MUSIC WE ALSO LIKE … because: Hey, it’s not all about us …!
Booted out of the Island label stable by boss, mentor and number one cheerleader, Chris Blackwell, Nirvana’s third album, trammelled by ill fortune at the time, proves a peach today.
Market Square’s Peter Muir reviews …
NIRVANA – ‘Black Flower’ (Esoteric) ****
If this standout late 60’s London-based baroque psych band’s third album was to prove ‘tricky’ (as the industry adage goes) then it would not have been on qualitative grounds.
Hard on the heels of Island Records’ debut ‘The Story of Simon Simopath’ and 1968 follow-up ‘All of Us’, ‘Black Flower’ blooms with the best of the short-lived act’s shimmering orchestra-fuelled symphonic pop, harnessed by the talents of Mike Hurst and Tony Visconti on production with Spooky Tooth, Lesley Duncan and Billy Bremner in support.
Innocent of hurdles to come, it gets underway with one of their finest moments in “The World Is Cold Without You.” Yearningly gorgeous and full-blown in orchestration, this near-masterpiece nails the Nirvana sound to a tee, managing in its sheer well-rounded splendour not to let the rest of the album disappoint.
On come freshly-re-mastered ballads (“Tres Tres Bien” and beautiful bonus “June”) complemented by tour de forces (“Illinois”, “Love Suite” while its title track echoes Aphrodite’s Child’s ‘Four Horsemen’ with its percussive-splattered, guitar-wailing coda). Further bonuses include alternative takes, jaunty and previously-unreleased “Taxi”, and a perked-up band take on “We Can Make It Through”.
Back in the day, band anchormen Patrick Campbell Lyons and Alex Spyropoulus pitched up to present the masters to Island Records boss Chris Blackwell only to be told that it sounded like the soundtrack to period film drama ‘A Man And a Woman’ and that he was not putting it out.
Campbell Lyons (interviewed for this release fresh from recording latest solo album, ‘You’re A Cloud, I’m A Comet’ for Market Square) recalls delight at the comparison (but probably less so the news that it was now without distribution).
Regaining the rights the composers took their flower to US label Metromedia which misnamed it ‘To Markos III’ (actually a dedication) and promptly went bust. Pye International finally marshalled the album but limped out and then withdrew it shortly after a limited run, making vinyl pressings of this very desirable indeed. But then, ‘Black Flower’ should be at any price. It’s a quality period piece that engages for the very reasons Blackwell denounced it.
Universal Music has done a fine job of reissuing the first two albums by the charming, wayward Nirvana and this is a must-have companion piece.
Peter’s review of Nirvana’s ‘Rainbow Chaser: The 60s Recordings (The Island Years)’ at this link …
Where to go next:
www.youareacloudiamacomet.com for the Nirvana story and Patrick’s latest album