Nektar - The Other Side,
Now, I do have 10 of the first 11 Nektar albums (just realised I am missing 2001’s ‘The Prodigal Son’ for some unknown reason) but I lost track of the band of late and haven’t heard anything since 2008’s ‘Book of Days’. Sadly, Roye Albrighton passed away in 2016, and since then there has been a schism in the ranks and now there is both Nektar and New Nektar doing the rounds. Given that the version based in Germany does not feature any founding members, nor in fact anyone who played with the band prior to 2007, there is no doubt in my mind as to which one is the real deal. Nektar feature founding members Ron Howden (drums, percussion, backing vocals), Derek "Mo" Moore (bass, keyboards, vocals and lyrics) and Mick Brockett (visual interpretation and lyrics: it is interesting to note he is one of the few full members of a band who doesn’t actually play). They currently also have Ryche Chlanda on guitars and vocals (who was also in the band in 1978), Randy Dembo on bass, bass pedals and backing vocals (and was in the band between 2003 and 2006) and brand-new keyboard player Kendall Scott.
This is the first studio album since Roye passed away, so it was never going to be easy to capture that classic Nektar sound, but somehow, they have done just that. Not only does this album sound as if it was recorded in the Seventies (and the dated keyboard sounds being utilised are obviously a large part of that), but some of it was actually written (and performed) back then, and there are even further surprises for Nektar fans. The 1978 unrecorded song “Skypilot” has now been turned into “Skywriter”, and was even released as a single, with new lyrics by Mick, Mo and Ryche. “I’m On Fire” is the musical adaptation of a poem written by Mo for his soon-to-be wife, Nicki, during that same time period of 1978, but the real surprise here is closing track, “Devil’s Door”. Although it was actually performed live as long ago as 1974, it never featured on a Nektar album. The song has been updated and recorded especially for this album, but the introductory guitar part is taken from a live soundboard recording from 1974 featuring of course Roye Albrighton.
Roye’s presence is all over this album, with the guys ensuring this is a real tribute to him, looking back in time yet also showing they have a strong future ahead of them. I have long been a Nektar fan, and this album is sheet delight. For anyone who has ever enjoyed the band, or loves classic Seventies-style progressive rock, then this is essential.