There’s always a surprise twist for readers of Classic Rock Presents Prog and blog readers who soak into the realm of space rock and the fellow cadets, Nektar. Since Eclectic Discs which started the reissue machine for Nektar, went out of business back in 2005. And the new label, It’s About Music decided to give the Nektar catalogue the green light and so far, it’s been a good year for Nektar to make a huge breakthrough the light at the end of the tunnel. So far, it’s about to be a magical journey for a revival and resurrection that we fans of Nektar, can take the band and pat them on the back and the reissue label as well for a job well done.
Next year will be the 40th anniversary of Nektar’s second album to the follow-up of their dark and mysterious concept album, Journey to the Centre of the Eye. A Tab in the Ocean, in a deluxe edition 2-CD set which features the Boston Tapes back in 1969, is considered one of Nektar’s finest achievements, the original German mix is still there have been carefully restored and louder than ever. But on the Boston tapes which feature eight tracks has been unearthed and still carry the underbelly of the Tab-era.
This was the first Nektar unreleased studio tapes that the band recorded in the city of Boston in the studio during the summer of that year. Some fans believed it was long gone and were destroyed, but luck, it wasn’t. For the first time, the sessions was in perfect and safe conditions and now being released on the deluxe edition, just proves that Nektar still have a bit of the heavy space rock sounds since forming in Germany.
Almost like a fresh clean jewelry that has been well crafted and well made, A Tab in the Ocean makes it worth the wait to have a nice cup of spicy tea with wasabi biscuits that would make you fly off the roof to sink your fangs over. The thundering guitar sounds that Roye Albrighton brings to the table that rings crescendos, and the early beginnings of power chords, makes it into a stretched out adventure. And Alan “Fluff” Freeman’s homage to Richard Wright and Dave Stewart would send a shiver down your spine when sends the organ into the milky way while drummer Ron Howden cools the beat down and then thunders the drums like a mad scientist as an early version of Neil Peart and bassist Derek Moore (or “Mo” for short) sends his jazzy and diatonic sounds on the bass to the solar system.
It has sort of the blues, jazz, and early sounds of heavy metal in there and it would have made Frank Zappa, Captain Sensible and Sherman Hemsley (who wore Nektar shirts all the time he was on The Jeffersons rehearsing and had the chance to introduce them in 1975 at the Santa Monica Auditorium) made their feet tickle with joy. The rumble self-titled 16-minute epic still carries the album out with a punch and still carries the song like an orchestral soundtrack with flourishing organs, monstrous time changes, fierce guitar sounds and atmospheric volcanic eruption that will send the roof flying off the ceiling. The jazzy 4/4 time signature of Desolation Valley still was one of Nektar’s first touches of going into a groove of Crimson Soul featuring up tempo guitars, organ, and drums sending the temperature up to 100 while Waves has a moody yet spooky spoken-word touch to close the piece up.
The psychedelic Floyd meets Hawkwind roar has made the beast awaken to send an attack on the village with Crying in the Dark with wah-wah guitar leashing out with a hard rock power keg as the lava flows into the ocean with militant drumming and a touch of soaring background vocals that made Iron Maiden do a cover of this power adventures of Space Metal on the finale, King of Twilight. Not a dull or a piece of shit composition on this album, A Tab in the Ocean is one of a kind.
Now onto the Boston Tapes, it has some improved psychedelic beauty like the middle-eastern rocker, New Day Dawning, the dream-like soar on Do You Believe in Magic, and the homage to Kingdom Come’s Galatic Zoo Dossier on the haunting touches of Candle Light. Then you have the militant rock sound come into place for the sci-fi inspired sounds of Good Day, and the bluesy Zeppelin touches of The Life I’ve Been Leading and folksy sounds of an earlier sound of the Rain Song with Where Did You Go. The balladry love-song Sealed With a Kiss could have been written for Love Story, but it’s their first touch on writing a romantic heavy rock ballad while the closing track, for all romantic crooners, Our Love Will Last Forever would have in tears for joy.
If you really dig the Space Rock and Psychedelic-Prog touches for a majestic sound, Nektar’s A Tab in the Ocean is your introduction to get into the sounds of German and England’s own answer to Pink Floyd. One of the most under-rated bands to come out of those two European cities and one of the finest bands that still plays prog festivals in America and Europe.