songs substituting for their mighty originals remains entertaining. Think of it as rock n’ roll history, thru the eyes of; Nektar.
I carefully listened to Nektar’s A Spoonful Of Time more then a dozen times. I did so foremost because I was digging it. That and I wanted to have a firm grasp on the material, BEFORE openly chatting about it. The tunes themselves were already imprinted in my memory as each one was a huge hit for whatever performer(s) that first recorded it. I approached this recording paying attention to the performance(s), and the way it was delivered. I believe this makes sense. As far as the track selection, if one listens to FM classic rock radio stations, then you already know these chart toppers. Here’s the song selection covered on the new CD. It’s the 1970’s all over again:
01. Sirius (2:44)
02. Spirit Of The Radio (4:58)
03. Fly Like An Eagle (4:07)
04. Wish You Were Here (5:56)
05. For The Love Of Money (7:14)
06. Can’t Find My Way Home (3:21)
07. 2000 Light Years From Home (4:56)
08. Riders On The Storm (6:40)
09. Blinded By The Light (7:17)
10. Out Of The Blue (4:46)
11. Old Man (3:26)
12. Dream Weaver (3:48)
13. I’m Not In Love (5:56)
14. Africa (4:21)
Total Time: 69:36
Knowing the material, I’m able to pick up on certain things. Again, the musicianship here is spot-on. Not only do we have two original Nektar members on this collection, but Billy Sherwood (ex-Yes) is also all over this. Then add a roster of guest artists. People’s names we know and whose name routinely comes up in everyday discussions about good music.
Line-up / Musicians
– Roye Albrighton / vocals, guitar
– Ron Howden / drums
– Klaus Henatsch / keyboards
Bass on tracks; 05,09,13 & 14
Backing Vocals on tracks: 02,04,06,07,09 & 14
Synth Intro: Track 02
Guitar Solo: Track 04
Synth: Track 07
CD Mixed by Billy Sherwood at CIRCA: HQ Studios
Bass on tracks 1-4, 6-8, 10-12 by Jurgen Engler
Guest Musicians: (track):
– Michael Pinella (1)
– Mark Kelly (2)
– Geoff Downes (3)
– Joel Vandroogenbroeck (3)
– Edgar Froese (4)
– Ian Pace (5)
– Nik Turner (5)
– Derek Sherinian (6)
– Mel Collins (6)
– Steve Howe (6)
– Simon House (7, 10)
– Billy Sheehan (8)
– Rod Argent (8)
– Ginger Baker (9)
– Joakim Svalberg (9)
– David Cross (11)
– Jerry Goodman (12)
– Rick Wakeman (13)
– Bobby Kimball (14)
– Patrick Moraz (14)
Outstanding Moments: Frankly, the whole CD would entertain a party of rock fans any day or night of the week. Just press play and the floodgates open with memories about years gone by, while possibly creating cool new ones in the process. Nothing gloomy here. It’s a feel good CD for sure.
Uncle G’s favorite track:
01. Wish You Were Here (Pink Floyd) – Track 4: Respecting the original and then just letting it fly towards the end. Provides a spontaneity to the somewhat somber Pink Floyd classic. I seriously dig the finished product. Such a historically significant classic rock iconic song. The first song when giving the CD a first listen, that I stopped it when the song was finished, and played it again. First three songs on the disc are well done. This caught my attention. Mr. Edgar Froese guest staring on keyboards (bravo!).
Critique: I would have liked the original, more acoustic version of Blinded By The Light, then the Manfred Mann version. Nothing wrong with the more rockier, majestic version. Sold a ton of records. The song ‘ Blinded By The Light’ first appeared on Bruce Springsteen’s debut album: Greeting From Asbury Park (1973). I am of course referring to the original song itself, penned and performed by The Boss and supporting players. I did like the slower, more mellower song picks on here. Doing the song in the style more like Springsteen did would have tilted things a bit. One more for the acoustic song side. Again, outstanding work by all involved on the Manfred Mann’s Earth Band tribute. It gave Springsteen his first number one penned hit. His version took a while to really catch on. First years sales weren’t that impressive. I do prefer it out of the two. Guest musicians; Joakim Svalberg (keyboards) and Ginger Baker behind the drum kit.
Rating: I’m definitely keeping in mind this is a cover album and not a release of new studio material. Hopefully, that will be the next one. I was very impressed yet again with Nektar original member; Roye Albrighton. Just the vocal performance is worthy of an award. His guitar work on top of that also excels making Roye, at least for me, the stand-out artist on this recording.
Using the rating system of one to five stars, Uncle G finds the 2012 Nektar release, A Spoonful Of Time, to do what it was cut out to do, with that simply being to entertain. The work involved putting together as well as the song selection, makes it an impressive endeavor. But what makes repeat plays is the sheer reason that it’s just a fun album to play. Frankly I would have never suspected this by the band. Rating: 5 stars. Having the benefit of hearing the CD more then once, I drew the conclusion that a cover record is pretty much that, a cover record. This is one of the better ones.
Warning: Be prepared to dig out the original music as well if you already have it in your collection. That, or you’ll be calling up classic rock stations making requests. Myself, I have already blown off the dust to one song origin: The Doors – LA Women (Riders On The Storm). Could Toto 4 (Africa) be next?
Artwork: Really nice progressive rock imagery with this bad-ass looking killer bee on the cover. The time pieces in honey, reminiscent to something Salvador Dali might have done. Created by Jesus Carmona Estrnab and Javier Carmona Esteban. Here’s their official website:
Nektar Official Website:
Billy Sherwood Official Website:
Purple Pyramid (a division of Cleopatra Records, Inc.)