Monday, December 12, 2016

Nektar - 1973 - Remember The Future

Remember The Future

101. Remember The Future, Pt. 1 16:41
a) Images Of The Past
b) Wheel Of Time
c) Remember The Future
d) Confusion
102. Remember The Future, Pt. 2 19:00
a) Returning Light
b) Questions And Answers
c) Tomorrow Never Comes
d) Path Of Light
e) Recognition
f) Let It Grow

Radio Edits
201. Remember The Future 09:54
202. Let It Grow 03:52
203. Lonely Roads 02:18
The 1970 Boston Tapes
204. New Day Dawning 05:36
205. Do You Believe In Magic 03:40
206. Candlelight 04:00
207. Good Day 08:51
208. The Life I've Been Leading 04:34
209. Where Did You Go 05:27
210. Sealed With A Kiss 03:36
211. Our Love Will Last Forever 04:53

- Roye Albrighton / lead vocals, guitars
- Allan "Taff" Freeman / keyboards, vocals
- Derek "Mo" Moore / bass, vocals
- Ron Howden / drums, percussion, vocals

Remember The Future is another superior concept piece from Nektar exhibiting yet further progression from their roots. Gone are the heavy and psychedelic Germanic riffs, intricate musicianship and complex Symphonic Prog structures, to be replaced by a more song based mainstream 'Americanized' sound. Backed by appropriately detailed and airy production values, this album is altogether lighter in feel and tone, its songs supported by foot-tapping funky or disco grooves.
In essence, Remember The Future is a single continuous 'song cycle', divided into two parts due to the needs of vinyl LPs. The suite comprises seven distinct conjoined songs, plus a couple of short instrumental links. These songs are self-contained musical compositions which flow together in a more or less natural manner, maintaining stylistic consistency while progressing the album's concept, rather like The Moody Blues achieved with their early concept works.

The sound can best be described as 'commercial' and smooth! Organ and bass smoothly support Albrighton's melodic guitar, which in turn provides suitable counter to his vocal. Indeed, this is a very 'vocal' album: songs are structured concisely, centred on his sweet vocals, often with lush harmonies playing an important role in the overall mix. Clearly, the progginess factor is somewhat diluted compared to its predecessors.

Musicianship is of a very high standard, as we might expect, but mostly understated and kept very sparse and simple without recourse to complex overdubs: a fundamental Prog Rock palette of guitar/organ/bass/drums is used almost exclusively throughout. Guitar is the principal instrument, not loud and heavy, but light and floating, mostly as a rhythm support, but occasionally performing a heavier riff, or even a lead solo. The other instruments simply fall into line - even the organ rarely rises to the surface, though when it does it makes a strong impression.

The story is about the nature of life and existence as told by a kind of re-incarnating misfit ('Bluebird') to someone to whom his abnormalities have no meaning - a blind boy. Bluebird appears to be a Christ-like figure who has to be crucified before being reborn in the boy. The boy absorbs stories of the past and future, the meaning of life, before becoming the future with the promise of eternal life. The story ends with Bluebird imparting some sound and thought-provoking advice.

For me, there are two stand-out songs. Title song Remember The Future is, at heart, a soft poppy number, but it is accompanied by the best instrumental parts of the album, including a repeated 'Remember The Future Theme' which is both melodic and heavy. At the end, turn up the volume for a stunning sudden flip-over to a short but evolving riff-tastic work-out. This fades to be replaced by a psychedelic instrumental piece alive with extended wah-wah guitar thrashing over rolling bass figures. Bliss!

The other stand-out is Lonely Roads [or Path Of Light] from the second section, which replaces the predominantly pop and funk material with a blues based song straight out of a Pink Floyd songbook. Slow and sedate, with some glorious bluesy guitar fills and organ figures to the fore, it establishes a mellow mood and a stately pace, Albrighton's emotional vocals exuding the melancholy in the lyrics. It even comes complete with an exquisite Gilmour-like guitar solo as a coda.

Nektar cannot be accused of standing still, as no two albums are alike. While this is clearly A Good Thing as it means they [and we] did not get stale, it also means they stray into territory some of us may wish they had left unexplored. Personally, I find Remember The Future's simplicity and poppiness wander uncomfortably close to the line of unacceptability, taking me to places I would not normally care to travel, successfully challenging my perception of my own musical preferences. That, too, has to be A Good Thing!

Dream Nebula's 2004 re-mastered edition is, as always, excellently presented with some in-depth liner notes to add to the lyric sheet. They also include three bonus tracks, all of which are edits of material from this album but add little to its value. For an album recorded during just a single week in August 1973, Remember The Future is a stimulating work of well crafted memorable songs performed superbly by a set of gifted musicians. While falling short of being a Prog classic, it is nevertheless highly recommended.

1 comment: