NEKTAR — Remember the Future (review)

NEKTAR — Remember the Future album cover Album · 1974 · Proto-Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
3.5/5 ·
Every so often I find an album that I not only really enjoy listening to completely through from start to finish but also find myself with the music stuck in my head when I wake up, thus making me want to listen to the album yet again. Nektar’s “Remember the Future” has surprisingly become such an album.

After “A Tab in the Ocean”, this became my second purchase of Nektar’s music. Initially, “Tab” had left me with a decently good impression but had not inspired me to order more Nektar albums just yet. However, some months later I found myself enjoying the album more, particularly noting some of the proto-metal parts, and I decided on buying “Remember the Future” over “Recycled” only because it was a little cheaper. As a concept album containing only one song divided into ten parts which are all segued together save for the break between sides one and two, this album already seemed fated to rare plays simply because of the time it demanded. I couldn’t just pick a couple of favourites to play during my on-foot and in-transit commutes during the day; I had to commit to at least one whole side. As such, I first listened to each side only twice and then tended to a couple of dozen other albums I acquired within the same three months, searching for new favourite songs to add to prog and metal playlists.

I came back to the album earlier this year and gave it an attentive listen and found I really enjoyed side one, parts a) to d). There are some great vocal melodies and the singing sounds very much in the mid-70’s rock style, which I say with a compliment here. The music leans more toward the guitar this time round with the organ spending less time at the forefront. Apparently they put the guitar through Lesley cabinet speakers for the Hammond organ so the sound of the guitar is different and very pleasing. Side one alternates between melodic slower passages and more heavy rock passages with one part resembling Uriah Heep slightly. The close of side one is a spacey guitar effects solo that is pretty wild. I have to add that the rhythm section is wonderful with both bass and drums working hard to keep the background solidly strong and worthy of attention.

At first I thought side two was less exciting than side one because I felt there was less transition in tempo but listening more made me aware of some wonderful guitar bits and once again more of what made side one so pleasing. The last song really grooves with an early disco-style rhythm but with rock guitar. It’s boogie time!

The length of each side is actually very manageable with side one just under 17 minutes and side two just near 19 minutes. Unlike some great double disc concept albums that are like the audio version of a feature length film, I can get through “Remember the Future” well before my commute to work is over and still have time to enjoy reading or perhaps some other songs from playlists in my iPhone.

I bought the remastered double disc edition of this album and the second disc includes a 9-minute radio edit version of the album. The first couple of times I listened to it, I thought this was a great substitute for the whole album as it had most of my favourite parts with some of the longer sections edited down. But after really becoming acquainted with the album I noticed that a lot of good music was missing. There are also a group of songs called “The Boston Tapes” which were early recordings by Nektar back in around 1970. These reveal a more usual rock band and don’t really hint anything about the great band that would give us “A Tab in the Ocean”, “Remember the Future”, and “Recycled”.

A final note on the music, it’s very tight and well-executed with some wonderful performances by all. But as far as heavy metal goes, it only approaches heavy rock at times in the nature of 70's Uriah Heep and Scorpions but travels closer to commercial hard rock bridged to progressive rock. Still, since coming to appreciate this album, I have purchased “Recycled” and “Sounds Like This” but not even “Recycled” comes as close as “Remember” to winning my favour. As a hard rock album I'll give it 3 and a half stars. But I give it a full five as a rock album.
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