For 50 years, Nektar were often considered under the radar in the history of Progressive Rock. They weren’t massive like ELP, Genesis, Yes, and Jethro Tull. But they not just had a following, but released so many classic albums including; Remember the Future, Journey to the Centre of the Eye, Down to Earth, and perhaps one of my favorites, A Tab in the Ocean. Among supporters including Iron Maiden, Ian Curtis of Joy Division, Captain Sensible of the Damned, and the late great Frank Zappa, who admired the band so much, he got them to open for him back in 1973 during the time he was promoting Over-Nite Sensation.
Now it’s been three years since lead guitarist and singer Roye Albrighton, who passed away on July 26th from a long illness, the question remained was, should Nektar move forward? I asked myself the same question when Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso made the decision to continue with Tony D’Alessio when he stepped into the shoes of Francesco Di Giacomo in during that same year. And he fitted in perfectly as the album Transiberiana worked well.
Well Nektar are doing the same thing by not just moving forward, but keeping Roye’s spirit and legacy alive. They’ve released their first single Skywriter B/W Devil’s Door this year. The opening track is going to be on their upcoming album, The Other Side which will be out next year. It’s also their first studio album since their seventh studio release was recorded in the states in 1977 entitled, Magic is a Child.
Back in July, they launched a Kickstarter campaign to complete and fund the album from start to finish. And they had reached their goal with 235 backers and pledged $33,667 as they are about to bring their album for 2020 to life. Alongside the original members including Ron Howden, Derek “Mo” Moore, and Mick Brockett, they also include Ryche Chalanda of Fireballet, Randy Dembo from 2005, and world-class keyboardist and newcomer, Kendall Scott.
The genesis of these two songs, one of which features Roye’s guitar introduction on Devil’s Door, came about in 1978 recording in Derek’s basement in Chatham, New Jersey. Unfortunately, it was put on hold until it was the right time to bring the music to life with new statistics and conceptualize ideas. Now while the new album will be out next year, let’s check out their first single.
Skywriter was originally titled as Sky Pilot. But for Derek, he didn’t like it so much. But for Ryche, he switched it around and it became Skywriter. The song begins with with Howden doing a rim click groove on his drum kit to set up the countdown as Chlanda and Moore gets the controls to engage by heading back into Outer Space once more. Scott’s piano goes into a whole new scenario beyond our solar system as I can hear almost some snippets of the Mellotron thrown in.
The midsection has a bit of their nod to A Tab in the Ocean. Knowing that Nektar haven’t forgotten their roots, Scott’s Organ goes beyond those planets as he raises the temperature level up for Moore and Chlanda to come up with some of these amazing riffs between the two of the them as the band members head back down to Earth with Ryche’s killer improvisation on his guitar.
Devil’s Door as I’ve mentioned earlier, starts off with Roye Albrighton’s guitar introduction. It’s almost as if he’s right there with them. And while they’re keeping his legacy alive, they both know they’re making sure they haven’t forgotten his spirit in the track. This was an old song that Nektar did back in 1974, which I believe it was during their Down to Earth-era that they performed in concerts, but never got around to finishing it.
But listening to this track, it is a knockout. It deals with the subject of flying away to get away of making a deal with the devil himself which is beyond the other side. Because you may never know that he may have a card underneath his sleeve. And not knowing what kind of bargain he would fool them with. It is hard, punchy, and featuring this rising rhythm section as Scott’s synthesizers take a dip into the king of twilight that await our fellow comrades to see what the future has in store for them.
For me, this was a welcoming return for Nektar to have all their energy juice’s go up to 100. And I’m really looking forward to their new album next year. I think in 2020, they might return for another Journey into the Centre of the Eye once more.