Music Week's round-up of the latest album reissues and catalogue releases. This week, we take a look at Nirvana, The New Seekers and L.T.D.
Rainbow Chaser: The 60s Recordings (The Island Years) (Island/UMC 6711452)
For most, the name Nirvana will always evoke memories of the American grunge act fronted by Kurt Cobain but for me its conjures up the musical genius of another Nirvana altogether – that of the psychedelic rock trailblazers fronted by charismatic Irishman Patrick Campbell-Lyons, aided and abetted by Greek cohort Alex Spyropoulos. Based in London, Nirvana was the first band signed to Island, and one of the first to release a concept album, namely their impressive 1967 debut, The Story Of Simon Simopath. That album, and 1968 follow-up All Of Us form the rump of this 52 song, expanded 2 CD set, on which they are supplemented by 27 previously unreleased outtakes, demos and alternate versions. Telling the tale of a boy who fantasises about having wings, The Story Of Simon Simopath is stuffed with short, melodic songs and its failure to generate a hit single is surprising, with the baroque Pentecost Hotel, and the rather more direct, faster-paced We Can Help You both deserving wider recognition. Nirvana really came of age with their second album, however. All Of Us is perhaps the better album of the two musically, with a more progressive vibe, and some outstanding tunes, including the prettily-orchestrated and majestic instrumental The Show Must Go On, the ballad Tiny Goddess which sounds like a template for a lot of what ELO did later on, and the group’s one bona fide hit, Rainbow Chaser. A rousing song with a killer chorus and a great deal of phasing, Rainbow Chaser was a major hit throughout most of Europe, and is always included in lists of essential psychedelic rock singles. The deep mining that has taken place here means that, for the first time, it is also released in its original phasing-free version. Other bonus cuts worthy of attention include flipside Flashbulb and a more fragile, stripped back 2017 version of All Of Us album track, Melanie Blue. Packaged in a five panelled digipack, the album is also accompanied by an informative, heavily illustrated booklet with a 4,000 word essay by Total Rock’s Malcolm Dome.
Something To Love/Togetherness/Devotion/Shine On (Robinsongs ROBIN 27CDD)
An R&B/funk dectet based in Los Angeles, L.T.D. were fronted by later solo star Jeffrey Osborne, and this new Robinsongs release gathers together their four albums for A&M between 1977 and 1980 on a 2 CD set for the price of one. Released without bonus tracks, it joins the band just after their big (US) break which saw their original version of Love Ballad – a more stately, slower and superior version to the one which was later to be a hit here for George Benson – become a major hit. All of the albums here made the Top 10 of the R&B charts stateside, with the first of them - 1977’s Something To Love – going to No.1, and the second – 1978’s Togetherness – selling a million copies. Concentrating more on their funk side, Something To Love begat the single (Everytime I Turn Around) Back In Love Again, which topped the R&B chart and reached No.4 on the Hot 100. Togetherness opens with the band’s only UK chart entry, Holding On (When Love Is Gone) and despite the inclusion of the suitably funky Jam, it contains more balladic vehicles for Osborne’s pleasing voice which can shift from sonorous tenor to sweet falsetto with ease. Devotion (1979) and Shine On (1980) are competent if unspectacular albums, which met with less success and signalled the end of Osborne’s tenure with them.
The New Seekers
Together/Farewell Album (7T’s GLAMCDD 168)
Formed by Keith Potger of The Seekers to fill the void left by the demise of that popular UK-based Australian folk group, The New Seekers were altogether more lightweight and pop-oriented but built up a huge following and amassed more than a dozen hit singles. Their tenure was fairly brief, however, and this new pairing brings together Together, which was released in March 1974, just before they split, and Farewell Album, which followed in August, after their demise, though they did reform again with a slightly different line-up later. Both are now released on CD for the first time, with a smattering of bonus tracks. The fact there was no band to promote it killed Farewell Album stone dead but Together was their second highest charting album, reaching No.12, and spinning off two major hits: You Won’t Find Another Fool Like Me, which was their second and last No.1, and I Get A Little Sentimental Over You, their sixth and final top five entry. Elsewhere, there’s a passable version of The Beatles’ Here, There And Everywhere – which they also cut with Potger as lead vocalist in 1971 – and a less successful cover of Neil Diamond’s Brother Love’s Travelling Salvbation Show. Farewell Album is slickly produced but lacks any real spark, although New Seekers completists will love the fact that it has both sides of the subsequent single by Peter, Paul & Marty – the group’s male members – and both sides of a Peter Doyle solo single.