“An underprized classic… with new mixes enhancing rather than simply fiddling with the original”: 50th anniversary version of Nektar’s Remember The Future

Fourth album features a bonkers storyline told through a single piece of music that ebbs and flows

Nektar - Remember the Future 50th Anniversary Edition
(Image: © Esoteric)

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Nektar’s fourth album is unlike any of their others. In their 70s heyday they were generally a pretty good jam band, swerving between prog, space rock and psychedelia. Englishmen who formed the group in Hamburg, they sometimes even got misidentified as krautrock. 

Yet in 1973 they experienced a surge in popularity as Remember The Future, a concept album involving extraterrestrials, a blind boy and something about profound human enlightenment, entered the Billboard Top 20 and wowed floating voters. They never quite matched it afterwards, but a photograph of Ian Curtis, pre-Joy Division, wearing a Nektar T-shirt, meant their fade from fashion was leisurely and dignified.

Remember The Future is essentially one continuous 36-minute piece of music (split over two sides). More melodic and accessible than other tripper, twitchier Nektar stuff, its refrains and motifs drift in, out, around and back again. It’s almost the platonic ideal of a progressive rock album of the era, in that everything flows, every switch-up, rise or fall fits seamlessly within the whole. There are spells of beauty and of fire. 

Harmonies are diligently crafted to emulate Crosby, Stills & Nash, but the rock-out sections let rip and fly. There’s even an undercurrent of gentle wah-wah funk at times, and until the very last minutes, where it succumbs to the urge to growl instead of purring, it’s unerringly delightful and very close to exquisite.

It’s indisputable that in its save-the-environment message it really did, uh, remember the future.

The concept is entertainingly bonkers, but it’s indisputable that in its save-the-environment message it really did, uh, remember the future.

For its half-century, it returns as a well-curated four-CD/Blu-ray package offering new surround sound and stereo mixes, which tidy up the crispness, enhancing rather than simply fiddling with the original. 

There’s a German live concert from 1974 (where they mainly play other material, though Part One gets a run-through), and video content including two Whistle Test work-outs. An underprized classic of the genre.

Remember The Future: Expanded Edition is on sale now via Esoteric.

Chris Roberts

Chris Roberts has written about music, films, and art for innumerable outlets. His new book The Velvet Underground is out April 4. He has also published books on Lou Reed, Elton John, the Gothic arts, Talk Talk, Kate Moss, Scarlett Johansson, Abba, Tom Jones and others. Among his interviewees over the years have been David Bowie, Iggy Pop, Patti Smith, Debbie Harry, Bryan Ferry, Al Green, Tom Waits & Lou Reed. Born in North Wales, he lives in London.