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Nirvana (UK): The Story of Simon Simopath

Album Notes

One of the most entertaining things to do on websites that allow customer reviews of CDs is read the apoplectic fury Kurt Cobain's fans have for the original Nirvana, the cultily-adored British psych-pop group from the late '60s. Much of that misguided and ill-informed venom seems to be directed toward this album, Nirvana's 1967 debut. An unashamedly twee early concept album, The Story of Simon Simopath (subtitled "A Science Fiction Pantomime," suitably expressing the deliberately childlike tone of the album) sounds, like most rock concept albums, like a collection of unconnected songs forced together by the story written in the liner notes. Ignoring the rather silly story (something about a boy who wishes he could fly), what's left is a regrettably brief but uniformly solid set of well-constructed psych-pop tunes with attractive melodies and rich, semi-orchestrated arrangements. Although the core of Nirvana was the duo of singer-guitarist Patrick Campbell-Lyons and keyboardist Alex Spyropoulos, the group is here expanded to a sextet including full-time French horn and cello players, and the semi-Baroque arrangements are particularly memorable on the singles "Pentecost Hotel" and "Wings of Love." Although The Story of Simon Simopath has no individual songs as instantly delightful as "Rainbow Chaser," the hit single and key track from their next album All of Us, it's a much more consistent record than that somewhat patchy follow-up. ~ Stewart Mason


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