Argent - Nexus

Year of Release: 2001
Label: Sony International
Catalog Number: 489442
Format: CD
Total Time: 42:02:00

Rod Argent was one of the greatest organists and all around keyboard players of the 1970s, and frankly, there are few that have followed him that are qualified to carry his shoes. Yeah, I've been a huge fan of Argent since "Hold Your Head Up" in 1972, so I'm not an impartial judge, but this is one of the best albums of progressive rock ever recorded and I absolutely love this release. Before hearing Argent I didn't know what musical dissonance was. Before I'd heard Argent, I was never even aware of what a Hammond B-3 sounded like. Before I heard Argent, I thought that only guitar playing mattered. I give Rod Argent credit for changing my entire perception of music. Yeah, I love Argent, and Nexus was the best work that Argent ever produced.

By 1974 Argent was a band that was being torn in half, going in two directions at once. Rod Argent was pursuing full out symphonic progressive, while guitarist/vocalist Russ Ballard was firmly entrenched in classic British rock. This would be the last good release of the band, and the last release that would have Ballard on board. The loss of Ballard, with his strong pop sensibilities and powerful singing voice would prove to be the death blow to the band, but what a brilliant swan song this line up of the group would give us.

Nexus starts out with a brilliant, beautiful and powerful work. The first three tracks on this release must be listened to as one three part suite comprising the nine plus minutes of "The Coming Of Kohoutek," "Once Around The Sun" and ?Infinite Wanderer." These cuts combine all the best bombastic and pretentious traits of good, and I mean very, very good, symphonic progressive rock, producing one of the best displays of keyboard excess since "Tarkus." Don't you miss the sight of a keyboardist surrounded by a semi-circle made up of B-3, Mellotron, Electric Piano, grand Piano and Mini-Moogs at the ready? These first few cuts will bring all that back to mind as Rod Argent was a master of all these instruments. Track one revels in jagged, angular Hammond organ lines, track two features a load of Mellotron strings and flutes and track three is begun with an etude of piano and Moog synthesizer.

Track four, "Love," is a Ballard ballad. Ballard ballad? Uhh?.well it is. Russ Ballard's sentimental tune is kept proggy by Argent's use of Mellotron, Moog and electric piano as well as by it's Beatles-esque instrumental bridge and by the band's part harmony vocals.

"Music From The Spheres" follows and we get another exciting jolt of progressive bliss from the stellar mix of Ballard's great voice and guitar and Argent's gorgeous electric piano playing. The revolving, syncopated counterpoint lines of Ballard and Argent combine to produce a Tony Banks' like melody and this tunes verse does sound just a bit like Genesis.

Track six, "Thunder And Lightning," is a pretty straight forward rock tune, but a rather good one in my opinion, with cool tremelo effects on Ballard's guitar and great electric piano from Argent. Ballard's lead vocal is outstanding, which is par for the course for him. I think Russ Ballard was undoubtedly one of the best English rock singers of the seventies and Nexus is blessed with several of his finest performances.

"Keeper Of The Flame" is a fine example of the band's ability to perfectly blend prog, hard rock and pop, sounding like a mix of U.K. circa '79 and Uriah Heep. This tune of chock full of brilliantly orchestrated keyboard parts and is, furthermore, awash in Mellotron. What more could a keyboard aficionado want?

"A Man For All Reasons" is yet another display of fine songwriting, arranging and vocals. This track boasts some keen pop sensibilities with its marching beat, its dashing, multi-themed center instrumental bridge and its great lyrics and lead vocal performance.

In a throwback to the band's earlier sound, this great release ends with a rocking blues number "Gonna Meet My Maker," which is completely out of touch with the rest of the material on this disc. Think Gary Moore meets Deep Purple. A nice enough tune, sure, but it doesn't fit well here.

This is a release that is surely not on most collectors radar screens as a progressive masterpiece, but the incredible writing and performances of the first three cuts alone qualifies it as such. Add to this a few genre bridging nuggets like "Keeper Of The Flame" and "Music From The Spheres" and there can be no doubt that this is a must have disc for any serious collector of keyboard led progressive rock.

Originally released 1974 (Epic, 32573)

The Coming Of Kohoutek (3:01) / Once Around The Sun (2:49) / Infinite Wanderer (3:43) / Love (3:52) / Music From The Spheres (8:10) / Thunder And Lightning (5:07) / Keeper Of The Flame (6:00) / A Man For All Reasons (4:44) / Gonna Meet My Maker (4:37)

Rod Argent - keyboards, vocals
Russ Ballard - guitar, vocals
Robert Henrit - drums
Jim Rodford ? bass

Argent (1969)
Ring Of Hands (1971)
All Together Now (1972)
In Deep (1973)
Nexus (1974)
Encore: Live In Concert (1974)
Circus (1975)
Counterpoints (1975)
Anthology: The Best Of Argent (1976)
BBC Radio 1 In Concert (1995)
The BBC Sessions (1998)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin US

Added: September 26th 2004
Reviewer: Tom Karr
Artist website:
Hits: 918
Language: english


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