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Nektar — ...Sounds Like Swiss
(Beyond Before BB116, 1973/2021, 2CD+DVD)

by Jon Davis, Published 2021-10-11

...Sounds Like Swiss Cover art

...Sounds Like Swiss presents a lavishly packaged tribute to the Nektar of 1973, just before their breakout album, Remember the Future. Two concerts in Switzerland from that year are presented: the first at the Palladium in Geneva on February 14, which was filmed for broadcast on the TV show Kaléidospop, the second on May 5 at the Pavilion des Sports in Lausanne. The film for the TV appearance was long thought destroyed, but turned up recently and is presented on the DVD portion of this release; both shows are represented on the two CDs — the May show (more or less) in its entirety and the broadcast show in part. According to the liner notes, the band was required to play for an hour for the TV show, but ended up playing about twice that long. As such, the video runs for 65 minutes, cutting off abruptly in the middle of "Da-Da-Dum" without the program's closing credits, so I'm guessing the video is sourced from a pre-broadcast copy. This is believed to be the only existing video of the band from this time period, so it presents a rare vision of Nektar on the verge of taking off. On the downside, the audio is less than stellar and the film is in black and white. You can see Mick Brockett working his visual magic with projectors of various kinds, but the screen behind the band shows only shifting blobs of grey, so a large part of the impact is lost. Some of the bulky television cameras are clearly visible, and you can watch the operators switch positions and angles at times. The cameramen and editors seem to have an aversion to keyboards, since Taff Freeman gets short shrift in the presentation. There are times when he's playing a solo and the framing shows only Roye Albrighton (guitar, vocals), Mo Moore (bass, vocals), and Ron Howden (drums). That being said, it is a glimpse into a long lost time, and nice to see, for fans at least. The material comes from A Tab in the Ocean and ...Sounds Like This, skipping the side-long tracks, though "A Day in the Life of a Preacher" and "1-2-3-4" are extended with solos, and several other tunes are played as continuous medleys. One thing I particularly enjoyed was seeing how casual the whole affair was. The stage is not overly large, and there are amplifiers sitting on wooden chairs.

The audio portion of the package is spread across two CDs, with the majority devoted to the May concert. The audio here is pretty decent considering the vintage of the recording, quite listenable even if it's not perfect, and superior to the audio on the DVD. With the longer time available, they played "Journey to the Centre of the Eye" as well as several other long tracks. One highlight is "Let It Grow," an excerpt from Remember the Future, which had yet to be recorded. The track fades in — not sure what happened there — but they present ten and a half minutes in a different arrangement than they'd do in the studio in the next few months. Other tracks that weren't on the video include "Do You Believe in Magic?" and the "Odyssee" suite from ...Sounds Like This that includes "Ron's On," "Never, Never, Never," and "Da-Da-Dum." Then we get the audio of the show from the DVD, with its somewhat lower quality sound.

The packaging consists of a lovely quadruple fold-out with a booklet tucked in. The booklet features the credits, a note from Moore and Howden with some of their recollections from the shows, and a whole bunch of fan testimonials. There are very few photographs, and no color shots of the band live with light show. All in all, for fans of the band, it's a welcome addition to their discography, if not exactly essential.

Filed under: New releases, 2021 releases, 1973 recordings

Related artist(s): Nektar, Roye Albrighton


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