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Nektar: Fortyfied

If you've been lucky enough to see Nektar live, as I have multiple times, you'll know that their on-stage rendition of their timeless classics is pretty darned close to note-perfect. More than that - the band still captures that intangible expression, the sentiment and the "vibe" that made the early releases so popular as far back as 1969, and as recently as 2008.

In 2008, the band toured Europe in celebration of forty years in the business. Fortyfied is a double-CD that was recorded on that tour, and it achieves two things: It's a wonderful retrospective of Nektar's considerable backlog, and it showcases the band's musicianship.

Nektar was formed forty years ago (hence the name "forty-fied" geddit?) by four Brits who were living in Germany, and the band was at its zenith in the mid-seventies with a growing fanbase that persists today on both sides of the pond. Each album was very different from the next, and putting these songs side-by-side on Fortyfied highlights that variety. It hits all the high points with songs from Tab In The Ocean, Remember The Future and Recycled, and you'll appreciate the fluid shifts from blues rock through psychedelia to classic prog, and from a rich jam atmosphere to tight compositions.

The performances are excellent, the audience interaction is sparing, and the production is particularly good considering that it is a genuine live recording, and not a studio rework. Forty years remembered in fifteen songs spread over two-and-a-bit hours, and not a boring moment from start to finish.

Fortyfied is a good starting point for those who are new to Nektar, and it's a very pleasing reminiscence for those already familiar with the material.

Track Listing:

Part 1
1. Tab in the Ocean
2. Cryin' in the Dark
3. King of Twilight
4. Dream Nebula
5. Desolation Valley
6. Waves
7. Rememeber the Future

Part 2
8. Doctor Kool
9. King of the Deep
10.Where Are You Now
11.Day in the Life of a Preacher
12.Mr H
13.Recycled Part 1
14.The Debate
15.Man in the Moon

Added: July 3rd 2009
Reviewer: Duncan Glenday
Related Link: The Band's Website
Hits: 3699
Language: english

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» SoT Staff Roundtable Reviews:

Nektar: Fortyfied
Posted by Michael Popke, SoT Staff Writer on 2009-07-03 23:48:01
My Score:

It took multiple reincarnations and a reunion of the classic lineup (and then some) to get me to pay attention to Nektar. And now I'm trying to catch up on everything that OK, some of what I missed. One of the best ways to do that is with Fortyfied, a generous live double-disc set recorded throughout Europe on Nektar's 2008 tour in support of Book of Days. After spending nearly 135 minutes with this thing, I know why Nektar has become so beloved in the prog community during the past 40 years plus, it's easy to hear the influence the band has had on a slew of modern prog bands, including Spock's Beard and the Flower Kings. I was convinced after only few tracks on disc one, the clinchers being "King of Twilight" and "Dream Nebula."

But what struck me most is just how accessible and diverse Nektar sounds: vintage prog, raucous blues and solid slabs of hard rock all combine to make Fortyfied an extremely entertaining and cohesive collection even though it spans decades. Just one example: "Where Are You Now," from Book of Days, boasts a bluesy, classic Steve Miller Band vibe and then breaks down into something that, say, Umphrey's McGee might try.

In a better world than this one, Nektar would be getting 20-year-old jam-band freaks excited and playing theaters and sheds all over North America.

Nektar: Fortyfied
Posted by Jon Neudorf, SoT Staff Writer on 2009-06-23 11:02:37
My Score:

What better way to celebrate a 40th anniversary than with a double live CD. Taken from their 2008 European fall tour, Fortyfied is a collection of songs from their back catalogue that deserves to be heard. I must admit this is my first exposure to the band and am very glad to have made their acquaintance. One of the original leaders of psychedelic/spacerock, they play a brand of progressive rock that is immediately accessible, melodic and just plain fun to listen to. Joining original members Roye Albrighton and Ron Howden are Klaus Henatsch (keyboards, vocals) and Peter Pichl (bass, vocals).

Disc 1 includes the entire A Tab in the Ocean record, starting with the epic title track from that album. This song has everything a fan of melodic progressive rock could want: great guitar riffs, catchy organ, lovely lead and backing vocals (reminding me of Dark Side of the Moon era Floyd) and an overall grandiose psychedelic soundscape that is as infectious as it is complex. For another highight check out the psychedelic blues of "Cryin' in the Dark" with classic organ sounds and crystal clear guitar courtesy of Albrighton recalling the best the 70s had to offer. For a more dreamy approach listen to the beautiful guitar in "Waves". The whispering vocals adds a feeling of enchantment and the background vocals are melodically superb. The music here definitely befits the title. One of my favourites is the epic "Remember the Future Pt 2" with heavy and soft movements, plenty of psychedelic guitar structures and an organ melody that will not go away. The lighter parts are pure progressive heaven where the guitar work of Albrighton, laid down over flowing organ, really shines.

One of the highlights of disc 2 include the hook filled ""Where Are You Now" with its wonderful guitar melody and softer middle section where the vocals are very moving. The soft keys and crisp guitar are interrupted by dramatic interjections of pounding drums and heavy guitar riffs. The full blown rock assault of "A Day in the Life of a Preacher" sees the band really cooking and the long bass solo in the funky "Mr H" is very cool as is the spaced out guitar of Albrighton. This disc's epic is the seventeen minute plus "Recycled Pt 1", another slice of melodic space prog which guitar fans should really appreciate.

The bottom line: a well recorded live album that should be a treat for newbies as well as their long time fans. Even after 40 years there is plenty of life left in the band and one gets the feeling they enjoyed making this album. I think you will enjoy listening to it just as much. Recommended!

Nektar: Fortyfied
Posted by Pete Pardo, SoT Staff Writer on 2009-06-09 09:50:20
My Score:

Before you say "Not another live Nektar album!", let's keep in mind Fortyfied was meant as a celebration of 40 years in the business for this veteran band, and any time a group can keep it going that long and deliver the amount of timeless material that Nektar has, they can damn do whatever the hell they want. If you've been a fan of the band for that long or just part of their fantastic journey, Fortyfied shows the current line-up (Roye Albrighton, Ron Bowden, Peter Pichl, and Klaus Henatsch) in fine form, performing many classics from the deep Nektar discography.

Love albums like Tab In the Ocean, Journey to the Center of the Eye, Remember the Future, Sounds Like This, Evolution, or Recycled? Well, there are plenty of songs from those albums included here on this 2CD set. Expect all the familiar melodies, plenty of guitar & organ freakouts (Roye just keeps getting better and better as guitar player-the guy's a real powerhouse!), and the band's mix of hard rock, prog, psycedelia, and blues is ever present. There's even a few tracks from the most recent CD Book of Days to complement the rest of the set list.

Highlights? Well, there are many, but "A Tab In the Ocean", "King of Twilight", "Dream Nebula", "Desolation Valley", "Remember the Future", "A Day in the Life of the Preacher", and "Recycled" are quite enjoyable as always, but honestly, there's not a dud in the bunch here. Production is very good for a live album, and the CD booklet is filled with photos for you to enjoy. Chalk up another successful live document from Nektar, and let's hope they keep going strong for many years to come.

2004 Sea Of Tranquility
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