Published on 20th January 2022
Nektar – Sounds Like Swiss
Well now, where has this little nugget been hiding for the last 49 years I wonder? I’d have thought all the half-decent Nektar live recordings must have appeared long ago, and then this turns up! A sound board recording of an entire show in Lausanne from 1973, and an hour long live Swiss TV special from the same year. On the face of it, marvellous news. You might sense a ‘but’? Well, the only problem is that, perhaps unsurprisingly with an unearthed tape of such age, the sound quality isn’t exactly pristine. Having said that, it’s at least official bootleg quality, so ardent fans will be happy with this release.
Where this album wins through any technical gremlins, which do occur every so often, is with the quality of the performance. On the evidence of the Lausanne show in particular, the band were at the height of their powers, playing with power and passion, and this goes a long way towards making up for any sound issues. Musical sparks are flying in almost every song, and the band are obviously having a ball in Switzerland, and we must remember that at this point the band had only released three albums, and were yet to unleash what is regarded by many to be their finest work, Remember the Future, which would follow later in 1973.
So what do we have here? I’ll say at the outset that I’ve not seen the DVD, which I gather is shot in black and white. I’ve only heard the audio, so I can’t comment on the visual aspect of the TV live show, but musically it’s great. The sound is more consistent than Lausanne, although slightly muddier, and it’s only an hour, so not a whole concert, but it is a great reminder, if we needed one, of just how good Nektar were in the ’70s. The jamming was intelligent and rarely indulgent, despite the occasional spaced-out meanderings. There is a good mix of shorter songs like Cast Your Fate and Good Day, and the longer workouts like A Day in the Life of A Preacher or 1-2-3-4, all from the current album at the time, Sounds Like This. There is also a good chunk of material from the previous album, A Tab in the Ocean, with great renditions of Desolation Valley/Waves and Crying in the Dark/King of Twilight. The band steam through the set with aplomb, each of the original band members shining. My enthusiasm for the energy and panache of the performance makes me forget that I’m listening to what is essentially a bootleg.
The Lausanne show has worse issues in so far as there are several drop outs and channel problems, and moments of terrible distortion. That said, the recording overall is much clearer than the TV show, and it has the continuity of an entire gig. Couple this with a band absolutely on fire, and the release of this show is to be applauded. It’s great to hear the show open with the lengthy Journey to the Centre of the Eye from the debut album which rarely has appeared on live recordings, if ever. The spacey psychedelic sections sound like Hawkwind at their best, and the jammed sections would give Man a run for their money. The band seem to quickly hit their stride, and spur each other on as the set progresses. Roy Albrighton and Allan Freeman trade solos with wild abandon whilst Derek Moore and Ron Howden keep it tight and heavy in the rhythm department. It’s an exhilarating set and quite magnificent in its ‘warts’n’all’ dynamism.
So I can have little hesitation in recommending this package for fans of Nektar who I’m sure will forgive the blemishes and enjoy an inspired couple of performances. Anyone with a more cursory interest can forget this and check out the studio albums first, which still stand up very well today, with songs which resonate even fifty odd years on.
CD (Live at Pavilion des Sports, Lausanne and live Swiss TV special for Kaléidospop 1973):
01. Introduction (0:22)
02. Journey to the Centre of the Eye (22:39)
03. Desolation Valley / Waves (9:39)
04. A Day in the Life of A Preacher (13:55)
05. Crying in the Dark / King of Twilight (10:16)
06. Let it Grow (10:27)
07. Odyssee (4:18)
08. Ron’s On (3:46)
09. Never, Never, Never (1:50)
10. 1-2-3-4 (12:39)
11. Do You Believe in Magic? (7:35)
12. Cast Your Fate (5:49)
13. A Day in the Life of A Preacher (12:56)
14. Good Day (6:50)
15. Desolation Valley / Waves (9:14)
16. 1-2-3-4 (13:46)
17. Crying in the Dark / King of Twilight (10:51)
Time – 156:52
DVD (live Swiss TV special for Kaléidospop 1973):
01. Cast Your Fate (5:49)
02. A Day in the Life of A Preacher (12:56)
03. Good Day (6:50)
04. Desolation Valley / Waves (9:14)
05. 1-2-3-4 (13:46)
06. Crying in the Dark / King of Twilight (10:51)
07. Da Da Dum
Time – 59:26
Roye Albrighton – Guitar, Vocals
Derek “Mo” Moore – Bass, Vocals
Allan “Taff” Freeman – Organ, Vocals
Ron Howden – Drums
Mick Brockett – Visuals
Record Label: Think Like A Key Music
Country of Origin: U.K.
Date of Release: 1st October 2021