I think its almost 40 years since I picked up my first Nektar albums A Tab in the Ocean and Remember the Future. I recall being challenged and entertained by this obscure English, via Germany, progressive rock band that played equally obscure and eclectic psychedelic rock. They're still going strong, and releasing their twelfth studio album, A Spoonful of Time, a collection of cover songs.
Doing a covers album can be tricky business. You need the right songs, but more importantly the inspiration and enthusiasm to bring them to life by your own interpretation. If you don't, well, things could get ugly. In the case of A Spoonful of Time the results are mixed.
For the songs, Nektar chose 14 popular, mostly rock, songs from the last 40 years or so. Most are well known like Rush's Spirit of the Radio, Pink Floyd's Wish You Were Here, The Doors's Riders on the Storm, or Toto's Africa. Others, like Roxy Music's Out of the Blue and The Rolling Stone's 2000 Light Years from Home may be a little more obscure for some. The cover an O' Jays song, For the Love of Money, that drops more into the Motown category. The band also enlists help from some top performers like Rick Wakeman, Geoff Downes, Derek Sherinian, Rod Argent, Billy Sheehan, to record the songs.
As for Nektar's interpretation, they basically stay faithful to the original melodies and arrangements of every song with, of course, some variation. To the execution, or better, the "sound or feel" of the songs, it's a different story. Generally, many of the songs sound flat and uninspired. For instance, Spirit of the Radio stays faithful to the tune, but lacks the luster and enthusiasm of the original. Steve Miller's Fly Like an Eagle sounds, well, like the original song only done by a cover band. That description could apply to more than a few songs here: Riders on the Storm, Winwood and Blind Faith's Can't Find My Way Home, or Dreamweaver. Springsteen's Blinded by the Light, also recorded by Manfred Mann, captures little of these interpretations, sounding nearly maudlin by comparison. Additionally, the vocal arrangements, across the album, are uneven, sometimes even bland.
While I appreciated Nektar doing these covers, I'm not so sure hearing them was all that inspiring. Fundamentally, I wanted to ask why, Why did they do a covers album? In the end, however, I think diehard Nektar fans will enjoy this, even if I was more than a little skeptical.
A Spoonful of Time is legendary prog rock band Nektar doing a cover album of popular rock songs from the last 40 years, with mixed results. However, I think diehard Nektar fans will enjoy this, even if I was more than a little skeptical.