Nektar are a British band formed in Hamburg, Germany in 1969. Their members included Roye Albrighton (guitars, vocals), Allan 'Taff' Freeman (keyboards), Derek 'Mo' Moore (bass) and Ron Howden (drums). Mick Brockett took care for the lights, the special effects and miscellaneous. The band's early albums were obscure psychedelic rock albums for which they got a small but growing cult following largely based on word of mouth. Very often Nektar's music was labelled as krautrock due to the fact that they operated from Germany. Later on they also released albums in the USA on the small Passport Records label. This propelled the band briefly into mass popularity. Stylistically their album Recycled (1975) comes closest to the kind of progressive rock recorded in the seventies. Many fans considered it to be Nektar's finest moment. The band regrouped in 2002 after some line-up changes and continued to record albums.
To my surprise Nektar released a rather strange cover album in 2012 called A Spoonful Of Time (see review). It featured several guest musicians such as Steve Howe (Yes), Rick Wakeman, Rod Argent (Zombies) and Ian Paice (Deep Purple). Billy Sherwood (Circa:) took the band under his wings; he joined Nektar on bass guitar. Together with long-time members Roye Albrighton and Ron Howden and with Klaus Henatsch on keyboards they started to work on a new album. During a festive dinner with the team of Cleopatra Records, Albrighton told the press that they settled on the new name for what he described as the 'the best album we have ever made.' During the concept phase the album was called Juggernaut after track nine, but after some contemplation they found the first track's title A Better Way more appropriate. The band members felt that it better depicted their feelings about this new era of renown. However, regarding the ancient themes of the well-loved element of time in Nektar's back catalogue they eventually called the album Time Machine.
After listening to the entire album I noticed that the influence of Mr. Sherwood on the overall sound is great. Not only the production of Time Machine shows the hand of this multi-instrumentalist, but also the way the compositions have been written. The music often moves in a direction that could be heard as well on the albums he recorded with Circa:, Conspiracy, World Trade and on his solo albums. On all of these albums Sherwood had a large share in the writing of the songs and the several instruments he played. Strangely enough the songs on Time Machine weren't written by Sherwood, but by veteran Roye Albrighton except two: Talk To Me is a composition of Ron Howden and Mocking The Moon was co-written by keyboardist Klaus Henatsch. All ten tracks are worth listening to, but my favourite composition is Tranquility. It contains a strong intro on which the electric guitars and keyboards dominate before it becomes an up-tempo piece by the entire band.
Time Machine is a strong album on which the aforementioned American period shines through, but especially the sound of the bands that Billy Sherwood worked with comes to the surface. Maybe they should have skipped A Spoonful Of Time because Time Machine is a way better comeback album for them that will certainly be loved by many Nektar fans who like their mid-seventies period, and to people who fancy the many releases by Billy Sherwood and his bands.
*** Henri Strik (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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